This guest post is from Irish author Felicity Hayes-McCoy author of The House on an Irish Hillside.
When the sun shines in Ireland you grab the day with both hands and go out and enjoy it. After a week of misty days and chilly nights there’s plenty to do today in the garden. But Santa Fé Traveler’s invitation beckons, so I take my camera and wander down the hill.
Living in a place as beautiful as Corca Dhuibhne – Ireland’s Dingle Peninsula – it’s easy to take your surroundings for granted. But today, under a radiant sky, the particular elements that combine to define this south western corner of Ireland leap out and beg for my attention.
The moment I step outside my door I’m struck by the contrast between the lush, greenery around me and the stony field walls and buildings it enfolds. In winter the foliage here melts away in rain and frost, leaving grey stone, pale fields and purple heather. But today the stone’s alive with growing things; curling ferns, long grasses and tiny flowers.
Wherever you go on the Dingle peninsula, your world is crisscrossed by little roads. In the Irish language these winding ways between tall hedges and ditches are called bóthairíní. In English they’re called ‘boreens’. On a day like today they lure you off the tarred roads made for cars and farm vehicles and draw you down between fields of grazing cattle. The growth on either side of you is so high that you seldom see the cows and their calves or the curly-headed bullocks. But you hear the steady munching of grass and the shifting of heavy hooves in the damp earth. They breathe and feed all around you and you know they’re there, part of this fertile landscape as they have been for centuries.
In Irish the word for ‘cow’ is bó. The word for ‘road’ is bóthar, which literally means ‘a cow way’. And bóthairíní means ‘little cow ways.’ Crossed by gurgling streams, and paved here and there with little stones thrown down from horse-drawn carts to make the way less boggy, they beckon you upwards towards the blue, misty mountains .On a day like today, with the wind in my face and the sun on my back, I could follow them forever.
©Felicity Hayes-McCoy May 2012
Bio: Felicity Hayes-McCoy is a professional writer working in print, broadcast and digital media. Born in Dublin, Ireland, she lives and works in a stone cottage in Corca Dhuibhne, Ireland’s Dingle peninsula, and in a inner-city, former factory building in London. She blogs about life in both places on her website. Her memoir The House on an Irish Hillside will be published by Hodder & Stoughton UK, and Hachette Ireland on June 7th 2012. You can check it out on Facebook.
Read Dingle: down a quiet country lane inspired by Felicity’s meanderings.
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