Leaning West

Soon I will travel to Ireland’s west coast, to the Burren, to its escarpments, castles, and narrow winding roads. I will enter a landscape unprepared for what it may offer my senses and imagination. For four weeks I will look, listen, smell, taste, and move within its physical and emotional borders.

What is this imaginal space? From here, in south east Tasmania, I imagine a grey sky, a steady cold wind and rain. The grass will be green along the roadsides and in the fields. Rocks will persist, broken by gulfs of gorse and blackberry. I base these assumptions on my experience of Connemara, a short distance north, across Galway Bay, where, in Leitir Mealláin (Lettermullen) last year, I walked on narrow roads between flat grey rocks that rose like over-inflated cushions in neglected fields of weeds. And hearsay: oh only rocks there in the Burren, but unique.

I’m preparing myself for something harsh and damp. Nothing like the dryness of Provence with its limestone cliffs, terracotta homes, heat haze and dominant blue skies. The Burren will be green and grey. Before I muster my energy for the long flight and driving I will head to Tasmania’s west coast, to the Tarkine, a space too of rock, cold winds and green but with forests and sand and very few houses. There I will reflect, revive my senses and take my memories, in my body, to the Burren.