We returned to Spanish Point after more than 50 years and recognised the reef of rocks jutting out into the bay. The cliffs too, even though eroded here and there, remain etched in our memories, as of course does the restless Atlantic itself. All these are still familiar from idealistic younger summer holidays, when we shared them with sisters from many other congregations. At mid-century Spanish Point had basic holiday accommodation for many large Irish convents, and little else for visitors.
That was long before the arrival of some lovely holiday houses, hundreds of mobile homes and caravans, surfers and a life guard! The popular Willie Clancy festival now attracts thousands of national and international tourists, including some brave cyclists carrying their camping gear. And the old Armada pub is a huge, modern, bustling hotel and restaurant.
In the intervening years some distinguished visitors came to the historic Point, including King Juan Carlos and Queen Sophia of Spain in 1986. Their visit commemorated the sad ending of some survivors from the hapless Spanish Armada 400 years previously. Thankfully today the west coast of Ireland is more hospitable!
As returned natives we had much on which to reflect from our own far journeying. Especially we gave thanks for nature’s gifts of so much beauty that endures. There is reassurance in the remembered stone, tides and sand hills covered with coarse vegetation. Someone watches and takes care of it all, and of us too, over busy fluctuating decades. And the changing moods of the sea itself seem to echo the heartbeat of a universe of which we are all a part, within the very heart of God. Only now we are aware of our responsibility for watching over and protecting such a wonderful inheritance.