As she settles into her new office-bound life, digital editor LEONIE CORCORAN finds weekends spent exploring Ireland’s wild coast all the more vital.


Leonie Corcoran on how Ireland’s wild coast keeps her balanced

Last month, I wrote about being newly office-bound and the power of being part of a village, aka the office team. Over the past few weeks, I’ve seen the power of this IMAGE village as everyone worked together to launch Ireland’s first ever beauty festival. Over two days, we hosted more than 30 speakers and 17 sessions, as well as countless moving parts. The energy was as inspiring as the ideas were rich. The event, of course, was incredible and the feedback as glowy as Patrick Ta’s signature makeup look (see more on that on

A beauty festival would not be a natural fit for me (hold the giggles, ladies who know me), but my thirtysome­thing self found myself, again, strangely comfortabl­e. This was something I planned to reflect on as I took a boat to Cape Clear Island the following weekend. I say “planned” because the reality was a hilarious rollercoas­ter-like transit that left no time for reflection.

I spent many childhood summers in Schull, Co Cork. I couldn’t tell you what we did during those days, but I remember rock pools, eyeing up French students and trips to all of the islands close by. For thirtysome­thing me, it was the perfect place to land, with the added benefit of the West Cork foodie scene.

After eating our way through Ballydehob, where a childhood favourite – Annie’s – remains a delight as does Budds, with an essential stop-off in Levis, and stocking up at Schull’s Sunday market, we were bound for Ireland’s most southerly island. Cape Clear is a Gaeltacht

( Oileán Chléire), with a winter population of 130 people that triples in summer. I recalled hilly walks, goat’s milk ice-cream and views to Fastnet Rock. All in all, a much more natural fit for me… Irish language aside.

As we stepped aboard the ferry, I savoured the smell of the sea as I tucked the unsure foster mutt under my arm. On this new vessel, there’s a sheltered indoor area downstairs, but we chose the top deck, along with a new friend and his Newfoundla­nd dog. Realistica­lly, he probably just couldn’t get the giant dog downstairs. Our skipper cast a laughing look at our optimism and even slowed the vessel to give us a chance to relocate before we hit open water. But where would be the fun in that? We sat tight and then whooped, shouted and laughed with the waves and got so wet even my runners squelched as we disembarke­d. At Cotters Bar, we de-robed as much as it was decent to do so to dry off. The Cape Clear Ferry crew arrived with a spare hoodie and T-shirt for me. The laughs continued and followed us as we crossed the island, exploring, chatting and making new friends at every incredible view.

Travel – everywhere and anywhere – is a natural fit for me.

For years, I’ve taken every opportunit­y to jump on a plane. Happy to travel in company, delighted to travel solo, travel is, for me, a joy. It is the chance to connect with nature and communitie­s, to awaken senses, taste new flavours and seek new experience­s. Three years ago, I started dating a man who showcases Ireland to tourists. I had always been proud to be Irish, but suddenly, I was exploring regions I’d only, embarrassi­ngly, read about. Cape Clear was my chance to show him somewhere new; to feed our desire for new experience­s and community connection­s.

I might not have given the selfreflec­tion the attention it deserves, but I certainly had a giggle and fed my adventurou­s soul. And I came back to the office armed with a new travel guide (you know where you can find it) and a clear ( chléire) appreciati­on for our incredible Irish villages.

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