Ode Roundstone Bay

I gaze out my village window at the rippling waves of grey-green luminescence
that carry the ocean tide into Roundstone Bay. The witnessing of these daily tides takes
on a greater importance now in this time of Corona virus lockdown. The repetitive daily
cycles, governed by the moon and the ceaseless spinning of our planet, remind me that
life and time flow on. The tides sing a whispered promise that we will flow beyond this
global pandemic.
I experience a renewed kinship with all of nature that this magnificent bay
supports now. Schools of mackerel, cod, lobsters, scallops, prawns, and crab. An
occasional pair of dolphins or otters play in her surf. I am told there used to be
numerous frolicking seals, giving rise to the name of the bay and harbouring village,
Cloch Na Ron, or Rock of the Seals. Life-giving seaweeds and other grasses thrive in
her mineral rich waters.
Overhead the squawking seagulls dive, fish, rest, and dive again. They must be
wondering where all the humans are now to feed them their daily breadcrumbs and
chips. The local pair of grey herons grow bolder with their seaside wading. Their
predatory stance appears more striking with the human absence. I am startled by their
harsh choking screech in flight, so piercing now in the Covid-19 stillness. From the
island of Inish Ni across the bay, I hear a lone cuckoo signalling her migratory presence.
This is followed by the echo of the morning doves around me mimicking in response.
Only two fishing boats go out on the bay now. The sound of their engines
resonates off the stones of Nimmo’s Pier. The lobster pots and netting are left behind
and piled high on the causeways in lonely anticipation of future bounty. The pier is
named for Alexander Nimmo, a Scottish engineer commissioned to build harbours,
roads, and houses in the West of Ireland in the early 1800’s. This enhanced engineering
was required to safely harbour the flourishing commerce as the waters were teeming with
curraghs and Galway hookers. There was an active trade then of transporting peat from
the Roundstone Bog in exchange for goods from other villages further south along the
Atlantic coast and Galway Bay.
This tradition is celebrated each July with the Roundstone Regatta, a glorious
weekend of races and camaraderie. On a fine sunny day, the billowing of red sails
against the navy-blue waters under an azure sky is a breath-taking sight to behold. I
was privileged one year to witness their silent arrival in the twilight eve of the races. It
was one of those magical summer nights where the orange-pink sunset was followed by
a brilliant glowing golden moonrise that illuminated the silhouette of these splendid
boats against the dark waters.
The Twelve Pins of Connemara loom over the head of the bay, with Cashel Hill
flanking the Eastern shore, and Errisbeg Mountain flanking the Western shore. These
ancient and stoic presences surround the regatta and sit like ancient judges on an
Olympic reviewing stand. Their gentle silence these days grants patience and
perseverance. I am deeply comforted by the beauty, flow, nature, and life-giving wonder
of this superb waterway now. I hear the promise offered that the Corona virus will soon
be another distant memory and life will continue to flow in glorious splendour.