Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Land of Heart's Desire

View of Classiebawn Castle, with Ben Bulben in the background, Mullaghmore, Co. Sligo

"… Sligo was a different habitation. A small and beautiful town situated almost at the western edge of Europe, it was bounded by green fields, mountains, and the sea, and its narow streets were lined with small shops. At the quays there were boats loading and unloading, and sailors with stories that made the world seem “full of monsters and marvels”. Over the town to the west loomed the mountain Knocknarea, on its flat top an enormous mound supposed to contain the remains of Queen Maeve; to the north beyond Drumcliff stood Ben Bulben, the long stone outcrop ending in a massive, razor-sharp edge. With its mists and changing colours, its ancient mysterious mounds and dolmens, Sligo was a place where one could easily believe in a world of magic.”

'Prodigal Father: The Life of John Butler Yeats (1839-1922)', William M. Murphy,
(London: Cornell University Press, 1978)

Moving back home with my parents was difficult. I struggled in Glasgow, my last couple of months there were difficult, personally and financially. A couple of days after moving back into my teenage bedroom I asked my Dad to drive me around Sligo, specifically so I could see one of my favourite views in the world, that is what you see above. A picture cannot accurately convey the beauty of this part of the country, in North Sligo. I swell with pride, some remorse and an overwhelming sense of awe. I always feel like I'm seeing Classiebawn for the first time when we drive down this coastline road.

I'm attempting to make the best of what I have. I'm lucky to have this on my doorstep (well, on the road leading from my doorstep anyway). Sligo is cradled between these two mountains of legend. Ben Bulben to the north and Knocknarea to the South. When I was a teenager I was always aching for somewhere else, the Americana of novels, now I can understand Emily Brontë's relationship with the Yorkshire moors. Although, I know that I will have to leave, possibly face the reality of emigration, a part of me nurses the hope that I will someday make permanent roots here, in this ancient, beguiling landscape.


  1. That is such a beautiful photograph! I think Sligo is one of the most beautiful counties in Ireland, and so overlooked!

    I know exactly what you mean about re-connecting with home, after years of rejecting/running away from it. The mossy Sperrins do hold some of my heart now, for sure. But the wanderlust remains... ;)

    1. Thanks Maeve, hopefully with a new camera I can take better shots!

      The wanderlust definitely remains, but like those immortal words - "There's no place like home"

  2. Beautiful!
    This further enforces the fact I need to come to Ireland. So much amazing countryside! Always look so peaceful too.

    I completely agree about re-connecting with home. I couldn't wait to leave Leeds and never come back when I first went to uni but now I really appreciate it as a city quite unique to a lot of others over here. Not least how close it is to the Yorkshire Dales.
    It's still not somewhere I want to live forever but I the thought of returning to it later in life is definitely something I think about a lot more and doesn't fill me with dread.

    P.S. If you read this while you're in Venice. I recommend going to see the Fondazione Prada exhibition at Ca'Corner (an interesting place to find if memory serves). It's quite a steep entry fee €10 but the exhibition I saw last year I found really interesting and this year's exhibition looks good!

    1. You definitely should - I'd be happy to act as a guide should you come over to the wild west!

      I think I could be coming to Leeds at the end of October, well, I'm planning to anyway, I'll be in touch because I'd love some personal recommendations! I was there briefly once at the gallery, and it really, really impressed me! Loved all the pre-Raphaelite works!

      Thanks so much for the link/tip! I have a couple of days free so i'll mention this to the people I'll be meeting! :)