Ireland: Thursday, July 25, 2013



Earlier today, Thursday –July 25th I road along to Ennistymon with Breada and her sister Cathy Johnson. Cathy drove us up corkscrew hill and through the farmlands of the Burren. Traveling in her car made me remember how much I enjoyed being driven through the Burren landscape when Robert Wainwright had driven my students and I to the many field excursions which we could not reach by walking alone.

We arrived in Ennistymon and Cathy pointed out the large supermarket where she and Breada were to do their shopping then drove me around the corner to let me off near an ATM. Before I got out of the car Breada was sure to point out where I could find a bookstore and an art supply store. Once I received my Euros from the ATM I went into a little shop that had books shelved from floor to ceiling in its rooms and hallways. I found and purchased a book of Moya Cannon’s poetry that I did not own. It is entitled “Hands”. This poem is called, The Fertile Rock:

In May evening light

an exhausted silver ocean collapses,

it has carried so much to this island,

blue rope and teak beams.

dolphin skulls and fish boxes,

and, once, a metal tank on wheels,

containing one cold passenger.

It rises and collapses at the rim

rises and collapses again –

a mile of white, salt lace

which races across the low limestone terraces,

invades every crack and crevice

in the brown, brine-bitten stone,

and sprays up over

a small grey plateau,

whose fissures brim

with sea pinks.

I also found and purchased a book entitled Connemara: Legends and Landscape. At the time I purchased it I was under the impression that I could take a bus from Ballyvaughan to Galway and then take a Connemara bus tour and spend the night in Clifton and then return the next day. The book is basically a book of beautiful landscape photography with some thoughtful writing. The following are excerpts I especially wanted to record and share:

McEleveen, Hugh. Connemara: Legends and Landscape.

Dublin, Ireland: Nonsuch Publishing, 2009.

“I am the sum total of my ancestor’s existence.” (Cato & Bridgeman, One Giant Leap, Palm Pictures.) This statement of a Maori leader expresses a universal experience. An individual’s identity is derived from a sense of a belonging to their people and is defined by a flag, an anthem, culture and traditions. The obsession of ex-patriot communities with the culture of their homeland exemplifies our need for a cultural as well as a unique identity.”

“Every generation builds on that of its parents. Each generation makes new advances in science, technologies and the understanding of the world. Every age believes itself to have a truth and understands the beliefs of previous generations to be erroneous or legend, which we assimilate into our own belief system. As a consequence we mythologise the beliefs of our ancestors. We use the words legend and myth in a derogatory sense to dismiss the ideas and values of our predecessors. In the same way our children will cast aside our understanding of the world and relegate it to fiction.”

“Just as we can trace our genetic ancestry, we can follow the path of the evolution of our beliefs. Ireland is no different to many other cultures when we discover that our stories and beliefs were born out of the landscape.” (Chatwin, B., The Songlines (Penquin: London, 1988) & LaFarge, O., The American Indian (Golden Press: New York, 1972) Aboriginal Australians sang their songlines as they walked through the landscape to neighboring communities. These songs were a verbal map of a highly articulate culture. Knowing these stories as we walk through the landscape cannot but enrich our enjoyment of it. By understanding our landscape we understand our history and consequentially we understand ourselves.”

Connemara: Legends and Landscape Pages 9 and 10

” . . . our belief of ages of Ireland. Pre-history saw a maternal earth goddess culture in the Stone Age. This grew into a male warrior society during the metal ages. The arrival of Christianity was a fundamental shift of beliefs and societal values which in turn is being replaced by an age of scientific secular rationalism.” (Dames, M., Mythic Ireland (Thames & Hudson: London, 1996). P. 167.

Connemara: Legends and Landscape Page 10

I now know that this Connemara tour/trip can not happen with the existing bus schedules unless I book a room in Galway for the night before. A Connemara tour will have to wait until a future visit to Ireland.

When I paid for my books I found out that the lady behind the counter was a painter and she told me that there was an American who was currently an “Artist In Residence” at the Burren College of Art in Ballyvaughan. I made a mental note to walk up to the college and introduce myself to him before my stay in the Burren was over. I then walked onto to a small art supply / office supply shop and purchased an inexpensive hardcover sketchbook – I failed to pack my sketchbook when I left Kalamazoo. I enjoyed spending my time while Breada and Cathy shopped by walking up and down the streets of Ennistymon and saw a shop sign I don’t think you would ever see in Kalamazoo, “Nagles Bar and Undertaker”.