It’s a funny day today: the blustery winds keep changing directions as I watch the swans and pelicans on the estuary across the road from where I live.
I guess the unsettled weather is fitting for this, the last day of the cycle in the ancient Mayan calendar. For a price, you can escape or celebrate the end in a Russian bunker, while doomsday preppers in the US have their bunkers ready; just as well, really, as French authorities are banning access to Bugarach, the magic mountain and safe haven in the Pyrenees. I’ll spend the evening sitting on my balcony, come what may.
I had a fleeting moment, at some point during this year, of thinking that I might be blogging or posting a status update as the world was ending: a bizarre conceit, really – after all, if everything stops, I’m sure the electricity and internet will be the first to go! And, who would possibly be reading? But, it is perhaps symptomatic of this “connected” world we are now in, that this silly thought even crossed my mind.
As I write this, the press is still full of reaction to the recent horror-killing in the USA, half a world away: that of 20+ children and 6 adults at a Connecticut school. A tragic occurrence by any standards. But, we live in a world where, on average, 19000 children under five die every day: from disease, war, and insufficient nutrition. Those headlines are less dramatic.
Six months ago, I was in the western-most reaches of Ireland, where the rocks and the ruins seem well removed from the woes of the 21st century. Truly, as my husband and I walked around the flank of Mount Eagle, with nothing standing between us and North America except the wild Atlantic Ocean, I felt as if we were in another world.
But this rugged landscape is steeped in its own tragic history of oppression and starvation, and located in a country currently struggling through crippling unemployment.
The trail from Dingle takes you further westwards through the village of Ventry and onto the golden sandy beach of Ventry Harbour. A country lane leads you on to the medieval roads of Slea Head. This area is dotted with a multitude of Clochans or more commonly known as beehive huts which date back to the Mesolithic Period of around 6000 BC. As your trail bends north around Slea Head you will also have some stunning views back over the great Blasket Island and your final view of Dingle Bay.
Before leaving Dingle, we stopped in at Dingle’s well advertised “Hidden Treasure”: the Díseart Institute of Irish Spirituality and Culture: a former convent, housing an information centre and some absolutely fabulous religious art.
The Harry Clarke stained glass windows are just beautiful, but there came a point at which we had to brave the rains and start walking the 20 kilometres between us and our next lodgings.
In spite of the recent hardships and poignant memories of famine, exodus, and “the Troubles”, there is a faith and resilience in Ireland that keeps the smiles, the hospitality, and the music flowing.
Christmas is just around the corner, so it is fitting to return to Harry Clarke’s windows.
Perhaps, if the world continues tomorrow, as most of us believe it will, we can fulfil the Mayan prophesy by making the world a different and better place – especially for the children.