Even though I’ve spent the majority of my summer in West Clare’s misty, cool weather, I have still somehow managed to get a pretty good tan. When the sun periodically breaks through the clouds it is dazzling and hot and, considering the large amount of time we’ve spent outdoors these past five weeks, I suppose it’s not surprising that we managed a bit of a suntan. Well, today I realized just how much sun I’ve been exposed to during my stay in Kilkee!

A very angry one-armed crab

Eoin and I spent most of this afternoon observing and gathering a variety of marine life at the Pollock Holes. During the hours we were at the pools, we found the usual assortment of small, orange starfish; periwinkle; a few Sand Goby; three Sea Hares (a type of sea slug), which shot out purple dye when we disturbed them; and two little Hermit Crabs that would not stop fighting until we finally threw one back into a tide pool! A highlight of our excursion today came when a much more seasoned tide pool fisherman was kind enough to give Eoin a one-armed Velvet Swimming Crab to carry around in his bucket for a while! Mr. Seasoned-Fisherman also gave us a thrill when he called us over to see an enormous Spiny Starfish that he and his children managed to catch! Much larger than the orange, Common Starfish that we usually find in abundance, this rarer creature was about a foot in diameter and felt, well – spiny, to the touch!

The jellyfish culprit

All this excitement at the Pollock Holes made the time fly by and before we knew it the tide was beginning to come in and the pools were quickly disappearing around us. We gathered Eoin’s bucket and net and began to make our way back to the shore, with me looking forward to a cup of tea at Diamond Rocks Cafe. However, trouble came in the form of a jellyfish. Not the usual pale lavender Common Jellyfish we have been practically ignoring at this point, this was the larger, Compass Jellyfish with its brown stripes and frilly stingers at the bottom. Eoin managed to see it, catch it in his net and transfer it to his bucket before I was even aware that he was not following me out of the pools. After being called back to witness this treasured catch, and of course, taking the obligatory photograph, I urged him to make a run for the shore before we could no longer do it while staying dry at the same time!

Unfortunately, by this time we, along with a few other people, were standing on a rock island surrounded by water! Luckily, it wasn’t deep enough yet to force us to swim, but we did have to walk through calf-high water to the rocks that led out of the quickly disappearing pools. For Eoin in his Crocs, this was not a problem. However, I was wearing the same leather Keds and sport socks that I have lived in since we arrived in Ireland, the only pair of proper shoes with me. Sure, I could have taken off my shoes and waded through barefoot… however, after witnessing the array of sea creatures we had gathered throughout the day – nothing was going to persuade me to walk barefoot on the rocks through that water! So I risked my Keds and walked through the water in my shoes and socks – not a happy camper. After this, I skipped tea and went straight home to dry my soggy shoes and socks. Not only was I unhappy that my leather shoes were soaked through, but it disturbed me to think how it could have been much worse, with us having to swim to safety – all for the capture of one more exotic sea creature!

Now, with my soaked leather Ked’s stuffed with newspaper and drying out, I am wearing a pair of flip-flops, which I lived in back in Chicago, but haven’t touched since we arrived in Ireland with the weather and the terrain making shoes and sport socks de rigueur. So, after slipping into my unused flip-flops, I was very surprised to look down and see brown legs followed by white ankles and feet! My Kilkee tan!

The Kilkee version of a Farmer's Tan