An Lá Foirfe, I

The first day of my solo adventure was the absolute perfect weather day. Skies were beautiful blue with white, puffy clouds and the temperature was warm. It was quite a shift from the blustery wind and rain from the previous night.

The only plan I had was to rent a bicycle and take my camera along on a ride. The intention was to see what wild places called my spirit and follow.

I felt drawn to the end of the island I had not yet explored so pedaled until the road terminated and leaned the bike against a rock fence. The stile in the fence led to a nice path leading through a rabbit-filled meadow. I had no idea where it went but it looked inviting so I unpacked my camera from the pack and set off on foot toward the sea.

The grasses along the hills were lush and heavy. A part of me wanted to lay in them and rest in their softness but the path called to my adventuresome spirit.

Before too long the flat rocks known as Glasson Rocks appeared. I remember reading about the tragedy that occurred there in 1852. It is the place where 15 men were swept into the sea by a small tidal wave while they were fishing.

While researching my route later, I discovered the little valley near the rocks is known as Gleann na nDeor, the Vale of Tears. It’s where people used to watch ships leave filled with Irish people leaving for America. I can only imagine the sadness the land must still carry from the tears shed there.

The path followed the intersection of land and sea and the gentle slope of the land as it grew in height. Not far from Glasson Rocks there was access to rocks that were underwater at high tide. I carefully watched the sea before entering the tidal zone and found myself asking permission to enter. The power of the place was palpable.

I slowly moved below the cliff through wet rocks keeping my awareness on the sea and the height of waves. I experienced feelings of awe at the beauty mingled with respect for the sea and a slight tingle of healthy fear of rogue waves. I didn’t linger there as my intuitive voice was urging me to find a safer location to appreciate wild nature.

There might have been a heavy sigh of relief from my guardian angel after I found higher ground. The grassy path felt like an old friend and I settled into the task of climbing through the rocks as the incline took a turn toward steep. But the scramble up through the karst and grass was worth it.

The 300 foot drop into the sea was breathtaking. All week I longed for a vista such as this. I had seen similar views but only from a great distance. I felt such joy that this magnificent place called me to it. I simply had to surrender, listen, and follow the call to find it.

My camera was busy documenting the place while my spirit was absorbing beauty so absolute I found myself shouting thank you to the rocks and sea. I felt the rhythms of sea and tides and waves in my bones as joy cascaded through me like water on the rocks below cascaded back to the sea.

When it felt like I had taken-in as much beauty as possible, I turned back to the trail and began the descent. But more beauty awaited as I passed places that looked completely different from the ascending point of view.

At one point I stopped to photograph the angle of cliff and sea, the turquoise ocean contrasted beautifully with the dark rocks. As I was looking through the viewfinder on my camera and pressing the shutter, a  rogue wave leaped at least 20 feet over my head. I had seen no waves that high on the way up nor while I was observing from the top. It was a strange feeling to realize that the location of the wave was where I had walked below and experienced such uneasy feelings.

I’m not sure how I wasn’t completely soaked but not one drop of water touched me….or more importantly, my camera gear. And even more importantly, I wasn’t in that dangerous place beneath the cliff when the unexpected wave crashed onto shore. But I understood why my internal warning alarms were loudly screaming at me while I was down there.

After a few moments of jitters, I continued my walk down and around the point of Árainn. Back through the rabbit meadow I went, through the stile in the rock wall, to my waiting bicycle.

I cycled back to the B & B to shed layers as the day was warming rapidly and I was very much overdressed. The plan was to go to the pub to eat lunch but as I cycled toward Killeany, I saw a historical sign that read, Dún Dubhchathair–The Black Fort. It felt like a magnet pulling me so I quickly turned left onto the little lane and pedaled. Lunch could wait.

The ratty mountain bike I rented wasn’t the best bicycle but it did okay on rocky, unpaved road as I left pavement and continued pedaling. Eventually I had to abandon the bicycle along the rock fence and hike up the remaining incline.

When I reached the top, the historical marker was pointing…but what direction? The entire landscape was a field of karst with grass growing between the gray rocks. Hiking was challenging with close attention having to be given. There was no path. Just a general direction and no fort in sight.

Again, I followed the pull of the sea and eventually found the remains of the fort; however, it wasn’t the fort that was so spectacular–it was the fields of karst and the sheer drop into the Atlantic Ocean. Once more, the yearned-for spot called me to it. I was nearly ecstatic. It was difficult containing the emotions that wanted expression…. gratitude…. joy…. excitement… happiness… peace… exhilaration… appreciation… wonder… awe.

I reflected on my desire to find these places of wild, spectacular beauty all week. I wanted to photograph them. And for me the process of photographing places offers a deeper connection to them as I open myself to more than the seen and invite the unseen essence and energy of a place to speak to me, whisper its secrets.

It was challenging to comprehend the magnificent gift that was unfolding with every step of the journey on that perfect day. As I sat in solitude and stillness at Dún Dubhchathair, I pondered the process of manifestation. With an open heart I visualized exactly what I wanted all week. I had no attachment to it yet felt the longing build–I want to be where the sea and rocks meet…I want to see it…feel it…photograph it. It was a physical experience of longing, like wanting to reconnect with a long-lost lover. So why was I so surprised that what my heart most longed for came to pass? All day…at every turn….the vision I cultivated manifested over and over again.

An Lá Foirfe…The Perfect Day–Part I

 

 

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