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Published: June 26th 2011
Sunday June 26th, 2011
Tulleague, County Mayo
It is a fine fresh evening as we stare across the great expanse of the bog. Rows and rows of turf lie out searching for the sun to dry them in preparation for the long cold winter that lies ahead. Yes, they still burn the peat cut into small logs of “turf” here in the countryside. Every household has an allotment area in the bog where they cut their share of this ancient fuel to burn for warmth. As we become more absorbed and accepted into this way of life, you see that the fact that things have not changed for hundreds of years is not from ignorance or a stubborn mentality, but merely because they relish this slow and thoughtful lifestyle. The countryside is scarcely populated; most of the people have left. Those that remain are those that want nothing more than this simple rural life. Some of the residents are retirees from the big city jobs, but most of those have some connection to this area and this land. They are the cousins and children who went off in search of the good life and came back with money in
their pocket and a sense of emptiness in their soul. Life in the rat race left them feeling disconnected and anonymous. Here everyone knows everyone and a casual evening chat along the road can last for an hour. Yesterday the farmer down the road brought a load of manure for the garden. The age and considerable mileage on both he and his tractor did not diminish the skill and accuracy with which he dropped his load in between the clothesline and the potatoes. “I had extra and figured they might be needing a bit”, his smile was as genuine as his manner. The local butcher came by later and brought fresh meat scrapes for the dogs. As a stranger driving down the road you might find their manner gruff and distrustful, but once they know who you are and what your business is in these parts they are helpful and welcoming.
Several days ago Jane and I drove up into the Ox Mountains in search of an ancient stone cottage we had heard was for sale. Up and up we continued until in stood before us, the last place at the end of a long narrow lane surrounded by stone walls and gentle meadows. God only knows how long the cottage and the accompanying stone granary have been there; nestled at the foot of the mountain facing the setting sun. The cattle are its only occupants now and the beautiful flagstone floor is covered in six inches of their dung. A small clear stream crossed the bottom corner of the property and the view to the south stretched for miles across the clean green expanse of Irish countryside. I took a picture from the rise behind the buildings and you can see our rental car in the lane on the right. At another time and place in my life I would probably be inclined to take on a renovation project of this scope and magnitude. But now, I relish simply finding these places in the world and soaking up their karma. The peace and tranquility you feel when experiencing these places make the searching and exploring all the more satisfying.
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