Act One: Castles
We found ourselves climbing steep, impossibly windy staircases, leading into rooms recalling times and places familiar to us only because of made-up stories about dragons, kings, princesses, old heavy books and magi that we used to believe. We followed the stairs until we reached the very top of Bunratty castle, the Irish flag flying over the greys and greens that made up the distant landscape below; its colossal, dark stone facade betraying the cracked glass, fragile lanterns crafted from the horns of antelope, and decaying wood of hulking chests occupying the spaces in between the walls that are plastered white through-out.
Act Two: Psalms
127v1: Except the Lord build the house | their labour is but lost who build it
Denied access to its interior wealth, we roam the meticulously manicured garden of Adare Manor, watching the rushing force of the flooded river convulse together from the high arch of the bridge, and being watched, in turn, by those condemned to live an unchanging life cast in stone and covered in roots reaching for the sky.
Act Three: Dublin
First we found ourselves pretending to be sober, quieting each other in a BBQ joint, slurping free soft serve.
Then we found ourselves sobered both by those who created the countless discourses that make up our lives, and those whose lives are contingent on the kindness of others and ‘the generosity of the church’, we are told; both frozen to exist in a perpetual state of authority on the one hand, and charity, on the other.
It feels like the smell of books bound in leather and cotton with gold letter-pressed words and long walks in rainy parks.
Act Four: The End of the Earth
We parked the car when we could drive no further, and from there it was a short walk to the End of the Earth. That is, the place where Earth drops steeply into the ocean, ceasing to exist any further as rolling hills, or mountainous climbs, or vast flat plains of nothingness, except for one last attempt as a small island in the distance – giving in to the relentless push of the heavy waters of the ocean and the force of the winds. The sunlight shoots of the top of the cliffs and falls into the water – having no more earth to warm up, its heat lost in the wild Atlantic.
But the end of the earth extends to a different direction away from the cliffs also, where the earth starts cracking up; crevices open first tenderly and then deeply, roots making last attempts to find their way above the earth and fog, before the entire thing – the end of the whole entire world – just slips into the ocean, reaching unimaginable depths, disappearing without want of ostentation, without saying goodbye.
Act Five: The Ones You Love
Laughing, dancing, feeling victorious – we traversed a landscape that felt like dragons and kings, wealth and prosperity, knowledge and discoveries, and, then finally and almost abruptly, a wilderness that makes you imagine the absence of man, even though this now feels nearly impossible, until we reached what felt like the End of the Earth (and very well could have been); and we did it together.
This is what Ireland feels like.