Thursday, March 17, 2011



It would seem the only good way to acquaint oneself with Ireland is through the eyes and words of those who love her most … her people. And yet, it seems as well, that same thought must also include almost any traveller, ex-pat, or short term visitor who's set foot on Irish soil … save possibly those out for power and plunder … because no man or woman I’ve ever met, having had the pleasure of travelling there, appears to have escaped the tender trap of her obivious charms.

My first sight of Ireland came through the window of an inbound jet, where beneath me, billowing from the sea like a great green and gold duvet, stitched 'round by the sea’s white ruffle … lay a dream come to life.

Somewhere, in the theory of 'tribal memory' must lie a smidgen of truth, suggesting that along with our genetic predisposition toward hair colour, eyes, ears, etc. come our inexplicable likes, dislikes, traits, yearnings and gifts as well  ...  an interesting idea to ponder long on no doubt, but as yet unproven. However, my need to see Ireland (and I do not use the word 'need' loosely here as obsession might be more to the point) has been with me since childhood. Perhaps though, instead of through the willy-nilly sparking of genetic synapses', my yearnings for a hearth away from home stem from the tall tales of six wild Irish uncles and three, sometimes equally as wild aunts who embedded, in a fertile young imagination, the longing for a land yet unseen. And, along with the longing a heavy dose for the love of myth and storytelling were passed on as well to   umpteen dozens of 'all ears' (sometimes literally) cousins and me. In the castings of my family's enduring spells grew a world imbued with a love of poetry and prose, music, song and dance, shot through with more than a passing glance toward melancholy, procrastination and the greatest gift of all ... an unquenchable, irreverent sense of humour. So faithfully were these traits passed on, that if I were asked to choose what part of Ireland I found most beautiful I know, without doubt, I'd have to choose her people, including those who grew rooted outside the motherland (seperated by heartache, desperation, adventure and happenstance) ... along with the yet unborn who were imprinted by osmosis to carry forth all that it means to be Irish.

Although I might mention in retrospect, notwithstanding the beauty of the Irish themselves, there is a place I discovered on a my first road trip away from my place in Ballydehob! It will be near impossible to give exact directions, depending upon the direction you’re heading out from, but if you happen to be driving from the south going north (or whichever direction that may be whilst driving on the wrong side of the road in a lather of utter confusion) through Connemara, past Clifden, past Letterfrack, and not too far past Kylemore Abbey, be sure to sweep your eyes wide to the right (either a bit before or after the junction of the R344) and you'll see what I came half way around the world to see … a small, grassy knoll where indolent, unshorn sheep graze amongst rugged rocks and spring lambs shelter by old stonewalls, shadowing in the light of flickering leaves and racing clouds … and where too, the lovely Maumturks grace the distance blue and serene.

The image I’ve posted above this ramble is not the best, but I keep it to remind me that somewhere, just beside the road that leads to Leenane, lies a ‘lost heart’ waiting not so patiently for its owner to come back and retrieve it. 

Oh, and if you’ve never been to the badlands up top where the Coomhola River wends like a silver ribbon through the valley below … do go! Mind now, it’s not a shortcut from Killarney to Ballylickey as one might expect, nor a day-trip for the faint-hearted ... I can vouch for that ... but getting lost up there, if you're feeling especially adventurous, may well be worth every wild skip of a heartbeat and a white knuckle or two. And surely, if you tarry long enough, in the lull between gloamin' and nightfall, you're bound to hear the ghost of a rebel song, left behind by the martyrs who once hid in those hills, still lamenting to this day ... in the wind that sweeps between the rocks and down the deep corries.

Map to Paradise


Norma said...

Actually Monica I rather like the texture of that photo, gives it a slightly 'dreamlike' quality.

Love your story, maybe you should be writing for the Irish tourist board.

My Irish ancestors hail from Magherafelt, Co Londonderry, they migrated to New Zealand in 1861, a very long time ago, and it's one of my 'dreams' to my Irish genes back 'home' one of these days :)

Susan said...

You surely do lovely photographs, makes me wish I could visit my roots in Ireland. The family historian discovered my greatgrandmother was a niece of Bram Stoker.

Wish on a Whisker said...

Monica~ Loved visting your lovely blog! Really enjoyed this post! I've wanted to go to Ireland since I saw the movie ~PS- I Love You~. It looked like something out of a dream. You make it seem that way also... With love~ Mandy