Once again I find myself standing looking into the water by the railings not far from the Light House in Howth Harbour. The early spring light is fading and giving way to the dark shadows of the evening. It is almost 6 p.m. and I stand alone for what must be five minutes. There is not one other human presence near me. I watch Ireland’s Eye, which looks like a great supine moss-covered giant asleep, begin to cast eerie shadows on the water. The rocks are dark grey and wet as the sea is a little choppy this evening. They are also blotched yellow by lichens and white by seagulls’ droppings. A few of these latter culprits screech lonely cries from a sky which is a mass of different shades of grey. A few airplanes line up to begin their descent for Dublin airport. The buoys shake their blinking lights to the rhythm of the waves which are incapable of drowning them. Momentarily I look towards the village and see the evening begin to come alive in a myriad of little lights. My hands have grown cold from the railings and are half turned to ice by the wind. Still it is so good to be here alone with the elements – to recharge the battery. I briefly recall young Gianni, an Italian architect from Calabria who is in Dublin learning English. He gave me a lovely Italian phrase for this one evening at the “scambio linguistico” in the Ilac library, and I repeat it to myself the lilting rhythms of the Italian words : “Sono qui a Howth per recaricare la mia batteria” This scene is so far from the beautiful warm coastline of Calabria. However cold it may be, this is my sea. This is my home and I’m proud of it. Then a snorting sound wakes me from my reverie. There in front below me is the culprit – a seal whose head is now bobbing on the waves not too far away from the watcher. It appears to me that he has come here especially now to say hello, or even to bid goodbye to the lonely watcher. His snorting makes me laugh and rejoice in the rough beauty of life. I put my cold hands in my pockets to warm them, turn up my collar against the breeze and adjust my hat. When this ceremony is finished I turn and head back for my car. Who knows what other mystery will unfold itself before me later this evening.
The picture I have inserted at the top centre of this post is one of Ireland's Eye, just a little distance from Howth Harbour. I took this picture in 2002.