I’ve memories today of Ireland. On one trip, a few years ago, I decided to spend my days and nights in one place, instead of changing B&B’s or hotels each day and seeing the country as it were. I’d done that before, but found that the local flavor leaves you before it’s tasted and savored.
I stayed in the southern coastal town of Kinsale, a place I’d visited years ago and felt called upon to return. The town has a long waterfront, narrow streets and slate-clad houses. Compass Hill rises sharply over the town and overlooks a natural harbour where the Bandon river turns south to the sea.
I’ve said in recent years that when I retire, I’d like to spend three months in Kinsale experiencing the people and the place at a leisurely pace. I haven’t done it yet, but a seven day visit a few years ago was a precursor to that wish and a magnificent amplification of desire and dream.
The moment I arrived in Kinsale from Cork airport, it was as if the Muse entered my soul and would not let me be until I wrote and wrote and wrote some more. It was almost a haunting, a possession, certainly a mystical embodienment controlling a font of thoughts and feelings and as they bubbled to my minds surface. The more I wrote; the more that was there to express.
At times it was a conflict as my dreams would wake me with poetic verses yet to fit in with what I was currently writing. I thought of Yates and his poetic admonition:
“Of our conflicts with others we make rhetoric; of our conflicts with ourselves we make poetry.”
I did make many acquaintances. Eddie Butler is in rental real estate and has a fine cottage for me when I return for a longer stay. He’s a fledging writer and would like to have several conversations about writing in exchange for finding me a grand cottege in which to live and work. Liam O’Riordan, an Irish tenor who sings in the Seanachai and Dalton pubs in Kinsale and often tours America, took me back to the songs my Mother used to play when family and friends would sing around the piano. It was the only way I learned a little about Irish history when I was young.
My Mothers ancestors can be traced back to 1787 in Dunkenaly, Parish of Killaughtee, County Donegal, Ireland. She was a Collins, my grandmother a Kennedy and an ancentoral name litany includes McCollam, McGill, McGuire and McKillip.
At one music session with O’Riordan, I asked him to play Fields of Athenry, but I prefaced it by saying I was told it wasn’t played often in Ireland because it surfaced old memories of inhumane British treatment back in the famine of the mid 1800’s. Liam said he was musician and he sings anything he chooses and he sang it beautifully.
The farmers market in Market Square was just what you’d expect despite the rain and breezy chill. All kinds of fresh fish, flowers, vegetables and cooked dishes including boxty’s and Shephards Pie. Makeshift tarps covered the goods from the drizzle and the townsfolk came with their own bags and carts.
The pubs open at 10:30, lunch doesn’t really start until one and dinner should wait until eight or nine. After nine, the town echoes with strains of song, jigs and reels from a plethora of pubs.
I took a couple of side trips to Charles Fort where the battle of Kinsale took place in 1610 and out to Old Head, a jutting sliver of land into the Irish Sea. It wasn’t too far off this spit of rock that the Germans sunk the Lusitania in World War One. Part of the coastline there reminded me of the Cliffs of Moher in Shannon.
One of the days I’ll dredge up some memories of travels and assignments in Vietnam, Japan, Malaysia, Russia, Finland, Italy, France and England. Croatia has some interesting memories as do Holland and Germany.