Sunday, February 19, 2017

Glimpses through the mist

A mysterious foggy day in County Clare. John and I drove to the nearby town, Ennistimon, to buy breakfast and food for the day. John pointing out an undertakers which also has a bar in it, which was rather marvellous and made me want to visit it. He drove us down narrow country roads with fields woods and a general Tolkeinesque fog on the barrow downs feel to it. There is a local claim that the Lord of The Rings was inspired by the nearby landscape. I'm certain Tolkien would have loved the landscape here. But the dates don't add up. He had already published the Hobbit in the 1930s

Home and a lovely big breakfast, and then John drove us off to explore. We drove to a nearby ruined Church, the landscape is marvellously populated with evocative ruins of old stone houses, enormous stately houses, and churches (added atmosphere with the mist). There is a Lahiff family grave, a photo of that below. Also a Sheela na gig holding herself open invitingly above the ruined church door.

We are in on the edge of a village called Doolin, and near the famous Burren, 'not wood enough to hang a man, nor earth enough to bury him' which is a vast elevated landscape of limestone, which as we drove through it shone slickly with water. John drove us past ancient Wedge Graves and we visited a perfumery, where we watched a short slideshow, showing the amazing variety of flowers that grow on the burden, from arctic species to tropical ones, and there are orchids and all kinds of exotic plants growing there. There are also cattle which loomed out of the mist at us. The whole place, in the mist, is full of magic. Although without the mist apparently it is utterly spellbinding full of long rolling views.

After these wonders, back home for some dinner of roast chicken and apple pie, both Peter Kenny pleasers, before we went off to O'Connors pub again, where John's cousin Noel was playing flute with a ring of other musicians, some of whom left and others sat in. The music was traditional Irish and beautifully played. Noel, who also runs two farms, played beautifully and his interplay with an excellent banjo player was a thing to hear. I lapped up more delicious Guinness while I listened. The bar had quite a few Americans in it, tracing their roots perhaps.

Eventually we sloped home, driven by John who does not drink in the year till after St Patrick's day.

Below, inside the little church; the just discernible Sheela na gig; some carving; the well tended Lahiff stone with John, unlike some of the broken teeth of the oldest graves; a wedge tomb about five thousand years old; a cow looming out of the mist; Sue and Lorraine all wrapped up against the damp and wind on the limestone; the limestone; Noel and his pals playing in the pub, the woman with dark hair sang a beautiful unaccompanied song at one point; a black and white snap of how they make the walls up on the Burren, which Sue particularly loves, with lots of holes to let the wind through. Generally though a tough day for photography with the fog continually coating the lens.

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