Wednesday, 15 June 2011

The wonder of Ireland transcends time

The Burren, County Clare, IrelandImage via Wikipedia
This was my third trip in five years to Ireland.

It was unique because I traveled with two of my daughters, with the desire to connect them to their Irish heritage. When a country the size of Ireland has been populated for 5,000 years, it is understandable people see a thread that weaves through generations.

My first visit was pure adventure and restorative a week with my wife and some 30 other sojourners who shared a time with poet David Whyte in thatched-roof cottages in Ballyvaughn, County Clare.

We pondered the words of poets about life and spirit and the truth many of us seek. We hiked in a soft rain on an ancient limestone path of the Burren to an old burial site where large tumbled blocks of stone marked a civilization that reached back 1,500 years. One Irishman called upon the spirit of his father, believing we never are disconnected from our past, and that we are better for such.

Something about the country wrapped around me warmly like one of those Aran Island woolen blankets on a cold night when the wind from the Irish Sea wants to blow clear through to your bones.

Was it the way the land was formed more than 300 million years ago, with 700-foot cliffs that face off against the pounding sea, or 900-foot mountains that invite every man to climb and experience the unembellished ruggedness of the country?

Was it the rolling, green hills carved into squared-off fields with rock fences, a symbol of humankind’s ability to encounter this ecological wonder and make of it a place to live with sheep and cows and crops that fit the climate?

Was it the colorful tongue of the Irish from the storytelling to the straightforward way of talking that often ends with a catchy, summarizing phrase and that lilt of Irish laughter?

Was it the night of gathering at the pub with the fiddle, the dry pipes, the tin whistle or the bodhran drum that set aside the day’s work and the day’s worries for a glass of Guinness and music that is unique enough to be called Irish music?

Gazette.Net: The wonder of Ireland transcends time

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