I needed to return to the sea. Long-time readers of this blog will no doubt remember a post I did awhile ago about names in the sand and my love of the water.
I've been in Ireland almost four months now and, while I love the hustle and bustle of Dublin and my job, I've found both of these to be taxing on both my spirit and my mind. I knew instinctively that there was one place and only one place that could give me the strength and serenity I craved–the sea.
And so with this in mind I boarded the DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transport) and began my 20 minute journey (yes, only 20 minutes!) to Howth. This charming little fishing village is a gem on the Irish east coast. There is no end of fancy restaurants, fish and chip shops, and golf and outdoor gear shops to keep you occupied. But, I had only one intention–to get to the sea and as quickly as possible.
As soon as I felt that light sea breeze on my face and heard the crashing of the waves, all my present troubles went away. Every wave that crashed upon the rocks carried away some small worry or anxiety I had.
At first I picked a spot on one of the wharves, letting my feet dangle over some of the rocky outcroppings. There the sea is deep and untamed and sailboats and fishing boats go by with the regularity of a ticking clock. Even though tourists of all shapes and nationalities surrounded me I could pay them no mind. It's always been like that for me and the sea. No one and nothing can get in between the peace that the sea brings to me. I had such a lovely view of this gorgeous peninsula. You really just have to sit back in awe of the beauty that you are privileged with seeing while you're here.
Little by little I could feel, not just my spirit, but my soul as well, being renewed with every wave and every breeze.
After a while sitting on the wharf I decided to venture further out, to some of the more rocky beaches where the water was shallower and occupied by fewer people. I found a large rock near the water and could sit on it alone and let my cares drift away. At one stage the waves became stronger and my rock became an island, soaking my shoes and handbag. I had brought along Maeve Binchy's Light A Penny Candle and some of the pages got wet in the adventure. It made me smile because it reminded me that at one point I thought these were the kind of adventures only had in books, and look at me now. Further, I can always point to my copy of the book and say "Look there, see that book? That's the one I took to Howth with me and got all wet!"
After the waves took over my rock, I decided to explore the market. If you go to Howth on a Saturday or Sunday, you should check out the market, where no end of fare is showcased. There is jewelry peddled by travelers, fine bone carvings, waffles and fish and chips and ice cream, and my favorite–mini-buns. These tiny little things, a variation on cupcakes, are much wetter that a traditional cupcake, so much that you can eat one with a spoon. Mine was topped with whipped vanilla pudding frosting and a chocolate flake.
Also, what is a trip to the sea without some traditional fish and chips? If you're going to get fish and chips in Howth, you'd be a fool not to stop at Beschoff Bros. Not only was the service lightning fast (this seriously puts Jimmy John's to shame), it was DELICIOUS. I had the North Atlantic Fresh Cod Meal and it was to die for. The chips were cooked just right (not too crispy, not too soft) and the fish was as light and flaky as anything you could hope for. Served with a lemon wedge and some ketchup, it was heaven. Take a takeaway container from Beschoff Bros. and find yourself a seat by the sea, you can't go wrong.
After eating I walked up the hill to Howth's Church of Assumption to say a quick prayer and light a candle for my great-grandfather. The 10th anniversary of his death is coming up this July and I wanted to make sure I marked it in some small way, and also to thank him, because I know he watches over me and would be so proud to share in this journey with me.
I was blessed with good weather on this mini-holiday. Just as I was hopping on the DART for home it started to rain and I felt like I couldn't have gotten luckier.
Every time I come to the sea, I am a different person. I was a naive and overwhelmed first year law student with a broken heart the first time I saw the west coast of Ireland. I was a happy and jubilant girlfriend when I etched my name in the Galveston sands. I was an unsure and worried person when I set foot in the Monterey, California waters. And now, I am a brave and adventurous woman, coming to Howth alone, to restore myself.
There's a line in Gone With the Wind, where Rhett Butler tells Scarlett that the land of Tara is "the land from which you get your strength." Truly, I feel that the sea is from where I get my strength, and I make it a point to never get as run down as I let myself get this time. I headed back on the DART renewed and full of strength, slightly sun burnt, but hopeful.
If you're headed to Dublin in the near future, please don't miss out on Howth. It is truly a great place, and you never know, you may see me there!
Until Next Time, Cheers!