Monday, February 20, 2017

Shadows on the gravel

Up and clear headed to take a business call at 10:00 this morning. Then another day of fog and damp rolling in from the sea. The cloud was a touch higher today, however, so when we were at sea level down in Doolin past O'Connors and the little river that rushes by it, down to the sea we had an inspiring view of the cliffs, with great Atlantic waves breaking against them. Climb up a few dozen metres and we were in the cloud again.

John drove us around lots today, along the coastal road, which is such a weird science fictional place, with the sheets and curves of the limestone rock curving into a wild misty grey sea. Stolid cattle finding scraps to eat here and there, and farmers driving out to see them in jeeps.

Along the coast, past tiny broken stone fishermen's cottages, through some villages and we stopped for a drink in a pub by a little harbour. Then we went off to visit Yeats' Tower, Thoor Ballylee, we were the only people there for some of the time. Yeats wrote about his tower lots, and even named one of his most famous collections after it. Felt quite important for me, who has carried Yeats's words around in my head for 40 years to see it for myself. And it was exactly how I had pictured it (having seen photos and so on over the years).

Nearby was Coole Park, where Yeats's patron Augusta Gregory lived. We had to drive past Kiltartan to get there, mentioned in An Irish Airman Foresees His Death. Coole Park is now a nature reserve, and there is a lovely walled garden, where there was a quote from Yeats suggesting their shadows were still there in the gravel, with an Autograph Tree featuring the carved signatures of Lady Gregory, Yeats, Singe, Jack B Yeats, and many others. The house itself was according to Wikipedia was actively demolished by the state in the 1940s. If true this was a very misguided act in my opinion, for the place was very tied up with the Irish Literary Renaissance among other things. Very evocative was to find stone stairs leading up to what would have been a grand house.

On the way home we stopped at another ruined church, (with a very active graveyard featuring more relatives of John's this time spelled Lahiffe with an e) which John kidded his kids was Rapunzel's tower. The photographs show why.

Felt a bit of a Y.B.Yeats fanboy by the end of it all. Home via some shopping in the county town of Innis, to snatch up my copy of Yeats and read some lines from "Meditations in Time of Civil War" describing Yeats's tower.

A cozy evening indoors by the fire, eating some gorgeously fresh fish we'd bought this morning across the road. Lorraine cooked a mild fish curry and it was delicious.

Below down by the sea in Doolin; zooming at the misty cliffs; a tower emerging from the mist near Doolin; Lorraine and Sue by the seaside with orange sand, black rocks and a fearsome sea. I watched someone picking feathers from a dead seagull at one point. Not sure why they were doing this; a lunar landscape curving down to the almost unseen sea; a view back at typical wind-warped bushes and trees; Yeats's Tower, Thoor Ballylee; the stairs up to the house at Coole;  another broken church with a magnificent tower, with a door only reachable by long ladder. John says it may have been used to store precious things in when people came raiding; some tree moss.

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