“Armoured horses neigh/In the narrow pass:/All things remain in God” (lines 1-3) “Crazy Jane on God” William Butler Yeats.
Last year when I came to Ireland, some of my fellow students got to take a jaunting car ride through Killarney (which by the way, is the only city in Ireland that does this). I wasn’t able to because I was being frugal with my money. After I got back, I regretted that and wished I had done it.
This year, vowing no regrets, I brought more money with me and was determined to not miss out on any experiences especially this one! So, after arriving in Killarney on Thursday and getting acquainted with our rooms, a group of us went into town and found a jaunty with a horse. I thoroughly enjoyed the ride, not just because I was fulfilling a year long wish, but because the ride took us through the majestic Killarney National Park. So, it was essentially killing two birds with one stone.
The park was breathtakingly beautiful. It was filled with trees and flowers, and various lakes. Along the way, our driver told us interesting stories about the park including some of the wildlife which live there such as the red deer (which we saw with our own eyes!) and the history of the castles and the walls which we saw going through the park. He said that one of the castles was the last place Oliver Cromwell captured when he invaded Ireland and that the walls were built during the Famine to prevent the Irish from hunting and fishing on Anglo-Irish lands. Riding in the horse drawn carriage reminded me of the horse race scene in The Quiet Man except we weren’t going as fast as the characters were in the film!
“All changed, changed utterly:/A terrible beauty is born” (lines 15, 16) “Easter, 1916” William Butler Yeats.
On Monday, our last full day in Ireland, we visited the infamous Kilmainham Gaol, which has been the site of numerous imprisonments and executions of well known Irishmen and women. The most famous happenings which occurred there were the events following the 1916 Easter Rising. This was an attempt to overthrow the British rule in Ireland and exert independence, but this unfortunately failed. Fourteen out of the sixteen men who were executed for organizing the Rising were killed at the gaol such as Padraic Pearse, James Connelly, and Joseph Pluckett.
Hearing the story of the Easter Rising again reminded me of the poem by Eavan Boland entitled, “The Dolls Museum in Dublin.” The poem is told from the perspective of porcelain dolls once owned by little girls during the time of the Rising. It describes how they were witnesses of those events and that the residue of that day is still visible on their faces and dresses even though they are now preserved behind glass. Even though they cannot speak to voice what they’ve seen, their external appearance speaks volumes. The poem says essentially that they are the only ones left who saw what happened: “to have survived. To have been stronger than/a moment.” (lines 40, 41). I think it is interesting that Boland chose to write about the Rising from such a unique perspective – that of an inanimate object. It reminds me of the poetry workshop we had last week back in Sneem. Through that and reading this poem, I’ve learned that telling a story from a perspective that cannot tell the story itself is very powerful.