Bolder*, slower and more frumpy than before, some of my best friends in this world where oafishly trotting down to the waters edge. (*balder)
The privilege of responsibility had caught up with us all – family and work commitments had taken their toll, the leaner easier going days of our non-committal youths had gone, we could no longer simply down tools and go.
Things had to be organised, transnational communications, time off, tenuous deals with loved ones and employers, the honouring of direct debits and mortgage payments, ferry tickets, sim cards, Google maps, phone chargers, petrol purchases, flagging debit cards, hire cars, service station rendezvous and all the other increasingly complex conveniences of the modern age had to be negated.
The burdens of the age successfully navigated, foot wells littered with over priced coffee cups and sausage roll wrappers we made it to the peninsula strewn south west region of the Irish republic.
In the twenty-sixth hour of travel just before midnight we triumphantly smelled the briny air of the Atlantic.
Under clouds and stars; an almost full moon illuminated our weary party of ten as we gazed out over a vast inky black ocean, An ancient ocean with a reputation for being as ferocious as it was treacherous. Between the American eastern seaboard and us; lay nothing but thousands of miles of wild open sea.
Yet there was literally nothing, but a silent sleeping beast, no storm, no wind, no swell.
A great calm had descended upon the world, it was as if no waves ever came here and the stars always shone.
We made camp, cracked a can or two and got some rest.
I’ve known these guys for a long time, I’ve been overseas for a few years, it was time to check in and this was the perfect opportunity to reconnect with some of my closest and most influential friends.
However from the other side of the world I had envisioned head high point breaks and smooth clean cuts backs, the next morning as I looked out over a small, flat lonely bay I could sense mischief brewing…
It really didn’t take much to find us in the pub, or round the barbecue eating pink-ish Irish sausages like they where going out of fashion, the next seven days quickly degenerated into a Guinness soaked search for the ‘craic’.
We stomped over sand dunes, through quiet back-country towns, the music laden bars of the Dingle, tried a bit of hurling in a pub car park (perhaps the fastest and most brutal team sport of them all), countless rounds of the black stuff, some very poor attempts at Irish accents, burping, farting, convoy driving, juke boxes, an over ambitious game of beach football, wrestling, enjoying stunning countryside, better banter and some very, very desperate attempts at surf.
The dim grey mist of the Irish dawn; my mind heavy with the fug of Guinness and back sore from another night in the fart riddled tent my eyes stubbornly prized themselves open.
I could I hear the unmistakable noises of a hastily lashed long boards getting dragged off roofs, the shuffle of still wet, wetsuits getting squeezed into, then the clanging of leashes on tails as the boys started running down the beach.
I wasn’t convinced.
The sea was pan flat, then about every twenty minutes a tiny wave not much bigger than the rail of a long board would, begrudgingly, wearily, drag its self shoreward, peak before meekly dribbling its way down the sand bar before lapping without sound upon the shore.
Yet the boys where unperturbed by my cynicism, they sat there like damp silverbacks in a dull, flat sea waiting for their waves.
Apparently god loves a trier and sure enough the boys all got waves, dragging them selves into shin high peaks and getting to their feet before doing some fancy foot work and on occasion riding to the shore.
As the tide turned the “swell” doubled to almost over knee high and the sun came out- the boys where frothing and got some little runners- drop knee turns, foot stalls coffin rides, nose rides and poo stances.
The Craic had been found
I opted to take a few shots from the rocks, as I watch my thirty something mates, splashing around, hassling and hooting, shouting each other into sets, dropping in and falling off.
The Craic had been found.
I suppose time does change everything, it changes the tides, it changes the coast, it changes people, it changes it all, but every now and then it reveals a little glimmer of something that you really can’t explain, but you know it will be remembered, etched deep into the scuffed back edges of your mind for a long while to come.
A strange sense of pride washed over me, I was inspired, proud they where all frothing more than ever and still having just as much fun in knee high shite as when we where all dewy-eyed-groms.
We’d all come a long way since the longhaired slender days of our youth, respective responsibilities and commitments had took us all on our different paths, it felt like another moment in life’s great adventure and It was no small wonder.
Dan Kerins is photographer, writer, surfer and horticulturalist specialising in ill-planned and under-funded excursions into the lesser known.
Guinness image: By calflier001, via Wikimedia Commons