Nature Experience #12 – In the Irish Gorse

“The day is grand,” or so we were told so many times during the first week or so of our Irish adventure a few weeks ago. We were lucky, we had flown across the Atlantic and brought the fine weather with us. Instead of an average temperature range of 45 to 55 (F) we were experiencing 45 to 65, with a bright sun, blue skies and no clouds in sight.
It was a phenomena for the Irish. They flocked to the Howth Peninsula east of Dublin on the Irish Sea, where we spent our first night on the island. Houth is a much loved getaway for the Dubliners, and only a twenty minute ride by train (or less) from the city. They poured off the train from mid-morning to evening to join the revelry along the wharf.

After a brief foray into the village and along the jetty, where we witnessed the crowds, we hiked up along the coast, away from the crowds, to take in the glorious views of the Irish Sea.

The paths were rocky, with some water puddling leftover from the rains of the previous week. We stumbled a lot, more because we couldn’t take our eyes off the scenery than because we were clumsy. The sea on the horizon, the sky above, and around us, the tilted countryside, rising and falling, boulders jutting, and everywhere, the Common Gorse bushes with their profusion of yellow blooms. Birds twittered from the bushes and fluttered between them.

We stood in one place and turned in a 360 degree circle, holding our breaths. You’ve heard the expression, “her heart swelled.” So have I, but I can’t say that I’ve ever felt it in a place the way I did at that spot overlooking the Irish Sea. It swelled, and I can thank my Irish roots for the love of Nature that has always been an important part of my soul.

Soon we left the seacliff and walked down the hill, through the village, and back to our hotel at the Deer Park. Then, we were off on another hike, to investigate a Barrow Grave more than two thousand years old, located in a wild, woodsy portion of the property. Huge rhododendron trees, some with rose-colored blooms, ferns and even palm trees clumped together on the sides of the rocky hill. Dirt paths led the way among tunnels of treen, past stands of rock and even trickling waterfalls. The profusion of growth towered above our heads. We felt like dwarves in an ancient land, a place where fairies, unicorns and leprechauns surely peered at us from behind every trunk or boulder. Still looking for the grave, we climbed a rocky hillside to the top, and were rewarded with another astonishing view of the Irish sea and the estuary filled and depleted by the tides every day. 

Then, on the advice of an Irish native, we left the hill and entered the forest again, down another path, where finally we found the massive tumble of rock that was the grave. A hush fell over the place as the sun set. It was the first of many times during the trip that we felt the presence of others, witnesses to the thousands of years of Irish history. They walked with us as we crossed the green lawn and returned to the hotel.


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