I’m sitting here watching Yo Gabba Gabba with my granddaughter Serenity. She loves this show. I have to admit, it kinds of creeps me out, but I did actually crack up at the one that Jack Black showed up in. Anyway, this lady is singing a song to all these little munchkins about GOING SLOW, When we want to GO FAST. This playing, as my granddaughter says, “ I need more GABBA NOW”… Lyrics all about slowing it down.. It reminded me of another one of my experiences in Ireland….
This is fairly early in my trip. I was traveling through very barren area of Ireland. I knew this day would only contain nature, as opposed to towns, people or pubs, but this direction was also lined with lots of churches that no longer stood, some ancient cemeteries that contained some of the oldest markers still in existence in that country. Most of these places were few and far between, which meant I had to be prepared for the day: food and water, TP for sure, extra bananas… It would take me all day to get where there might be an open room in a hostel in Kilfenora (meaning “Church of the Fertile hillside or Church of the White brow”) and is a small village, just south of The Burren.
I went down a side, dirt-road following directions I printed online for Dysert O’Dea’s castle and the church that was located on the property. I got chased by a dog who almost bit me in the shin, (this would have been the second time I dog has run out and bit me on my bicycle. Once riding home from my friend Denise’s after school in Plymouth) I read in a lot of travel books for bikers, that unchained, untrained dogs were far more dangerous to a biker, than cars. I found the castle eventually, it was literally out in the middle of nowhere. Next to the castle was an old church and cemetery, and in order to get to the church, or to the gravestones, the walls contained stone steps that were just stacked into the walls the opposite way. This was something I saw a lot there, and
loved the whole idea of it. How very clever.
The walls in Ireland are in abundance. They had to move rock in order to uncover earth, as well as stop wind, so rock walls, rock everythings….everywhere. I loved that.
The old castle was really cool, but I liked the church better. This place had one of the oldest standing High Crosses, carved in stone, that stood right there in the middle of the field. Again, no fences, no rules, no admission prices, and it was one of the oldest relics of this kind in the whole country. I was so happy to just go explore. I stayed here for a while, but I admit part of it was fear about turning back around and passing the biting dog again that was a little frightening . After a couple hours of doing some rubbings, writing, taking some
photos, I was ready to battle that dog. Turns out he slept right through me hauling ass by his house. I was safe and back on the main road.
I started entering the Burren area of Ireland, and about three/four hours down the road I came to Kilinaboy, Poulnabrone Dolmen (Poll na mBrón in Irish means “hole of sorrows”) and is a portal tomb dating back to the Neolithic period, probably between 4200 BC to 2900 BC. Also, Kilnaboy had a medieval church of 11th century that has a Sheela na Gig (possible medieval fertility symbol) over the door and a cross on the church gable. I wanted to see this!
This church sat on a hill in the middle of nowhere. There really weren’t a lot of homes or anything around this place. It was eerily quiet. I parked my bike and walked up inside the church. The stones were everywhere. I saw the keystone over the arched doorway, but It was hard to make it out anymore. The grave markers seemed to be inside the building. This is also where I got one of my favorite pictures. It was a window inside a window, and it was fabulous.
The place was really spooky. I had goosebumps the whole time I was there. It just had a real unsettling feeling to it. The carvings were scarier than some of the newer ones, displaying more skull type, death- looking carvings as opposed to celtic knots or religious symbols we got used to later on. They were embedded into the walls of this entire structure. I was scared half to death by a groundskeeper that was apparently there the whole time watching me. I don’t know if he was napping, but as soon as he started coming around, I was ready to leave. (I’m not one to run from people. I usually engage in some type of exchange. It’s rare that I run from someone before they even really start talking. But I did. I wish I had got more pictures here, but I got kind of spooked. )
This can happen after spending too much time alone, not seeing people. I recognize that the more alone I am, stay in my studio, and I am not talking to anyone, or seeing anyone, that it can almost be weird to hear your own voice after awhile. Right down the road from this place was an abandoned jail. It was enough for me to take photos from the road. I figured if I got so creeped out from the last place, I was most certainly not going to like going in to an old shackle house. I shot photos from the road. I kept my distance. It was a weird, almost conventional looking building. But in some way, frighteningly out of place. I chose not to go inside. Don’t need to pick up any hitchhikers!
This day of cycling was long long long. I felt like I wasn’t going fast enough. Too bad I didn’t have this lady on Yo Gabba Gabba singing in my ear to Slow down Slow down. I felt tired, and hot, and it was so damn windy. And no, the wind was not blowing at my back. The opposite was true.
Since leaving the first castle of the day, I noticed that I picked up a follower. I was being stalked by a Cuckoo bird. Now this bird stayed with me for hours, but he was good at hiding himself, because I tried to find it, but never could. But for hours and hours, as I rode alone on these barren roads, this freaking bird screamed “ Cuckooo!” and I would yell back “ I KNOW! SHUT up!” Or other nice things, like “Yeah, ok, you can fuck off now”. It never did. I think it was mocking me. I believe I do not like Cuckoo birds.
Toward the end of the day, I was windburned, sunburned and a couple pints of Guinness would be in order tonight. I couldn’t wait to get to the hostel.
Almost there, I meet a road construction crew working alongside the roads, repairing walls, filling holes, some just sitting there. I am peddling at what I considered a steady pace, but I swear I wasn’t getting anywhere! I kept looking at the map, I kept swearing at the stupid Cuckoo bird, and I kept on going. What the hell. I would never get anywhere at this rate.
At this point, I look over and I see three road crew guys sitting on the jagged wall, laughing at me. At first, I twisted my face like, what the heck, and then it dawned on me. I said to them “ Oh my God, I’m going backwards aren’t I??” and they all laughed harder and said, “well right now you are! “ And they were right. I was literally going backwards every time I stopped peddling!!! The wind was so strong, I was going backward! WTF! I started cracking up, got off that stupid ass bike, walked over to these guys and said, “Give me a shovel. I’ll fill a couple holes for a ride to the edge of town. You need another helper?”
So I spent the next couple hours helping this road crew move rocks and fill holes. I sat on walls, drank water and laughed with these guys that have done this brutal job their whole lives. Funny birds. I was one too.
By the time I was ready for the ride, they were still working so I got my second breath and kept going. I made it to Kilfenora before dinner time. I arrived at the charming yellow hostel, and right as I got there, the Crows started flying in. I caught one in my photo here. Oh yeah. I was at the right place! These crows will totally take on that Cuckoo bird! Show yourself I said feeling like I now had back-up! But I never heard another peep!