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Where surf meets the sky

There’s nothing so exciting and unpredictable as the natural wonders that surround us. Like the energy and randomness of waves crashing onto the shore.

Atlantic ocean waves can change very quickly from mere ripples into storm-driven curling monster walls of water that break in an explosion of spray and foam over clifftops like Downpatrick Head.

At other times, when the sea swell, tide, current and wind are ideal, the waves stage a display not equalled for beauty and movement by any man-made fountain.

Not even the music choreographed Dubai Fountain I had the pleasure of seeing a few years ago that shoots water as high as 500 feet can compare to the natural water spectacles to be experienced here in Mayo.

These wave fountains are an incredible spectacle and among the many wonders of the Mayo coastline shaped over millions of years by the pounding of the sea.

As the wave crashes over the rocky shore, the sunlit surf reaches skyward as if to meet the clouds in a majestic moment of pure natural symmetry amid all the randomness of each wave’s height, duration, and shape.

Where surf meets the sky .. Mayo’s wondrous waves. Photo: Anthony Hickey

The sounds of the breaking wave is another part of the enjoyment. Waves hit the rocks in a thunderous crash – and other times break in a booming roar that rumbles along the uneven shoreline, fading into the distance like a receding thunderstorm in June.

As a wave reaches the caves and caverns that the relentless pounding of the North Atlantic has bulldozed and carved into the towering cliffs, the booming echo through the underworld is an eerie sound.

The waves create their own music – a crescendo of sound to announce their arrival.

It’s an awesome display of nature as tall columns of water burst over the rocky shoreline – sometimes like a geyser shooting straight for the sky – and other times a crashing wave forms a climbing wall of surf and spray sparkling against the sun.

Where surf meets the sky .. Mayo’s wondrous waves at Killerduff pier. Photo: Anthony Hickey

Watching this spectacle is both an exciting and calming experience. As is the case with waves, you never know what to expect next – but you will never be disappointed.

The accompanying photos of Mayo’s wave fountains, as I like to describe this particular phenomenon, are mere reminders of a natural spectacle that no camera could ever do just to. Neither words nor photos can ever convey the true wonder of standing in the wilderness and watching wave after wave smashing into the Mayo shoreline.

Where surf meets the sky .. Mayo's wondrous waves. Photo: Anthony Hickey
Where surf meets the sky .. Mayo’s wondrous waves. Photo: Anthony Hickey

Such wonderful and unpredictable displays of nature have inspired writers and poets to compare waves to our human struggles and to the lyricism of the poetry and prose we create to make sense of our existence.

The Indian poet Avijeet Das likens waves to how we form thoughts and ideas.

Where surf meets the sky .. Mayo’s wondrous waves. Photo: Anthony Hickey

“The waves in our mind’s ocean will keep on dashing against the rocks. The waves are the new thoughts and ideas that take shape in our mind. The rocks in our mind are the firm convictions that have been formed since our childhood.

“But we must learn to be flexible. It is a great advantage to be flexible rather than rigid in our mind. At the same time we must learn to be mindful. To be mindful is to allow the waves to flow and dash in their natural way. Let each wave flow and dash against each rock!”

Where surf meets the sky .. Mayo’s wondrous waves. Photo: Anthony Hickey

Russian poet, Marina Tsvetaeva compared the lyrical element to the waves of the sea.

The same water—a different wave.
What matters is that it is a wave.
What matters is that the wave will return.
What matters is that it will always return different.
What matters most of all: however different the returning wave, it will always return as a wave of the sea.
What is a wave? Composition and muscle. The same goes for lyric poetry

Where surf meets the sky .. Mayo’s wondrous waves. Photo: Anthony Hickey

By Anthony Hickey

Follow writer and photographer, Anthony Hickey, as he travels around his native Co. Mayo, Ireland.