Monday, October 10, 2011


Burren Cottage, Carran, County Clare

Saturday was moving day.  I left my home of nine days, Burren Cottage, and I am now comfortably settled in a delightful, tiny cottage, hidden between a lane and a river, at Coomhola Bridge neat Bantry, County Cork.  Yesterday, alone in the cottage, on a peacefully still, overcast Sunday morning, I had time to reflect on my journey thus far.
Nothing is yet much altered with me.  I have written a few blog posts but these have been wrought more by discipline than inspiration; the inspiration I hoped this trip would engender yet eludes me which is hardly surprising, I have done little thus far to advance my cause.  During the first part of my trip, the journey to Ireland, I allowed myself no time to ‘stand and stare’ and since being here I have played the part of a full-time, sight-seeing tourist.  Inasmuch as I have missed more of the sights on my original agenda than I have seen, I have also failed the tourist test.  But I have learned that being in a place alters preconceptions; since being at the Giant’s Causeway, where I witnessed the effect large numbers of visitors have on the soul of a place, I have largely scratched from my list all popular ‘tourist attractions’.  I have no objection to tourists.  Am I not one? However, when their number engenders control and commercial opportunity on what is to me an unacceptable scale, and my imagination falls short  of being able to ignore all but the place I have come to see, I can but choose to be absent from such places.  The Cliffs of Moher and the Aran Islands both fell foul of my mental review.  The islands, not so much through tourist blight but largely because, when within sight of the islands, I doubted that any worth-while tour of them could be made in less than a week: a day trip allowing a few hours ashore, on foot, would allow for little more than a rather pointless ticking of the box to say I had been there.
Here at Coomhola I am hoping to slow down.  The cottage affords plenty of opportunity to do so.  There is a T.V. In the cottage but the owner warned me that reception is, at best, poor.  When I turned the set on I found that the owner was quite right, reception was intermittent and such signals as did make it through to the set were subject to a great deal of distortion, snow and multiple image which, although a probable improvement on the programmes it effectively masked, was something in front of which I did not care to spend time.  This rather pleased me.  It eliminated any temptation I may have had to idly settle down and watch it.  I have no radio. I considered buying a small portable then realized that it would probably be as useful here as the T.V. And the internet router. Here, for much of the next two weeks I want to do little more than walk, read, write and sketch.

The cottage at Coomhola Bridge

I feel very comfortable and at ease here in Ireland and wonder if this has something to do with my finding so many apparent similarities between Ireland and Greece, my adopted home.  Almost universally people with whom I have had cause to deal have been welcoming, warm and friendly; roads are largely empty; uniformed police are few and far between - society here seems to be largely self-regulating; shops in the towns are mostly small and independent; as it is at home, corporatism seems to be slow taking hold here; cafés, bars and restaurants are happy to serve lunches well into the afternoon; musicianship, traditional music and dancing, are taken for granted and I have discovered,  ‘Lyric Radio’ a national radio programme with content, largely european classical music with occasional injections of other ‘special interest’ material, which is almost identical to Greece’s National Radio 3, my constant companion when I am at home.

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