What a glorious day indeed! The Irish coastline of Kerry, a fiord on the southeast side of the island surrounded by the Atlantic, is a magnificent combination of history and lore, blight and famine, conquest and survival. The peninsula is very isolated 179km of narrow, windy roads that takes off out of the small town of Killarney, Ireland. The drive takes approximately 3.5 hours without making any stops.
After our driving experience, we opted into taking a tour so Chris could admire the scenery, and not be so stressed. Turns out this was a fabulous idea and our driver gave us driving tips. He was a 68 year old from the O’Sullivan clan who had personal history living out on the peninsula as a boy. He drove milk trucks from village to village and had quite a reputation. As with all your drivers, he was a wealth of knowledge, singing, reciting poems and passing on the history.
I guess what struck us the most was the incredible shades of green. The incredible contrasts of the yellow Gorse bush or Furze. It is said that Furze bushes, like all other thorny bushes in Ireland such as hawthorn and white thorn, belong to the Sidhe, and often guard their portals to magical realms. It is a magical bush looked over by the fairies of the land. Folklore has it, that if a bride cuts a sprig and puts it in her bride bouquet, she will have all the luck of the Irish.
The Irish Black-faced sheep are also scattered around the towering hill sides. The only way to bring in the sheep from these craggy hillsides is with a sheepdog. I spent about 45 minutes watching one of these small, sure footed dogs in action with his shepherd. Amazing agility and speed, controlled mostly by different whistle tweets from as far as a quarter of a mile. I thought about Gandaulf for a moment and how he loved the chase.
We had a local lunch at “the most beautiful lookout in all of Ireland in fair weather”, or so the sign said. I had my first lamb stew and Chris had the shepherd pie. The view was indeed spectacular of the bay and the mountainous islands as the fog held light to the peeks. A statue of Mary standing on a serpent stood in the middle of a stone ring looking down on us with outstretched hands and a soft welcoming gaze. I felt blessed once more to be having this adventure.
Today began our Ireland trip. Our jet lag is finally waining and we are getting down to a new circadian rhythm. Overall we are getting into the groove of travel again after quite a long 6 month hiatus.
We grabbed a taxi into the little town of Blarney, on the southern coast just a few miles north of Cork. The history of Ireland is steeped in powerful lords and many wars. The landscape is dotted with castles and villages surrounding these monolithic towers of rock, most all older than the first settlements in the US. Even the woolen mill was older than my first “historic registry” home in Utah.
I will be the first to admit that I am an ignorant American. Hells sake, I don’t even know how to physically dial a non-US phone number. At least I am not ashamed to ask and our campground host, Rebecca, was a pleasant young woman who was more than eager to educate me. Better to ask than pretend you know something you don’t.
Our visit to the lovely little town of Blarney, was like stepping back in time. The town is based around a castle built in the 1400’s. It remained in the family for centuries. In the 1800’s the Blarney Home was built. The castle is the home of the “blarney stone” given by the witch of the lake to one of the sons who rescued her from the lake. He was afflicted with a stutter and following the witches directions implicitly, he found the stone and kissed it as instructed. His life then changed as he became a fluent speaker and was given “the gift of gab” as it is said to do. Even until this day, the lines to ascend the castle stairs to the top floor where the Blarney Stone is at rest, just to give it a kiss, is at least an hour long.
The gardens surrounding the Blarney Mansion and castle, were in full display. The variety of flora and fauna planted was in full bloom. The magnificent colors were amazing. I didn’t know so many colors existed in nature. Anything from brilliant reds to flesh peach and salmon orange. Purple flowers, buttercup, and wild garlic filled the air with fragrance.
The most harrowing part of the day was the 2.5km walk back to the Caravan Park (campground). The road started out with a sidewalk, but quickly became a narrow road full of blind turns and no way to get off the road if two cars should pass by at once. The sides of the road was 3-4’ high thick growth which included its fair share of stinging nettle, which is normally found in riverbanks at home. By the time I realized what it was, Chris and I had both inadvertently come in contact with its viscous little hairs.
We finally made it back in one piece and toasted our 7 miles of walking in one day. The day ended with showers, laundry and a recap of our day.
It’s been a month since we said farewell to Gandaulf. I still have moments in the day when my eyes fill with tears and the words get stuck in throat. Times when all I want is to feel his thick, soft fur between my fingers, and smell his musky odor. At night I swear sometimes he is still there at the bottom of the bed snoring. Of course I sit with the feelings, let the tears fall and, like the clouds in a blue sky, it passes and I am left in the present moment…to move on.
We continue to sell off all our possessions and donated 4 big boxes of women’s clothing to the women’s shelter and odds and ends to the DI. Our shed is becoming more and more vacant everyday. Getting rid of “stuff” is fun, freeing and terrifying all at the same time. What I want to get rid of, Chris thinks we might need someday and sometime visa versa. No matter we settle and the item stays or goes and we move on to the next.
We have started our trial packs. It takes almost as many clothes to be gone for a week long vacation as it does to pack for a year. Save a nice outfit for the occasional fancy dinner or cafe hopping, a few more necessities for hiking or swimming, and an extra pair of shoes…they make a thing called a washer and dryer, so…just like at home, you still need to stop for a domestic goddess day.
The farewells continue almost daily. I have hooked up with some healers that are concocting some plant medicines for me to continue my journey of good mental health and a balance of mind and body. It’s been almost six months since I went cold turkey on anti-depressants and entered the world of good, wholesome plant based medicines. The journey has had its ups and downs, but I am a whole new person, not better, just changed and more energized and grounded.
Between this change and my spiritual endeavors, I have broken through the ancient fortress built around my heart and mind, and found a strong, safe foundation to build a new life on. Yes I have many small tears left on my heart, but I am free from this old baggage and free to build a new adventure in loving kindness and peace.