Ireland – the Odyssey

posted in: Travel | 0

It has been said that the Irish landscape is the one factor that molds the Irish people, and through them, the arts that have emerged from the Emerald Isle.

On the bus trip from Dublin to Achill Island we’ve passed quite a bit of landscape, dips and falls in the green covered ground that are familiar by themselves, but that combine to create a unique ensamble like a fingerprint. The more unfamiliar feature is the scale of the landscape that brings the zigzaged earth at a range where it can all be embraced in one glance, almost bringing it to human scale.The countryside passed before my eyes like a movie through the bus window. I knew it existed, but I also knew I wouldn’t have access to it on a physical level, but I was ready to abandon the urge to be inside the landscape for the priviledge to see so much of it in the span of a few hours. From manicured lawns and border bushes filled with flowers, the everpresent elderbush I’ve missed so much; from sharp cornered, whitewashed houses and perfectly grey roads with perfectly painted dashes, to the rugged, rocky, sing-song hills, and their rock-slid sides that looked just barely covered by a green blanket of moss and grass. In this uneven terrain we searched for five thousand years old tombs, mounds of rock with a mystery filled center, a cold bubble of air lined with long stones standing upright. I witnessed the gaggle of girls that conquered its peak and froze with American smiles on their faces for several snapshots of the moment. We don’t form memories the way we used to…

The grey road gained in tones on the way, with large black pebbles embedded in the tar, and the dashes became chipped and were sometimes just ghosts of themselves. The bus flew flanked by sheep pastures, ringed by a jagged horizon with a heavy blanket of large clouds above. The final moment in the visual symphony was sparse and green with an ascending mountain on one side and the immensity of the ocean on the other. A perfect ending.

The music we heard from Dermot McLaughlin and Susan McKeown, while very different from each other due to their mediums, reflected the morphology of the landscape in their flourishes and the spirit of the land in its folk nature. Myth, prayer, play and hymn all featured ups and downs, single and double notes, harmonies, trembles, history. The landscape is like the collective memory of Ireland, it remembers every battle as the blood of the dead sinks into the ground, every sorrow in the minor notes of the fiddle, and the collective abuse of its people inside every gauge in the side of the mountain, with the low notes of the ocean on one side, and the pebbled trembles in the voice of the singer on the other.

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