On stony ground

At every summit, I hoped we were done with the uphill climbs, but, with each one, the top of another mountain loomed ahead in the mist.

The wind was now gusting to forty miles per hour and driving the rain sideways. I was soaked, even inside of the rain gear. The only way out of the storm was to keep climbing.

Picking my way carefully through mud and rocks, I lagged behind and lost sight of the others. Then, on a downhill section, I slipped sideways and fell.

As I tumbled, I grabbed at a wire fence to catch myself, spun around, and landed backwards against the pale.

Leaning against the wires, I paused to consider my situation. I was off-balance on a steep decline. I was ankle-deep in a mud puddle. Wind was howling at my back. And I was surprised to find myself ensnared by the fence.

As I struggled to get free, I realized the top wire to which I was clinging was barbed. The palm of my right hand was dripping blood from a couple of punctures. Another barb had impaled the shoulder of my rain jacket and held it tight. And one more had pierced both the pack cover and the pack.

I was caught like a fly in a spider’s web.

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Sacrificial acts

Children of Lir, Dublin IE

James Connolly was carried into the Stonebreakers’ Yard of Kilmainham Gaol on a stretcher.

A few days earlier, he had been in command during the armed insurrection in Dublin called the Easter Rising. The revolt was launched on April 24, 1916, by Irish rebels attempting to break free of British rule. It lasted for six days.

The rebels chose the General Post Office (GPO) to serve as their headquarters due to its central location and position as the country’s telegraph center.

After occupying the GPO, Patrick Pearse, one of the movement’s leaders, stepped in front of the building and read aloud the Proclamation of the Irish Republic.

Over the next few days, fighting occurred in pockets throughout the city center. However, with greater numbers and better weapons, the British suppressed the rebellion in less than a week.

The GPO was destroyed by fire, except for the granite facade. Connolly was wounded. Pearse agreed to an unconditional surrender.

The rebel leaders were arrested, quickly tried, and sentenced to death.

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A ramble through Dingle

Dingle Walk IE

The rain was steady, as I strained to see the next waymark on the climb up Mount Brandon.

The black marker posts did not identify an obvious footpath, but instead indicated the general direction—uphill through a marshy field of rubble.

The markers stood every hundred yards or so, but were sometimes too far ahead to be seen.

I had been climbing for about two hours. The footing was difficult. Rivulets of rainwater ran down the mountainside through channels that had to be circumvented. A vertical swamp. Each step, I slipped on a rock or plunged into an ankle-deep puddle. My shoes were soaked. 

Looking up, I could not measure my progress toward the shoulder of the mountain. Dark rain clouds obscured Brandon’s summit. Once inside the cloud bank, I could see only the dim shapes of boulders and scrubby trees. The markers faded from view.

I wasn’t exactly lost, but I was stranded. Somewhere ahead was a trail that would lead me down the other side of the mountain, but in the fog I couldn’t find it.

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A high note in Donegal


. . . the universe is often stumbled on by accident, or visualized in dreams. Only when the stars concur do we arrive.

Ciaran Carron, last night’s fun

Five months has been a long time to be away from home. Somehow, County Donegal, Ireland, seemed the perfect location for the trip’s coda.

I drove across the invisible border between Northern Ireland and Ireland in the rain. At Letterkenny I turned north onto the Wild Atlantic Way toward Fanad Head at the tip of the peninsula. The Wild Atlantic Way is a fifteen-hundred-mile scenic route on the west coast of Ireland, stretching from County Cork in the south to County Donegal in the north.

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