I breathe in deeply. Hold this air in my lungs until I have to exhale. The fresh scent of ocean, smoke, and wind remains.
This is Doolin, Ireland, located directly next to the Cliffs of Moher and an hour or so drive from Shannon International Airport. My dad has rented a car, and I swear my mom is about to lose it. She’s never liked heights and we’re now driving up a winding, twisting road overlooking the cliffs.
They’re only a mere 600 feet or so, dropping off into a spiraling oblivion of chilling, shadowy seawater crashing over sharp rocks. It’s beautiful, but not in the traditional sense. The beginnings of the burren are here, as well as overcast skies, and ruined remains of ancient watchtowers.
The burren in one direction stretches into miles and miles of a limestone sea- desolate, ravaged by the wind, and marked every half mile or so by Neolithic tombs. The Neolithic tombs are built from boulders bigger than my dad. Long, thick slabs of emotionless gray rock.
Unfriendly, unfeeling, even a bit eerie. They’ve seen so much history yet stay the same. They are unmoved by the events of the world.
These rocks will always be this way too. Never in the future will they share any of the secrets they hold. They will stand there for an eternity, shrouding their stories in the veil of mystery.
It’s surprising that anything thrives here; yet farmers and locals build their houses and make lives for themselves, fitting neatly into sectioned off pieces marked by jagged stone walls extending into the cold, murky depths of the Atlantic. Walking along the obscurely cut limestone crag, the wind whips my hair around my face. It stings my cheeks until they are raw, but I am more content now than I can ever remember being.
I let my hands play along with the current of air. The air dances towards, darts though, and ultimately twists violently away from them. Wandering here, I feel comforted and more sure of myself than I ever have before in my life.
The place we stay at is a little outside the town off a dirt road. Our room overlooks one of three crumbling towers. It’s still the tallest structure in the vicinity, but it’s been exposed to the elements now for hundreds and hundreds of years. Everything back in America is new or perfectly preserved, frozen in the past. All the houses on my street are considered old enough for renovations- they’re only fourteen years old. The place I live in values beauty as sunny days, teaming with life, almost overcrowded. Beauty is recognized by being surrounded by others. This makes me see a new side of breath taking magnificence. It’s a bit darker, a little lonelier, and a tad more lost.
There is a lesson learned here that cannot be found anywhere back home. My mom is too used to this- raised on English summers her whole life. Living in the midst of decaying brilliance and a land with secrets still unknown to man. She can appreciate it, and view it, but never is it the same encounter for her. The experience is lost on her. My father is completely different. Home fed on local ideals all his life, he is completely taken in and lost to it. The whole experience blinds him to anything else. I’m a mix- this place makes me see in different colors. I know enough to leave the normal picture taking tourist role behind, and to stop just short of blending in and losing the whole meaning of the trip. I learned to put myself next to the beauty so that I am connected always. Ireland makes me see beyond the scene and look into the complex beauty of a place still wild and untamable, shrouded in it’s own ethereal time period.
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