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Drinking In the Atmosphere

My mother and brother-in-law,
Tom Halligan, at Carrigeen Farm House.

 In Ireland, I wanted to inhale the air, crumble the dirt in my hands, and listen to the birds and whatever insects they may have. I mean, the internet offers a wealth of information about these places, but I wanted to know what it felt, smelled, and sounded like to actually be there.

Upon arrival in Dublin, we drove to the Carrigeen Farm House, our rental outside Kilmacthomas (about fifteen miles from the city of Waterford, of cut-crystal fame). The farm was in a most lovely rural setting tucked in the foothills of the Comeragh Mountains. Our landlady called it a “pet day,” meaning it was sunny with cottony clouds. This weather turned out to be fairly rare, as I later learned watching rain clouds roll in from the hills.

The drive to the farm house

While the others were napping from jet lag, I took my notebook and walked down a most picturesque two-rutted dirt road. I jotted down as many sensory images as I could. Here are a few:

TOUCH: “Briars lie hidden under the beauty of the wild flowers, patiently waiting for their prey; they then laugh while the victim sucks the blood from his throbbing finger. Mean-spirited vines.”
SMELL: “The rain splats into the dry, thirsty dust of the road. It smells like new life. It smells like hope.”
SOUND: “a donkey braying frantically with the heavy breathing of an asthmatic old man”
SIGHT: “a bird confidently shows off his masterful dance over a field of young grain”

Me and Tom on the footpath
to Mahon Falls

Apparently, I didn’t taste anything of note. These were written about six and a half years ago, and I now notice I have a tendency toward personification.

Another day, we went to Mahon Falls, not too far from our home base. It was not a pet day. Although it was June, I wore a flannel-lined raincoat as we trekked through a brisk, foggy drizzle. The craggy landscape was dotted with bleating sheep and goats. Gorgeous. It was like waking up in Jane Eyre, or any other gothic romance for that matter.

My mom and sister, Barbara
Halligan, at Mahon Falls

For my writer self, this was a godsend. While my primary purpose was to learn as much as possible about Nicholas Sheehy’s story, soaking up the countryside with all of my senses was priceless.

2 comments on “Drinking In the Atmosphere

  1. Steve Gordy says:

    The Irish countryside seems to bring out the poet in everyone.


  2. Mary Beth says:

    Thanks. It is magnificent.


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