Arts: St. Patrick’s Landscape Legacy

Ireland’s lush greens, serene bogs and staggering peaks rise up against skies, the purple Burren rock, snaking canals and silver lakes…the magnitude of inspiration one small island has ignited in writers, poets, artists, musicians and creatives. On this St. Patrick’s Day I scan the landscape and cast mind over Ireland’s history, tipping my hat to the country which steeps deep within my writing, my photography, my art.

I snapped this photo on a warm summer’s evening in Mayo. Drive along this road another mile or two and you pass Croagh Patrick, the legendary peak linked with Ireland’s patron saint: St. Patrick. Much we know about St. Patrick as Christian Missionary—indeed, many do not care a shilling about his religious background but embrace this mighty green holiday by trouncing up streets around the world, sporting shamrock, glugging Guinness and saluting brass bands. But this sacred spot in Ireland is linked with St. Patrick because here, it is said, Patrick fasted for forty days at Croagh Patrick’s summit and now flocks of people climb this peak in their droves, some 25,000 humans making the annual pilgrimage with gusto, stepping the steep landscape barefoot. Casting aside footwear for religious purposes—or for the lark—is serious business so do we honour these folks for their dedication or chide for undertaking such mad trek sans shoes?

Rain befalls Ireland almost daily, though sunshine oft breaks through and illuminates fields, brightly-painted villages and just the every-day ordinary landscape of people going about their lives. In literature, Ireland of yesterday has been preserved and celebrated, and today, Ireland continues to thrive as a truly brilliant culture of life and craic, the central point for stories, films and art.

I am writing today. Fiction and poetry. I am reminded of Yeats and Wilde, Roddy Doyle and Colm Tóibín, Seamus Heaney and Marian Keyes, Father Ted and Mrs. Doyle. I am connecting to the roughness and beauty of the West. No marching bands, just a MacBook and definitely a few pints tonight.

Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona Duit!

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