—From EF—

It rains, it rains, and the air is rich with ravens — swooping, quorking unsolicited instructions . . .

Sounds like a good opening for an Irish song, but it’s just what came into my mind as I was beginning to think of this week’s blog. Today, Sunday, we’re in Kilkenny; last Tuesday we were on Inis Mor, the largest of the Aran Islands. The plan was to take the ferry from Doolin, the closest port, and we stayed Monday night at a very sweet hostel.

Come morning, the word was that no boats would embark from Doolin, given the violent weather. We’d paid a non-refundable 100 Euros for our Aran B&B and were aghast. Our valiant hostel-keeper, however, phoned our B&B and was told that the ferry was still running from another port west of Galway, a two-hour drive, and we might be able to get there in time.

Indeed, we were able to get there, park the car, walk onto the boat, and begin a stay on Inis Mor. We even had an hour of watery sunshine and did a modest walk northward toward the major cliff-and-fort sights. We’d leave the major trek to the next day, with assistance from one of the many battered vans that accommodate tours for a mere 15 Euros each.

Tuesday dawned with a howl. We shared a huge Irish breakfast with three other guests, one of them an intrepid citizen of the Isle of Man, who had arrived in a kayak. (He was resigned to the inevitable delay of his departure.) No ferries at all had arrived from any port, so the tourist trade was slim. We found a driver who was willing to go with only two fares, and off we went. He took us slowly past houses, cottages, rocks and fields, and knew who dwelt in every single one. He’d lived there all his long life, forty years as a fisherman, now trawling for tourists.

There were no sheep. Not one. Years ago, every family had a flock of forty or so, but times became hard and cows were more profitable. The population of humans dwindled, too, with nothing for the young people to do other than farming, fishing, or the tourist trades. Many dwellings were boarded and vacant.

We were left off at the little cluster of buildings where we would pay our admission to a spectacular hike along massive cliffs to an ancient fort, and we were to be back at that spot in an hour and a half. Perhaps the cafe would be open then, but it was closed tight, as was the gift shop.

I’ve never tried walking in such a wind: it made a fair bid to knock me flat. We arrived at the gate where admission would be paid, and it was locked tight, as were the toilets. A workman waiting in his truck to do god-knows-what came out and walked around with us, but any fool could see that the site was closed because of the weather. We walked back to the pickup place and knocked at the door of the closed cafe, and a compassionate lady came to the door, heard that we were facing an hour and a half out in the storm, and let us in to wait.

At twelve-thirty we climbed aboard our rattly van and forged on. There was a stop at Seven Churches’ graveyard, whose entrance gate was in the midst of a mini-lake. Never mind, I slipped off my sandals and walked barefoot—onto sacred Irish ground. I will never forget.

We went on to the barren jumbled rocks out by the lighthouse, one of the many whose human guardians were being ousted by automation, and again I took off my sandals and walked through the gooey kelp froth out to the end of the boat-ramp. 

Once back in the van, trying to ignore my fragrant feel, we reversed and went back via the low coast-road, past rocks, ruins, and abandoned dwellings and storage sheds. 

People are hanging on. Ravens are hanging on. The wind and the water continue their work. It’s hard to see the hope, but easy to see the love.

It rains, it rains, and the air is rich with ravens — swooping, quorking unsolicited instructions . . .

Sounds like a good opening for an Irish song, but it’s just what came into my mind as I was beginning to think of this week’s blog. Today, Sunday, we’re in Kilkenny; last Tuesday we were on Inis Mor, the largest of the Aran Islands. The plan was to take the ferry from Doolin, the closest port, and we stayed Monday night at a very sweet hostel.

Come morning, the word was that no boats would embark from Doolin, given the violent weather. We’d paid a non-refundable 100 Euros for our Aran B&B and were aghast. Our valiant hostel-keeper, however, phoned our B&B and was told that the ferry was still running from another port west of Galway, a two-hour drive, and we might be able to get there in time.

Indeed, we were able to get there, park the car, walk onto the boat, and begin a stay on Inis Mor. We even had an hour of watery sunshine and did a modest walk northward toward the major cliff-and-fort sights. We’d leave the major trek to the next day, with assistance from one of the many battered vans that accommodate tours for a mere 15 Euros each.

Tuesday dawned with a howl. We shared a huge Irish breakfast with three other guests, one of them an intrepid citizen of the Isle of Man, who had arrived in a kayak. (He was resigned to the inevitable delay of his departure.) No ferries at all had arrived from any port, so the tourist trade was slim. We found a driver who was willing to go with only two fares, and off we went. He took us slowly past houses, cottages, rocks and fields, and knew who dwelt in every single one. He’d lived there all his long life, forty years as a fisherman, now trawling for tourists.

There were no sheep. Not one. Years ago, every family had a flock of forty or so, but times became hard and cows were more profitable. The population of humans dwindled, too, with nothing for the young people to do other than farming, fishing, or the tourist trades. Many dwellings were boarded and vacant.

We were left off at the little cluster of buildings where we would pay our admission to a spectacular hike along massive cliffs to an ancient fort, and we were to be back at that spot in an hour and a half. Perhaps the cafe would be open then, but it was closed tight, as was the gift shop.

I’ve never tried walking in such a wind: it made a fair bid to knock me flat. We arrived at the gate where admission would be paid, and it was locked tight, as were the toilets. A workman waiting in his truck to do god-knows-what came out and walked around with us, but any fool could see that the site was closed because of the weather. We walked back to the pickup place and knocked at the door of the closed cafe, and a compassionate lady came to the door, heard that we were facing an hour and a half out in the storm, and let us in to wait.

At twelve-thirty we climbed aboard our rattly van and forged on. There was a stop at Seven Churches’ graveyard, whose entrance gate was in the midst of a mini-lake. Never mind, I slipped off my sandals and walked barefoot—onto sacred Irish ground. I will never forget.

We went on to the barren jumbled rocks out by the lighthouse, one of the many whose human guardians were being ousted by automation, and again I took off my sandals and walked through the gooey kelp froth out to the end of the boat-ramp. 

Once back in the van, trying to ignore my fragrant feel, we reversed and went back via the low coast-road, past rocks, ruins, and abandoned dwellings and storage sheds. 

People are hanging on. Ravens are hanging on. The wind and the water continue their work. It’s hard to see the hope, but easy to see the love.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This
%d bloggers like this: