Maméan: ‘Pass of the Birds’. Early this morning. Scrambling up a mountain, looking down on Loch an Dá Éan (‘Lake of the Two Birds) or Loch an Tairbh (‘the Bull’s Lake’) depending on the local folklore. I don’t know any folklore about the two birds, but the bull is the beautiful magical bull of Crow Dubh (‘the dark, crooked one’), the old mountain god, which was killed by St Patrick. As was Crom Dubh … allegedly. St Patrick and his ilk had quite a record of killing pagan beauties. Of claiming to kill them. This place is dedicated to him now, but he’s not the one I talk to when I go there. Other than to tell him his day is over now. That we’re taking the place back. That I’m taking the place back. Bringing the bull back to life, bringing back the serpent he’s supposed to have cast in that lake to kill it. Bringing back the old voices in the mountain. Bringing it all back home.
Twenty-five years ago, I lived in a cottage not far from the bottom of this valley. Now, it’s a few minutes’ drive away, but I can see the mountains across the bog to the back of our land. Being on its doorstep again is like foolishly letting something precious slip away, only to have it returned to you with interest a couple of decades on. A reward for the journey? I don’t know. I only know that it’s a blessing beyond belief.
I’ve never believed in going back; this is the first time in my life I’ve ever done it. Only to realise that it’s not going back at all, of course; it’s coming full circle. Starting the next cycle in the place where it all began. Sometimes that’s how the journey goes. Sometimes that’s when you know it’s time to begin again. To bring back everything you’ve learned to the place you once left. Like bringing an apron full of flowers, and saying – look, these are all for you. And the land laughs, spreads wide its arms, and says – look. This is all for you.