Sunday, March 23, 2014

"Village of the Welcomes"

As promised to calendar holders. I am writing the story behind each month's calendar photo this year.
It started I suppose with a note on my travel papers, clipped from my on-line research prior to the trip:
"Drive through Adare (just south of Ennis in Co. Limerick), one of Ireland's prettiest villages."
And another note, the tentative itinerary for that leg of the journey:
My route could be Killarney, Adare, Ennis, Lisdoonvarna? (but a tough ride back to Dublin...)
This trip, as was my overarching intention, would take on a life of its own, though.  I would travel where the road led me.  And as I followed those pulls along the way, I would find myself, often before I even realized it, in particular places I had read of, noted in advance. 

As it happened, I did take the proposed route in the West, except in reverse.  So by the time I reached Adare, it was onward to Co. Kerry.  I had but two nights left in the West, and I knew I would need them there in Killarney, for time in the forests that had distinctly called to me, beckoned for my return to these parts, some four years earlier. 
I challenge you to pass through Adare without stopping, though.  There's good reason for its "tidiest" and "prettiest" awards and accolades. Who wouldn't be charmed by the pristine yet centuries old thatched cottages along the broad main road through town, and the distinctive Tudor-style Village Hall at the Y of its crossing?  Throw in a most welcoming Heritage Center (with facilities!), a distinctly non-touristy crafts shop or two, an intriguing and architecturally striking Augustinian Priory, a medieval Abbey-church open and welcoming to visitors, as well as a sprawling tranquil park, and there you have it:  the makings of a lovely day and then some.

I did not have the day to spend, but I walked from place to place as if I did.  I took my time, to be there.  And I did, be there, at the pace of staying not of going.  I felt inexplicably welcomed by this place.  Surely that had everything to do with the shop keeper's declaring me her "most elegant" customer that day.  In my skinny jeans, wool v-neck sweater and scarf?  Surely I was wearing the ease I felt in this place.  For an hour or so, I was home.

I strolled the park.  I took some photographs.  In the Abbey at Mary's feet I lit a candle for my brother and prayed for his family in crisis.  I bought a little book of Wilde quotations like the one I had regretted not buying four years before. And then I carried on--destination Killarney, by night fall--utterly refreshed and renewed, with a light and happy heart.


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