More edited highlights from the summer workload as part of an ongoing series.
This week: on the trail of saints, sinners and Father Ted in western Ireland.
The illusive craic
Everyone who goes to the trio of Aran Islands is looking for something.
The saints and pilgrims came in search of early Christian spirituality. Before them, the Celtic fort builders sought to channel ancestral wisdom through limestone-carved monoliths. These days, some 250,000 visitors each year come in search of all-the illusive Irish critic.
I’m searching too: a high-season escape from the crowds, theme pubs and fiddle-de-dee leprechauns of western Ireland.
The Aran Islands, “three stepping stones out of Europe” as described by the Irish poet Seamus Heaney, are thought of as the last bastion of traditional Irish culture. “Ireland to the power of two,” says the historian Tim Robinson.
Of the three remote isles, Inis Oirr was chosen as Craggy Island, the setting for the TV comedy series, Father Ted.
It still hosts some events for the annual Tedfest and ecumenical tours of the TV locations are a year-round attraction.
They stop at the wreck of the SS Plessay, which features in the opening credits. The ship ran aground in March 1960, en route from Limerick to Galway.
Twisted and rusting, her hull gouged open by rock and her mast askew, she radiates the quiet pride of the islanders, who saved her crew from certain death.
Read more in a forthcoming issue of Coast Magazine.