Well, my time here ends in the morning. The wind is wailing and rushing around this house. The Sidhe are riding, I think. (Guess I won’t see them this time, but maybe next…) The wind here rushes down Mishkish and pushes towards the sea, so fiercely tonight that it rushes down the fireplace and rattles everything. You can really imagine it would be a night when the banshee could appear; it’s just that atmospheric.
We workshopped our poems this morning and then, after lunch, Sue drove us out to the 800 year old graveyard at Kilcatherine and dropped us off to walk from there back home to Anam Cara. There is a wonderful stone ruin, a church, with a human head that peeks out from the top of the door. So old…but still a sense of humour in the stonework. Some stones were so old that they looked just like posts, worn down as they were by hundreds of years of wind and rain. Susan, Angie, Pippa and I walked, then, along the road until we reached the infamous Hag of Beara.
In Irish, she is referred to as “An Chailleach Beara.” She is said to have lived seven life times before being turned to stone. You see a little green gate, so weathered that the “Please Shut the Gate” sign is down to “…ase …ut….at…” From there, you wander down a stone ridge and see her, perched on the hillside. She is ancient and full of lore. She is still waiting for her husband, Manannan, God of the Sea, to return to her. Local people still leave her little trinkets, coins and offerings in hope of gaining her blessings. (This practice is similar to the tradition of leaving gifts at the various faery trees I’ve seen these last two and a half weeks.)
We continued on, past the oldest ogham stone in Europe….thousands of years old, again. This whole area is dotted with hedge tombs, stone circles, ring forts. If you’re into archaeology and history, as I am, this place is heaven. The richness of the lore and legend, rooted in history, is something that gives scope to any writer.
Carrying on, the walk took us a good hour and a half. It was about 6 or 7 miles in length. (My legs are creaky tonight!) On the way back to Eyeries from Kilcatherine, Pippa and I had a close encounter with four donkeys who rushed their gate, thinking we must have had apples to give them. A little dog came rushing down with them for a visit, too. They were soon disappointed by our lack of food and went back to their field. Further on, Susan and Angie had discovered a pen of goats. So great to see them up close.
Finally, we stopped in Eyeries for a drink at Clauskey’s Pub. The view from their back window is stunning. To top it off, a dog wandered into the pub on a whim. Only in Ireland. 🙂
Home tonight, we shared our last dinner together….Irish salmon. Then, we each read some of our poems. It was so moving to hear everyone’s poetry. I cannot explain how blessed I feel to have met these women this week. To be with other poets is something I’ve been missing. I know that we were meant to be friends. What I’ll take from this week is that I have gained four new soul friends. I’ve learned that I need to recommit myself to my own poetry. I need to redefine myself as “poet” first. What I know is that I’ll always be connected to these poetic women and that we plan to reunite in a year or two. Sue Booth-Forbes, the wonderful woman who cultivates creativity here at Anam Cara told us tonight that we, as a group, truly affirmed her vision for this place. I feel something magical happened to me here….in that this place opens up your heart, your soul, your creativity, your interior life, and helps you to refashion yourself in a stronger more unique way. I feel so blessed….but will be so sad to be parted from these new friends and poetic sisters.
Tomorrow, Kathryn, Pippa and I travel from Beara to Cork, and then Kathryn and I will take the train to Dublin. Sunday, I fly home to Northern Ontario. I will miss Ireland, but I will most particularly miss Beara. As Sue Booth-Forbes said tonight….”God created Beara as heaven, but then he gave it to us.” It is so true….I wish everyone could experience the people, the stories, the beauty that is Beara. I will carry it in my soul always.
Missing my fur babies….will be glad to pick them up on Sunday night. Gully & Sable….I’m coming home! 🙂