Finding 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 face and limbs, so mild and gentle. 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 amongst our tour group as we lay on that grassy knoll with the sheep so far down below even their sounds could not reach us. There were no trees to catch the wind, no wind to brush through the small vegetation living in 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. Only I couldn’t, 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 so still, the mind stills and troubles seemed to stifle 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, one would forgiven for thinking it incapable of supporting life altogether, but as we walked in amongst the rocks, the hills revealed many hidden surprises. Small flowers, bushes and shrubs grow in amongst the hardened limestone rocks, a small reminder that even in the harshest of conditions life can flourish. After walking back down to earth, the tour group rested at the farm’s café for traditional Irish coffees and home-made desserts. With the scent of freshly brewed coffee filling the air, whipped cream collected earlier that morning atop our sweets and the landscape of the Burren, it felt like another world, one where everything is simple and beautiful in its own unique way.
The tour bus then took us the Cliffs of Moher, one of Ireland’s most revered natural landscapes. It presents that oh-so-sort-after ‘green’ image that Ireland is universally renowned for. Needless to say the seemingly endless cliff faces disappearing into the distance was a stunning sight to behold. With warm green grass and brilliantly yellow wildflowers growing right up to the edge of the earth, the vibrant blue of the sky above and the waters below mirroring the view, it was a site of true natural beauty. The tour took us to a pub in the countryside for hearty Irish food and warm hospitality and then ended in Galway where we roamed through the town before making our way back to the bus depot that would see us ride a two hour bus back to Dublin.
And on that ride after all that I’d seen; the strangely endearing harshness of the Burren, the vibrant scenery of the Cliffs of Moher, the delish meaty stews in an irish pub, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, and exploring the town made famous in song, the one moment that stuck with me through that entire journey back to where we started, was that single moment of absolute peacefulness in utter silence and appreciation lying on the ground in the Burren. And I made it my mission to find that moment again one day.