WALKING TIR NA nOG
Far out beyond the green island of rough stone, white horses fill the bay.
Riding home on the stormy sea, urged on by Neptune, they throw
brown seaweed and colored shells up on the white sand
disrupting my easy path.
Now gingerly I must pick my way across the dark slipperiness
and over the pinpoint sharpness to the waters edge for my morning swim.
A wave spreads out, veil-like.
A more finely worked piece of lace I have yet to lay eyes on at any Portuguese market stall.
(I half expect its maker to appear across the sand and state her price) .
l stoop to admire it, strewn carelessly across my feet, before it is sucked back to sea in tatters
And when at last I find my depth and dip my tired body in, I swear the mermaids comfort and cajole me back to health.
I count the days when I can return.
Invitation number one
My sister sent me an invitation to visit her on Inis Bofin, where she is spending her 40th wedding anniversary.
It coincided with my visit to my own Tir na nOg.
I was torn! Especially as I knew that Yvonne Cullen was running a weeks creative writing course on the island at that time.
And even though the application date was over and all the places were surely filled, I thought I might hang out and eavesdrop or meet some fellow writers walking or cycling the island.
I’m sure they would have been easily recognizable.
After some consideration, the weather made my decision for me as it took a turn for the worst.
Fierce gales blowing in from the north west, whipped up the sea and caused the hardy cows and Connemara ponies to take shelter among the outcrops of rock.
I was concerned that the ferry would be unreliable in such winds (I might get over, with no guarantee of return).
So I stayed put and, despite the turn in the weather, continued my morning swims on the second beach and my long barefoot walk by the place of the hare.
My reading for the week included J M Synges .Travels in Wicklow ,West kerry and Connaught.
(A book written in 1905 and illustrated by Jack B Years who traveled with Synge at the time.)
Sheltering from a sudden shower in the lea of the bank, I recalled Jack B Yeats’s account of how, when they were travelling beyond Erris in County Mayo and got caught in a sudden deluge, Synge suggested they sit among the sand banks and cover themselves with sand to try and keep the rain off.
I thought I might do the same but had only covered as far as my ankles when the sun burst out again and I got up and wandered on.
The second Invitation
Easkey is a small village in west Co Sligo
A haven for surfers brought there, not by the weather, but the wondrous swells.
And now another invite has come my way!
From the same sister.
Easkey is holding its first street festival!
Would I be interested in entering its table for two competition?
With no need to worry about ferry crossings and still kicking myself for not risking the trip to Bofin (I heard later that I missed a great seisún there on the Saturday night) I readily accepted.
My initial idea of a camping table (in keeping with my love of that lifestyle) gets quickly thrown aside as my daughter appears with two pristine white wooden chairs and a blue and white table cloth, pointing out that, seeming to support the use of plastic might not win me a prize in the present times.
I explain my plastic picnic ware is recycled but she is not listening.
Instead she is getting into the swing of it and before my eyes my Portuguese ‘no need to feel blue at my table for two‘ starts to take shape and I go home to gather all my blue and white kitchen pieces.
ANY PASTEIS DE NATA’S PLEASE?
If I’m going with a Portuguese theme, besides some Fado music, Olive Oil, Olives and Meia de Leite, I must have Pasteis de natas.
Those wonderful custard tarts, traditionally coming from Belém, a small town west of Lisbon (I would recommend anyone wanting to taste the ‘real thing’ and/or interested in the origin of these delights to visit the bakery/Cafe there) need to be freshly made on the day and also easily picked up on my route.
I eventually track a suitable source and the Lady packing 12 into a box, when she hears what they are for, only charges me for ten.
‘On condition you take a photo of your table’ she demands ‘I’d love to see it’.
So I take many photo’s of this wonderful, color-filled, food-filled, music-filled,people-filled day.
And now, without further ado,
I invite you to take a seat and enjoy the view,
from my ‘Portuguese table for two’
But look! What is this?
‘Obrigada Easkey’ for a great day.