Impossible to contain Ireland in 500 words, so I won’t. There isn’t a way into the story and if I found one, I’d have to emigrate. It is ephemeral everlasting; a contradiction that remains Ireland to me.
We stepped on Trinity College campus (I’m at Trinity! I’m at Trinity!) to visit the Book of Kells. Written, decorated and illustrated by monks in 800 A.D., it predated Gutenberg by five hundred years, though it followed the Sumerian stone tablets of Gilgamesh by 2800 years. The Book of Kells is an early attempt to make something touchable that until then had not been real, only spoken. In the Long Room Sam is mesmerized by the books stacked to a ceiling three stories high, and I try reading a glass-cased, “Essays of Partial Derangement of the Mind in Supposed Connection with Religion.” by John C. Leyne in 1843. Words and stories have been the Irish way like living in the land has seemed to be the Native American way, and following the Dharma has been tied to an eastern way. A way to what? Searching for ephemeral everlasting; what surrounds in a thousand ways, and most of us miss it.
Take legendary Irish green. It’s a study. It’s a descent within the rainbow in hues that glow and shadow, tints that turn, fade and follow a ribbon through miles of fluttering leaves, standing pines, grass and vine. The color is so deep and varied, I realize I know nothing about it at all. It is near human in moods. Heart paralyzing in how close it drifts to a fleeting moment of understanding. Understanding. Knowing. Knowing what? And that is where I came awake again, because I couldn’t cross its doorway. And also, probably because once again the tour guide is directing us to see another site on the itinerary we paid for, so we need to go have fun.
Or visit the majesty of the Cliffs of Moher. The picture at the side shows the cliffs in the afternoon sun, and it’s all so wet! The grass, cliffs, the ocean. Being from Utah, U.S.A., I’ve seen cliffs that tall and taller, but at home they stand in desert among brother and sister cliffs. Our cliffs have family to play their sunlight between during day like hide-and-seek, and toss moonlight and animal calls at night. These cliffs stand alone, buffeted by ocean, always protecting Ireland.
Ennis, Adare, driving the Ring of Kerry, Killarney, Blarney and Tramore. Day twelve and have I said: I am having fun. Walking along streets hundreds of years old, every town distinctive and inviting like a different friend I wish would let me stay longer. Watching Sam enjoy the sights and listen to the sounds of life so different from where we’ve been and where we come from. Drinking tea. Buying lunch picnics at markets or eating in a bakery or pub. Watching younger people who all look like Colum McCann and Helena Bonham Carter. Knowing I almost look like their distant unknown aunt here with overly curly hair, growing lines under my eyes due to a dozen reasons, and smaller than usual American size. As long as I don’t say anything, a dead giveaway. Watching my bus mates who have settled into a reasonable rotation of seats and decided to more or less like each other and represent their home towns well.
I’ll leave with a joke. An Irishman applied for a construction job, but the foreman said, “I don’t know if you can tell the difference between a joist and a girder.” The Irishman replied, “I do know! Joyce wrote Ulysses and Faust was that German story.” Laughter, too, so ready in the Irish, is an ephemeral everlasting, so close to a door not easy to walk through.