Do Ghrá Árainn

The window from my room at the bed & breakfast overlooked the ruin. Michael, the trap and horse driver, recommended a visit there and gave directions. So I left Tigh Fitz and crossed the road, heading south to the first road. I turned right and after a short distance came upon a narrow pathway that led up through pastures where fuzzy cows laid chewing their cud.

It was nearing sunset so I moved steadily upward, the rich light calling me with urgency. Over stiles I climbed, through rock fences and briars that hugged the footpath, using flat rocks to stay free of black mud.

The little church of St Benan was probably built in the 11th century* and was possibly used by a hermit associated with a nearby monastery. According to Dara Ó Maoildhia, in ancient times travelers visited Árainn, or Inis Mor. Irish monks, at one time, would take pilgrimages to the island that were as important as those to Jerusalem and Rome.

But the history wasn’t what I was focused on. As I crested the top of the steep, grassy hill I felt it–the thundering voice of the sea meeting craggy, dark rock face of the Irish shoreline. It reverberated loudly through flat rocks that covered the landscape. I climbed thinking I would visit Teampall Bheanáin, ruins of a small chapel, but it was the sea that truly called me.

 

As I climbed beyond Teampall Bheanáin, layers of cracked and broken karst crisscrossing in mind-blowing patterns lead to the crashing sea. Distant walls of stacked stone created even more patterns for my eyes to feast upon.

I paused to take a couple of photographs but quickly walked through an expanse of rocky grassland to the Voice calling me. It wasn’t as if the edge of a cliff was nearby and the huge waves blew spray on me…it was a quarter mile away and the roar of the sea meeting shore created an underlying boom that I felt through my bones. The sound reverberated upwards through my body and anchored me fully in the present moment.

After several moments of feeling awestruck, I moved forward. There was such sweet communion and bliss between the deep bass of the sea and me. And while I cannot share the depth of experience because that is beyond description by words, I can say that when a Voice with such strength and presence speaks, the only option is to give It undivided attention.

The vibration of the thundering Voice opened a doorway within me, a Threshold appeared and I felt steady and ready to walk through it.

Thus began my journey on Árainn. Safe passage through the week I was there and back over Galway Bay to the mainland of Ireland have come about but echoes of the Voice reverberate still through the corridors of my being days after my first encounter with It.

Do Ghrá Árainn…..For the love of Árainn


*Dara Ó Maoildhia wrote a wonderful little guide for all seekers traveling to Árainn. It is filled with great information about the island, especially for those intending a pilgrimage. It is called A Pocket Guide to Árainn: Legends in the Landscape and can be purchased on the island or you can email Dara and get a copy before you travel there….it helped me to learn as much as possible before going.

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