I walked in the peaceful silence, the whole land stretched out before me. Tranquil and serene. A hot summers day was uncommon here in recent years,but today we were blessed. The sun, warm on my pale skin, energised me. I could feel it glow, from the inside out. At last I could finally wear my favourite Ray-Ban sunglasses that I bought on holidays two years ago. Dad thought I was mad, spending a hundred euro on a pair of sunglasses. “A bargain” , I told him. Of course,he wouldn’t believe me.
Only a short ferry ride from Galway city, Inis Meáin was a place of sheer beauty. We often forget what treasures lie so close to home. My dream is to travel, to travel the world and see and experience as much as I can. The Grand Canyon, the Great Barrier Reef, The Empire State building, the Great Wall of China. I didn’t think I would start my journey only a few short hours drive away.
Relief flooded over me as I stepped from the ferry. I would’t say I suffer from sea sickness, but I do have a fear of the open water. The ferry ride was a bit stressful.
We had five hours on the island before the ferry would return to the mainland. Greeting us at the dock were hospitality teams providing us with maps and information. Horses and carts were lined up, much to the delight of the American tourists. Some people were lugging their suitcases to one of the few hotels on the island, next to an old pub and a couple of shops for essentials. The docking area was a hive of activity, the meeting point on the island.
Soon enough, everyone scattered from the dock, as groups, or couples or some on their own. Bicycles were available to rent and many opted for this. With a map in my hand, I headed off on foot to explore. The further from the dock I went, the more the peaceful silence set in. I strolled along the small little roads lined with old stone walls. A very simple way of living, cottages with thatched roofs and neat beautiful gardens. There were no architectural designs or modern houses to be seen here. Looking up, a criss-cross of roads and pathways covered the green hills.
Exploring the island brought me on a journey through Old Irish heritage and culture. It was a Gaeltacht area, I love hearing the locals speak our native language. The chimes of bicycle bells grew faint and came less often the further into the island I went. Wandering on deserted beaches, the sun radiated though me. A glorious day, the bright blue sky and sparkling water met perfectly. A few wifts of clouds scattered the horizon, no fear of any shadow being cast over these scenic lands. Sitting on a slab of limestone overlooking the beachfront, I embraced the tranquility. The sun warming my back, the light breeze a pleasant refreshment. There was no one else on this stretch of beach. Looking out to the water, I wished I had a few days to spend here, not just a few hours. A group of seagulls caught my attention. They clustered around a trickle stream of water in the sand, squawking and flapping. Some soared high into the sky, others hop-scotched across the stream. Usually, I duck and run for cover when I spot seagulls, fearing the common swoop for food. Today, like all other on this island, they were in their element.
I dug my hands and feet into the warm grainy sand, surprisingly soft between my toes. This beats any day to the spa. Fresh summer air, the quiet, the peace. I lay back on the sand, my bag underneath my head. Totally mesmerised, in my own little world, this island totally blew me away from reality.
Looking out again, I spotted a little nun making her way from the beach back up the road. Very warm for a habit today I thought. Luckily she was only wearing her headpiece, a light blouse and navy skirt. Rosary beads were woven around her hands. A really Irish image, I thought, to see a nun out on this peaceful island of Inis Meáin. She nodded and smiled over at me in acknowledgement.
Back on the road again, I walked more of the island. I passed by a couple of tourists on their bikes, talking in a foreign language, discussing their map. The little basket on the young woman’s bicycle was filled with beautiful wild flowers, purple and yellow amongst the greenery. Ireland on a sunny day really is one of my favourite things. A good day of sun is so rare in Ireland that we really savour the moment and make the best of it. Inis Meáin is an island of sheer beauty, bursting with Irish culture and language. It’s beautiful on any day of the year, even in the Irish rain! But on a day like today, I had no option but to soak in it’s radiance, and bask in it’s beauty. Of that, there was plenty.