Bundoran, not far from the town of Donegal. It is a seaside town and isn’t very active during the off season, which is when I was there. I headed Bundoran way in the afternoon of March 10th. When I got off the bus, I walked down to the beach. This was it. This was the moment I was going to be able to finally dip my toes into the ocean. I should specify that it was cold that day. The “wear a scarf and windbreaker because that wind is completely Baltic” kind of day.

I get excited whenever I am near water. I was likely meant to be beside the ocean at all times. Alberta is quite landlocked, but even being in front of a lake brings me peace. The ocean energizes me. I was excited to take the plunge. Well, just my feet for now. Hypothermia wasn’t super appealing to me in that moment…

Beautiful beach. Off go the shoes, off go the socks!

Ignore the pale, reflective legs. It’s just the Irish uniform. I am obligated to comply, you know! I have to specify that my feet went deeper into the water, but it was so damn cold that I couldn’t even function when my feet first touched the water. It took a few dips before I could even think about breathing again! There is a video of the whole thing on my Instagram somewhere. I think it was also forwarded onto my Facebook page for your viewing enjoyment!

There was squealing, and laughing. It was a great moment.

After I shoed up again, I was on the hunt for a washroom. I find that in public areas here – the ones where you would potentially find large crowds, there is a serious lack of public washrooms. I started towards the town, hoping to find somewhere with a washroom. I was willing to pay at this point.

As I was walking towards town, a woman stopped me. She asked me if there were other beaches past the rocky shale wall. I told her I didn’t know, that I had only been in Bundoran for a couple of hours. She asked me where I was from, so I told her I was Canadian. An hour long conversation followed. My poor bladder.

Meet Pauline.

Pauline is a beach treasure enthusiast. Specifically, she is really into sea glass. While walking along the beach, I found a single piece of sea glass and a couple of interesting shells. Pauline, however, had picked up a ton of cool things. She started showing me and explaining what they all were. There were shells, pieces of sea glass, porcelain, pottery and rocks – some with fossils – in her bag. I learned so much in that hour!

Pauline was sitting and sorting through her finds, inspecting them further to evaluate whether or not she should keep them or return them to the beach. In the process, she gifted me some interesting pieces.

She remarked that the shells she found along the West coast of Ireland were much thicker than the ones that washed up onto the Eastern shores of the Emerald Isle. Maybe it’s a protein thing, or a calcium thing? Neither of us knew. Marine biologists… do you have an explanation for this?

Pauline is currently living in Bray, not far from Dublin. I am told that there is a porcelain factory there and that subsequently, one can find many broken pieces of broken, polished porcelain washing up onto the shores. Why they are in the ocean in the first place is a good question to ask, but I didn’t think to ask it. Maybe the pieces come from a long time ago before conscious efforts were made to conserve the health of our oceans. I’ll be venturing that way eventually on the hunt for this interesting shore!

I am told there are conventions for sea glass collectors. Pauline explained to me that some collect any piece of sea glass, but others have found a niche of sorts, focusing on specific pieces. The bottom of bottles, for example. She held one up to the sky, and you could see where the glass was thinner and where is was almost opaque because of the dark consistency of the glass, but also because the ocean had worn it down and made it a bit cloudy. Apparently, some people track down where the bottles came from by using the numbers and letters that are formed onto the glass. Imagine, finding a piece of bottle from the era of grand sea voyages. Whether or not the ship sank, or crewmen threw the bottle into the ocean may never be traceable, but it’s an interesting thought nonetheless!

Some collectors focus on the colour of the glass. White, blue, green, or any other colour. Others focus on pottery, or porcelain. Some porcelain and pottery pieces are very interesting because of designs that may have been engraved, shaped into, or painted onto the outside of the pieces. Time and friction may have worn the pieces down, but that’s part of what makes them so special. If we break a vase at home, we will likely be upset, but we’ll toss the pieces into the garbage can. Finding a piece like this on a shore, a piece that has been softened by waves and sand, is all of a sudden very valuable for the person finding it. One person’s trash is another person’s treasure.

Many of the rocks that Pauline picked up on the beach in Bundoran included fossils. I think they are crinoid fossils, but I really don’t know enough about marine life to be able to accurately say that’s what they are. They’re cool though!! I probably wouldn’t even have noticed them if she hadn’t pointed them out. “There’s a huge one over on the beach.” she said. “Probably would need a big piece of machinery to remove it, though!” – how did I not notice something that large!! I suppose I didn’t know I was even looking for it!

As for my little piece of sea glass… “That’s a good piece!” She said. “It’s really soft and clouded over!” – Yes. At least I found one cool thing on my own! 😉

After we parted ways, my pockets full of beach treasures, and a bladder ready to burst, I found a washroom and took the bus back to Donegal…


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