The curve of the bay

It’s lovely to see, and always a thrill

Viewed from high, my heart it does fill

Sweeping ‘round the bay

Taking the breath away

Hugging waters so blue, and mirror still

Killiney Bay, Dublin

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Fun in the Sun

Walking on sunshine, the only thing to do

The sky is clear, and it’s great being with you

Let’s have fun in the sun

There’s no need to run

On the warm beach, neath a canvas so blue

Walking on Sunshine

Sandymount Strand, Dublin

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Clouds

They pass on high, without a sound

Day and night, by wind they’re bound

Be they black or white

Such nebulous delight

Making images, that can astound

Big Cloud Country

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Bright Colours

The equinox is over, and the nights close in

Bright colours excite, as the air grows thin

Leaves struggle but fall

To nature’s last call

Wrap up well, another autumn does begin

A riot of colour

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Pierfect Friends

A short story about a young photographer and what happens when he takes ‘that photo’.

It started with a click, then another one. I had taken a few photographs and I reckoned that one of them was worth submitting to the big competition.

The annual event for amateur photographers was open and I felt that one of my photos ‘might have a chance’. ‘People and Place’, was the competition’s theme and I had to submit one photograph for each aspect. As far as ‘Place’ was concerned I was happy with a photograph of Killiney Bay, with the sumptuous curve of the beach as it headed southwards to Bray, and I could almost feel the salty breeze in my face.

I was on the West Pier in Dun Laoghaire Harbour and watched as a happy fisherman let out a shout of triumph, and he was soon sharing high-fives with his two friends. Click, and I hoped that one of my photographs managed to catch the excitement of the scene. This might be ‘People’ submission, I thought, and I moved away.

The breeze, warm and tangy, had lifted a little as I began to walk back along the pier. It was usually quiet, with nothing more than seagulls for company, but today there were plenty of people about and there was talk and laughter in the air. On Cold Harbour Pier, boys jumped, shouting, into the water, each one trying to make the biggest splash. It was high time for high jinks.

‘Hello….,’ I heard a voice say and I turned. I didn’t recognise anyone, but then in the corner of my eye I spotted a hand waving. I pointed at my chest, and the loud reply was ‘Yes’.

I walked over to two girls who were smiling.

‘Hi,’ said the girl with long, blonde hair and sunglasses.

‘Hi, can I help?’ I said.

The girl looked at her friend then handed me her camera. ‘Can you please take a nice photograph of us? I mean, you look like you know how to take a photograph, and it would be nice to have a really good one.’

Both girls smiled, and I couldn’t possibly refuse.

‘No problem. And what sort of photo do you want? Standing together, sitting down or…’

The second girl, who was slightly taller than her friend, said ‘We’ll jump in the air. Ok?’

I grinned. ‘So, let’s jump to it.’

I took three photos as they jumped, hands reaching high, wearing huge smiles. The ‘work’ generated a lot of giggles, before I handed the camera back.

‘That was very kind of you,’ said the second girl whose dark hair was being lifted playfully by the rising breeze.

The girls were about to move away when I asked. ‘Can I take a photo of you girls jumping? Is that okay?’

It was okay, and I took three photos from a slightly different angle, one that showed the girls’ heads, shoulders and outstretched arms against the clear, blue sky with the top of the lighthouse in the right corner. They might have been flying, and I thanked them.

‘You’re welcome,’ they responded in unison, before turning around and laughing. The girl with the dark hair looked over her shoulder and waved. I smiled and waved back. Odd things happen when you have a camera in your hand, I thought, and this was certainly one of them.

Later, I realised that one I had taken of the girls was just wonderful. For there in front of me were the friends, happy as they could be, laughing as they floated in space like characters in a Chagall painting. This was definitely going to be my ‘People’ entry and the more that I looked at it the happier I got. Yes, that photo of these best friends as they flew above the West Pier was indeed perfect. No…it was better than that, and a few moments later I jotted down the photo’s title: ‘Pier-fect Friends’.

Killiney Bay

It was in late October, when I got a phone call from the Chairman of the Competition Committee who told me that ‘Pier-fect Friends’ had won the ‘People’ prize. I was stunned, and managed an excited ‘Thanks’. An exhibition of the winning photos would open in two weeks in The Lexicon gallery, when the formal presentation of the prizes would take place.

Everything seemed to stop while I took in the good news. So, I’d finally won the competition with, as the song goes, ‘a little help from my friends’. I couldn’t believe it, and I made a few calls to let people know, their joy at my success noisily confirming the win. 

There was a big crowd at the opening of the exhibition. This was no surprise, as the Chairman had told me that there had been more entries than ever before. There was a lot of clapping, cheering and photos, of course, and I was featured beside Pier-fect Friends in the local newspaper.  It was great fun, but it was a pity that ‘my friends’ were not around to share it. There was nothing that I could about that, and raising a glass I wished them well….and thanks.

*

Autumn turned to winter and I enjoyed taking photos with the new camera that I had won. Having left university in June I was looking for a job in photography, and I was happy to be offered some work by a professional photographer. I took photos at a couple of weddings, a twenty-first birthday party and snapped away when the Taoiseach cut the ribbon at the extension a local hospital. It was interesting work, but I still wondered what happened to my friends. Of course, it was likely that they didn’t live in the area so did not know about the winning photo. And, as one of them lived abroad, that lessened the chances even further of them finding out. There was nothing I could do, and as I was busier than ever I had other things to think about.

At the start of Christmas Week when I was getting ready to take photos of Santa’s arrival at a Children’s Hospital my mobile rang.

‘Hello, Joseph here.’

I could hear someone’s breathing coming, and I had to speak a second time. ‘Hello, is there someone there?’

‘Yes….yes, excuse me, but I’m nervous about making this call.’

I was listening to a girl’s voice, but I didn’t recognise it.

‘I’m sorry…I must sound awful.’

‘Hey, don’t worry about it, ok?’

‘Sure…and thanks.’

‘That’s all right, and how can I help you? Have you dialled the correct number?’

That got a snigger. ‘You’re the guy who took our photograph on the West Pier, aren’t you?’

This was unexpected. ‘Yes, I’m Joseph Nolan, and that photograph won a big prize. So, thanks for being…my models.’

‘I know, and Jenny’s mother sent me a copy of the local newspaper where she saw it. Oh, and I’m Shelly.’

‘Good, and I’m glad that you’ve seen it.’

There was a long silence before she continued. ‘I was delighted to see it, and how happy we were in it. Because….that was the last photograph we were in together.’

I was stunned. ‘Do you want to tell me what happened?’

Over the next ten minutes Shelly told me about how Jenny had gone out walking one evening when she was killed in a hit-and-run incident. And, as her camera had gone missing Shelly had never seen the photos that I had taken with her camera.

When she stopped talking I could hear her voice was breaking.

‘I am so sorry to hear this…as I had often wondered where you girls were. I mean, I wanted to say thanks for helping me, but…’

Shelly sniffled.

‘But I would like to meet you and give you a copy of the photograph. And, of course, to say THANKS. Coffee?’

She giggled and I recognised the sound immediately. And I also realised that Shelly was the girl with the dark hair.

‘Anytime, really.’

‘Good,’ I said, and we agreed to meet the next day.

*

TWOBEANS, Dun Laoghaire

I arrived early at The Two Beans coffee shop and got a table and ordered a coffee and Danish pastry. I thought about Shelly’s voice and how pained it sounded as I listened to the sad news, so different to the beautiful laughter I remembered on the pier.

I looked up as Shelly pushed open the door and stepped inside. She was wearing a dark blue coat, a colourful cheque scarf and leather gloves. Her eyes seemed to trying to be on their best behaviour and her dark hair was, as someone once ‘windswept and interesting’.

I waved.

‘Hi,’ I said, ‘it’s nice to see you again.’

‘Hi, and thanks for meeting me. It’s Christmas Week and everyone is running around like headless chickens..’

I put a hand up. ‘Not a problem. In fact, I am really pleased that you called and that we’ve met up…because I wanted to give you this,’ I said and gave her a present. ‘This is for you…the both of you, for your help.’

Shelly tore at the paper. ‘Wow,’ she cried ‘this is…so kind of you. Thanks…thanks a million.’ She pursed her lips a couple of times and, thankfully, no tears came.

‘Well, if Jenny hadn’t asked me to take some photos with her camera I would not have met you and, I would not have taken that photograph.’ I raised my cup. ‘Thanks for your help; I’m forever in your debt.’

We chatted for a long time, ordered a second round of coffee and cakes, as I told her about winning the competition and she told of being back home for the first Christmas without her best friend.

‘I’m very sorry for your loss.’

Shelly nodded; her hands wrapped around the cup of coffee. I could see in her eyes that she was thinking of saying something, so I sipped coffee and waited.

Shelly slowly put her cup down and wiped her lips. ‘You said that you were forever in my debt…yes?’

I nodded. ‘Yes….absolutely.’

‘Forever is a long time…so what are you doing on New Year’s Eve?’

‘I might be working…..might, but nothing has been agreed yet. So, at this very moment, I’m free.’

Shelly leaned closer, and I found out that she had been invited to a party in Killiney and she wanted to know if I would go to it with her. ‘It’s in Barbara’s house, and she is insisting that I attend, and when Barbara insists..’

I nodded.

‘She, along with Jenny and I were in class together, so we have plenty of history.’

‘I wouldn’t want to miss that party.’ 

Shelly grinned, and her brown eyes lit up the place.

It was the best Christmas present that I could have hoped for. ‘I’d be delighted to go along.’

Shelly smiled before saying ‘That’s perfect…or should I say pier-fect.’

I laughed so hard I was surprised that I wasn’t asked to leave the coffee shop. It was already a good start to the Festive Season, and now I was really looking forward to going to the party with Shelly, and wondering what the New Year had in store – for both of us. Life was full of surprises; I know that now – and some of them, thankfully, were very nice indeed. Click!     

West Pier, Dun Laoghaire

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Wave

I’m the wave, that tickled your toe

All washed up, with nowhere to go

But wait a second

The tide’s just beckoned

Off again, nature’s ebb and flow

Ebb and Flow

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The Boy is Back in Town

The first man caught, and last one down

On his final day, he wore not a frown

Now after many years

And to happy cheers

The Sandycove boy, is back in town

The boy is back in town

Statue to Sir Roger Casement at Sandycove, Dublin Bay

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Gimme Shellter

The shell I discovered, was lying alone

No seaweed nearby, or friendly stone

With no place to hide

Or waves to ride

Now on my desk, it’s found a new home

Gimme Shellter

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Littoral Image

It was raining again, a steady drizzle falling

A walk by the sea, to my mind was calling

The wind blew slight

On the misty bight

Cool littoral image, I like recalling

Littoral Image

Kitesurfers riding the wind on Dublin Bay

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Apple Time

The first sign of autumn, as apples do fall

I gather them up, what a wonderful haul

Golden pies are done

‘Oh, let’s have one’

And I can’t say no, to friends who call

Autumn Joy

These beautiful apples are from my friend’s Garden of Eddie

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