At Peace in Ireland
I still remember the feel of the dry blades of grass on the back of my hands. Overgrown and well trodden, they made for a comfortable resting place. I remember the still air encasing my limbs. I remember the grey cloud-filled sky up above me before I closed my eyes, lying flat on the side of the rocky Burren in Ireland. But what I remember most of all was the silence. Not a word was spoken among our tour group as we lay on that grassy knoll with the sheep so far down below that even their bleating could not reach us.
There were no trees to catch the wind, no wind to brush through the hardy vegetation growing amongst the barren rocks. It wasn’t a buzzing silence; it was the most peaceful quietness I’ve ever experienced. With my eyes closed and no sounds to keep me tied to my surroundings, I could have been anywhere in the world.
But I couldn’t have been anywhere in the world because it is not just anywhere in the world where this sense of silence and solitude could be experienced, certainly not anywhere I’d ever been before. With the air still, the mind stilled, troubles stifled and all that remained was bliss. Bliss at being able to experience a moment so calming, so unlike reality and so very fleeting.
A few giggles broke out from my travel companions and I was brought back down to earth.
The MacCoole tour began in Dublin and took us to a 300 year old farm where the guide through The Burren began. From afar this bluish grey stone hill appears so dry and barren it seems incapable of supporting life altogether but as we walked through the rocks the hills revealed many hidden surprises.
Small flowers, bushes and shrubs grow in amongst the hardened limestone rocks, a small reminder that life can flourish even in the harshest of conditions. After the calming walk through The Burren, the tour paused at the farm’s café for traditional Irish coffees and home-made desserts topped with cream collected earlier that morning.
I took my slice outside but where the scent of freshly brewed coffee mingled with the crisp country air. Staring out at the landscape of The Burren from this 600 year old working farm, I felt far removed from the big cities I had recently visited. There was no doubt in my mind that hard work was completed daily in these parts, but it also seemed like a place where simple pleasures were enjoyed to their fullest. I silently thanked my new Canadian friend for recommending I spend one of my three days in Ireland taking this tour.
It was a full day tour, starting and ending in Dublin. After The Burren, the next stop was the Cliffs of Moher, one of Ireland’s most revered natural landscapes where seemingly endless cliff faces disappeared into the distance with warm green grass and brilliantly yellow wildflowers growing right up to the edge of the earth. Set to a backdrop of vibrant blue skies and deep blue waters, it was a site of true natural beauty.
The tour paused a country pub for hearty Irish dishes and warm hospitality before moving on to Galway, where we briefly roamed the town before we filed into the bus one last time for our journey back to Dublin.
On that two hour drive back, I thought about all I had seen; the endearing harshness of The Burren, the vibrant scenery of the Cliffs of Moher, the delicious meaty Guinness stew in a quiet local pub and exploring the town made famous in song.
The one moment that struck me the most from the wonderfully busy day was that single moment of absolute peacefulness lying on the ground in The Burren.
I made it my mission to find that moment again one day.