The Dingle Peninsula sits on the Southwest coast of Ireland. Jagged cliffs rise high above the Atlantic, while far below, the ocean swirls, a shimmering metallic green under leaden skies. The winds howl and moan as waves crash rhythmically against the rocks, sending billows of steam into the air.
Meadows line the hills that abut the shoreline. Vine-covered walls carve out parcels of pasture, which alternate between tan and green. Scattered patches of crocuses and daffodils suggest the coming of Spring. In one of the fields a herd of woolly sheep graze upon the grass, impervious to the chill, their backs to the sea, oblivious to the drama of waves smashing against the rocks, just a hundred yards off.
Serendipity drew us to Dingle in the midst of a music festival. Inside the pubs and concert halls, the prevailing tongue is Irish. We don’t understand the announcements or lyrics, but we get the spirit. Professionals transport us with powerful performances, and when their sets are over, the locals step forward. Most are seniors, and their voices are shaky but plaintive, resurrecting bygone performances on larger stages. All eyes turn to a young blind woman, gazing up to sing a ballad. Her song is familiar to the assembled, who join in as her rendition draws to a close.
Like the sheep on the hillside, I am oblivious to the drama unfolding beyond my field of view. As vacationers, we’re focused on the pubs and concerts, the Beamish and the chowder, while out in the February chill, the locals wend their way through the blowing rain, driven by the same quotidian tasks we will return to next week.
If we learn a lesson on these holidays, it’s that we don’t need to cross oceans to appreciate treasures. What barriers prevent us from putting our work down to share a drink or meal with friends? What powers force us to keep our heads down, focused like sheep on our own narrow patches of grass, oblivious to the glory that surrounds us?
These are the scenes and moments we will remember from our journey. Today, we will drive back to Dublin to visit the Book of Kells. After that we’ll take in a pint or two, and maybe a light meal, before flying back tomorrow to the US.
Wishing you all a restful weekend.
See you soon,