In Kerry and Clare and perhaps in other places too, the word “abroad” was often used instead of “outside”. For example: “I was abroad in the garden”. I once heard a story of a man who was due to appear in the District Court in Kilrush to answer some minor charge but failed to turn up. At the next sitting he was hauled before the court and asked to explain his absence on the previous day. “I was abroad in Cappagh catching the ass, your honour” came the reply. It was a good excuse and, apparently, the judge left him off.
Well, I was abroad in Banna Beach this morning and I could be forgiven for reporting that I was in The Algarve or The Costa del Sol. Even at 11.30 a.m. the sun was beating down, the sky was a deep blue, the temperature was 21C, the water was warm and the golden sands stretched away into the distance. A slight haze caused the mountains on the horizon to shimmer in the sunlight.
Already the car park was almost full, ice cream vendors were doing a steady trade, blankets were being laid down, wind shelters were being set up, creams and lotions were being applied and all was well with the world.
The call of the odd gull was echoed by the shrieks of the delighted children splashing at the water’s edge. Games of football, tennis and volleyball were starting up. One or two surfboarders were braving the swell. A dog retrieved a thrown ball from the waves over and over. A few joggers and walkers were out doing their annual exercise. An elderly couple shuffled along in the shallow tide, he with trouser legs rolled up to the knees, she with hem raised to safety.
Who, seeing this idyllic scene, would choose the queue at airports, the security checks, the worry of baggage limits, the long flight, language difficulties, the hassle, when we have heaven on our doorstep? No need to go any further abroad than our back yard.