For those of you that are thinking New Mexico or Arizona, this is a different SW experience. It is one piece of an 8-Shields model mentoring model that many nature schools across the US are teaching and energetically it is all about timelessness and wandering and rest. This is good for the soul and essential in my book as balm for our ever increasing pace of life.
Days go by and I barely look at the clock. The light goes on late here, the sun finally setting fully around 23:00. Time has become less important than following the urges of the day. Kayaking? Yes! Impromptu music session? Yes! Long Walk with a friend? Yes! The list goes on.
My friend Jean Williams and I drove Conny, the German WWOOFer (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms), to the Kerry Airport last Wednesday. And then Jean and I carried on to the Burren in County Clare. The Burren looks like an extra-terrestrial landscape and hosts a large array of amazing wildflowers in its’ crevices between the large and sometimes crumbled limestone sheets of rock. I took a solo wander and came across a grove of Hawthorn trees. Now, they must be old, cause to grow as big and as gnarly as they are in that climate would be a hard task, but I can’t say for sure. But they were beautiful. And there were these Irish hares everywhere. Great big things that always saw me before I saw them hightailing it out of there so to speak.
I found myriad types of wildflowers, climbed on old rocks, and generally sat and gave thanks for all my dreams that have come true. I remember, back in Dublin at the beginning of my trip I hoped to come to the Burren and explore. And there I was, easy peasey, without a whole heap of effort, sitting on the limestone, in tears.
That night we camped in Doolin at the Allies River Hostel. Great place, clean, the best hostel I’ve stayed in. We spent the evening learning a set dance and then being a part of the pub energy. Good Guinness, a great band consisting of an uillean pipes player, banjo, and guitar. We were treated to the Brush Dance (google this one) by two young girls and I was amazed at how the older and more experienced musicians welcomed the kids up to play and treated them with such care. No wonder many an Irish person plays music!
The next morning Jean and I walked from the town of Doolin to the Cliffs of Moher, along the cliffs themselves! The day started cloudy and a bit rainy and ended in blue skies, sun, and just a little bit of wind, only enough to make it exciting walking along the cliff edge. We saw a kestrel nest along with sea birds who were sitting patiently on small ledges waiting for their brood to hatch. It took us over three hours to make it to the Visitor’s Center at the Cliffs of Moher, mostly because we were gawking at the sheer height of the cliffs and our position upon them. It was such an excellent day, truly!
Word of advice, hitch hiking back to Doolin or any town from the Cliffs, challenging. No one stopped to give us a lift and we walked almost 9 km to get back. There is a bus from the visitor’s center, I’d recommend that.
My last night on the Sheep’s Head was exactly what I hoped for. Music, drink, laughter and connection. We spent time in the Tin Pub and I even got a couple of swing dances in with the lovely Sheila Ellis! The Sheep’s Head feels like home to me, it really does. I don’t know that it will be the home I live in full-time, but it will definitely be one I return to again and again. I’m so grateful to have met Jean Williams and I thank her from the bottom of my heart for her friendship and for her introduction to this amazing landscape. I wonder what connections will form next?!