~ Living on Your Western Shore ~

Overlooking Teampall Chaomháin in Inis Oírr. The sunken church in the graveyard is beside the grave of Saint Caomhán, who legend has it was the elder brother of St Kevin of Glendalough.

The Saint is referenced in Seamus Heaney’s beautiful poem St Kevin and the Blackbird.

Inis Oírr remains one of my favourite places in Ireland, the peacefulness of wandering a bóithrín between high stone walls, drifting off the beaten track. The sound of birds & the nearby roar of the sea pounding Ireland’s exposed western shore.

It’s a different world & even a few short days can sustain you & clear the mind.The roads radiate outwards from the West Village, whether you head past Cill Ghobnait [St Gobnait’s Church] towards Tobair Éanna [St Enda’s Well] or by an Bothar Nua to view the Plassy & the lighthouse, it’s a contemplative place to walk & be alone.

In the summer the air is a-buzz & a-flutter with butterflies & hoverflies. Occasionally a cow might peer between the gaps in the limestone wall bordering small the fields of soil made from sand & seaweed an age ago.

We visited when the electricity was out & the lack of power shocked the system in an even better way. No wifi, pints by candlelight & an imagining of a simpler island life.

Inis Oírr, a place to sample & return. To immerse if possible in the language & a slower simpler rhythm of life.

It is beautifully bleak & that is the charm. Time to plan a return visit again.

#Inisheer #InisOirr #AranIsands #WildAtlanticWay #TourismIreland #Failte

• Finagling Bagels in Boston •

Like cockroaches I firmly believe Tesco bagels could survive a nuclear holocaust.

Found this in the bread drawer more than a few days lurking there, but once in the toaster it sprung to life.

Angela & I were in Boston in ‘99 & went into one of the usual Finagle a Bagel or whatever the joint was called. Never heard of or seen a bagel before, AP speaks up and asks for what sounded like a ‘bagelle’. The Bostonion Bagel seller was confused, perturbed, uncertain. ‘Pardon me ma’m?’ •

You can take the Derry Girls out of Derry for sure. •

Feeling smug I asked what was ‘nish’, with a silent ‘k’.

Cue further furrowed brows & perplexed looks. ‘Knish sir?’

‘Ehh, yes that’s what I meant…’ mumbled I.

We stood corrected & enjoyed the food.

It was different, now of course the bagel is ubiquitous.

I wonder how the Bostonian Finagle a Bagellers would have fared in Jack’s chippy in Omagh or even Fiorentini’s in Derry.

• Sound of the Sea •

Wherever you are in Portstewart you can hear the sound of the sea. Most noticeable in the late evening when the ambient sounds of life have died away & there is a deep sustained quiet roar in the background.

Sometimes you can’t hear it until you listen for it, but rest assured it is there. It’s the noise of water rolling rocks, crashing pebbles, shifting sand, colliding with cliffs & stones that won’t move. Occasionally there’s a big shift & something happens.

This week the tide swept right up the beach wreaking havoc among the National Trust constructions, toppling & floating away their wardens’ shed. It sits now with a hole in the roof offering shelter no more.

The waves don’t care, their incessant roar fills the airwaves & hangs there waiting to be heard. Even when it is quiet, listen & you will hear.

• The Word Hoard •

Passed a day returning to Homeplace in Bellaghy.

On a visit you could easily spend hours listening & browsing.

The rural context of Heaney’s origins give a layer of understanding & meaning that gives the poems full expression.

In sitting down with one of the children to listen to a recording of Digging, I realised that the lines ‘My grandfather cut more turf in a day/Than any other man on Toner’s bog’ are a childhood boast by a child. My dad’s bigger than your dad. Brilliantly rendered. Previously unnoticed.

Here & there to see people ensconced, listen intently to a poem, it shows how to bring the words alive. I pointed out to the guide how Seamus Heaney had gifted a handwritten manuscript of ‘Markings’ to our GAA club. We weren’t the only ones for sure.

The word hoard installation suspended from the roof hangs there, offering you a word to reach for, grasp & use. Dandering. Blathering. Blessed.

#Heaney #Homeplace #Poetry #IrishPoetry #IrishTourism #wildatlanticway