Killiney Bay

The day dawns fair. I walk out my front door and in five minutes I’m by the sea. The sky is
blue and dotted with white clouds, mirrored by the blue of the sea and its ‘white horses’
whipped up by the fresh south-westerly wind. In an instant I have forgotten my cares and
concerns. I walk to the end of the pier, and look out at Killiney bay which stretches in an arc
all the way from Dalkey Hill to Bray head. Beyond is the seemingly infinite horizon of sky and
sea. I return home refreshed and uplifted and decide to write about what this stretch of
coastline means to me.
I was born a stone’s throw from the sea in Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin. The sea has been the
backdrop and basso conitnuo of my life. In summer you could smell the salt tang of it, and
hear the fog horn’s baleful sound as the sea mist rolled in. I took the sea’s presence for
granted as a child – the summer swims off Sandycove and Killiney beaches, the walks on Dun
Laoghaire pier, the trek over Dalkey Hill and down the ‘cat’s ladder’ to White Rock. When I
was 15, my first trip out of Ireland was on the ferry to Holyhead, and it was the first time I
got to see and appreciate from a distance the beauty of the coast where I lived. I taught in a
school on the same coast, and continued my summer swims. When I married, our house
was a short distance from the beaches of my youth, so my children could experience the joy
of living near the sea also. My son summed up our feelings about the sea one day as he
splashed about on the beach -‘I am completely happy, and not even a bit sad’.
For the past 20 years we have lived in Bray, a mere five minute walk from the prom. I have
got to know an intrepid bunch of year round swimmers called ‘Na Snamhíní’, and through
their encouragement, and to my own astonishment, I have taken to swimming almost every
month of the year myself. Any time I take the Dart to Dublin, I never cease to delight in the
views of the bay. It is undoubtedly one of the most scenic train routes in the world.
The sea speaks to the poet in me. It excites my imagination. The sparkle of sunlight on
water. The moonlight that creates a silvery path on its surface. The wild energy of it when
the wind whips it to a frenzy. Its ever changing moods. The briny seaweedy smell of it. Its
horizon that stretches to infinity, evoking expansion, freedom and possibility. The
unexpected glimpses of dolphins and seals.
The day draws to a close. The wind has dropped and I decide to go for another walk to clear
my head. The sea is calmer now, the swans glide tranquilly in the harbour, a lone heron
stands immobile on a rock. I turn my gaze towards the hills and mountains that frame the
bay. The sun is turning the western sky pink and orange as it sets behind ‘Katie Gallagher’. I
am overcome with a deep sense of gratitude. At home, before I settle down for the night, I
see the lights of the Kish and Bailey lighthouses blinking on and off, and drift off to sleep
with the scent of the sea wafting through the open window.