A Quiet Place
By Patrick O`Sullivan

Search County Kerry

So many of us talk of the greening of springtime: the   marvellous flourish of trees and fields and hedges. Is there anything lovelier than the blooming of springtime though, the nodding inky bells stretching far and away   under the trees?

It is no great wonder then that at least one source describes the resurgence of bluebells as one of the greatest spectacles of the season. It is like a bit of magic, a bit of enchantment, as if some light-winged fairy has been abroad waving her magic wand again.

The blues are dark and rich, like that in the ink bottles of yesteryear, the kind in which nibs were dipped and then traced across the page to make words and stories.

They are the blues of midnight seas, when the stars shine far and away, and the moonlight glitters again in the heaving swell. They are, in their way the blues of   enchantment, everything about them beyond the power of words and grammar and syntax.

The bluebells are, of course, synonymous with the trees. They seem so at ease in their woodland home; it would be hard to imagine one without the other at this time of year: redolent, as they are, of sunlight and shadow, the wild light pouring through the green trees above, the birds at their songs in the greening boughs.

The trees are their friends and companions, their near neighbours too, but there is more to it than that. It is as if there is empathy an understanding between them, the trees and the flowers, as if they know they each have their part to play in the making of springtime again.

I love the beauty of quiet places and so I found myself opening the old-fashioned gate that gives access to the trees and the ruins of the White Church beyond. It was a lovely Sunday afternoon, the river Maine, ever and always; keeping its serpentine course under the brow of the mountains afar.

It was a channel of brightness then, the sun shining in every part. My view of it fringed with the marvellous greens of the trees.

I took my time walking up the long, long woodland path, savouring, as I did, the stillness of the place. It was a stillness born of the trees themselves, everything about them still and peaceful and quiet, as though their ancient roots found wells of peace in the earth below and drew from that source time and again.

There was plenty of ivy too, its dark and lustrous sheen, the perfect! Foil for the lighter greens above. In a little while I came to the ruins, the ruins of the White Church, an old eighteenth century church that, according to tradition, had been ill use for no more than a quarter of a century: the sense of antiquity and peace almost palpable again.

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The girth of the trees here is fantastic. Some of them look like pictures in storybooks, the kind that would have looked at home in some old romantic canvas of yesteryear. The trunk of one closest to the ruins had a buffish-pinkish tinge, adding to its strangeness, its enormous girth again a token of its age.

I stood and marvelled at the trees a very long time, the pigeons cooing softly among the branches overhead,   robins warbling too adding to the chorus. I marvelled at the bluebells, great sweeps of them, covering the   ancient graves, primroses, celandines too: the blues of the bluebells the perfect foil for the primroses’ pale and delicate yellows, the celandines meanwhile shining like gold, their shiny yellow blooms set as they were among the green of the heart shaped leave.

I studied the inscriptions on the gravestones, many so old, so weather-worn that it was difficult to read them at all. One in particular caught my eye: “Sacred to the memory of Jane Sophia, wife of Mister Daniel Morrison, Coast Guard of Callinafercy who departed this life 8th March, 1850 Age 32 years.”

It was the plainest of stones, the simplest of inscriptions, and yet it struck a chord with me at once, the love and the sadness mingled together in every letter chiselled in the stone.

Every stone, every cross, every tomb, had the feel of antiquity about it, one of the crosses marvellously   decorated with leaf motifs, another with trailing shamrocks, the spreading canopies of green up above keeping them safe and sheltered all the while.

There was greenness and growth in every part: things run rampant and wild, but this heightened, rather than diminished the sense of peace mid quiet and stillness again.

I sat a while and listened to the singing of the birds, the fluty notes of a blackbird adding to the sweetness then. It was as if he were rejoicing in the stillness too, revelling in the quietness of the hour.

I looked for him above but could not find him. Yet it was enough to know that he was there, his rich and throaty song evoking something of the spirit, the beauty of the place once more.

When I retraced my steps down the woodland path at last, I closed the gate again and left the stillness behind me: the sun still shining in the river’s winding course.


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