Last week, my world fell in when a job, which I felt was made for me, didn’t come my way. It made my mood very blue and it was hard to focus on doing anything. As my circumstances are rather tight since my Sail Training business effectively shut down (largely due to ridiculous Government Regulations), this was a major body blow to my morale.
On Sunday, we had one of those beautiful autumn days that grace our little country, so I decided to take my dog Toesun up to the Wicklow mountains for a breath of fresh air. With appropriate gear packed, we headed off to Glendalough to try and catch the end of the stag rut, if luck was on our side. We arrived about midday and managed to find a space in the very crowded car park.
Boots on, backpack and walking pole deployed, myself and Toesun set off. The field beside the car park was white with frost and provided a bit of fun for my lively mutt as he circled on it.
We wandered along the wooded walk enjoying the fabulous lakeside views with the autumn foliage and buildings reflected on the mirror like surface. If ever I needed reminding about the power of nature to inspire the soul, the sheer beauty on display in Glendalough on this Sunday morning gave me a lift. The number of foreign tongues engaged in animated conversation around me attested to the drawing power of this treasure trove nestled in the heart of the Wicklow Mountains in early November. And to make it even better, it is free for the general public to park and wander around its walks and monastic monuments.
As the purpose of our visit was to try and catch the end of the stag rut, we had to ascend the very steep railway sleeper steps to get up to the Spink, a narrow precipice overlooking the Upper Lake, a steady climb of nearly half a mile. As we made our way up, I heard what sounded like a hawk making a kill, somewhere close-by through the trees. It made a very loud screech and the sound of its victim in its death moments added to the drama happening in our vicinity. Nature at work.
Puffing and panting, after several rest stops en route, I made it to the top sweating like a pig and breathless to boot. My canine companion must have done the trip 3 or four times as he wandered up and down the steps and in and out of the adjacent woods. Up here, above the tree cover, the frost was still evident on the grass and wooden path but the best part was the fantastic views of both lakes and the surrounding hills. On the opposite hill, I could make out minute animal like shapes dotted among the rocks around different locations on the slopes. Taking out my binoculars, these turned out to be various groups of goats, cattle, sheep and my sought after deer.
I identified about 4 different deer herds but it was hard to positively identify many stags in their midst. The one thing I was sure of: there were no stags rutting over there, as all the animals were grazing peacefully with no sign of testosterone fuelled macho displays on the steep slopes. Disappointed, I took solace in the wonders of nature all around me and enjoyed my hour or so on the high ground above Glendalough, final resting place of several of my ancestors. Making our way back down, the going was much easier and we wandered over to view the Upper Lake.
With Toesun in tow, I spotted a must get picture – a swan was paddling gently on the lake with the sun drenched foliage and surrounding hills reflected on its surface. With such natural beauty abounding, it’s no wonder that St Kevin and his monks saw this location as the ideal place to set up their monastic settlement. All around me, children and adults were marvelling at the sheer physical beauty that exists in this hallowed piece of Irish heaven.
Making a courtesy visit to the monastic settlement, I walked over to pay my respects to ancestors I never knew. In one grave, there are 3 Charles Kavanagh’s, two of whom were my great-great and great-great-great-grandfathers. In the other is my great-grandfather, John Kavanagh, who was the man who moved to Enniscorthy c.1870, which town most of his descendants now know as their family base. I am now the only one of their Kavanagh descendants living in Co Wicklow, as far as I know.
My day in the Wicklow Hills certainly did me a power of good, lifting my spirits and softening the blow from my job rejection. Even though I failed to see the stag rut, the joy of cummuning with nature and such beauty boosted my morale and made me realise that money isn’t everything in this world. I need to pay my bills so it’s back to trying to get my book finished and find other bits to keep the wolf from the door. My garden took the brunt of my frustration yesterday – I chopped down most of my Leylandias to a more manageable height, the rest have to wait for the next dry spell. A satisfying couple of days, but the hurt of rejection still niggles.