Barleycove Beach

By Ruairí

I swung open the heavy red door before me and sighed, taking in the landscape, feeling something akin to relief. Relief perhaps, that the rolling green hills and rocky outcrops that defined West Cork had met my eyes, in place of the uniform pavements and towering structures of Dublin City. I had always appreciated my time on holiday here, a happy respite from the hustle and bustle of urban life. A shrill yap pierced my ears, interrupting my train of thought as I fixed my gaze on the ground before me. A panting, fidgeting mess of jet-black fur grinned back at me and Marley the little black cocker spaniel wagged her tail back up at me.

Her small dark eyes settled on the bright blue lead nestled in my pocket, speaking a thousand words. “Walk?” I enquired in mock ignorance, receiving a series of ecstatic bounds in reply. Fastening the lead to her collar, we set off for the beach. The cottage sat atop a steep and rocky hill, with only a neglected and overgrown path to connect it to the outside world. As we descended the path, ducking through brambles and long unchecked fuchsia bushes, the sands of Barleycove Beach came into view. Sandwiched between two great cliffs that extended out into the Atlantic like arms seeking to embrace, there are few places in the world in which I feel more at home. I took a moment to enjoy the image before me, a series of great, towering waves tipped with white, that ebbed and flowed like seasons, one moment shrouding the sands in a carpet of blue, only to retreat, leaving them glistening like diamonds in the midday sun. I may well have remained there, marveling at the beauty before me for hours, were it not for the cacophony of impatient barks that shocked me back into focus. Marley had never been one for waiting.

Together, we made our way around the lake into which the tide flowed Marleys anxiety was now replaced with an uncontainable excitement, so great I was unable to tighten my grip on the little blue leash in time. Knowing pursuit was futile, I sighed and continued on alone, periodically catching a glimpse of black amongst the gold and green of the dunes as her relentless hunt for some unseen foe continued. The heat of the midday sun intensified, beating down on the landscape as I reached the stream, the final obstacle between myself and the beach. The place was isolated, which was a spectacle, but one that paled in comparison to the sight before me. As if on cue, I witnessed the slate grey fin of a porpoise pierce the waves before me, cutting through them as a knife slices through summer butter. Seagulls cawed and swooped overhead, and the ever-present crash of the waves filled my ears

My destination finally reached, I lay down on the barley-coloured sand and observed the sky above me. Bright blue, save for a few unruly clouds, I found myself so transfixed by their beauty that I began to doze off, the soft sound of waves ebbing and flowing like a lullaby. I may well have laid there all day, had I not been awoken hours later by an unpleasant dripping onto my forehead. My eyes snapped open, to the sight of Marley’s face, plastered with a mischievous grin as the seawater dripped from her chin.

A highly atmospheric piece, full of judicious and adroit description which gave the reader a rich sense of atmosphere. Some really nice lexical choices, with an impressive command of vocabulary throughout. The description of the landscape is well-developed as is the sense of the puppy’s joyful excitement.