Castletownbere

Last Light in Ireland

Small towns seem to be alike all over the world. Word travels fast, people without names know who you are despite the fact you do not. The days fold in on themselves, at first seeming endless until suddenly they have vanished.

Ireland is a special place. Not that the people are any better than the rest of the world, but the country they’ve built certainly is. Plastic bottles along the shoreline and oil draped across wakes of fishing boats were reminders that nothing is ever perfect, but it’s a far cry from the horrendous bouts of violence that have gripped America for decades now.

It’s an awkward transition this time, as I thought initially I wouldn’t need to leave the border. I’d shifted into a place of semi-permanence, now back into transience. Being in London, almost the total opposite of a quaint Irish town in so many ways, is the right kind of shock. (Especially considering I have the same view of England as the Irish tend to. Long live the Republic.)

As the world carves itself to pieces, Ireland seems to be the one place staying above it all (even with Britain’s best efforts to take the entire region down in flames). Even the heatwave didn’t really hit there, only remarkable singalongs in comfortable pubs and friendly smiles that didn’t lack sincerity in the least. So long as I am not there, I will miss it.

apprehension, insomnia. soon, back on the road again.

at its core, the temptation of Ireland is good: What if I lived in America and it didn’t suck? the similarities between Ireland and the US are easily found in small towns, however in the States one might find a Wal-Mart whereas the franchise domination that plagues The Land of The Free has yet to claim the Republic.

it is pleasant to not face the daily anxiety that is living in America, the disgust of knowing every action taken is somehow contributing to the motions of late capitalism. that the State still retains some sense of responsibility for the people, and that not everyone is just out to get one another. it gives life the sense of living so often lost in the grotesque theme park of profitability that is the USA. it forces a sense of clarity to the question: what am i doing? where am i going?

(and to that end, I still do not know, which is perhaps the one thing I will take from this space. just because there is clarity does not mean there is an answer, and that I may be asking the wrong questions, or perhaps framing them in the wrong way. after all, the way that which I analyze things is essentially still American, a loathesome trait that I wish I could figure out how to rid myself of.)

though I do hope to return to Ireland, I also know that life has its way of constantly changing and it’s often impossible to keep a plan in motion once it has been even slightly altered. my time here has been noteworthy, regardless.

Saturday night: all the bars are packed. MacCarthy’s has someone playing energetic cover songs, Twomey’s has line dancing, Skipper’s has house music and a dance floor. The kids are all lined up at the crepe cart, the drunks at the new greasy take-out late-night spot. In such a small, docile—or perhaps, muted—town, this traditional explosion of energy is just a bit much. i’ve explored this scene a couple times in my stay, but generally choose to stay in.

while i know they speak english, the Irish are notoriously difficult to understand sometimes.1 so on nights like tonight when a slow parade of the drunk and rowdy filters down the street, the feeling I am left with is that of complete disorientation. combinations of yelling, variations on enthusiasm. I can’t tell if people are fighting or going home together or both. Every fourth word I can maybe get a handle on.

Tonight i made a mistake in going to bed early, and the closing-time goings-on woke me. While usually being able to sleep through the noise of a crowd isn’t a problem, this disjointed relationship with how the Irish communicate that kept me awake. It’s just fascinating to listen to, not being naturally aware as to whether a vocalization is good or bad.2 now it’s been hours and I’ll probably fall asleep just as the trucks and tractors start crashing through the potholes.

  • I ordered a burger from a street vendor once and over the course of the five minutes it took him to make it, I could comprehend about 20% of what he said.
  • It’s strangely similar to when I’m in France, I can pick up hints of conversation and subject, which is so much more distracting than being 100% familiar with a language or having zero comprehension whatsoever

i live on the main street—the only “street”—in this village and so there are about eight pubs between me and the other side of the main square. it’s friday night and I have my window open so I am treated to the surround-sound like experience of hearing some kid belching about seven times over the course of the five minutes it takes him from leaving whatever bar he came from to walk past my window. bless the irish.

(it’s the type of thing that, in the middle of working and nearing 1:30 in the morning, gets my mind off of how fucking strange it is that donald trump is president and tweeting about asap rocky)

Barney stops me in the street, AYE YA ALWAYS LOOK LIKE THAT? YOU EVER FOCHKIN SMILE?—I have to all-caps Barney because he yells everything—and I laugh across the square.

—the square, once host to executions by the Brits and now features a monument to the IRA, is a remarkably pleasant center to this town—

and then he comes later to get his usual cup of tea, complains about my music selection—HOW CAN YE STAND ALL THAT BANGIN IN THE MORNN—while i consider a far-away smile and i remain, irreversibly, adrift.

Horse
Cows

—outside of sheep, the animals here are all pretty nice. although I don’t think Ireland has cats. I think I’ve seen one cat in the entire two months I’ve been here. Which is fine, I don’t really see many friendly horses when I’m wandering around in the States—

(images continued from Bantry Bay adventures)

Bantry Bay Bantry Bay Bantry Bay Bantry Bay

—a distraught night, culminating in another dream whose intensity leaves me waking more exhausted than anything else. at multiple times I would confuse the passers-by, leaving the pubs, with someone in the house (of which, currently, there is no-one else). It’s a strange thing, how voices drift in and out of a half-conscious mind. Where they originate, how they are interpreted, if they’re really there at all.

This life I’ve come to lead, based in its temporary nature more than anything, remains incongruent with the rest. I never found comfort in long-standing communities—my nature always seemed to be too disruptive for most who were just content with life being a day-to-day thing, a repetition measured in 24-hour cycles. But now it would be the American tourists who would be seen as my contemporaries—a contingent I loathe. People who treat foreign cultural offerings like a purchasing list at a grocery store; certain places or meals just boxes to be ticked, hashtags to be posted.

the soft light of dawn has turned to the long shadows of sunrise, but I remain in bed. It’s what I’d do if I had anywhere to call home.

, and there’s no art-supply store in this little fishing village so I use what I can: drop-cloths and house paint from the Hardware and Home Electronics shop, cheap brushes, any floor I can find,

Casltetownbere Sky