Saturday, January 25, 2020

Words Have Consequences

    Senate Chaplain Barry Black spoke a wisdom when he said "...words have consequences..."
     In more than symbolic terms it was the missing piece of the puzzle, like the piece above. It was found on a parking lot. Imagine the reality that imposes on the person trying to work the rest of that puzzle some place.
     What Chaplain Black said is akin to the nose on each face in the US. It is there in front of us.
     The Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer observed that as Adam Schiff was wrapping up a day of making the case for removal, Republican Senators sat in rapt attention, listening to his every word. 
      Schumer said then and many nonpartisans have noted since, it was perhaps the first time these Republican Senators had heard details, the truth, the story and thus the case to remove. Words. They were powerful words. They revealed pieces in an impeachment and political puzzle.
     We live at a time when a particular ilk have weaponized words; in politics, media, social networks and amongst one time friends, now divided by words, often ignored or spoken with malicious intent.
    These are challenging times in the US, and the path forward is strewn, our footing is not always certain. Words are the engine and the means of both our divide, and perhaps rapprochement.
     A lasting impression of our travel in Ireland is the inherent value of language and the power of words and all that is constructed on that foundation. Words, and how they are used, and what they say, matter. 
   Wall poster at Dublin Airport
   Donald Trump is not revered, nor is he respected. There are no warm memories of him adorning public spaces in that distant land, home to so many ancestors.
    Something so easy to love in Ireland is the love of words and writers.
   Oscar Wilde 
    Where else might you find such as this, a statue memorial to a writer? 
   Historic St. Patrick's Cathedral has a fascinating literary side story. 
    Jonathan Swift is recognized for his work Gulliver's Travels and to a lesser extent his essay A Modest Proposal.
    Not so well known, perhaps, he was also the Dean of St. Patrick's, a position he was not entirely happy about. 

    He had a long tenure at St. Patrick's though he probably desired a posting to London. 
    He was a cleric who also wrote satire, essays, poetry, political pamphlets.
    He intended to provoke and used satire, sarcasm and wit to prompt the establishment into action. He was especially mocking in pointing out the indifference to the poor and the problems of starvation and poverty.
     His masterful use of words, angered those in power and so he was posted to St. Patrick's in his birthplace of Dublin.
     Earlier he spent years in Trim, in County Meath, observed and noted in previous posts in this series. Swift wrote prolifically in Trim. 
      While he championed the vulnerable, he angered the Queen and people in power. His life story is fascinating and it was marshaled always by words. 
       He wrote his own epitaph, in Latin.
     Jonathan Swift is buried in St. Patrick's.  The glare on the image above makes it a challenge to read. Here is what he wrote:
     Here is the laid the Body
     of Jonathan Swift, Doctor of Sacred Theology
     Dean of this Cathedral Church,
     where fierce indignation
     can no longer
     injure the Heart.
     Go forth, Voyager,
     and copy, if you can
     this vigorous (to the best of his ability)
     Champion of Liberty.
      Swift left most of his estate to a hospital for the mentally ill. Once known as St. Patrick's Hospital for Imbeciles, it remains open and the name has changed. Words have consequences. 

   Another Irish master of the word is Seamus Heany, who's words I have used in this series. 
  Through out the nation there is a celebration of words and those who have left them.

     There is a spirit in the use of words, and there is an intentionality. Irish newspapers still purvey significance.

   There is much to learn in a land that tells and hears stories, that takes the time to engage, to dig into meaning and purpose and remember and even celebrate the wordsmith.

    A unique pub is on our horizon.

    In the meantime our word of the day is Removal!

    See you down the trail.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Breathtaking Beauty

"We had driven to that coast
Through flowers and limestone
And there we were, toasting friendship,
Laying down a perfect memory
In the cool of thatch and crockery"
Seamus Heany
   Dingle town is a sensory feast. It is at the heart of a peninsula that steals hearts.
   Settlement began here in the 12th Century.  Eight centuries later it was one of the stars of a film. After seeing Ryan's Daughter, film maker Ron Howard shot Far and Away on the peninsula.
  Dingle has its own version of Irish rhythm and voice.

  Here is where we "laid down" some of that "perfect memory," Out of the Blue Seafood.
   Kay and Jack know this trail well. It was as they promised, a dinner that resides now on the all time great lists.

   Population of this port town on the Atlantic in the south west of Ireland is just a tick above 2,000, but as they say in sport, it plays much larger than that.

  Dingle is picturesque and authentic.
   Our hotel exuded that sweet and unique fragrance of a peat log fire to warm the morning chill.

   And thanks again to Kay and Jack's driving and navigation we were treated to the stunning optics of the peninsula. The greenest green I've beheld, running to the craggy or sand beaches of the bold Atlantic.  
   The Blasket and Skellig Michael Islands on the horizons and the coast that bears a bit of home.  
  Life on the Dingle peninsula is about the ocean. 

   Kay and Jack opted for a pre-famine cabin in the heart of Irish (Gaelic) speaking country.

   The Gallarus Oratory is an Irish story of its own. 1300 years old it sits near Smerwick Harbour.  It is dry rubble masonry, wherein the roof is a continuation of the rise of the sidewalls. 
  Vikings and Normans invaded this area and destroyed other buildings. There are several theories as to the purpose of this Oratory; marking a burial site, a chapel or contemplation setting, a place of hospitality, or something else?

   The twin craggy peaks of Skellig Michael are familiar to Star Wars fans, as filming was done here.
   Named for the archangel Michael, the island contains monastic remains including other Oratory meditation buildings dating from the 6th Century. There is a monk's grave yard on Skellig Michael. Irish myth holds that a superior race inhabited the island in pre-Christian times.

  Eask Tower atop Carhoo hill was built in 1847 to guide ships. 
   The Ring of Kerry, Slea Head and the entire peninsula offer a beauty that is almost beyond belief. 

   Charlie Chaplin used to holiday on the Peninsula near the town of Waterville which put up a statue.

    There is a particular stirring in the heart that we felt as we absorbed Dingle Peninsula. It is history, beauty, the culture, music and above all, the heart of the people. It became our Irish love story.
   As we planned our trip to Scotland we thought it wise to visit Ireland and catch up with Kay, Willie, Kay and Jack. What was to be a "brief" visit, extended a bit and allowed for  more. In fishing parlance, the hook was set. 
   As my life long friend Jim, who put us onto Dingle, said,
he's "ready to go back anytime."  Understood.

   Down the trail are a few more stops, including, Walking into another Pub--this one is unique in all the world!

    See you down the trail.