Climbing Croghan

First I had to walk through the field, climb over the fence, travel down a dirt road than an asphalt one and finally onto gravel. I had to walk past cars, people, dogs, cows and horses. Scrambling under and over barb wire fences, dodging rocks and cow dung. Then the top. Wind all around me and County Offaly beneath me I stood on top of a bronze age burial mound, a place where chiefs were crowned and a boxing match had once took place.

And now I stood where kings had once viewed their kingdom. Wind blew hard from the West and I felt nothing kingly within me. There was walled graveyard on the east side of the hill with some beautiful Celtic crosses for headstones.

So I shot graves of the dead over looking homes of the living.


Out Of The City

We've made it out. Out from Dublin and into the countryside. A town called Daingean is the nearest pub stop and we have stopped there a few times. The Guinness is good here in Ireland, very good.

On this farm it's me, my brother, another American, a Kiwi and his pregnant Irish girlfriend, two laughing Labradors (Milly and Molly, i get them mixed up all the time) and a whole gaggle of geese, ducks, chickens, roosters and hens. Speaking of chickens, today Matt and I had the interesting experience of trying to corner and catch four flapping fowl in order to move them from one pen to another. I didn't mind catching the chickens, Matt thought otherwise and declined my offer to take a picture with him holding a chicken in his arms.

We've been pulling weeds, digging holes, setting posts, and dodging raindrops. Life is weird, surreal, good, annoying, great, and satisfying right now. We'll be at this farm for the next week and a half and then off to the Southwest coast.

Here are a few pictures from the air and from the farm.

Air approach into Dublin Airport.

Starting the morning with coffee and a smoke.

Me, a chicken and Matt's finger.

Matt scanning the garden, gloves in back pocket ready to pull some weeds.



Matt and i walked around the city today. It appears that Dublin has become some kind of international hitching post. I don't know if this has only happened in the last few years or if it was always like this. My guess would be that when it became an E.U. member and opened its borders to multinational corporations the droves of international visitors crashed like waves upon Dublin's streets.

At one point while strolling by the canal i looked over to my left and saw 3 or 4 blocks dedicated to modern business offices. Smart looking buildings made of large glass windows, matte steel supports and wood paneled overhangs. Your basic modern building. But i found it interesting that these buildings were built in complete disregard for the rest of Dublin's many stone and brick structures.

I understand what these buildings are meant to represent. Its the new "we mean business Dublin" look. I understand that Citicorp execs. want their employees to be equipped with the latest in office building trends. I know that these execs. understand that by creating a sterile environment for their employees to work in they are in fact encouraging them to catch the capitalist spirit of "work hard, produce more".

Today was a cynical day for me. Cities do that to me sometimes. Add to that being jetlagged and having my critical brother along and you have a bad combo. I enjoy criticism (and think it is actually a very useful tool for any thinking person) but today was a bit much. Matt and I talked about America, capitalism, community, and the stories our culture was telling the rest of the world about us. There were high points in the conversations but it became a too much after a while.

Maybe a pint of Guinness will help to lighten the mood. Matt told me that the people at Guinness don't even consider Guinness to be "good" unless its within 15 miles of where it was brewed. I think the brewery at Saint James Gate is only a mile or less away. I'll let you know how it goes.

Matt in the city centre with 8 mil. in hand.


On The Ground.

Dublin. Day 1. We are safe and surrounded by sound. But not Hummer
laden 90 mph super highway sound. No, it's more like narrow streets
flanked on both sides by 400 year old 4 story brick buildings sound. We are
also delirious and sleep depraved, I mean deprived.

A man sat next to me on the double decker
bus ride from the airport to the hostel. A mans who's
speech was so foreign i could only perceive two words,
"yeah" and "o.k.".

What is this crazy Dubliner speech I've encountered?

Advert; Mountjoy Street, Dublin.


Another goodbye

I'll leave on the morning of September 11th. I'll leave on a jet plane (cue the John Denver song please). Ireland is the destination and my brother the companion who will experience it all with me. But before my going i have not left things unsaid, friendships forgotten. For three days now i have found myself surrounded by many good things. People, conversations, food, drinks. Talks of the past, the present, and most definitely the future.

I am now ready to go. ready to leave this country for a while.

I'll try to take some pictures and remember some stories.




Last morning commute.


The Road Home

Fireside conversations still rattled around inside my tired head as I drove Burkes big bio diesel Ford back to his cabin. Some folk song played in the background as I followed the beams of light and the road it exposed just ahead of me. There was a moon somewhere in the sky tonight, veiled by the thin clouds that promised rain to this little patch of dry earth.

I pulled off of the main road, off of the asphalt and onto the gravel, a loud crunching of tires rolling over rocks announcing to the whole valley that I had finally arrived. Grass grew tall on either side and I remembered a picture John had taken a few years back. In his picture it was highway asphalt and yellow lines with a distant spot of red taillights that drew him in, tonight it was the trucks headlights illuminating a gravel road flanked by dusty field grass that did it for me.

I wanted to remember this night and the road that carried me home.


Buried Alive

“Hard to believe now gunboats in the Roanoke. Fierce river fightin’. They had to make coffins out of pews from Grace Church. Buried men in their own pew.”

~Man at a filling station, Blue Highways

Maybe now isn’t the best time to write my thoughts on the above sentence. Maybe I’ll sentence myself to a sort of writers damnation for not taking the time to let those words be planted, cultivated and harvested at a later date, at a time when my mind isn’t so entrenched in the fog that comes from just waking and rising from my mat on the floor.

Cultivation and damnation aside, here are some thoughts.

I was dead in the pews. In the evenly spaced rows of polished wood bleachers sat the congregation bolt upright in their suits and dresses. Sinner, Saint, Sinner, Saint. They sat in order according to their works or lack thereof. An entire sea of faces waiting for the preacher to begin his heavenly speal. Fingers poised above a holy book, its wafer thin pages telling the story of a desert people lost and found and then lost again. 66 books neatly packaged and printed into one, the Oreo of the Christian faith, white pages squished between a black top and bottom.

That’s one thought, only a memory now. And at some point between that memory and now I was resurrected, brought back from the dead. Perhaps it was the long summer hikes through the ancient fir and cedar, thick moss covering everything that didn’t move quick enough to escape its slow green invasion. Or maybe it was nights spent in smoky pubs downtown where conversations had over pitchers of dark beer did more within me than just intoxicate my mind.

If its answers you’re looking for they’re easy to find. No, what I meant to say is you don’t have to travel far to find those who think they have the answers. In this age of six-step conversion programs you’re almost sure to lose the thing your soul needs most: mystery.

For me, right now, the “answer” isn’t as important as the question. I'm afraid that if I accept the “answer” all of the questions will cease, the questions that really matter, and then you’ll find me sitting yet again upright in the pews, dead as the wood beneath my lifeless body.