Last weekend, I packed me, myself and I into the car and headed to the North-West of Ireland to tour around County Sligo. It was an absolutely gorgeous Valentine’s Day, so I decided to spend it connecting to the Irish scenery and local sights. This particular adventure included such places as Rosses Point, Ben Bulben, Mullaghmore, and Drumcliffe.
Rosses point is a small village outside of Sligo, and is marked by the Metal Man lighthouse. Having arrived early in the morning, I was able to get some great shots of the coast, as well as of the “Waiting on Shore Monument,” which the plaque reads:
Lost at sea, lost at sea
Or in the evening tide
We loved you, we miss you
May God with you abide.
After visiting Rosses Point, I plugged in Ben Bulben into my Google maps and set off again. Ben Bulben is part of the Darty mountains, and is sometimes referred to as “Yeats Country” in honour of W.B. Yeats. It is also the setting in many Irish legends, during the Irish Civil War and many aspects of recent history.
I never have, nor ever will, trusted my iPhone’s GPS to get me exactly where I need to go, so it came as no surprise that it decided to take me to some random, narrow passages up the mountain as my final destination. Before reaching this, however, I came to a closed gate, meaning I would have to turn around and drive back down the mountain before getting to where my map told me to go.
Fortunately, this redirection was extremely welcoming. As I was beginning to turn myself around, a local farmer had pulled in behind me. He was up to tend to the sheep along the mountainside and asked if I would like him to open up the gate so I could continue traveling up the mountain. Um, YES, PLEASE! Thank goodness for the kind people of Ireland – it really was an incredibly beautiful and scenic trail the whole way up; scenes which I would have missed if not for this fine gentlemen, and scenes which I would not otherwise be able to share, like so:
Now, the reason Ben Bulben is sometimes referred to as Yeats Country is because the famous poet, W.B. Yeats, would often write of his admiration and love of Ben Bulben. In his final poem, he had even left very specific instructions asking for his final resting place to be in the Drumcliffe churchyard so that he may forever stay connected to the Ben Bulben scenery. The poem is titled, Under Ben Bulben and this particular excerpt depicts such intentions (the last stanza is, as written in this excerpt, even engraved on Yeats’ tombstone):
Under bare Ben Bulben’s head
In Drumcliff churchyard Yeats is laid.
An ancestor was rector there
Long years ago, a church stands near,
By the road an ancient cross.
No marble, no conventional phrase;
On limestone quarried near the spot
By his command these words are cut:
Cast a cold eye
On life, on death.
Horseman, pass by!
Finally, I was able to continue on to see the local fishing town of Mullaghmore. It reminded me so much of Carlingford, and gave me those same feelings of hospitality. The main attraction was, of course, the local beach and views of the western coast.
Though I love taking these trips with friends, I was really glad to have had this one all to myself. I love being able to experience the beauty and freedom of journeys, connecting to these places and (as cheesy as this is about to sound) becoming one with myself. Having gotten myself lost along the way, I realized that, in Ireland, it really doesn’t matter where you’re headed or what it is exactly you want to see. It’s about the drive and the adventure – Ireland is so absolutely gorgeous that every nook and cranny of this country is worth seeing. More importantly, it’s often the places you don’t plan on ending up that give you the most outstanding views of the world, of your life, and of yourself. Éirinn go Brách!