On a rare sunny Ireland day last June, Paul and I
drove up to the Mullet Peninsula in the far northwest
of County Mayo. It's a remote and windy place:
the largest town, on what feels more like an island
than a peninsula, is Belmullet, population 2,000.
The rest of the peninsula is even more sparsely
populated, so we truly had the day --
and the landscape -- to ourselves.
My favorite thing to do in Ireland is to explore,
and for hours we drove down narrow lanes
that ended in the sea,
or ended nowhere, but offered spectacular vistas,
such as this of the north side of Achill Island --
Amid the constant wind we wandered, got lost,
found our way again, got lost again.
I'm constantly on the lookout for holy wells,
and there always seems to be one --
Later that evening, we had tickets to see
the Scottish singer/songwriter Dick Gaughan,
at the new performing arts center in Belmullet.
(I would venture to say that in the "crowd"
of fifty-or-so, we were most likely the only Americans.)
I'm going to use a word here for which I am often
teased by my spouse, but it's a word which
sums up the performance: magical.
(And I think he'll forgive this linguistic transgression
when I state the reason for this post, which is
to point you to a recent entry in his Just A Song blog,
where he discusses Gaughan's rendition of Now Westlin Winds.)
Back to Belmullet: the solstice was nigh,
and as we left the concert, close to 11pm, the last
of the sun sent up its waning light on the Atlantic
horizon. We drove an hour, home to Carrowholly,
our solitary car illuminating the bogs, two Americans
elated at our good fortune in being alive, together,
on such a glorious day.