A few years back, I decided to take on a new challenge and start a series here on Sophie’s World called Sophie tries new things. It is as sporadic as all the rest, but there it is. The challenge is all about saying yes to everything. Well… perhaps not everything, but to a lot.

Whilst in Poland recently, I met lots of new people, one of whom asked me to come over to Ireland to celebrate his 40th birthday in a few weeks. It was to be a long weekend do with people coming in from all over the place, relatives from the US and Canada, etc. It would be four days of fun and games and I simply must come. Yeah, yeah, I thought. By the time we’re home from Krakow, I will have forgotten about it, and so will he. And anyway, it crashed with an important family birthday on the Saturday; a certain little man would be three years old.

Say yes

Turns out he didn’t forget so easily, this guy. A bit of persistence goes a long way with me, apparently – and it did sound like fun. And I was reminded I do want to say yes to more.

But how to celebrate two birthdays in the same weekend in two different countries? Well, where there is a will there is a way. Also, where there is Eurobonus points (air miles by SAS) about to expire, there is a way. That’s the universe right there, telling me to dash over, have some fun, and get back in time for the little one’s birthday party. So I did.

Now, this isn’t a post about a party – just a longish intro to what I want to share with you today, namely a new favourite spot in the neighbourhood (neighbourhood meaning within a 2-hour flying distance).

The party, you see, was held at a hotel on the beach. That’s right. I am just back from a 24-hour beach holiday. In Dublin!

For all the times I’ve been in the city (must be 10 or thereabouts), it has never occurred to me that there might be a lovely, velvety beach in the Irish capital. But there is. And it is appropriately called The Velvet Strand.

Just a 15-minute drive from Dublin airport, you’ll find the little hamlet Port Mearnóg (Portmarnock), and it is a pearl of a place.

What – or who – is this Mearnóg, you ask? Or at least, I asked it for you. After all, this is a blog for the curious.

A Scottish monk, bishop and saint, that’s who. Saint Mernoc, to be specific. He arrived on these shores about 1,500 years ago, that Mernoc, so the story goes. Apparently, he was a popular one. After he died in 625 CE, a cult developed (nothing’s new under the sun).

Not that Mernoc was the first in these parts, not even close. People have been living here since Neolithic times; tools have been found and remains of a ring fort is nearby.

Info board at Portmarnock Velvet Strand, telling us interesting and quirky stories of the beach

Interesting things have taken place in more recent times here on the Velvet Strand as well. How I would love to time travel to 23 June 1930. That’s when Charles Kingsford Smith (Smithy, amongst friends) – a name familiar to all you Aussie readers, I’m sure – climbed into a Fokker Trimotor named Southern Cross here on this very beach, and took off for Newfoundland, then California, and with that, he had circumnavigated the world.

I have always been fascinated by those daring pilots from the early days of aviation. Just like his contemporary Amelia Earhart, Smithy disappeared on a round-the-world journey a few years before World War II. Amelia went down in the Pacific, en route from Lae in New Guinea to Howland Island. Smithy perished in the Andaman Sea, on the way from Allahabad in India to Singapore. They were both born in 1897, and both vanished without a trace while in their late 30s. Intriguing stuff, to be sure. Not surprisingly, people are still at work searching for traces of both Amelia and Smithy.

This eccentric orbit is called – you guessed it – Eccentric Orbit, and is here to commemorate that Southern Cross flight, as well as other flights that have taken off from Velvet Strand. If you want to find the North Star on a starry night, follow the needle line.

Eccentric Orbit, created by Rachel Joynt and Remco de Fouw

The perfect date

Of course, it helped that the weather was lovely the entire 24 hours I was here. Even with a bit of wind coming in from the Irish Sea, the sun warmed through my stockings. It was not April 25th (it was April 28th), and it was not Rhode Island – but close enough. All I needed was a light jacket. 💃🏻

(I left home in party clothes, wandered about on the beach in party clothes, partied all night long and returned home the next day in the very same party clothes. So much new territory to explore and people to meet, there was simply no time to sleep.)

Two days and two birthday celebrations later (and a proper night’s sleep), I’m thinking I might like to rent a place in Port Mearnóg for a little while – a few weeks, maybe –

Perhaps somewhere along this street?

– and write. Not a book, that’s a bit too ambitious. But move heaps of posts out of my head and on to this blog. The list is long.

I will probably have to look for a house with a fire place. It is Ireland, after all; I hear the sun does not show up all the time.

My newfound buddy Buddy, running like a Duracell bunny on the beach. Just here, he had abandoned me for another guy, the tramp.

For you golf enthusiasts out there, I should mention that Port Mearnóg has two world-class golf courses.

And for golfers and the rest of us, we’d all do well to remember to do our little part for Mother Nature, here and elsewhere.

An Trá Chaoin, the Velvet Strand at Port Mearnóg.