The Writer's Life: Film & Book Reviews, Observations, and Stories
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Martello Tower

It’s bright and clear today, but cold. The manager at the hotel just told me he’s resigning. He can handle the breakage, he said, but not the fact that the tradesmen never show up to fix anything. He said he’s going to take a trip around the world, something I’ve heard many of the Irish under thirty say, who have a hankering to get off the island for a while.

When it warms up, I’ll head up the coast on my rented bicycle toward Bell Harbour and Martello Tower, which I can see from my window here in the pub/dining room. It’s about a mile and a half as the crows flies (the crows here are gray and white and the ravens are black), but several miles along the road. One of the things I’ve learned in Ireland is that there is no straight line between two points.

I’ll have photos when I return, and will add them to this post. If you don’t hear anything from me, check at the surgery.

martello.jpgNaturally, the trip was longer and windier than I expected, but more fun and interesting for it. The tower was on a point of land which could only be reached by going five or six miles along the coast and then a mile or so into a peninsula which juts into the sea. I’m back at the Limestone writing about my adventure, but getting a pint is proving to be as difficult as seeing Martello Tower. The hotel’s pub is full of characters from “Waiting for Godot,” nodding back and forth, and speaking in a tongue I can’t understand. Perhaps I’m a bit tired. I’ll post some of the shots I took today under my Irish photos.

February 6, 2008   1 Comment

The Flotsam and Jetsam of Irish Life

paper_studio.jpgRebecca has created a paper studio out of the flotsam and jetsam of Irish life. Fibers from a garden left fallow for winter, a castoff vat from behind the school, woolen blankets from a secondhand shop in Ennis, a paint stirrer to break down the pulp, and an old press Robert (the school’s wondrous wizard) found somewhere on his travels. It’s beginning to look and smell like a real paper studio.

standoff.jpgYesterday, Gordon D’Arcy placed the ages of ancient man (stone, bronze, iron) onto the Irish landscape in the Burren. On a narrow road on our way to see a wedge tomb we met a tractor and trailer which was as wide as our bus. Every inch of the road was used to sneak past.

February 2, 2008   1 Comment

Ancient Right-of-Way

Property is sacred in the Burren and in most of the rest of Ireland. One would never think of crossing another man’s plot of ground, surrounded by thick walls made of rock, unless it were a matter of life and death. When I discovered there was an old right-of-way between Ballyvaughan and the Burren College of Art, I had to find it and traverse it. When I asked Gordon D’Arcy, one of the area’s foremost naturalists, about it, he said that part of the path was under a turlough. Naturally, being curious, I had to find out for myself. So after dropping some things off at the college, I took a little-used road that cut through the landscape and found a series of steps in a stone wall which seemed to indicate a path, crossed the field where there across_the_turlough.jpgwas a trace of feet through the grass, and then across another wall into the thick hazel. Sure enough, once there I found painted arrows on the limestone slabs and pieces of plastic tied to the branches to identify the ancient right-of-way. It skirted one turlough near the college and another farther on, but when I got close to Ballyvaughan it ran straight through another (see the photo), and I had to invent a way over walls and a barbwire fence until I emerged near the playing field and school. It was a muddy adventure, but, luckily, I managed to avoid both farmers and bulls.

January 14, 2008   Comments Off on Ancient Right-of-Way