The word tra in Irish translates to beach. After a couple hours driving under the blazing sun, my travel partner and I are in the mood for a good one of these. To us, a beach is a place to refresh in the water and then stretch out to dry under the sun. It also includes good surf.
I wonder what beach means in real world terms to a native Irish person. I grew up in Seattle, which has a similar rainy climate to Ireland. Washington State beaches are rocky and windy and cold; swimming and sunning is no fun because you freeze. I was compelled out of the cold by California, the land of perpetual summer, and quickly discovered Malibu, the land of magnificent swimming beaches. An Irish woman in Ballyvaughan tells me she likes the beach in Fanore, and we're going there to check it out.
Fanore fits the bill in all the right ways. It has rich gold, red, and black sands mixed attractively on its wide shore. The beach is renowned for its sand dunes. Camping is allowed in these dunes. We take off our shoes and go barefoot down to test the water.
The water is cool, but about the same temperature as Malibu this time of year. There is no surf, but that is okay because we have other destinations for this. The water is clear as glass, and the sun sparkles in the facets of waves. I spot small jellyfish with clear bodies and purple centers, so watch out while swimming. The water depth is quite shallow, so we must wade out for a swim. My travel partner and I have fun horsing around in the waves.
Back on the beach, we find the perfect spot for a nap. There are all walks of life at Fanore, but it is not too crowded or noisy. We nap alongside some rocks characteristic of The Burren. They are filled with wondrous tide pools supporting colorful species of plant life. After we wake up, my travel partner is intrigued by these forms and takes some photographs.
Watching the people of all different shapes and sizes reminds me of turn of the century caricature drawings I've seen of people at the beach. They depict humans doing the funniest things when they are exposed and enjoying life. Fanore is the same scene - kids going ballistic in the water, lovers nestling close and anointing each other with sunscreen, old men allowing themselves to be buried in the sand. It is a true scene of life and the inner workings of people. It is the same on any beach where people gather.