Black Sod Bay An evening of Poetry at Doohooma near Gresala
Belmullet was our destination as we left Enniscoe House. The village is located on the far western edge of County Mayo. It is noted among other things for the birds that stop there on their way to Africa.
Belmullet was full but we were directed to a new large hotel in Gresala a few miles away. The new large hotel was not taking any adult guests because the local secondary school was having their graduation party. I pleaded but to no avail. They were willing to call ahead to a small inn at Doohoma a few miles away. Bernie met us at the door of her B&B, pub, restaurant, post office and grocery store. I was most impressed by the view of Achill from the north across the bay. The Inn was a few hundred yards form the bay. As we were moving our bags to our room, Bernie asked if we would care for some pork chops, it has been a long day. She was so right.
After two of the best chops I'd had in a long time she came over to ask what we were doing in Ireland. When I told her we were painting and I was writing poetry she asked if I had any of my poetry with me and would I be willing to read some of it. I said yes and yes. She said they had a local poet that read some of his poetry to about 25 of the villagers. I was surprised that there were 25 people living close by; there didn't seem to be that many cottages in the area. Oh, she said they are tucked in here and there. I left to get a copy of my book. When I returned there were seven people sitting expectantly. Bernie reappeared and said wait - more people were coming. In a few minutes there were over 25 people waiting for me to begin. Finally Bernie indicated that everyone was here.
I started by introducing myself and reading one of my favorite poems "Sea View B&B". Immediately a hand went up.
Do you allow questions?
Have you ever noticed the similarity to your poem and W. B. Yeats' The Stair case?
I paused but was saved by someone in the audience when he responded with "Of course what a stupid question?"
For the next 10 minutes they digested my little poem arguing amongst themselves the similarities and the differences. It was very stimulating and I listened.
At some point someone asked if I had another one I could read. When I finished they repeated the dissecting and discussion back and forth. I was tuned into their rhythm of questioning and discussing.
It was nearly 1:00 a.m. in the morning when I begged off any more poems. They all thanked me and went out to the pub for further discussion. I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall but instead went to bed tired, but satisfied with the day.
The next morning I was checking out and said to Bernie - I know the room rate was 78 punts but how much do I owe you for the Guinness and the pork chops? She laughed and said everyone enjoyed my poems last night and the entertainment never pays for the food and Drink. I didn't realize I was the entertainment. We left then but not until I tipped her son who helped load the bags. He was off to Galway to watch the "All Ireland" finals. Told him to have a cold one on me. He was happy - I was happy as we drove away.
John Millington Synge is said to have based his play "The Playboy of the Western World" around the village area of Gresala. In an area noted for it's outstanding natural beauty, Doohoma is particularly impressive, with an extensive panorama of sea, sky and mountain surrounding every side. To the south, Achill Island lies approximately two miles across Tallaghan Bay, with Sliabh Mór and the towering cliffs of Achill Head dominating. To the west of Doohoma Head, the islands of the Iniskeas and Duvillan, amongst many others, can be clearly seen. These are noted for their rich archeological and spiritual histories, and can be accessed by arrangement with local boat owners.
[**The Inishkea and Duvillaun Islands are of ornithological interest for their colonies of breeding seabirds and wintering geese. They hold the second largest colony of Great Black-backed Gull in Ireland (217 pairs during 1985-87). Other nationally important colonies include Cormorant (185 pairs), Shag (30-50 pairs), Fulmar (500 pairs), Common Gull (20-50 pairs) and Black Guillemot (80 individuals). Large numbers of Herring Gull are also found (300-400 pairs) (all figures are from 1981). Storm Petrel occur on Duvillaun More (14 colonies in 1966, total numbers are unknown, but probably at least 100 pairs).
The islands are also used as a wintering ground for internationally important numbers of Barnacle Geese (420-450 individuals in 1988), which interchange with the largest Irish population on the nearby Inishkea Islands. Seagull, Dunlin and Common Snipe The Peninsula is a port-of-call for migratory and wintering birds. Half of the world’s population of an Gé Ghiúrainn (the Barnacle Goose) comes to Inis Gé. The wetlands and the solitary bays and islands again afford a substantial habitat. Birds to be seen include an Scótar (the Common Scoter), an Cadban (the Brent Goose), an Eala ghlórach (the Whooper Swan) and an Foitheach cluasach (the Slavonian Grebe).]
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