As I write this, a soft Irish rain falls on Sydney.
Fitting for this month’s theme of #waterread. Fitting also as Ireland is blessed with many beautiful waterways.
We will begin our water tour with a sample of the Rivers Shannon, Foyle and Liffey and work our way to the sea – the wild Atlantic, no less. There will be birdsong, music, poetry, swimming, an old piano and several lighthouses. And if we’ve worked up a thirst, there will be something to drink.
We start with the longest river in Ireland, the Shannon.I do not often wake at dawn – but this little excerpt from the series The Secret Life of the Shannon by Ireland’s National Broadcaster RTE is a good advertisement for getting up with the birds. It is a lovely meditation to begin the day and our travels:
And now to the fast-flowing Foyle.In this unusual BBC Northern Ireland video, musician/composer Ryan Vail tells in words and music the sweet story of a 90-year-old piano making a final journey on the River Foyle.
And for our last river, to Dublin and the Liffey – no stranger to literature – and the subject of this dream poem by Jessica Traynor, Liffey Swim. You could spend many a good hour dipping into the University College Dublin Library’s online archives of Irish poetry readings.
I love “stout-bottle waters”.
But I promised you the ocean. And here it is in all its fierce glory. This video features lighthouses from along the Atlantic coast. I have always loved lighthouses. Perhaps because of the journey by sea to Australia when I was a child. But also because when we arrived, Palm Beach and Barrenjoey Lighthouse were amongst our new favourite places. The video features a quote from Western Australian born author M.L. Stedman of The Light Between Oceans fame.
Water is an essential ingredient in the green landscape for which Ireland is justly famous. And water is also an ingredient in a number of equally famous drinks.
A more recent invention is “the black stuff”, Guinness. Though its makers say look closely and you will see it is “dark ruby red”. It is made from water from the Wicklow Mountains.
But today I am tea-powered (leaves, please), so I have chosen the other black stuff for our final toast. We do like our tea.
Ireland’s per capita tea consumption ranks amongst the highest in the world.
Once I went home to find a note from my parents saying the teapot had broken and they had gone to buy a new one before the shops shut.
A cautionary tale – best to keep a spare.
So, put the kettle on and enjoy this Tea Song by singer/songwriter Roisin O featuring clips of Irish people living abroad and enjoying a comforting taste of home.