My Dream is this:
I will go to a small island off the west coast of Ireland and live in a cottage on a lake and write and dream and paint.
But I fear my dream.
For it’s a lonely one and I am a gregarious creature.
And being of this nature making such a decision is a hard one.
I have thought of tossing a coin or reading the tea leaves or praying for a sign. In that way if I was overcome with loneliness and was forced to return, I could blame the Gods.
But I fear the result of that coin too.
Maybe for now I will leave it as it is: My dream.
No wonder in bygone times strangers were welcomed with open arms.
Living in isolation on the side of a misty mountain or beside the wild and stormy sea, where the sound of the wind invaded their days and nights, the sight of another human toiling up the hill against the rain with a reluctant dog in tow must have been one to celebrate.
The fire would be built up, the kettle filled, the bread, the butter, the plate of cold potatoes laid out on the table.
The apron removed and hung on the back of the door.
The stranger made welcome.
Relieved of his wet coat, he would be encouraged to take a seat near the fire.
The fireside dogs, growling at first, would shift and make space for the wet skinny one.
I do not believe strangers were feared then then the way we fear them now.
Both had too much to gain from each other.
Especially during the long dark winter months.
So the stranger would be fed, even given a bed by the fire if needs be.
In return He would share the news, tell stories, maybe pull a whistle from his pocket and play a few tunes.
Maybe he would bring thread, needles, some coloured ribbons, combs for the women of the house.
His main purpose though would be to ‘pass the time of day’ and alleviate the dark winter days.
My dream would not be to pass the days for the sake of it, but instead, I would walk and cycle the island from north to south , from east to west and think and sit and write..
I have chosen my Island.
I have even chosen my cottage.
I have familiarized my self with the road from the harbour .
I know how it heads up over the hill and down passed the ruins of the church and the gravestones and on towards the beach
only to swing around to the left and past the row of cottages at the horseshoe bay with its ‘gleoteoig’ moored in the sheltered waters.
At the end of the bay the road branches in two, the right fork heading down towards the rocky shore,
The left fork heading up over the hill past the cottage with the hens
and flattening out, it trundles along by the lake where ‘my cottage’ sits waiting for my company.
I have cycled this road in my youth.
With a young lad seated on the back carrier.
(‘Surely it should have been the other way round’ you say)
Maybe, but my bike was precious.
I had already left the Inisowen peninsula on it weeks before.
A single speed black raleigh with a wooden trailer behind.
We had bravely tackled many a steep hill together
And we had many more hills and miles to do before we reached cape clear island of the coast of Cork.
I didn’t trust that the lad in his ‘joie de vivre’ (we had been drinking pints at the local pub) would’nt hit a pothole, and I would not only have a broken nose but a broken bike as well and that would be the end of my ‘Wild Atlantic way’ cycle.
A journey much talked about these days.
It was on this four month long 2,500 km cycle all those years ago that I first came across ‘my island’
Camping by the harbour of Claddaduff, I noticed two people with rug sacks boarding a small boat. When I enquired where they were off to, they told me they were going to Inisbofin (the island of the white cow)
I don’t know if it was the name that appealed to me or the sight of its ethereal shape. Like a huge whale, It dangled in the mist above the sea.
Before I knew it, the willing boatmen were hauling my bike and trailer on board and that was that.
I arrived barefoot on the Island, having lost my silk slippers (every long distant cyclist should wear them)at the Ballisodare folk festival where dancing too enthusiastically to the music, probably of Planxty
I stepped backwards into a stream.
I left my silken slippers to dry on a rock and continued dancing.
When I went back the next morning they were gone.
I fell in love with this wild Island.
And being young and carefree also with the lad, whose mother kindly gave me a pair of wellingtons.
But that is another story for another time.
A story I will write if ever I follow my dream.
Below is my Island, tranquil, solitudinal, hanging from a grey sky above a greyer sea. It does occur to me though, that most of my writings come from my observations of people. Would I be ‘cutting off my nose to spite my face’ in going to live on in such a place. Maybe my dream is better fulfilled being what it is…….A dream.