Smelling the Roses

A saying that I have always had a hard time understanding is one my father says all too often.  He commonly argues for his left turn decisions by explaining to the rest of us stuck in the car that “I’m just taking time to smell the roses.” This statement is usually rebuked by an eye roll from me or my sister and a comment from my mother about our busy schedules or future appointments. Clearly, us passengers find that there are very slim windows of opportunity to “smell the roses” when already spread thin by hectic lives.

Finding time to relax and enjoy the few times when peace is encompassing our lives seems to be one in a million to everyone but my father. However, when I was given a chance to spend two weeks in Ireland, I felt opportunity knocking on my door, giving me the chance to breathe in the landscape and culture that Ireland offers like a gift.

While exploring the town of Sneem, Ireland I was dizzy with the new sights my eyes were taking in. I wanted the memories of the town to become a part of me. The idea of immersing myself into this experience handed to me made me not want to miss as thing. While exploring the town, I had found my way into the Garden of the Senses, where I was shocked to find the above sign posted in the front at the entrance. This immediately took me back to the times when my father took time – ours and his – to “smell the roses.”

I spent time learning the past of the town of Sneem and continuing to learn about the history of Ireland from Batt Burns, a seanchaí or storyteller. By listening to stories he recited, he evidentially is passionate about his country’s history.

There were moments when the group was walking on a busy city street and he would bring us to a halt and zoom in on the deep history of the slowly diminishing building. His concern to share this history with students from America seemed to be the grand focus of the two weeks. By Batt remembering each minute detail about his country awed and inspired me to return to my own father’s wisdom.

The jolting car rides around curves that would cause a racecar driver to shiver took us to destinations commonly populated with tourists. Our group would have been just any other group passing by taking a piece of that landscape with them through their camera lenses. But, as we listened to Batt tell stories of the “wee” folk coming through the tiny doorways to capture little boys and prepare them for their army, I felt like I was being let in on a secret only given when having the correctly shaped key.

Slowly and silently I would follow and record the words passed from the seanchaí’s lips, hanging on to every word. I was continually snapping photographs with my mind because the immense landscapes and cityscapes were overwhelming as we sped by them. The wide view of information shared with us over the two weeks seemed to encourage me to focus on the minute, shy scenes that were commonly dominated by grand castles or rolling mountains.

During the long bus rides, a “walk-about” and moments alone, the words of my father kept replaying in my mind…

Take time to smell the roses.

All photo’s seen in this photo essay were taken by Molly Boylan.

Picture 1: Sign posted at entrance of the Garden of the Sense, picture 2 & 3:  taken in the city of Dublin during a walk about with Batt Burns, picture 4: taken in the village outside of Bunratty Castle, picture 5: inside one of the fort in the installment of “Where the Fairies Went” in Sneem, picture 6: a view of the Cliffs of Moher


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