A League of our Own – Getting off the Grid – Holy Island Batman

This morning I wake up in Dingletown after a fine night of fresh seafood, Irish music and a few pints. I’m tired so excuse any typos or grammar lapses but I’m seeking an internet café to grab a cup of tea because our room above Ashes restaurant is quite lovely, but a bit small and Christiana needs a wee bit more sleep. Apparently nothing opens in this little seaside tourist town and fishing village so instead of hot tea and the internet I have yesterday’s cup of cold tea that sat in the car overnight, a park bench down by the harbor and a journal. There is a church bell ringing in the distance as the sun starts to show it’s happy little face over the mountains just east of town. I’d say that I found the sacred space that I was supposed to find to empty out my head a little bit and write down some experiences.

If you’ve been wondering where my posts have been the last few days I can tell I’ve been wondering that too, and at times even worrying about where the day’s stories are. Too many days are backing up to each other in my brain. I’ve been trying to find the time to write. I’ve been tying to find the place to write. I’ve been trying to find the wifi to get on line. It just isn’t happening. I realize now that without any doubt this blogging thing that I started on my trip to Paris almost three years ago to the day was more than just a new hobby. It was me finding another therapeutic way to empty out my head when my brain is getting too full of experiences that will become memories that will either be remembered or forgotten I’m not sure which… but I do know that these things need to get out of my head and into my fingers or I’m just not totally at peace.

So what’s happened in the last few days then? Well I haven’t the journalistic or the storytelling ability to wrap that up in the time I have on this bench on the side of the harbor but if I had to summarize it in a sentence I’d have to say only that “I finally got off the grid. Completely off the grid!” Here’s a little bit of the story…

We pulled into Donegal last Saturday night after a magical experience at the Giant’s Causeway. We had intended to pay a visit to Derry and see more of the murals that are such a part of the revolution that went on in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. We searched for rooms in Derry as we got ready to leave the Antrim coast and to my surprise everything was over 200 Euro for the night. Just a few days ago I saw rooms for less that $60 a night but none of those were to be found. By coincidence (NOT!) we then sat down at a table in the Bushmills tasting room that live in Derry and they told us that the MTV music awards were being held in Derry that night but we should consider going on the Donegal for the night and that we could easily make it by nightfall. So we searched for a place to stay in Donegal city and I started a blog post which has still yet to make it online entitled, “No gluten…No Derry” with the story of this little left hand turn on our expected route.

In an effort to balance out some of the higher hotel costs of Dublin and the Giant’s Causeway, Christiana suggested that we try out Air B&B. For those of you less familiar the service connects homeowners who are looking to rent rooms with travelers. While many of the places are actual B & B’s there are also some that are less official. Looking up at me with my Bushmills 12 year old whiskey, which is sold only at the distillery, Christiana sheepishly asked me, “How would you feel about a room with a private bath in someone’s old country house?” I asked her how much and she said, “55 dollars” and I IMG_3167instantly became a fan of air B&B. Now this answer from me is not what she expected to hear I’m quite sure. If not for a dram of whiskey and the desire to average out the heavier expenses of Dublin I’m sure I could have come up with a million reasons why we needed to get a regular hotel room instead staying in a private home with two strangers for hosts. But the plan was already being laid out by sources WAY higher than my brain or Christiana’s desires and it was off to Donegal with a room booked in someone’s big old country house with a comfy bed.

See I’ve been trying to get a bit more off the grid on this trip. I’ve even been forming that thought in my brain quite literally. I not only want to get off the grid, I NEED to get off the grid. I need to forget what my life even looks like back home and completely download my brain of everything in preparation for the next chapter of my life. A life which I’m quite sure is being designed to be brilliant right now by that WAY higher power I just spoke of . If we had continued on to Derry we probably would have skipped Donegal in an effort to stay “on schedule” with the vacation as ridiculous as those words sound as I type them it is true!

In Donegal city we were greeted by a lovely couple that lives in a very old and very large home. The home has been in his family for many years and they started taking on visitors through Air B&B in an effort to do some restoration projects around the house. We had a comfortable stay in what has turned out to indeed be the comfiest bed of the entire trip, but the real reason that the Universe/God/Divine light deflected us to Donegal was so our host the next morning could ask us this little question, “Have you been to Slieve League?”

“What in the name of a Leprechaun is Slieve’s League?” is what ran through my head but instead I politely said, “No what is it?” Well it turns out that Slieve League is a set of cliffs that is way less famous than the Cliffs of Moher, a site that was on our vacation to do list, but way more remote thus less crowded. And wouldn’t you know it the place we wound up staying with our host in the big home with the comfy bed was just a short 3o minute drive from Slieve’s League. We never would have found this place if I hadn’t stayed in that house instead of Derry.

To say that our experience at Slieve League was transcendent wouldn’t do it the proper justice. As much as I loved the Giant’s Causeway it had so many old memories and expectations wrapped up in it that I found myself walking away from the experience thinking, “I wish I could feel the same way I felt when I took that first run along the Causeway’s gravel path twelve years ago.” Just a short 24 hours later the genie came out of the lamp yet again and said, “Wish granted!”

IMG_0127Christiana and I parked the car along the side of a very steep hill and walked into the site instead of driving further up the narrow road. This place was not a place of tour busses and masses. It is an unspoiled to the highest degree nature experience that required a good bit of effort and a sturdy pair of boots which coincidentally (NOT!) I just so happened to find at DSW the day before we left. We hiked up to the summit and Christiana had her very Sound of Music moment as the hills did indeed come alive and share their energy with us. I’d write more about the time we had at Slieve League but any more would just be words. Instead my thoughts are that I hope I’m lucky enough to see this place again, but if I’m not perhaps it will never stand the risk of being altered in my mind by a second taste so to speak.

So after Donegal and Slieve League we had an extra day left on our future calendar since we had crossed the Cliffs of Moher off of our Ireland vacation to do list. What to do with that day became the question, but before that question got answered we had Galway on our sites for one night. Instead of staying overnight in Galway city center we pulled up at a more modern hotel outside of town. It was a bit of a culture shock and felt way less Irish to us but it was very nice to sleep in a bright and well lit space (remember that phrase well lit space for later) and it was also really nice to swim in the hotel’s lap pool. I hadn’t had much sustained exercise in last week except for hiking and walking so this was a welcome treat. In the morning we explored Galway, a truly lovely town and Christiana’s self proclaimed favorite among the bigger cities we had enjoyed so far.

When it came time to answer that question of “What’s next?” I pulled out a map and noticed that an area called The Burren was just south of us. I had wanted to perhaps explore The Burren which is an area loaded with so called sacred sites. Ever since we left the Hill of Tara I had been thinking to myself, “I wish Tara or a place like Tara could be a part of our vacation somewhere on the road ahead.” We pulled up Air B&B so we could get back into the staying in the Irish country feeling again and I typed in the words County Clare. About 70 potential places to stay came up but the first one that caught my attention was a posting that said, “Big Room in a hillside house with stunning views and full of Light.” It was way on the other side of County Clare but it was cheap, it looked interesting and much to my delight instead of dark and stuffy, which describes many Irish hotel rooms, it would be “Full of light”. We sent in a request to book and within 30 minutes we were approved. Our host would meet us at in the small village of Mountshannon and help us the last few kilometers of the way.

Now remember earlier when I said my mind had been saying to itself “I want to get further off the grid” and where I thought “I wish the Hill of Tara could be a bigger part of our trip to Ireland.” Carefully read this next paragraph.

Last night I spent the night in the home of a Celtic Shaman and healer who is an expert on the Hill of Tara and mythical sacred Ireland. We drank tea made from the leaves of the Hawthorne fairy tree on the Hill of Tara. He picked and dried the leaves himself just a few days prior on his last trip to the hill. In the morning the three of us got up and took a canoe out into Lake Derg where he gave us a tour of a place called Holy Island, which is certainly one of the most sacred energy places in the entire country along with Hill of Tara. I’m quite literally vibrating so high still that my fingers are trembling as I write these words. We saw eagles nesting and walked through the ruins of three churches that served as a monastery to abbots back around 700 AD. Holy Island and Tara are two of the few places I have been on this planet that have made me feel 100% connected to Source. I’ve never been more grounded in my entire life.

Now the story of this adventure and how it all came to happen are yet to be told and I’m not even ready to tell it yet, but suffice it to say in the category of “Get further off the grid on the vacation to do list” I can only say this for now.

Wish Granted! More later…


About Jim Herbert

I've been wanting to write my whole life. By age 45 it had amounted to nothing more than a storage locker of half full journals and a lot of unfulfilled dreams. Then Paris in the fall of 2011 happened. It was the catalyst I needed to consistently blog. At first I had a hard time hitting the publish button, but now two blog sites and over 300 posts later I'm hitting my stride. I'm also a budding speech writer. I've recently been heavily involved in the Chicago Storytelling scene and have also won the Chicago Toastmasters Area 66 International Speech Contest. Check out our website at www.emergingintojoy.com for more details about the amazing things that are happening in my life. A book or two are nearing completion. With another Paris trip on tap for Easter of 2015 I can only imagine that there are Infinite Possibilities on the horizon!!!
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