We current an extract from Solace: Life, loss and the therapeutic energy of nature, the brand new guide by author and photographer Catherine Drea, printed by the O’Brien Press.
On her soulful journey, Catherine Drea displays on childhood and grownup loss, the therapeutic energy of household and neighborhood and ageing. Her lens captures fleeting moments in nature – the sunshine within the panorama, the lie of the land, our valuable wildlife. A balm for the soul.
The Tracks and Trails
As I slowed my tempo on these solo walks, the outer panorama started to disclose her many hidden treasures. The rapid floor layer of the land balanced my consideration between observing the fabric world and having a vacation from my inside turmoil. Lengthy earlier than drones grew to become trendy, the layers of the panorama absorbed a part of me as I imagined helicopter views – rolling countryside, distant mountains, two small lakes and meandering nation roads all the way down to the coast.
When my three sons have been small I used to wheel a giant, outdated pram across the nation lanes. The youngest could be wrapped up in knits and blankets, whereas the older two ran on forward foraging or discovering small creatures within the ditches. We used to cross the yard of a abandoned farm home and the boys would entertain me with tales of ghosts and ghouls that they imagined dwelt there. Their little legs would hop and skip alongside till one or different would tire and I might heap them up on prime of the child and velocity off residence – a stagecoach stuffed with laughing boys.
Now I’m imagining that for those who have been strolling with me right here, we’d first work out our choices as to which layers, routes and locations to discover collectively. We may start on the prime of our lane with a spectacular view to the Comeragh Mountains all the way in which throughout the gentle hilly farmland of County Waterford. This view takes within the path of the brand new Waterford Greenway, which follows an outdated railway observe all the way in which west to Dungarvan. Right here we’d cross standing stones, together with a spectacular dolmen, and ultimately hook up with the meandering river Suir.
Alternatively, we may wander by quaint lanes and trails that lead all the way down to the ocean. In a single path we may undergo the Anne Valley from Dunhill, previous the ruins of a Norman citadel and thru the wetlands all the way in which to Annestown Seaside.
Within the different path, we’d have a seven kilometre downhill stroll into Tramore, a sunny South East vacation resort. Beloved of generations of vacation makers, Trá Mhór means the Nice Seaside and it’s the basic spectacular golden seashore of everybody’s fantasies.
For a shorter stroll we may ramble by grassy meadows to the lake or observe a boreen to an deserted reservoir. Right here, we’d cross one other abandoned home and stroll by a farmyard with a thatched cottage and a gaggle of noisy geese. It is a mild panorama, typical of many off-the-beaten tracks in Eire. In your first stroll right here, like me, you would possibly end up chatting away about how lovely it’s, having fun with the inexperienced views and twisty lanes.
Though simply typical nation lanes, I think about that these tracks as soon as made well-worn paths for our ancestors. Most of the historic stones standing deserted in the course of ploughed fields or strewn throughout farms and forests have been as soon as websites of the earliest neighborhood life on this land. In Eire that is most likely true of many locations, however right here the tracks aren’t a lot walked besides by locals and so have remained outdated.
Little did any of us know that in a pandemic as but remarkable, we’d be restricted to solely two kilometres of strolling. Not less than by then I might be effectively rehearsed and would know the panorama just like the again of my hand. I might even have developed just a few of the coping expertise and the resilience wanted for isolation and falling again by yourself assets.
Between right here and the street to the Comeragh Mountains is the at the very least four-thousand-year-old Gaulstown Dolmen, a portal tomb of giant stones set in a peaceable grove of oaks. Our earliest ancestors will need to have been aware of its positioning. The positioning is called for the townland, however is located on the foot of Cnoc an Chaillighe, or Hill of the Hag, one thing that I take pleasure in as extra vital.
An Cailleach, the outdated girl, the hag, or the crone, is discovered in lots of cultures all over the world. In some tales she will be discovered weaving a tapestry of the world, creating darkish spells for many who plunder the Earth or mendacity in wait to punish hunters who’re all take and no give. This sacred place on the foot of the Hill of the Hag nonetheless resonates with girls and I as soon as circle-danced right here with a gaggle of them on the winter solstice.
Alongside the small street to the dolmen is a completely grown hawthorn hedgerow. Hawthorns are an historic native tree and infrequently remind me of the craggy olive timber of the Mediterranean that stay for a whole bunch of years. It’s uncommon to see a full hedgerow like this as fences have changed many of those corridors of life and sweetness. In spring these hawthorn timber reward us with a dome of blossoms and in winter with the crimson haws that the birds love a lot.
Right here, on this historic place, it’s simple to think about an assortment of souls, meandering there like us. Maybe the foragers of outdated rambled these lanes serious about the large questions and the cycles of life as we do too. I consider them alongside these tracks and trails, questioning the place their reminiscence is most current. What have been the ladies’s lives like and did they decide blackberries and crab apples alongside the lanes similar to we do on summer time evenings?
Solace by Catherine Drea is printed by The O’Brien Press