Sunday, February 10, 2008

Dispatch from Carrowholly

Avant-garde composer and musician Amy Dinio is spending February at my house in Carrowholly on the west coast of Ireland. Amy writes:

"Today's exciting adventure: This morning I went squelching off in the mud flats at low tide (in high winds) with Pat [a neighbor], to his family's tiny sheep-dotted island, a ways out towards the Atlantic. They’d moved to the mainland when he was 4, but the house is still there [see photo]. Took a picture through the weather-streaked window, looked like something seen through the mists of time. He & his son were repairing fences, because it seems the sheep sometimes long for the mainland, and set out, only to be swept out to sea when the tide comes in. As you probably know, the current's very strong. He said he watched a pregnant ewe paddling away in the icy water for more than an hour yesterday. Luckily she finally made it to land, and laid down for the rest of the day. The first lamb was born the other day, cute as a button. Many more to come.

"Explored the minutiae of the key of A major at McHale’s pub last night, playing with Pat & Mick. Very merry company. There was a picture of Ginger on the wall, 3-time Irish national heavyweight champion, undefeated, drinking his second Guinness with his friend Liam, in the year 1960. Ginger was a fighting cock with his head deep in the glass....

"Yesterday dawned clear-ish and calm, so I took (some of) your advice & visited the Burrishoole Abbey, a truly lovely place, and very nice indeed to have it all to myself. Then onward at 100kph (insane speed limits on these narrow roads!) towards Achill Island. I’d followed a sign saying “Spanish Armada”, and found myself following the Atlantic Route around the peninsula from Mallaranny (Mhala Raithni), passing Gubbain Point, Dooghbeg, Gubacarrigan, Bolinglanna and Glassilaun (love those names!). Everyone waved, and I waved back. And sheep everywhere - I can't tell if their expressions are wise or empty... Their wool is long this time of year, & in that area is spray painted pink & purple & blue, all on the same creature, very punk rock. As you've probably noticed, they pay no heed to automobiles, even while sitting in the road (very punk rock!)

"Then, crossing the Gob an Choire (Achill Sound) on that tiny bridge (now under construction), I wandered around Achill while the weather improved by the minute until it was blazing sunlight once again, the big hills on the island wearing fancy wide cloud hats. I followed my whim & first did a big loop around the south end of the island, coming across some of the most stunning views I’ve seen in ages, high cliffs, crashing Atlantic waves, and no one except for the nonchalant multi-coloured sheep in sight. I hadn't written down how to get to the cell tower, so found myself at the gorgeous beach below it instead, a lovely waterfall, glorious sunlight, and something like a Gaelic crop circle made of stone in the grass. I can't wait to share photos!

"slean leat (goodbye - I just remembered it, after 30 years!)"

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