So I got back last week from a trip/pilgrimage to Ireland, and was swiftly thrown into the deep end of a new job, so I didn’t have the time to reflect much. But it would be a shame not to post some pretty pictures at least!
Ireland is the place of my ancestry, and I was raised by my grandfather to have a very deep sense of rootedness and connection to my Irish heritage (legend has it we’re descended from a long line of ancient chieftains going back to around the 3rd century), yet it isn’t somewhere that I visit very often. So it was great to have a chance to go back, and also to go to some parts of the country that I haven’t been to before, especially the amazing scenery of the Wild Atlantic Way on the west coast.
One thing that struck me was simply the beauty of the landscape, truly like nowhere else on earth, and all in a relatively small space. Mountains, sea, lakes, rolling fields, all seem nestled up to each other and you can drive through several strikingly different landscapes in one three-hour jaunt across the country.
The peace of nature was literally breathtaking, in places like Gougane Barra in West Cork or Lough Leane in Killarney. I can see why so many poets, artists and mystics have come from this island and drawn inspiration from it.
There were always reminders of the innate spirituality of the land, whether in the form of Catholic roadside shrines or the older and more numinous places like stones said to have associations with the Druids, dolmens known to be doorways to the land of the Shide, healing wells and sacred lakes.
I was pleasantly surprised to see that even in Blarney Castle, one of the more tourist-trap locations, there were remnants of the ancient past, and also a recently-restored “Druidic” stone circle originally built around 1703, at the very earliest stages of the Druid Revival period.
The trip was a busy one, visiting around 7 locations in 6 days, but it was also a wonderful way to take a break from the daily world of work and reconnect to something deep and ancestral. And of course, lots of good food was eaten and local beers were drank!