Friday, February 26, 2010

My Point of View(s)

Nesting Fulmars at Loop Head

The Kerry Mountains from Loop Head

Loop Head Lighthouse

There are times when things fly around in your head at 100km per hour and threaten to engulf you. I imagine we all have places or rituals to deal with the chaos. One of my boltholes is the very tip of the County Clare Peninsula called Loop Head. From here on a clear day there are spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean, the River Shannon, the distant but visible Aran Islands, the Kerry Mountains and the Clare coast right up to Hags Head which is just before the famous Cliffs of Moher. There is something about the Loop Head Peninsula that captures the imagination. It has a very dramatic history particularly relating to famine times. It is a wet and wild headland with a the first lighthouse built there back in the 17th Century. There are countless stories of shipwrecks and the families who grew up at the lighthouse.

At the towering cliffs, thousands of seabirds nest during the spring/summer and their echoing calls add to the atmosphere. Out on the Shannon, there is a famous school or group of Bottle-nosed Dolphins that can be seen from the headland with just the aid of binoculars. I have sat at the tip of the headland and watched them passing along with whales and seabirds.

Whenever I am there, I always bring a sandwich and a flask of tea because the car makes the perfect mobile restaurant with the best view.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Nothing Happening Here, Just Thinking

It is raining heavy outside at 15.57 in the west of Ireland.
I'm just finished a staring out the window daydream.
I was thinking about my fathers eyes on the day before he died.
I was thinking about how a window in my car is leaking and not yet fixed.
I was recalling someone telling me that a bucket and two cloths was the center-piece of what Mother Theresa left behind when she died.
I was sailing towards the moral high ground because someone else I know has just blown thousands of Euros on pointless shiny things that he doesn't need.
I was thinking this makes me mad; one shiny thing would have sufficed while the money for the rest could have gone to Haiti or sponsored a child in an Indian slum.
My last thought was, I do not have the right to judge.

Monday, January 11, 2010

White but with a little bit of Black

The snow and ice have resided with us for nearly a month now. Both people and the natural world are fighting against the grip of the cold snap. The world seems forever white and has been altered further by a death which added some black to the bright winter scenery. My father passed away on Dec 28 2009. It has brought about empty spaces, an empty chair, rooms feel bigger and memories bring little bee stings. He left behind few belongings - something for which I am very proud of him for. Just some clothes, birthday cards and odds and ends. He came from a generation where the word consumerism didn't exist. Life has changed - not for bad nor good, its just different. With one piece missing and the rest in the air, there is an uneasy unsettled feeling in amongst the calm and acceptance, when the pieces land it will reveal a new order to things. I am in awe at the support of friends and family. It may be an obvious statement but if you have basic good health, family and friends - you've made it big time.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Still and Silent

I went for a walk by the village quay. The water was so still and silent I could hear the dripping of water trickling down a mooring rope on a nearby boat. Although I couldn't see it, I knew a Grey Heron would be standing like a silent sentinel out on the seaweed covered rocks beyond and that the calling Curlew were still shuffling for position near their watery roost. The Bull reared to defy Orion the Hunter and the Seven Sisters seemed to be winking in the direction of Perseus and Cassiopeia in the night sky. It's OK, the little shopping that had to be done was nestling in the car and my wallet neither filled my soul nor weighed my coat as it was empty - I didn't care. The castle to my left looked as cold and grey as the air that surrounded it, yet mystical as it might have done in the days of the pirate Queen as she moored for the night beneath the limestone hills. Even though from where I stand I can see no coloured lights or hear any carols, I can feel its Christmas. Maybe its the frosty weather and short days. There are troubling thoughts and worries swamped in my internal landscape yet I feel lucky to be alive and humbled by the love given to me.
Happy Christmas & Peaceful New Year.

Saturday, December 5, 2009


A few years ago I had a very interesting conversation with someone about control freaks. Those of us who endeavour to have everything running to an exact rhythm and everything in its right place. I think it is linked with insecurity and even obsessional behaviour. This discussion has stayed with me for a long time and has caused me to chuckle at times when things go wrong in my life or don't pan out just the way I want them to. My friend made a spectacularly simple yet incredibly logical point. Life is not meant to remain static or stand still, it really is like a river and its just when we think we have it all under control that it changes and sends you scrambling to get a grip again. We all work hard to gain security in our lives but yet it seems it makes us stiff and unyielding to fate. We refuse to go with the flow and accept the changes.

I have tried to loosen my own grip, I have tried to not look too far ahead and advance plan or speculate. Something has changed in my world over the last few months; someone close to me has become weaker and weaker and is now basically bed bound. The medical care claim that 'it's a slippery slope'. Now the rhythm in my routine has changed again and I must change with it and go with the flow. Maybe life itself is a strange wriggling organism and we are riding this bucking bronco bareback.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Guilty As Charged

Oh the guilt, the shame! Yes we just had to do it - see we couldn't help ourselves. In defiance of an unwritten rule that states one should wait until at least the 8th December, we have put up our Christmas decorations - extremely early! I will admit, I am very sentimental when it comes to this time of the year. I am not a fan of mass consumerism ala bottles of perfume that cost the earth or eating so much that you can't walk for ten hours. Without meaning to be self-righteous, I feel a donation to a good cause and a cosy day with family and friends is the way to go, that's if you are very lucky to be able to have all that on the 25th December. Give me the glow of the lights and flicker of an open fire! (Although I wouldn't turn down just the odd expensive gift such as a new car - OK Santa in case your listening!).

There is major hardship due to flooding all around me at the moment and the country is in a right old state so to hell with the begrudger's and those who utter 'bah humbug' in my direction - I'm proud of our tree and dodgy Christmas tunes CD!

Thursday, October 29, 2009


A landscape can be read like a history book. If you look carefully, you will find clues that tell of human endeavour and spirituality. This has never been more true than in the case of a region of bare limestone in North Clare, Ireland known as the Burren (from the Gaelic 'bhoireann' meaning rocky/stony place). Many forms of art have been dedicated to this incredible place; songs, poems, paintings, stories and documentaries. It is a wild windswept mystical sort of place with a long and varied history. Our stoneage ancestors farmed the area over 5000 years ago and left behind spectacular megalithic (large stone) monuments.

This Wedge Tomb sits on a hill where archaeological excavations have taken place. The research has revealed a Neolithic/Bronze Age farming community lived and worked on this hillside. This is one of their tombs where they communally deposited their dead. All those thousands of years ago in would have been covered by a mound of small stones or cairn. Some megalithic tombs are aligned to astronomical events such as sunrise/sunset at certain times of the year. One of the best known is the Passage Tomb at Newgrange in County Meath where the burial chamber is flooded by the morning sun (when its not raining) on the shortest day of the year or winter solstice.

I have marvelled at these monuments on sunny days when the Skylarks are singing out over the ancient stones and have sat in the mist, wind and rain imagining those people. When you place your hand on those tombs its like you can sense the energy of the spirits within.