This summer has provided evidence that childhood memories of warm, cloudless days spent outdoors were not simply make-believe but were grounded – to some extent – in experience. The benign weather brought an upsurge in activities ranging from hill and coastal walking to cycling and water sports while barbeques, long concealed under rain covers, regained a central place in family cuisine. It encouraged Irish people and foreign visitors alike to discover the delights of the countryside in all their manifestations.
The Going Coastal series of articles in this newspaper not only extolled the beauty of our seascapes, they provided a glimpse into the lives of people who live in these localities and the difficulties they face. You may not be able to “eat scenery” as hard-headed realists complain, but beautiful surroundings certainly make life more enjoyable. Wonderful views are the greatest assets of many local communities as they struggle to diversify and recover from the effects of recession.
Tourist numbers are up this year and while foreign visitors do not come here expecting fine weather, sunny days lift morale and show the countryside at its best. Hopefully, their experiences will feed into repeat business and positive word-of-mouth advertising. The number of domestic holidays has also risen, with individuals and families taking full advantage of the finest summer in six years.
Now, in mid-August, the days are beginning to shorten. But hill and coastal walkers can still ramble along mountainsides and sea cliffs for up to 12 hours at a stretch and still have plenty of daylight to spare. For such a small country, Ireland has a wide range of attractions, both coastal and in the green, somnolent interior, along rivers, lakes and canal banks. In many instances, the landscape is unrivalled. The delights of late summer and autumn remain to be experienced. There is nothing like fresh air, exercise and beautiful scenery to add sweetness to life. All three are readily available, at no cost, to those who wish to go tramping.