Friday, June 17, 2011

The Music of the Island: Update from Arainn

It's been a beautiful past four days! I meant to update more often during this trip, and will try to do a better job, but as you can imagine I've been keeping myself pretty busy here. There's so much to see and so little time, it seems. But a trip to the cliffs yesterday was a fitting meditation on how much time has already gone by, reminding me that maybe I shouldn't worry so much about it.

Waves giving the southern coast of Inis mor a beating

It's hard to find a place that has internet access on the island. This was not something J.M. Synge had to deal with! But there was a bit of a mixup with the place I was meant to be staying in, and the internet didn't work, so I moved to a different place (that, and it was much farther from Kilronan than I had thought - and I like being in Kilronan and seeing the comings and goings of people on the ferries). It's too bad, because the first place, in the village of Eochaill, had a view of the fort Dun Eochla from my room. I was seriously excited about this, because Synge had a view of Dun Conor on Inis meain from his house, and I thought it would be great to go up to the fort every day and sit on the inner walls as he did. But alas, I moved "downtown" to Kilronan. I suppose that's where Synge and I differ. He preferred the solitude of Inis meain to the busyness of Inis mor. I like being around more people. Maybe that's my New York habit, but there it is.

View of Dun Eochla
Now this is my view. Not too shabby.

Beach at Kilronan
So far we've been to the far eastern end of the island, hiked up the eastern coast to find the puffing holes (Kyle has awesome navigational skills), and hiked to my favorite place on the island so far, the place that has always felt very powerful to me, the Black Fort.

Me, outside the Black Fort
 Last night we saw a beautiful performance in Kilmurvey called An Island Story. Three women - Deirdre ni Chinneide, Julie Ni Cheirin, and Marian Ni Chonghaile, put together a one hour history of Aran culture through music, dance, and images. This was their first week of performances, and I was really impressed with how tight and well rehearsed the performance was. I could tell how passionate they were about the subject matter, too. They were all very talented - beautiful singing voices, fancy footwork, and they also made sure to connect with the audience and talk to us, making us feel comfortable and relaxed, and encouraged us to listen to the sounds of the island, and in doing so, to listen to the sound of our own self, our heart. Very moving. The show will be going on all summer, Monday through Friday, so if you're here and have a chance, I highly recommend it.

Marian doing a sean nos dance during An Island Story

The moon was pretty spectacular a few nights ago, and we found out it was the full lunar eclipse!

Lunar eclipse over Kilronan

I've been talking to residents and people who have come here to work for the summer, some who I met last year, some people I've never met before. Everyone has a different story to tell about the island and their relationship to the island, and I'm gaining more and more perspective on this place every day. I come home at the end of the day feeling tired, a little bruised here and there, but totally exhilarated, and, my new favorite phrase, "happy of myself." 

In the next few days I plan to visit the Wormhole, take a day trip Inis Oirr, meditate and do yoga at Killeany Lodge, see a Celtic spiritual service, visit Dun Aengus, and celebrate the summer solstice/St. John's Eve at bonfire night...

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