Category: Ireland

Remembering…Ireland

Remembering…Ireland

“I awake thinking it’s dawn. It is 7am according to the clock but when I pull back the curtains its the full brilliant moon hanging over the Atlantic Ocean that created the light creeping into my room.”

Twelve hours of sleep and I was ready to play with the wild energies of Ireland’s west coast. It’s been almost a year now and I am reading my journal from that deeply amazing pilgrimage. Each sentence brings back memories like friends rushing to give me warm embraces.

On that day, February 3, 2018, I awoke in Mary’s Meadow cottage in Doolin. My friend Gabriela and I rented it for five nights before we moved northward, up the west coast…the Wild Atlantic Way.

The silver light that morning called me through frosty temperatures and I grabbed my camera and tripod and quietly crept down the hall and into the fresh, pre-dawn air. The sun had another hour of slumber at that northern latitude.

It’s funny what catches my creative ‘eye’ when I go into photography mode. I always wait for the landscape to whisper…Check this out! Look at this. The light sure does reflect off of this nicely. All this was envisioning a 30 second exposure.

There were two horses in the pasture surrounding the cottage. They glanced through the darkness but stayed away probably wondering why the human would be out communing with frost and stars, grass and the ocean just down the hill. Actually, they probably didn’t think at all. Animals have the luxury of not allowing random thoughts to taint their experience of life.

“That golden orb seemed to slumber forever. Then clouds settled in the eastern horizon so only the reflection of light could be seen bouncing off the bottom of clouds.” I didn’t write how freaking cold it was…probably because my fingers were quite numb…but I remember.

After hot tea and breakfast, Gabriela and I drove to the Cliffs of Moher….Ireland’s most visited natural wonder. Gabriela opted for the nice visitor center while I explored the edges. I like edges…thresholds. There is a sense of finality with an edge, especially those along the sheer cliffs facing the Atlantic Ocean. They’ve been there for over 350 million years….I was there twice on that pilgrimage…or three times. I couldn’t get enough. But only because it was February and not the tourist season. Last year 1,580,010 people visited that place….so you won’t find me there during the tourist season.

We found many shops and cafes closed but the tradeoff for quiet moments with few people was worth it to me. On that first visit, while Gabriela was warming her toes and getting away from those dizzying heights, I was going beyond the official site along the muddy path. I walked a very long while, enjoyed time alone with a raven that sat on the cliff edge talking to me and then took off and flew…maybe it was the one that perched on the luggage rack as soon as we parked. I imagined myself as the raven, soaring over the amazing cliffs and ocean. I’m not certain what she was saying but I listened carefully and then headed back along the trail.

I was about half way back and remembered I had the car key….and my friend couldn’t get her wallet to buy tea or scones. Ugh…dang it!

We enjoyed the afternoon in Ennis, where Custy’s Traditional Music Shop is located. I wanted to add to my collection of traditional Irish instruments. Thank goodness for GPS and a nice Guarda who directed us once we were parked.

“The land of Ireland feels like home to me. Real home. It speaks to the part of my spirit that craves raw, elemental beauty. I feel free to be myself here.” I wrote that in my journal and still feel it as strongly now as I did then.

That’s what Ireland taught me in the two visits there….find the place where that raw, elemental energy hasn’t been tamed and go there. Immerse my life there. If it can’t be Ireland, then perhaps the wilder areas of western North Carolina. I’m ready.


A new eBook has been birthed. It was inspired by my first visit to Ireland, September 2017. I invite you to read it and journey through time and place with archetypal characters that remind us the journey to wholeness is worth doing, no matter the cost. A work of fiction….with a metaphysical flair. Purchase at my WEBSITE (click here) or soon to be in Barnes and Noble, Apple, Amazon, etc.

Brigid’s Cross

Brigid’s Cross

This summary of the recent journey to Ireland has been avoided because it brings the experience to another level of finality. I want the travels to remain open and fresh and ever-expanding in my heart and mind. Alas, it is time to reflect and accept the many gifts and let them rest peacefully.

There were many powerful moments; perhaps the most meaningful experience of the trip was at a small convenience store where a post office clerk gifted me with a freshly made Brigid’s cross.

I planned the trip so arrival would be on Brigid’s Day or Imbolc, a cross-quarter day between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox. Imbolc celebrates the first-stirrings of spring and was originally a festival associated with the goddess Brigid and fertility. It was later Christianized into the festival of St. Brigid…who was based on the Gaelic goddess.

Tradition calls for reeds to be gathered every Imbolc and woven into a cross. The cross is usually placed on the hearth as a reminder to honor the home and family. The next year it is burned and a new cross woven and placed.

When I saw the cross, I asked the clerk if she made it. She said her sister did and asked if I would like to have it. It was such an act of generosity and kindness. I politely thanked her but said I couldn’t take her cross. She said, “I can get another one, please take it.”

Tears filled my eyes and my voice cracked as I tried to thank her. Finally, I was able to speak a proper thank-you.

The cross sat on the dash of the car as I drove through the Burren. It waited patiently as I visited the Poulnabrone dolmen burial chamber and had an otherworldly experience with my Celtic whistle and spirits of the land and sky.

The green cross sat on the window sill in the bedroom of the cottage I stayed at in Doolin. It was there watching the two horse neighbors, the sacred hill where the moon set every morning and the Atlantic Ocean in the distance.

It was there as I drifted off to blissful sleep after traditional Irish music that sent my soul soaring. It was there when I dreamed of finding a harp and learned the saying, “It is now strung and shall be heard,” Ireland’s call to arise from persecution and claim their right to freedom.

Brigid’s Cross traveled to the Maumturk Mountains and heard my anxious words as snow fell and temperatures dropped as I drove toward Killary Fjord and the village of Leenane. It heard the first, tentative notes of the new whistles I adopted from traditional music stores….adventures in their own right.

It heard the story of the hilarious attempt at candle-lighting at the small, Gothic cathedral at Kylemore Abbey; it witnessed the wild attempt to hike the upper reaches of Diamond Hill in Connemara National Park.

The many beautiful moments at the Cliffs of Moher, beaches, rocky grasslands, steep-mountainous roads, villages….are all stored in the reeds of the cross. As well, feelings of gratitude, love, excitement, wonder, awe, bliss, grief, courage and ‘home’ fill the spiral design.

After months of singing to Brigid every morning as a daily dedication and intentionally planning my travels to coincide with Her day, the simple cross created and gifted with love is the symbol that ignites my memories of a land for which I am profoundly grateful.

On arrival to Ireland–after landing, picking up the rental car and beginning the drive from Dublin towards Doolin–I randomly chose an exit on the motorway to find food. Nothing was close to the highway so I took a turn and ended up passing Brigid’s Well in Kildare. I felt Her welcoming spirit so strongly. It is difficult to believe I didn’t stop and visit this holy well. What was I thinking? 

The only other regret I have from those 10 days is not returning to the Doolin Hotel for music the Monday before leaving for northern Connemara. The music there was transformational to my soul…(sigh).

I could return and spend a month in Doolin wandering the countryside and enjoying the serenity of the land and immense strength of the Atlantic Ocean. The music could carry me to other dimensions as I once again found myself in my spiritual home.

What is a spiritual homeA place that supports and nurtures us to be the fullest expression of higher self. For me, the wild, west coast of Ireland has twice awakened me to freedom to be myself–connected to land, sea and sky in complete surrender. The relationship I share with the land there is profound and deep, ever-evolving into greater understanding of what it means to consciously walk upon this sacred planet.



 

Deep Listening

Deep Listening

Early morning is no stranger to me. While my body adjusts to being six hours ahead of this time zone, I’ve spent more time outdoors…in the early morning…much earlier than my usual pre-dawn salute to the day.

I left for Ireland while it was still chilly here in coastal Alabama–we’ve had a very cold winter. After eleven days away I returned home to spring.  Literal spring. Flowers and trees blooming, warm temperatures and insects singing.

During the dark hours of the day, hours before sunrise, the insects have awakened. Their soft chirping preludes the intense music they will make later…during summer nights. Their sounds remind me of life that continues even when there are no outward signs.


When we take the time to listen deeply we notice things we miss when speeding through life. The 3 a.m. concerts have helped me connect deeper with nature, with the subtle stirrings that give evidence of continuous life even when the cold, dark, silent winter is upon us.

What If

What If

The journey to Ireland has been a wonderful one. Staying in cottages or apartments has gone well until last night. The house was okay but the heating system didn’t work so well. But after wandering around outside I understood more of the issue that created unease.

It snowed last night so this morning I walked down the gravel driveway to a beautiful river lined with old trees and their moss-covered limbs. I played one of my new whistles for the creatures of the woodland.

As the music flowed, I sensed an appreciation for the tune from the spirits of nature. It felt as if they had been shoved aside from the small development of homes that destroyed part of the woodlands around the site. The music seemed to soothe and feed the beautiful elemental energies that had been forgotten.

All along the way I have been playing my Irish whistles, speaking words of gratitude, walking as softly as possible and doing my best to capture the essence of these places through photography and writing. Today I felt moved to write about the ones that are ignored when contemplating building, developing or altering a natural environment.

What if we took the time to tell the Earth, Thank you! every day. What if we played music to nurture the Earth. Or read poetry to Her. What if we made a conscious connection to Earth and Her many creatures and beings that reside here. What if we saw the Earth as a conscious being–different from our consciousness–but conscious still….

What if?

Climbing Diamond Hill

Climbing Diamond Hill

In the distance is Diamond Hill…not far from the beginning of the trail.

It began as a cloudy day with 9 degrees celsius temperature. By the time I walked a bit I stowed the rain jacket in my pack and was enjoying the warmer day and beautiful scenery of Connemara National Park in County Galway, Ireland.

Nice boardwalks across the mountain bogs

My friend turned back after a while so I headed beyond the blue trail to the red trail, ready to challenge myself with a climb up and across the ridge and down the other side. The conditions were perfect.

Sweat rolled down my back as the incline increased. The trail started at near sea level and went to 442 meters…that’s 1450 feet…with a series of switchbacks. It was no trail for the faint of heart.

Crossing mountain bogs, streams, and occasional lesser inclines, I made my way upward stopping to photograph and video when I needed to catch my breath.

The clouds increased and began to roll toward the mountain. By the time I was near the top, the temperature had dropped significantly and the wind was so wild I had to remove my hat or lose it.

I stopped to put on my rain jacket and get out the rain cover for the camera. The steps going upward began to get wet and the ground around them was very soft and squishy. I walked on because I thought I must be near the top and wanted to reach it.

Thought I was at the top….thus the happy face!

Finally I got to what I thought was the highest point and even did a little video proclaiming happily, “I made it!” How could there possibly be a trail on the dome of that mountain?

Thinking I would be headed down, I continued on…and yes, climbed more steps and more steps….and more….what? Meanwhile the wind was ripping at my jacket and anything not tied down to me as the dark cloud got closer. Memories of the snow clouds rolling over the mountain about 15 kilometers away a couple days ago made me rethink my decision to walk further up.

Are you FREAKING kidding me? The top of my finger is where I found myself when I decided to turn around

Finally, I saw a trail sign in the distance. Okay….I would be able to see exactly where I was and that would give much-need information.

But NO! I still had a LONG way to climb…probably another 300 feet and a walk across the ridge. NO FREAKING WAY!

No way was I crossing the ridge in that wind!

The wind was too strong and dangerous for this gal to finish the climb across Diamond Hill. And the cold was no little factor. Time to turn around came with clear awareness. Mists and fog can roll in and in a white-out you can’t see and that’s just not a good thing in a landscape such as this. There are warning signs everywhere saying not to climb in fog, rain, and other weather events. Nothing said what to do if that all suddenly arrives when you are near the top.

But I knew what to do. As difficult as it was to not finish the challenge, I knew without one doubt it was the right thing to do. And making the decision gave me peace of mind.

As I descended down the steep trail, I looked back often and couldn’t believe I had made it as far as I did. It was an accomplishment I’m very happy about, even though I didn’t make it across the ridge.

Sometimes the greatest challenge is knowing when to let go of a goal, a dream, a person, a direction. Today I learned to celebrate my decision to take excellent care of myself in every aspect of my life.