I could not have a series of blogs about the amazing Emerald Isle without writing about its landscapes. Captivating, breath-taking and a soul haven. Relaxing, peaceful but at the same time invigorating. Colourful, majestic but dull at a times. Full of contrasts, completely different from the North to the South, from the East to the West. The sun enhances its magical beauty offering a powerful scenic view wherever you may be. The rain brings a mystical touch, and of course, a nightmare if you are outside driving or walking. The wind clears the air and blows the heads off us too, at least your hat, or your umbrella if it is also raining! Whether if it is sunny, rainy, or windy, the Emerald Isle welcomes you with plenty of hidden corners, still unspoilt and untouched by the hand of the modern world.
The two years before moving to Ireland I tried to relish as many long weekends here, summer holidays, Easter breaks, Christmas holidays, or any available breaks I had. I visited most of the spots for tourists, not ashamed of admitting this but it was the easiest way for me to rediscover some of the main attractions as well as getting my soul reconnected to Ireland. Thanks to my adventurous soul, once I was settled in, I abandoned that path to follow the road less travelled by, as Robert Frost poetically embroiders in his poem “The Road not taken”: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference. It has indeed, for me. I have driven through the narrowest of the causeways to end up in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by stunning views, all to myself. Simply priceless.
After nearly five years I have taken thousands of pictures, gathered loads of great memories, and lived unforgettable experiences while travelling around the Emerald Isle. Having said this, it is not difficult to understand my struggles to choose the best ones to feature in this blog. The list is never ending, I could say. What I have had the pleasure of visiting cannot be written down on a blog, cannot be summarized in just a few lines, cannot be described to do it justice. Simply precious.
I have seen many beautiful sunrises and sunsets, like over the top of a mountain, in a remote trá (beach) looking over the Atlantic, tainting the sky red over a field of crops, vanishing over the horizon along the river Liffey, and simply disappearing in the distance while the cows next door are mooing away. I have walked along many paths stopping every two seconds to admire the magnificence of some wildflowers, hiked strenuous trails to reach the top to take in mind-blowing views, strolled along beaches in a lovely summer day, but also on a grey and cold winter day, and felt the sea breeze embracing me. I have been brave enough to swim in the cold Atlantic waters, in summer of course, freezing but worthwhile. I have wandered around the busy streets of Dublin, Cork and Galway without feeling like a tourist. I have stood in Trinity College’s Parliament Square, in front of the Campanile, and felt peace. I have reached the top of Knocknarea, trekked to the cairns of Loughcrew, rambled in The Hill of Tara, and experienced the power of the ancient Celts holding my soul. I have sat in many piers, coffee in hand, to let my mind relax, to let my thoughts get some clarity. I have visited numerous gardens and savoured nature in a unique way, breathed in the perfumes of countless daffodils, roses and many other flowers and sat down on benches to just listen to the wind make its way through the branches. I have admired my moon reflecting on the sea, glanced at the stars in a secluded beach, woken up in a tent to absorb the sounds of the night.
I must admit that there is nothing like the west coast though. It is wilder, rarer, somehow warmer, and acts as a magnet, where one is drawn to inexplicably. The forgotten gem of County Sligo, a box full of surprises: waterfalls, mountain trails and stunning beaches usually to yourself. Belmullet Peninsula in County Mayo, I ended up there unexpectedly and I was taken away by its beauty and remoteness. The spectacular Connemara National Park with countless turquoise water and white sand. County Clare offers you the great opportunity of having an improvised homemade picnic over one of the cliffs in the Loop Head Peninsula. County Kerry, wisely called the Kingdom, has plenty of unspoilt conners to discover. And for me, the winner is West Cork with its trio of peninsulas: Mizen, Sheep’s Head and my beloved Beara. Thanks to a very good friend of my partner, I have, we have, had the chance of discovering the wilderness and the magnificence of probably one of the most remote piece of land on the Wild Atlantic Way. Beara alights my soul, lifts up my spirits and holds my heart delicately. Unfortunately, and in my mind in order to protect the uniqueness of its landscape, I have three rules about Beara:
- You cannot tell anybody about Beara
- You cannot talk to anybody about Beara
- You cannot spread the word about Beara
I could write for Ireland about its landscapes, stunning views, and the stunning coastline, truly incredible. Luckily for you, dinner is ready. Slán anois!
Jay Cee Moon ©