Howth

A Day in Howth, Ireland

I always forget that Ireland is an island and that water isn’t very far away no matter where you are. And of course, once you realize that, you also realize that the coasts of Ireland are stunning.

Six years ago, I was lucky enough to visit the Cliffs of Moher and Blarney Castle. Both are amazing day trips that I would do again and again if given the chance. Ireland’s coast is as wild as it is old. In some places the countryside looks as though it hasn’t shifted in the last 200 years.

Much of the coast consists of beach towns that used to be fishing towns that turned tourist. On Saturday we made our way by train out of Dublin and out onto the coastal countryside to Howth. I was charmed.

Much like what I imagine Maine to look like (it’s on my list to go) with a strange familiarity to that of Plymouth, England. (Plymouth was my past home for a few months during my study abroad.)

Farmer Markets and Long Walks in Ireland

We walked from the coast into a part of the countryside where an old manor house still stands. The old barns and gardens, however, have been converted into a farmers market that occurs every weekend. Stalls with delicious homemade food, fresh pastries, candies, homemade crafts, candles, and jewelry. Coffee stands and picnic tables all set out and under parts of the old structure. And lucky for us it didn’t rain, so we walked around, and I was able to get my fix of Mediterranean food.

Side note: Where I live in Spain does not have the typical fare of the world that most places I have lived possess. There is no Indian, to Mediterranean, no BBQ, no French. It’s Spanish food and a slight interpretation of say, spaghetti from Italy. I say this not in complaint, for the Spanish food is amazing, but rather in appreciation for the moments in which I can eat something with a kick.

There was a special Story Telling event going on and Megan and myself, along with thirty children under the age of ten, crammed ourselves into a small, fire lit room to listen.

The Creation Story of Ireland (if you wish to hear it)

There once was a great dark world, filled with animals but no light. The animals wandered among each other, never seeing, but believing that somewhere high up above there must, had to be, light with which to light the world. They believed with certainty that light existed up in the skies, high above them and only had to brought down to their world.

“Who is brave enough to go up into the high world and bring back light?” they asked one day in endless dark.

“I, I am brave enough. I am the fastest, the most swift, the strongest of birds, and I shall bring back light,” the Eagle said, his voice booming around to the animals of the world. He took flight, up, up, up, until at last he saw the light and reaching for it placed a bit of its beauty on his head.

Plunging back towards the earth, the skies illuminated around him, and he could hear the cheering of the animals as his light drew near. But as he flew down, the light began to burn, burn, burn, and in a panic he knocked the light from his head, landing back among the animals with nothing.

“My head, my poor bald head,” he wept in pain, feathers fluttering down around him.

And that is why, to this day, Eagles are bald.

“Who else is brave enough to go up into the high world and bring back light?” they asked again.

“I, I am brave enough. My arms are stronger, my legs long, and my tale perfect for helping me climb to the light,” the Monkey said, his voice crying out around the animals of the world. He began to climb, up, up, up, until at last he saw the light and reaching for it placed a bit under his tail, using it to keep the light in place.

Climbing back towards the earth, the skies illuminated around him, and he could hear the cheering of the animals as his light drew near. But as he climbed down, the light began to burn, burn, burn and in a panic he knocked the light from under his tail, landing back among the animals with nothing.

“My bum, my poor bald bum,” he wept in pain, fur singed around the edges.

And that is why to this day, Monkey’s bums are bald.

“Who else is brave enough to go up into the high world and bring back light?” they asked again.

“I, I am brave enough,” a small, almost invisible voice whispered into the world.

“Who?” the animals asked, straining to hear.

“I, Grandmother Spider. I am smart enough to bring back the light.”

All the animals laughed. Small Grandmother Spider, bring back the light! Impossible. But as they laughed she quickly worked, churning the earth into clay and clay into a small pot. Using her web she created a web around the clay pot, beginning her climb with it dangling beneath her.

Up, up, up until at last she saw the light and reaching for it placed a bit in her clay pot, securing it further with her web.

Lowering herself back towards the earth, the skies illuminated around her. She could hear the cheering of the animals as her light drew near.

She reached the ground, the light throwing itself wide and far, showing animals both big and small. In the middle stood the smallest of them all, the bringer of light, Grandmother Spider.

And that is why to this day, spiders weave their webs just before dawn to catch the morning light.

Storytelling in Ireland is a huge part of their culture and traditions. It was amazing to be able to hear this and two other stories, despite them being for children. The young soul inside me was enthralled.