Closing doors

In what is likely to be one of my last visits to Ireland, I took a short trip down the Old Mill Road in what is surely my last time ever to be there.

It is a narrow little road not far from my parents’ house that led to one of their favorite spots on the River Shannon. They would go down there once a week and feed the swans and ducks with the leftover breads from the week and it became a singular spot that I will forever associate with them.

Mam and Dad were creatures of habit and neither weather nor illness rarely stopped this routine. And for however many years they did this together, I can only imagine the generations of creatures that smiled when they saw a certain car coming down the road for them.

When my Dad died, my Mam still went down there and I had the fortune to go with her once or twice and she strained under the burden of sudden widowhood.

Since she too has died I have gone alone, with Victoria and Erin, and with Inna. And on many such occasions I have found myself standing in the shadows of my two favorite ghosts.

Within my mind it has thus become a melancholy moment, although outwardly bringing bread to swans and ducks and gulls is an action packed event that seems anything but.

On my last visit to Ireland, we got a couple of loaves specifically for the droves of hungry little guys and went down there one final time.

I have attached a few pictures to the end of the blog. Hope you enjoy!

As the final piece of bread flew through the air to an expectant mouth, I breathed deeply in realization that I had likely just witnessed my final revisit to the Old Mill Road.

While it made me sad, it also allowed me to stop and close the door on a moment that was never mine in the first place.

Yes, I was able to relive it at a different time and with different people, but the moment always belonged to my Mam and Dad. Even when it was just my Mam and me, the moment was different.

While I might have been restaging something that I knew was done before me, Mam and Dad created their moment together and the bottom of the Old Mill Road will forever be theirs, not mine.

If I had looked into the rear-view mirror as I drove away, I would very likely have seen their ghosts waving goodbye to me but that is a view I couldn’t bear to see.

You see, closing doors is one of the most difficult things we have to do as humans.

The sound of the door latching typically means the end of a relationship, the permanence of a memory, the end of a possibility.

And us humans simply love to hope.

Relinquishing hope runs contrary to our inner-child and we often fight it with every breath.

Yet sometimes, that is what we must do. Because closing the door on something is oftentimes the only way we can move forward on our journey towards life’s end.

Life, regardless of what we think of it is a forward moving journey. It may be one that is easy and joyous or fraught with issues and struggles. But it is the only one we get, so living it in the past is an incredible waste of a journey.

Like everyone, there are days when I reminisce and long for a different outcome to the one that awaits my waking eyes.

But keeping them shut and focusing ourselves on something from our past doesn’t stop the sunrise and the world continues to turn regardless.

So, I guess what I am trying to say is keep moving forward, oftentimes just one step at a time. And don’t forget to shut the door behind you.

… just a thought.


And so the second shoot of this moment of retrospect is looking back at the shots we got at Lake Parker, when Pete was here on his visit. It was our first day of shooting and similar to the day that followed, it represented an alternate location as the first park we went to was closed due to the hurricane.

We parked the car on a grassy platform on the north west side of the lake and then just slowly wandered down the edge of the lake, cameras in hand and locked in conversation.

Pete is one of those lovely people in whose company you find yourself only to realize half the day has passed when it felt like only minutes. If you are lucky you have some of those in your circle; if not, go out and get some!

Anyway, by the time we reached the south east corner of the lake, my lens was feeling heavy, my arms were tired, and I was ready for brunch at IHOP.

The walk was a great way to work up an appetite but the outing was all about seeing what creatures might be active along Lake Parker at that time of the morning.

And we weren’t disappointed. There was a myriad of little feathered friends willing to pose for us and even a couple of young gators to make sure the whole morning wasn’t simply for the birds.

Exotic birds abound in Florida. This is a simple fact and one that makes the state a destination of choice for nature photographers the world over.

I managed to get a number of decent shots yet my favorite was of one of the most common of birds, a Grackle. These little guys are related to blackbirds and they have the ingenuity to prove it.

They have remarkable intelligence and are such fun to watch as their antics never fail to entertain.

I have attached a number of shots from the morning at the end of this blog and perhaps my favorite Grackle shot ever is about half way down the set on the left hand side. (number 19, if you are counting.)

When I see how expressive guys like this are, it baffles my how anyone can think of birds as expressionless or indistinguishable from each other.

Anyway, hope you enjoy!

It was really only yesterday when I was going through the shoot, that the thought for today’s blog developed in my head.

The thought was realized as I stared into the little Grackle’s face and a shudder of thrill ran through my heart at how beautiful this little guy is.

And yet we routinely behave as if something as an ordinary as a common bird is somehow less beautiful because of his commonness.

We marvel at a single yellow flower in a field of red ones, a singular sweet taste in a buffet of savory, a shapely cloud in an otherwise clear blue sky.

Our brains respond to difference in a generally flattering way. I mean, yes, we also notice something unique if it is off-putting. But even then, it becomes more off-putting to us because it stands out in a negative way.

But it is really the beauty part that I wanted to emphasize here because when we overlook beautiful things just because they are common, we do ourselves a huge disservice and can fail to bear proper witness to the beautiful world we live in.

I recall years ago on a trail in Circle B, I stepped down off a trail and kneeled down into a damp dirty ditch because I notice a number of thistles down there and want to get a close up of them.

I was there at least ten minutes before a young couple walking the trail with their child slowed down above me to try to see whatever it was that I was shooting. Seeing the question in their eyes, I answered their unasked question; “It’s a thistle!”

One just nodded and the other just mumbled an “Oh” as they resumed their walk, unimpressed.

I found it sad that because it was only a common thistle and not some super-rare flower or precious creature, it failed to measure on their scale of interest.

Yet, it produced some of my favorite moments of that photographic year and produced a shot that ended up in my book, calendar, and on my site as such.

Perhaps if I had announced it as the prickly leaved species of Carduus and Cirsium, they might have slowed down enough to give it the time of day.

They, like many people sharing this world right now have stopped responding to what they consider ordinary.

We should never allow ourselves to become dulled to the beauty around us simply because it is called a thistle or a grackle.

Beauty lies in our ability to see beyond a name and to breathe in an experience regardless of factors that try to mute that experience for us.

We only have one life and it is filled with moments to find and breathe in its beauty.

And if it turns out that the source of such beauty is commonly available all around us, then aren’t we lucky!!

… just a thought.


“The Joys of Covid” would be the title for a very short book.

And having been kicked up and down the road by it for almost a week now, I became aware of just a single “joy” of such a miserable time.

It forces you to stop.

Stop what you are doing. Stop what you are thinking. Stop what you are planning.

Everything has to stop because you are dealing with a virus that suddenly makes every other aspect of your life irrelevant.

Once stopped and when the head finally begins to clear enough to, this pause in life gives you a real opportunity to reflect.

I am in day 5 now and though not out of the woods yet, I have found myself in this reflection mode and it is a good moment to experience.

There are many things I have done wrong in life; far more in fact than I have done right and in many ways I shake my head at decisions made and the roads that collectively led me to where I am.

But here in this calm reflection, and without the surrounding distractions of all the craziness that I habitually surround myself with, I am able to choose the next road with a slightly clearer view.

In this reflection, by the way, I remembered two shoots I did with Pete just before I left for Ireland, that I hadn’t gone through and whose images hadn’t seen the light of day.

So, what perfect time to breathe a little life back into the shoots and show some here.

On day 2 of our shoots, we went to Ballast Pointe when our chosen destination was still closed from the hurricane of the prior week.

With the big zoom lens I got some cool pics of a pelican, a ruddy turnstone, and a few others. I have attached a few to the end of the blog. The first is actually a phone pic taken on the road to the interstate, as I only had the big lens with me and couldn’t get a wide shot of what was a lovely morning and a very spooky old barn.

Anyway, hope you enjoy!

The idea that took shape for this blog though, was formed by one moment in our morning at the point.

We had been shooting for at least an hour when I noticed this one guy on the pier throw a net into the waters. It is called a minnow net and I got three or four pics as he threw it (one of which is in the end set below).

At the time I thought no more than it provided me with a cool shot. Silhouetted action against an early morning sky and the definition was good.

It was only when we got down to the end of the pier and overheard fishermen talking to each other that things really sunk in.

They were sharing bait from their buckets with each other and the purpose of the net was to catch some bait for the bucket.

“But they’re still alive” the little boy said to his father as he reached into the bucket and took one to put on the end of a hook.

“Of course they are. That’s what makes them wriggle on the hook!” was the answer and the little boy learned this valuable life-lesson that will no doubt carry him forward for however long his fishing years take him.

I am sure he will in turn teach the same to his sons so they can all carry on the good lord’s work for generations to come.

You may have picked up a slight level of sarcasm in my lines above. At least, I hope you did.

Because it saddened me greatly to suddenly find myself in a situation where not only was death for fun all around me. But some of the deaths being meted out were being categorized merely as bait.

If you don’t understand what I am saying, consider this;

Imagine you are hunted, killed, and eaten. Not a great way to die, I know but at least you are valued by the hunter as something they wish or need to eat. And so your death has at least given some value to your life on a simple food-chain level.

But now imagine, you are hunted and captured, kept alive in a bucket, and used not for food but merely as bait for something your hunter did actually wish or need to eat. What value does that place on your death/life?

For any living creature’s life to end merely as bait is an incredible insult to the life of that creature and I find that really sad.

I didn’t say too much about it on the pier to Pete, but I did finish the shoot then and we walked back to the car and called it a day. My heart hurt for the little creatures in the bucket waiting for their hook-moment that would define their whole life.

Once home, I struggled with the thought and realized we humans have a wonderful way of demeaning other creatures, not merely being content with consuming them on an unnecessary large scale.

Sometimes, even within this food chain, we continue to the bait aspect to where it isn’t even recognizable any more. For example, consider the grocery store or the restaurants with the tanks full of live lobsters with their claws banded waiting for the final selection.

“I’ll have that one!” Billy Bob says to the waiter and moments later his choice is dropped into a pot of boiling water to die an unmerciful death.

In this instance, the creature serves as bait for the patron’s money and his death and method of death, is of no consequence to either.

I understand the roles of animals within the food chain and I am not trying to turn the world vegan.

But when we take any creature from the wild and treat them to such a horrible death as the end of a hook or a pot of boiling water, then we are devaluing their lives to a level that is cruel and unfair.

Mankind has figured out many ways to understand different languages, sciences, and even outer space.

Yet, we have never taken the time to understand how to communicate with animals.

The reason is not based on the difficulty of the task. It is based on the preference of not wanting to.

Contrary to the Doctor Doolittle tale, mankind doesn’t want to know what animals think or feel.

Because if we did, it would shine an altogether unflattering light on the cruel cunts we are to the rest of the animal kingdom.

… just a thought!

Peace ‘n Quiet

When I found out last night that my planned trail at Circle B wouldn’t go ahead today, I was frustrated. It is still closed after the hurricane of a month ago and I needed to come up with a backup plan, if I intended getting any worthwhile shots this weekend.

With the clock not having gone back yet, it gave me a good window to work with and still be able to get to shoot a twilight somewhere. So, I decided on St Pete as my port of call for what looked like a clear morning.

It was pitch dark when I left home and along the way, I adjusted my landing spot to be Demens Landing, which is a little south of where I initially thought I was heading.

I got there a good hour before sunrise and am happy to report that the drive was worthwhile, as the combination of clear skies and moderately cool temperature created a lovely warm glow on the horizon, when twilight decided to happen for me.

I was in the latter part of my picture taking when I saw my first “other human”. It was a couple of ladies who appeared out of the darkness near where I was standing and jogged by on their way north towards the pier.

By the time I left, the sun hadn’t yet broken the horizon but there were many more joggers that ran past on their way somewhere.

That initial half hour though, was a wonderfully quiet period where the only sounds were of the lapping waters of the bay against the rocks in front of me. And the only sights were the ones I was pointing my camera towards.

I hope you enjoy my offering at the end of the blog.

As I returned to the car, my ears began to tune into traffic noises and the noises of people talking to each other and I realized just how quiet I had it, when I stood there earlier taking pictures.

That’s where the idea of this blog came from; the whole notion of finding real peace and quiet. And more importantly, recognizing when you have it.

You see, oftentimes we only realize that we have something precious in our lives when it is gone.

That was me this morning. I didn’t for a minute think about how peaceful and quiet it was until all of a sudden, I am back at my car and the noises of a city and people were everywhere.

Peace and quiet is a valuable commodity. There was a time in this world, when it was freely available but now with overpopulation, increased urbanization, and the constant level of intrusion that we all experience … well, frankly it is almost a thing of the past.

A classic example for me is that I get on average 7 to 10 spam calls a day on my cell. I also average around 40 to 50 spam emails across my three mailboxes.

This equates to around 3,000 spam calls a year and 15,000 emails that I have to delete in that same period of time.

I have gotten to the point where I scream abuse at anyone whose spam call I mistakenly answer. People in my orbit have chastised me for some of the outbursts they have heard me level at these indian call centers.

But the reality is that when the only peace and quiet you get is in your sleep, then all of a sudden death becomes attractive to you.

Shakespeare’s Hamlet with his line “To sleep. Perchance to dream” identifies that even in sleep, we are not guaranteed peace and quiet. Dreams may be disruptive or bad even.

Therefore the final sleep of death begins to sound attractive to him, until he wonders if perhaps you end up dreaming in that one, too!”

So, I guess the message I am trying to say here is that this world has developed into a chaotic place that rarely gives us any peace and quiet.

Which means, that the onus is on us to occasionally give it to ourselves.

I recall, as a young boy being sent on a retreat at the priests’ college in Limerick and while their focus might have been a hope to instill some religious fervor in me (they failed, btw), the aspect of being cut off from all external communication for a short period was a wonderful experience.

However your week ahead plays out, try to carve out a little “me time” for yourself and shut off the outside world for just a little while. It can work wonders for the spirit.

If you do find god in the process, do feel free to tell him I said to fuck off for being such an asshole to give cancer to little kids and make animals vulnerable to the evil that lies within each of his human creations.

… just a thought!

While the iron’s hot.

I remember many years ago reading a comment from a pro camera guy. He was asked “What is the best camera for capturing a special moment?”

His answer, which has been my thoughts ever since was “whatever you have in your hand at the time.”

And so, the other day when I was out gathering the possums and raccoons dishes from the prior evening in order to wash them, this single statement proved itself to be true.

The only thing I had on me when I spotted a tiny little frog jump out of my way, was the phone in my jeans pocket.

Within a minute of me getting the three shots here, he was gone. He waited for me to stop looking and when I looked back, he was gone.

Anyway, the quick pics I got are at the end of this blog and for the record, I think the last one is my favorite ever phone pic that I have taken. Enjoy!

It was while washing the dishes that the thought for this blog occurred to me and it was reinforced when I got a moment to check out what I had gotten.

You see oftentimes, a moment comes along worth shooting and when I run inside to get the camera, it is gone by the time I get back out.

I am unsure of how many times that has happened but it is likely in double-digits.

And sometimes life presents real moments for us to grab something and we hold off waiting for a “more perfect” moment.

The phrase “more perfect” is a bit of an oxymoron as the very definition of perfection is that nothing could possibly be more.

So when we find ourselves presented with an opportunity for something, successful people are the ones that went for it, regardless of how ready they were.

There are always better-prepared moments than the ones we are in but unless they coincide perfectly with the opportunity that comes across our bow, they are of absolutely no value to us.

I am inclined to think that there have been many moments in my life that I have missed because I was caught waiting and whether they would have led to success or not, is anyone’s guess. One thing for sure is that I will never know.

“Carpe Diem” is a well-worn mantra that adorns many a t-shirt, hat, or wall-poster. And while most of us espouse the benefit of such an approach, we are notoriously slow to to respond and hide in the pocket of caution.

Striking while the iron is hot is something that separates the winners from the also-rans and though occasionally, we may get burned by a poorly executed failure, at least we will have tried.

As Oliver Goldsmith so eloquently put it, “success consists of getting up one more time than you fall.”

… just a thought!

8 Years

It is difficult to come to grips with the fact that my Dad left this world eight years ago today.

It sometimes feels like it is just yesterday and other times like forever. Living without him in my life has made my life a much scarier and darker place.

This morning, I found myself lighting a candle and shedding some tears at Lake Parker in his memory.

It wasn’t a photo-occasion, although I did take a small few. Interestingly the very last picture is this one, where he flew by to let me know that he heard my cries.

Some hurts never heal.


With the exception of days where I have lost someone that I love, yesterday was quite possibly the worst of my life. The litany of big happenings in my day that went completely wrong is not worth repeating here. But at one stage last night, I sat down and made a list of them on my phone in case I would ever forget.

So, this morning, I genuinely woke up with no hope. The day ahead held no attraction for me. There was the initial belief that it couldn’t be worse than yesterday but then I stopped myself from saying that out loud because it might just draw the gods down upon me. Things can always get worse.

I woke desperately early and after an initial hour or two of trying to get back to sleep, I stumbled out of bed and took care of all the kitty chores. As I stood there in the kitchen, watching the Keurig fill up my cup with a steaming black hit of caffeine, I decided that I would reject the feeling of hopelessness and head down to Lake Parker.

So, I grabbed the camera with the super-wide lens and, coffee in one hand, drove down to see what twilight might bring.

I was way early and arrived there a good hour ahead of twilight. So, for quite a while I just stood there and breathed in the very fresh morning air.ujikkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk

(sorry that was Coco stepping on the keyboard and sharing his thoughts on my writing. Everyone’s a critic around here!)

Anyway, it became obvious very quickly that the skies were getting more cloudy and not less. So if I had any hopes of some early morning magic in the skies, that was long gone by the time I reached the bottom of my cup.

I messed around with some long exposures but essentially got nothing and I have attached these nothings at the end of the blog.

At this point in the blog I always say “enjoy” but there is nothing to enjoy. Sorry.

Anyway, as I drove away from the lake, the thought for this blog took shape in my head.

See, the immediate thought in my head was that as I got nothing, it was a waste of time. But it wasn’t. We shouldn’t imagine that nothing is a negative. It isn’t a positive. But it isn’t a negative.

It’s the same as the number zero. It is neither positive nor negative.

And sometimes it is important to acknowledge that nothing is better than a negative experience. Particularly if we are coming from a negative experience.

If we are, then nothing is a shift towards the positive and we should embrace it.

Will I accept a nothing day today? Hell, yes. I just don’t want a repeat of all the negative shit from yesterday.

There may be other days when I wish and hope for something positive but just the absence of a negative can feel like a positive. It depends on our outlook.

And in general, nothing doesn’t actually mean nothing. It just means that we are experiencing a routine or casual moment.

For example, your friend calls you on the phone and asks what you are doing. “Nothing” is a common response. But were we in fact sitting there in an off mode waiting for a call to turn us on?


Your girlfriend sits beside you on the sofa and asks what are you thinking? Again we respond with “nothing” but again unless we are comatose or vegetative, that is also untrue.

“Nothing” has become a notion to describe routine or normal or average and given that our lives are dominated by such moments, it is selling life short to consider nothing a negative.

We all crave exciting and good moments and dread painful or bad moments but both happen along the way as we journey through life.

And unless you are living a completely bipolar life that abruptly flips from good to bad to good to bad, then you are actually going through many transitions of “nothing” in between.

I am inclined to think that upwards of 90% of life is routine/normal/nothing so when we find ourselves there, it is important that we acknowledge for ourselves that is nothing wrong with nothing.

It can be a good place of rest when our excitement dies down and equally a good place of rest when the bad times give us a break.

Just a moment ago, Inna called me up and asked what am I doing. I almost answered “nothing” but I paused and told her I was writing a blog about nothing.

She looked at me as if I had lost my mind. And maybe I have. But frankly that is nothing new.

… just a thought.

24 Little Hours

“What a Difference a Day Makes” was a huge disco hit for Esther Williams in the mid-seventies, It’s one of those catchy songs that rings in your head and gets stuck until you find something new to turn your mind to.

Last week in Ireland, we took a trip to Doolin on the west coast of Co Clare and drove up the coast road but we were inundated with rain and wind the whole time. Although the desolation had some attraction, the weather made even just getting out of a car a challenge and the resultant photos looked nice but bleak.

With a dry start to the following day, we decided to return to the exact same coastal route and see what a difference the new day might bring.

It was really quite a contrast and firstly here are three views of pretty much the same shots from day one to day two.

Isn’t it quite remarkable?

It was a wonderful drive and on day two we got to see the Arran Islands off in the distance which was awesome. There was nothing at all in view the previous day.

For anyone planning a trip to Ireland, the coastal routes that we have been on this year, which are called the Wild Atlantic Way, are a genuine must-see treasure. Not to be missed!

I have put a collection of shots from day two here at the end of the blog. Hope you get to enjoy!

It was a wonderful vindication of something that I have thought for years. That no matter the number of failures, we should “never” give up; particularly while there is still a real chance of success.

Yes, there are definitely times when acceptance of failure is the correct option. But it should be a final and reluctant option and come on the heels of many genuine attempts to succeed.

In this instance, success was achieved within 24 little hours, so the validation came swiftly.

But oftentimes, it takes many attempts before our efforts are rewarded.

There are some people that seem to go through life with an extraordinary first-time-success rate. But the rest of us suffer through life with varying degrees of success/fail.

Indeed there are many times when all we encounter is failure. And as disheartening as that is, we just need to push through and try again.

I can’t tell you the number of times I have wanted to give up. I think this is a very natural response and I am sure I will fight it again many times in the future. But the sweetness of an eventual success is often directly linked to the number of failures beforehand.

After the most bruising of days I will always lay my head down on the pillow and imagine that tomorrow will bring a better day.

Often times, I am wrong. But sometimes, tomorrow brings a clear blue sky and a success that sweeps in with the winds of change.

… just a thought!

Bridges of Ross

Our second journey last week took us to a place where I had last been as a young boy with my Dad, what feels like a million years ago.

The Bridges of Ross was a configuration of three land arches over an unforgiving Atlantic Ocean, but with two of them having fallen into the waters in the 19th century, the one that is left somewhat overstates the name.

That it is still there is a rather astounding testament to the level of rocky cliffs that brace Ireland against the wild North Atlantic. We witnessed repeated pounding from giant waves that were relentless in their testing of the land structure.

With nearby rock edges showing cracks that are now being invaded by the ocean, I suspect it is only a matter of time before this place become simply Ross and the existence of bridges merely a memory.

My camera was having a field day with the crashing waves and it was so difficult to select just a few for today’s blog.

The tumultuous waters showed currents that made it clear that one misstep that puts you in the ocean, would be your last. Inna screamed at me a few times for getting too close to the cliff edge but the waters drew me like a magnet and getting the right picture repeatedly overruled any common sense that remains in me.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the selection at the end of this blog, even half as much as I enjoyed taking them.

The enduring thought that led from the shoot to this blog is the unforgiving passage of time and its effects on things we view as a constant.

For example, I never imagined as a young boy standing at the cliff edge with my Dad, that he would one day be gone and yet in five days he will have died eight years ago. And those who named this place Bridges of Ross likely believed that the three land arches would stand the test of time and somehow also still be here. But they aren’t.

The world itself is changing and our world within it also changes. We can talk about erosion and climate change, of course. But the true enemy in all of this is time.

As young people we treat time as if it were an infinite commodity and pay little attention as each day passes. I guess it allows us to live a carefree youth and experience things without the responsibility of watching the clock.

But as we age and we become aware of the very finite quality that time gives us, we look at the world in a different way. The relevance and importance of certain things, shifts and we tend to appreciate the important stuff more.

Things like love, friendship, and health, suddenly outweigh material things and our chosen experiences are more about the people we share them with, than the actual experience itself.

With the ocean, we can physically see its relentless progression against rock and such that we once imagined constant. It doesn’t take a science degree to understand that eventually the relentless pounding of salt water will reshape our world.

But with time, we face an invisible foe and it beats against us every bit as relentless as any ocean. Fight it all you want but time eventually wins. Rich and famous, poor and meek … they all eventually get washed away in the current of time and soon even disappear from memory.

Standing at the cliff edge and staring at the powerful waters brought things very much into focus that at my old age, I an not far from the cliff at the edge of time.

But truth is, none of us ever really are. We can point the finger at an oldie like Neville and say “yeah, but he is old and therefore near the end of his life.” Yet, anyone can die of a sudden illness or an accident, hours after pointing that same finger.

We have no given time in life. Each minute is precious whether we know it or not.

Knowing that allows us to refocus on the love and friendship in our lives and those around us that give our life a purpose. This is where we should spend our time.

Before we have no time left to spend.

… just a thought!

The Burren

The silence of the last two weeks has been precipitated by yet another ten days in Ireland so the next few blogs will feature images from there. Once again there was some moments to remember surrounded by truly wonderful scenery that just begged for lens-attention.

This trip began with a visit to the Burren. If you don’t know, the Burren is a large swathe of area that spreads across much of County Clare and the southern parts of County Galway.

At around 200 square miles, it encompasses a large stretch that goes from Corofin in the east to the Cliffs of Moher in the west and this first day we focused mainly on the national park that was located a few miles away from Corofin.

The phrase rugged landscape doesn’t even remotely begin to capture the description of this place and given that it is made of solid rock of up to 800 meters deep, it is amazing that anything at all grows here.

It was formed over 250 million years ago (a little bit before I was born) and some of the cracks and crevasses have allowed a sparse amount of vegetation like grass, small bushes, and an occasion small tree, to sprout upwards in defiance of its ruggedness.

We took a trail that brought us towards a small mountain peak but only made it so far up when we realized we were ill-equipped for such a scaling.

But we had an amazing journey and I have attached a number of images from the day at the end of this blog. I hope you enjoy!

The thought that captivated me at the time and has developed into this blog revolved around my search for words to describe the beauty of the place.

My mind quickly alighted on the word “stunning” but I realized how shamelessly I have used that word on several occasions, that have little or nothing to do with the word itself. For example, I have described models as such, moments as such, even clothing as such.

And not once was I ever actually stunned by any of them.

Being stunned, means that you are so shocked that you are unable to react. But we have morphed the word “stunning” into simply an expression of something being extremely impressive or beautiful.

Language, I know, is an evolving medium of expression and I absolutely agree that it should be. But we have become victim to the wheels of marketing and PR hype of the last century to where we continually search for an expression that is better than the last.

It is almost an insult to be “liked” these days, when we expect to hear how much everyone loves us. And being called “nice” is so muted that we would rarely use it as an appropriate description.

Try telling your wife that the meal she cooked for you was nice and expect to be grilled about what is actually wrong with it. Since when did “nice” equate to being wrong?

I am a man of words. Have been for many years and I love stretching myself to find new ones and new uses of old ones. So I am by no means trying to take us back in our verbal-evolution.

But at the same time, it bothers me that we use words so flippantly that their real meaning is defiled and becomes a paler version of what it is supposed to be.

I am genuinely tired of how everything seems to be awesome today. How many times have we all used that word for something that was simply nice?

But if you really want to see how far we have come in our disposable and flippant use of words, look at what messaging has done to us. Has anyone ever really laughed out loud when they respond to a line being sent to them with an LOL?

And in all my life I have never seen anyone Rolling On The Floor Laughing My Ass Off but I have received several of those ROTFLMAO when I have messaged something that was mildly amusing.

Word expansion is an addictive process and we are all guilty of feeding the addiction. Yet not one of us will pull back on the reins when it is pointed out.

We can’t. We will continue to take this language down a rabbit hole until one day, we run out of words to use. And then we will make them up.

Which is a shame. Because just like every other addiction, the end game is one of dulled consciousness. Once saturated, our brains won’t recover. And our means of expression, which has been a pivotal part of human evolution, will be reduced to grunts and expressions that leaves us an even more shallow species than we already are.

Nice, huh?

… just a thought!