Spinning Round the Moon
Yeats Country. The land of William Butler is Irish countryside at its most majestic. And dramatic. And awesome. And elemental. And poetic. The place names themselves carry a lilt, from Doonbeakin to Emlymoran.
The great poet may have immortalised Ben Bulben Mountain but there’s so much more countryside besides. At Drumcliffe, a tavern, café and shop cater for profane needs and then the spirit is lifted – once the church, grave and round tower have also been visited – by nature at its wildest. It ain’t called the Wild Atlantic Way for nothin’.
Half a century ago the composer of Adagio for Strings, American Samuel Barber, visited Yeats’ grave. He memorably found it “far from nowhere; there was not a sound, only swallows darting”. That serenity persists. Sheep take priority on the road laneway which winds and twists through the Ox Mountains around the dark waters of Lough Easkey. The mountain ringed valley of Gleniff Horseshoe, behind the distinctive escarpment of Ben Bulben, is where weather meets topography. A mist descends, cloaking the mountain tips of Benwisken, Tievebaun and Truskmore, and threatening to engulf the entire valley.
Seen from the coast, Ben Bulben shrinks to a distant bulge on the horizon of the golden strand of Aughris Head. Not every beach has a thatched 17th century pub but that is one of the many joys of this stretch of the cool west coast.