Kilkee in County Clare on the West Coast of Ireland has an amazingly scenic beach, Moore Bay. The strand is a perfect horseshoe open to the vastness of the North Atlantic. On the north fringe of the beach is a small pier and boat slip used by the local fishermen. Fishing is heavily weather dependent and Kilkee is not a bay in which you can keep a fleet due to it’s exposure to Western Storms. And most of the storms on this coast are Western Storms.
Growing up I spent many years on holidays in Kilkee and our days were planned around the tides. We went swimming almost every day. If the tides were high we would walk out the headland to the North side of the bay to Byrne’s Cove. For low tide days the pollock holes came into play, natural rock pools that lie just below this photo above on the bottom left corner.
The long channel gives some protection to Moore Bay, but not much. I have seen breakers ten feet tall on the beach.
Sail Oil was a nickname given to the local village idiot. That term is not used these days, but Jerry McDermott filled that role in the town. He attempted to be a fisherman, but had the good sense to remain on his little boat within the bay so he didn’t catch a lot.
My oldest brothers went out in his currach with him once when they were young teenagers. Along the way they encountered a basking shark, the second biggest fish in the world. Basking sharks are enormous but placid plankton feeders. When the boys tried to attract the shark by splashing their hands in the water poor Sail Oil had a meltdown.
If they had a good catch the real fishermen would toss Jerry a few mackerel or pollock to sell on the street corner beside Hickey’s Guesthouse. When he gathered a few shillings he would nip into May Naughten’s Pub for a pint or two. When the money ran short he would throw cow eyes at the locals and tourists in the hope of scamming a free pint.
He had a wooden pole with a bent metal hook for crabbing at the Pollock Holes. Apparently he knew all the best spots for the plate sized brown crabs you can find there.
After storms he would walk the strand beach-combing for anything valuable that might have washed ashore. That was how he found the mysterious cylinder that was behind the Thresher Hoax. But that’s another story.