Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A scene which took my breath away

A scene which took my breath away?

Which shall I choose? The first sight of the Manhattan skyline against a bright blue sky as my plane came into land at Newark airport? The perfect reflection in a still lake of the snow-topped mountains in the Canadian Rockies? The contrasting bands of vivid colours stretching across the flat land of the Dutch tulip bulbfields? A beautiful deserted beach at Malibu, with the sun shining on the white sand and the surf from the blue ocean breaking on the shore? A small town in Provence, clinging to the side of the steep hillside almost as if it had grown out of the rocks? The wide expanse of grassland where Pickett let his charge at Gettysburg? Or maybe the first sight of that ominous watch-tower over the railway line that led into the infamous death camp of Auschwitz?

So many scenes, so many memories. But there’s a beautiful Irish song which says ‘you will sit and watch the moon rise over Claddagh, and see the sun go down on Galway Bay.’

I first went to Galway about four years ago. We arrived too late in the evening to see the sunset on the first night. The following day we went south into Tipperary and Limerick and thought we might get back in time for the sunset. But then we were held up in traffic on the ring road around Galway City. ‘The sun going down on Galway ring road’ doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, does it?

But on the third day we were travelling down from the Connemara mountains towards Galway Bay as the sun started going down. The sky gradually became pinker, the small dark clouds were silhouetted against the glow.

Eventually we found somewhere to park near the shore, and went down on to a small beach. We stayed there for over half an hour, watching the most glorious sunset I have ever seen. As the sun descended to the horizon, the sky turned from pink and yellow to a rich orange and deep gold. The clouds too changed colour until they looked like fiery smoke. All this glorious colour was reflected in the water of the bay. The only sound came from the gentle and almost hypnotic swishing of the small waves which were like rivers of molten gold as they broke on the shore.

Watching the ‘sun go down on Galway Bay’ was truly an unforgettable sight.


  1. Paula, That sounds amazing and unforgettable.

    Of all those places you listed at the top, I've only been to the Battlefield of Gettysburg. Very awe-inspiring. It really does seem as though the ghosts still speak to you.

  2. Poetic, Paula. Do you feel a special connection to any one place?

  3. It really was the most amazing sunset, Debra - and impossible really to find the words to describe it!

    And yes, the whole of the Gettysburg battlefield is so evocative - so peaceful now, but the scene of so much bloodshed. The other battlefields I visited were the same, especially Manassas and Antietam.

  4. I've been lucky enough to see a lot of wonderful places, but I guess Ireland is the place that has really captured me. I can't believe it has taken me so long to find it! Since my first visit four years ago, I've been back there 3 times each year - sometimes to the Galway area which I adore, but also to different parts of the island. I'm going again for a week in June.

  5. You make me want to take the plane and see those sites. I understand your love of Galway, it's so beautiful. I spent five days at Kerry on the Kerry Ring)so very lovely. Those quiet unspoilt bays are amazing. I love Scotland too and Wales. I remember my first site of Harlech Castle as we came through the mountains, so stark and grey against a betwitching background of purple mountains and the tempestuous sea. Magic. I also like "backwoods" Florida. Driving at early light between misty fields with a glittering lake here and there and spindly trees, bent by a recent hurricane a fox darting through the lush grass. Unforgettable.
    There are so many places I want to go to see - will I get there - who knows but it's good to dream.