As I walked this morning on the beautiful beach that stretches from Youghal over to Pilmore, I was struck by how lucky I am to live in an area surrounded by such natural beauty.

From autumn through to spring, I walk in the wonderful Glenbower Woods in my home village of Killeagh –  a magical place where I often feel that my entire childhood was spent. Once the forest park of the local estate, the woods are a haven of peace and beauty where you can admire imported eucalyptus and rhododendron along with ancient native oak, ash and beech. Shady paths by the river that gives Gleann Badhair, or the deafening glen, its name, rustic bridges, open sunny roadway near where the old tennis courts could once be found – Glenbower has it all. I still feel the loss, however, of the beautiful lake and waterfall which lay at the heart of the forest before mindless bureaucracy put an end to them in the late 1980s.

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In late spring, hayfever begins its annual assault and to escape the pollen, I follow the route of the river Dissour which flows through Glenbower and eventually enters the sea at Pilmore. There is something about the convergence of sea, sand and sky that has an incredible effect on the psyche. It is difficult not to feel good at the beach – unless of course, you are a tourist down for just that one day and locked into your car to avoid being frozen to death or blown away as you watch the rain stream down! The sparkle of sunlight on the water, the smell of the sea and the seaweed, the ebb and flow of the tide, the crash of the breakers, the sense of being surrounded by something far, far bigger than yourself… It’s heaven. And no less beautiful in bad weather than in good – one of my favourite ever lines of poetry comes from Sylvia Plath’s ‘Finisterre’ and describes impeccably the noise and drama of a stormy coastline: “Souls rolled in the doom-noise of the sea”.

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May I always be privileged to live close to such beauty.