I’ve Left My Heart in so Many Places

My friend Jes and I are planning a trip to Ireland this year. Her dream is to visit the Aran Islands, a stone’s throw away from either Doolin, County Clare or Rossaveal, County Galway–depending on where you want to catch a ferry. Having visited both the big island and the small island on previous trips, I welcome the chance to show her around and also cross off Inishmaan, the middle island, from my Ireland bucket list.

It got me thinking, though, I never gave the small island, Inisheer, the attention it deserved on my blog. I circled the big island, Inishmore, on a bicycle in 2015 and meticulously captured every last detail in writing. But, what happened to Inisheer?

Thatched-roof cottage on Inishmore

Have you ever loved a place so much that it’s just hard to describe? Words couldn’t do it justice, and you fear sounding like a travel brochure if you tried? That was my problem–which isn’t fair to Inisheer, an island which gazes back at the Cliffs of Moher through the rusted hull of a shipwreck, patiently waiting for more visitors to discover her.

Like many places in Ireland, I think Inisheer is best suited for writers, musicians, and visual artists, people whose imaginations thrive in quiet places, who can perch themselves high on a hill and draw inspiration from the ocean, a sunset, or a sliver of land off in the distance. People who can see the beauty in ruins.

I spent my time there circling the island on foot so I could stop and photograph the flora, the cows, the never-ending limestone walls that zigzag across the island. The village, though modestly sized, somehow manages to feel like a maze as it slopes down to the beach. As you navigate the streets, you’ll find a cozy tea room or a pub in which to enjoy the scent of a fine whiskey and listen to traditional music.

The real danger with traveling in Ireland is that you leave your heart in so many different places. I certainly left a piece of mine on Inisheer.

My accommodations, a writer’s dream!
You can walk or ride a bike, but you can’t bring your car aboard an Aran Islands ferry.
Irish boat launch?
Stone walls made from broken limestone – you’ll see these on each of the Aran Islands.
Typical Burren flora
An old castle tower filled with rooks
The famous Plassey, featured during the opening credits of “Father Ted”
Run agroundduring a storm on March 8, 1960.
The Aran Islands are an extension of the Burren in County Clare. The uneven limestone landscape is marked by deep fissures. Watch your step!
I left my heart on Inisheer
Guardian of Inisheer
Looking out across the water to County Galway
You can’t beat an Irish sunset

The Wreck of Peter Iredale

Peter Iredale

“May God bless you, and may your bones bleach in these sands.” – Peter Iredale Captain, H. Lawrence

Slipping down the white sand dunes of Clatsop Beach along the Oregon Coast, I saw the Peter Iredale, rusting in a tide pool and tourists crawling through her jagged hull. She leans a doleful bow toward the Pacific, remembering that fateful day 107 years ago when the winds suddenly shifted and the forceful currents ran her aground, snapping three of her masts upon impact.  Although the crew (and two sorry stow-a-ways) were rescued, the Peter Iredale was not. She’ll be stuck upon Clatsop Beach until the salt water eats the last of her bones, the sand ablates her spirit and the wind whisks away her memory.