Friday, August 17, 2012

Ireland, Day One

Above---the Blister, her friend and her sister-in-law, all of them quite mad, went off cycling ridiculous distances in the Tour de Burren, along with their assorted, equally mad, menfolk. Being somewhat saner, I elected to mind the house, staying warm and dry, curled up in the cozy kitchen with "Major Pettigrew." As the cyclists disappeared into the early morning mist I settled in with my book and my cup of tea.

By mid-morning the drizzle lifted, so off I ventured, up the lane,

 across the fields,

 past curious cows,

 past the castle,

and finally, not finding the path that would take me upward to the rocky landscape for which The Burren is famous, I climbed over a farmer's gate, pretending not to see the No Trespassing sign, and legged it, fast as I could, up and up and up. 

The higher I climbed, the rockier it became. I think it was Oliver Cromwell, whom the Irish have no reason to love, who said of this area that there was "Not enough soil to bury a man, not enough wood to hang a man and not enough water to drown a man." I think he was wrong about the water. There's plenty of it but much of it flows underground. As I sat, with my back to a rock, I could hear the trickle behind and below me!

People come to this area from all around the world, geologists and botanists especially, to study the limestone terrain and the unusual flowers that grow in the crevices, protected from elements that would normally mean they would not thrive at such a northern latitude

 In no time at all I was up high enough to see all of Co.Clare, and Galway Bay to boot---quite a spectacular view and well worth the huffing and puffing!.

I sat a while and breathed it all in. Such a beautiful place. Easy for me to say. It's beauty meant that land owners here had a hard life, trying to eke a living from the rocky soil. Many had to leave and seek a better life in America when the potato famine meant there was nothing to eat. You cannot feed your children on rocks and pretty, exotic plants.  Thank God for tourism.

Sitting on a rock, looking out at this sweep of Irish countryside and letting my mind wander, I wondered at life, the places it takes you, the twists in the plot....When I'm here I feel I belong to this place, Ireland, and it to me, but among the people [except those closest to me] I feel like a stranger, an outsider---maybe even a traitor.  Somebody , I don't know who, said you can never go home again. And someone else I read recently said---once you live away from Ireland you'll never belong there again.

I  just know that this place stirs something deep in my soul, maybe subconscious memories of past generations, and no matter what anybody says, I know that when I'm here I'm home.

Note: click on the photos for a larger view. Also, notice the castle to the right in the last picture, the same one I passed on my upward climb. It is now a college of art.

Another note: I just realized this is a bit repetitive----and I had the nerve to make fun of the Prince for retelling, ad nauseum, the Threadbare Tales. Looks like I'm working on my own set of Tales. Mea culpa.
But at least, with this [re]telling, you get photographs.


jkhenson said...

Breathtaking views, Molly. Simply beautiful! On my list of places to see! :)

patty said...

thank you, thank you for the views! I've not lived in Ireland (at least not yet) but felt I was HOME when I visited and I do get homesick when I see my travel photos. Please continue stories and all

Relatively Retiring said...

Please tell me about all those wonderful fish on the kitchen ceiling.

Ali Honey said...

We too felt very at home in Ireland. The green is our exact tone of green...but I suspect we have more depth of fertile soil to grow crops in. We also felt very at home in Southern England.
The hanging fish have bells hanging on their it a wind charm?
That 3rd or 4th photo of the narrow country lane is so so typical of many we drove along. The one we loved the best led into a little village called Quin. It looked so picture postcard perfect.
Did you notice all the half finished new houses? - that is sad.
I'd happily go back to visit Ireland again and see the parts I missed.

Molly said...

Jen---go while you're still young enough to walk miles and miles! Shank's mare is the best way to see Ireland. Never mind the bus tours that promise you "Ireland in three days or less!" You'd barely scratch the surface of one county [and there are thirty two] in that much time!

Patty---Yes, there will be more. After the first few thousand I had to start deleting duds, and, eventually, buy another memory card!

RR---I loved them too! They're made of fabric,I don't know by whom. The Blister is off, being very silent, on a Buddhist retreat, but when she gets back I'll find out more!

Ali---there are other parts of Ireland that have very fertile soil, but not in the west! Google Earth gives a fantastic view of the Burren around the town and shoreline in the Ballyvaughan area....

Thimbleanna said...

Oh Molly! Your photos are beautiful. I hope to go to Ireland someday -- I keep going to Scotland LOL. How wonderful that you had a day to yourself where you could just sit and think. Sounds perfect to me!

persiflage said...

It looks so beautiful. Having Irish forebears myself, from around Killaloe, I'd like to visit one day, and I am slowly reading more about Irish history. Cromwell seemed a charmless man!
More, please.

Molly said...

Tsk,tsk anna! You could combine the two, though I didn't do that myself--much as I'd love to visit Bonnie Scotland. I did get to England though, and [whisper, whisper] fell in love with it---at least the southwest part.

Persi---Fancy that! Killaloe is a beautiful spot. Right on the river Shannon. We used to go there on Sunday drives when we were growing up and The Blister and GB had a little house there when they were first married. Don't let the grass grow----go soon!

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

And what wonderful photos they are , too . Ireland really is very beautiful , isn't it !

Isabelle said...

Goodness, the Prince died! I don't know what to say except... well, how sad that he died alone, I suppose. Except that we're all kind of alone when we die. Your FIL and my mum - pity they never met. Maybe they reached the P Gates at much the same time; they could have swapped war stories.

It rather reminds me of what Spike Milligan had engraved on his tombstone: "I told you I was ill."

(I have to say that I sympathise with him about the tv. My mum had an all-day tv watcher in the first ward she was in and it drove us potty.)

Friko said...

No, you can never go home when you've been away for a while. The home you left no longer exists. Only the landscape does, if you're lucky.