|Visiting Molly Malone|
When I first visited Ireland a few years ago I explored the west coast, after all this was often claimed to be the “real” Ireland unlike the part within the pale. A place were people were still speaking Gaelic. Were all the favourite Folk songs originated from, well those usually sung in Australian seaman’s pubs and other drunken events. The names spoke volumes, Kerry, Bantry Bay, Shannon, Limerick, Galway, endless lists of cherished memories locked away in the heads of early Irish settlers to this Australia. Knowledge of the south east corner of Ireland by comparison for me was scarce. After Dublin and Waterford crystal the cupboard became bare. I still remember the trip up to Galway and the lost weekend in Connemara were a Gaelic speaker conference was being held and I spent the night in a pub listening dirges rather than rollicking Irish jigs I had hoped for. Then on to Sligo to visit Yeats’ grave and the honeyed voice of a local guide who ferreted elderly American women up to the Big House on the hill in his horse and trap.
This more recent trip was a more sedate affair’ visiting an old friend in Wicklow and looking at the Book of Kells and Dublin in general. Naturally there was the odd shower, but most Irish eyes seemed to be smiling despite what appeared to be major political disagreements among many citizens. Our visit to Trinity College to view this famed work was quite an eye opener. I had no idea of the scale of each page, nor the more the complex patterns of both text and decoration. Beautiful lineal control independent of its neighbour that somehow created the impression of a line shadow. Likewise paint applied in a broken manner so as to give the sparkle of stained glass windows. The question of whether the painter and writer were the same monk remains debatable, but the final work remains as one of mankind greater achievements. Walking around Trinity grounds the visitor is struck with the diverse collection of large outdoor sculptures. One that particularly caught my eye I believe was created by a South American sculptor who generously donated it to the University.
The train journey to Wicklow next day presented a more fertile countryside in marked contrast to the many miles of the little stone plots of Western Ireland were struggling farmers in the past were forced to collect seaweed to build up their little patch of dirt in order to grow anything. At the time I felt the despair they must have felt.
Wicklow and the surrounds proved to be a series of small villages, that seemed to hug the sea in defiance’s of the Atlantic Ocean. In one part of the coast, I observed that the ocean moved in opposite direction at the same time . Most certainly not an ideal swimming location. Looking out across the ocean it is easy to understand why many in the 19th cent consider this to be the edge of the world, those early Irish convicts who made the journey to Van Diemen’s land in many ways must have thought they were travelling from one edge to the other.
|Not a good swimming spot.|
|The edge of the world?|