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Salad Days Magazine | May 16, 2022

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Just Passing Through Ireland with Mike Lay

Just Passing Through Ireland with Mike Lay
Salad Days

Just Passing Through is by definition a lifestyle that never sits still. It is always moving on, searching for new adventure and new experience.

It doesn’t suit everyone, a lot of people are happy and content to stay put, plant roots, start families, grow alongside a place. In my travels I enjoy spending as much time as I can in each destination, to understand a place and form an idea of what life might be like if I lived there on a more permanent basis. I wake up in the morning and eat the breakfast that I would eat if I had always lived there, the breakfast that I would eat if I were never to leave. I pretend I know the streets and trust the non-existent memories of my feet. I smile at passers by or ignore them, whatever the feeling is in the air, smiling obviously being preferred. I do all these things to get a taste of what it might be like to be a local and after doing all these things I always look forward to home.

But my last trip to County Clare in Ireland was different, it is hard to put a finger on it exactly, perhaps I truly felt like a local or perhaps I didn’t really want to go home. Though I sit on the ferry now, looking out over the Irish Sea towards Liverpool, and I am excited at the prospect of seeing my family, my friends and familiar frontiers, it is just that the place I am leaving has grown to be just as familiar. It has shot roots down inside me, the feeling of the place has taken seed and it is growing.

On paper a lot of the other places I visit while just passing through are more appealing. Their climates are warmer, there winds lighter and more predictable, their waves more easily accessible. But I can never help judging a place on the virtues of Cornwall, my home, and in that regard Clare could have been hewn from the same rock. The air in autumn smells of woodsmoke and coal, the trees, not that there are many, grow in the same eastward tilt, people wave to each other from their cars with the same raised index finger while the rest of the hand grips the steering wheel, in the water I am enveloped in the same neoprene, from head to rubber-clad-toe. In fact there is only one major difference… the waves.

The waves in Ireland are captivating, rare yes, and even when conditions are right they’re not as easy to come by as they may seem. But over the past few weeks they have come to hold a power over me, from the pitching lips of the slabs to the slow trundle of the points and all in-between, I am enamoured. And though the roots are not yet deep enough to put a halt to my travels, there is now another home in my mind up to which other places have to measure, I doubt very much that many places will stand as tall as Cornwall and now Ireland.

Words by Reef Ambassador, Mike Lay
Photos by Jack Johns / @jackjohns

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