Last Monday, after scrutinising meticulously the weather forecast on Met.ie, I decided to go for broke and head to The Burren in County Clare. For three years now, I have been promising myself to take that trip between May and June, but work or more likely the weather didn’t allow me to do so. I wanted to enjoy the rare plants this lunar barren land of lime harbours at this time of year, and also say hello to the puffins, guillemots, kittiwakes, fulmars and razorbills the cliffs of Moher shelter. I knew it was also an excuse to get out West, I haven’t been feeling so good lately, that low ceiling of clouds and bare light hiding behind gives me headaches, cabin fever, hell I don’t know what it is, I guess I am just not a great fan of summers…
I needed to go, with a certain apprehension for the road ahead; a knot in the stomach, I grabbed my camera, my telescope and my binoculars. I couldn’t eat so I poured a light coffee in a takeaway container, and peeled a green banana with my teeth, looking like an absurd “Reporter Without Borders” photographer, heading for my car. It was 7:30 am when I took off; weather’s fine; I’ll be on the M6 for Galway in 40 minutes… Ballyvaughan in a couple of hours; the ocean my old friend, the Atlantic my faithful mistress a short time after… Could it be one of those bad ideas? One of those things men do when they have a “bee in their bonnet”? A part of me went, maybe for the wrong reasons, with a bit of a bad heart on board… Why didn’t I eat before I left ( “well old pal, your metabolism wasn’t ready for it yet,you fool”… “Shut up Alter Ego, I need to do this, don’t you understand?”). I have broken my first rule, the one I was given, the one I’ve always had, passed on by my Breton Sea faring peers: “ never go on board with an empty stomach son…”. Yes, thanks, I remember now; I always do, just not this time… Like a friend from the Basque Country once said to me: “ Humans are the only animals who bump twice on the same stone…”.
As I finally entered the province of Munster, I had that song in my head, a song from Graeme Allwright, New Zealander born with crystal clear French when he sang and spoke; my mother brought me to see him when I was 9. He was singing bare feet on the stage of our cultural centre, and I fell asleep at his famous song written by Malvina Reynolds “Petites Boites” ( Little Boxes); we all live our lives in little boxes and, end up in little boxes ourselves… The lullaby tone to this tune makes it frighteningly ironic… But I remember him singing “La Plage” ( The Beach), a beautiful love song; I have had an attachment to that tune since, the first song I have sang in an Irish pub, in Clonmel, on my very first night spent on the Isle of Ireland in February 1991, in a lovely welcoming joint called “The Railway Bar”. As the secret drifter I was, I am drifting again, but that song always represented my love for the sea, its embrace and the way it can sweep you off of your feet, the same way you fall for that first girl that you held in your arms… Experience I haven’t had at that stage of my youth, so I made my own romantic dreams… The night I came back from my trip West, I woke up and typed something down at 3am on my phone, so it wouldn’t go away… And this is how it went…
“You are in my thoughts always, in my dreams sometimes, like a muse visiting a lost rambler, scribbling untranslatable words to most, shooting Morse code into space until the destined ear heard and listened. It was just a matter of time before we were to meet, ease our pains, naked while all is hidden and fake; raw like a wild flower bursting through the barren razor sharp limestone of the western land. Since I was 2 or 3, I have always known you would come and walk by my side. Unquestioning, reassuring hand, crossing fingers and holding tight in the face of the universe. One last blast for the road, while others are shouting their jealousies and fears over mossy rooftops. Footsteps in the sand, listening to the mélopées of the reefs, battered by the ocean, the murmurs of the reeds, bending flawlessly to the effortless harmonies of a south westerly breeze.”
After a 550kms round trip and a disappointing visit to the cliffs of Moher; while I could understand the importance it carries for the local economy, it killed some of my sweet memories I had of the place, from years gone by… It was like being on Grafton Street on a Saturday afternoon and in the movie “Inception” at the same time, being at the United Nation’s garden party or the Universal Selfie Stick convention, perched (excuse the pun) 400 m above the Atlantic ocean, oblivious to the magic happening below… Like I said earlier, I was in a shit mood!
I got home at 7:30pm, just over 12 hours out, still starving; I wasn’t going to settle for something lazy, or maybe a little bit, but it had to be tasty… As I sat outside, on the nicest day of the last two weeks, I raised my glass of Sauvignon Blanc to the descending sun. I finally got it out of my system, I visited the barren land of the Burren in June, just about… The pepper sauce was done, the asparagus cooked just under 5 minutes and my pork steak “in papillote” was in the oven… Overthrown fears are most delectable, nearly as much as the finally fed hungry Breton I was going to be… I will share that recipe with you soon my friends… We are made of strange kinds, fears and phobias are tameable, Hunger, to some extend, tolerable… But special good moments? Incomparable…
Keep Well and Eat Happy
7 thoughts on “Burren Land, Plutonic Love”
Looking forward to the recipe 😋
Thank you Frances, I will post it at the weekend 🙂
Wow, amazing pic of the Cliffs of Moher, definitely a place I want to see someday ! And I love the quote about Humans and the stone, that’s quite true and the image is funny at the same time ! Is the region of Munster where the cheese of the same name comes from?
Haha… Thank you Sophie 🙂 Well, for the little story, the cheese is named after the region ( an Irish monk went to the area of France and made the cheese I believe. ( Munster = Monastere?) I kind of forgot exactly, something like that 😉 Thanks for visiting. Yes, the cliffs of Moher is quite a place, but very busy this time of year.
Our favourite place in the whole world! Well, the bits we’ve seen anyway. Heading there next week. Lough Avalla here we come. Best scones ever.
Yes, it pretty amazing… Pretty altogether 🙂 Enjoy! The orchids are our now!
If a summer passes without at least one dose of Burren medicine, my body and soul mourn for the whole winter…