The Blasket Islands, Ireland

Ireland – a thin place. A place where God is close. A land where people have sought spiritual rejuvenation and enlightenment for thousands of years. Western Ireland is wind swept vistas. Treeless islands. Craggy rocks. 10 inch spongy grass so deep you can’t find the dirt below. Where the wind rages, waves beat the cliffs.

My experience there was similar to visiting an LDS temple. A thin place. A peaceful place. A place to pray and think and just be. A place to listen to God.

The highlight of my trip was feeling Tiffany’s love. As I was leaving to catch my plane I had an impression to bring a notebook Tiffany had given me for Christmas just before she died. In it she had written her thoughts and feelings about me.

As I sat at Glendalough Lake a couple ducks came up. I love watching ducks at lakes. I have spent untold days, hours at a time, since Tiffany’s death doing this as I grieved. And in it I found much peace and comfort.

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I opened the notebook and read the first lines Tiffany wrote: “Sweet, dear, eternal companion”. A feeling of love washed over me. It was comforting to know she loves me and sees me as her eternal companion.

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As I’ve muddled through the last 18 months since her death, trying to figure out life and myself and dealing with such a deep loss, I’ve sometimes felt she must be disappointed in my blunders and mistakes. Perhaps even given up on me.

But this sweet experience reminded me that she does love me. It’s given me a profound feeling of peace.

Near the lake is an old monastery surrounded by grave stones. Until recently I have not been able to see grave sites without huge waves of grief. As I walked through and looked at the grave stones I realized how short life is and how quickly we are forgotten. There is no point in leaving a legacy to the world because the world will just forget us.

Even stone monuments we leave behind will eventually be destroyed by the earth. Just like the grave stone in the picture below that is so weathered the writing is no longer visible.

What matters is that we love and are loved in our place in time. We’ll be forgotten within a few generations. Our deeds and feelings and accomplishments will be forgotten. Even writing them down they won’t last forever. They will eventually be forgotten to the world. The world is temporal, just as our life on earth is. But we are not temporal beings. We are eternal beings. Death is not the end but a new beginning. A gateway.

The last thing Tiffany wrote before she died is, “I think that love is the most important thing in the world and that’s what we’re here to do: to learn how to love and I’m enjoying that so much!” Words to live and die by!

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Visiting this old cathedral reinforced how temporal life is and how quickly we are forgotten. This cathedral was extended to become a castle. This is an amazing accomplishment. An incredible structure built so long ago. And yet it crumbles. Over the years the walls have succumbed to the earth. An effort is underway to preserve and restore parts of the structure. But it again reminded me how our physical life and physical imprint are temporary. It will not last. But what does last is love.

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I took this picture at 10:30 PM. Our group had dinner here one night. Ireland is far north and the sun doesn’t go down during the summer until late.

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There are of course many bars and pubs in Ireland. This one, Foxy John’s in Dingle, found a way to be unique. It’s a bar and hardware store combined haha.

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I enjoyed the food in Ireland. We mostly ate in pubs and the food was high quality and delicious. The sheep and goats and cows in Ireland eat beautiful rich deep green grass and produce amazing cheese, milk, and ice cream. This is a goat cheese salad, warm and soft and delicious.

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One evening I decided to have dessert as my appetizer. A rhubarb pie with cream.

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A small group of us drove to Northern Ireland near Belfast for a quick visit with a friend and for dinner. Here is a picture of the beautiful countryside:

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My friend and business mentor, Perry Marshall who invited me on this trip, left our hotel at 5:30a one morning and visited the most western edge of Ireland. I sat on a stone wall with my feet dangling over the side for a long time. Looking straight down at the waves pounding the cliff. Some of my thoughts: “God is powerful.” “Be still and know I am God.” “The puniness of man.” A place like this puts things in perspective.

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Another picture of the western most edge of land that connects with the Atlantic Ocean.

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The Blasket Islands at a moment when the sky was relatively clear and the sun was shining down late in the day.

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This island is called Inishvickillane. It’s a private island and we got special permission from the owner to visit. On the island are the remains of a small monastery build a long long time ago. The people that lived here were pretty isolated.

I sat in this small space (on the alter, maybe that was inappropriate) and thought about what Tiffany said regarding love, and what Jesus said about it as recorded in John 15:

“As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.”

“If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.”

“This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.”

“These things I command you, that ye love one another.”

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Another highlight of my trip was climbing Mount Brandon. I climbed to 2,000 feet and laid down on the grass to just be. It was a beautiful view. The grass is spongy and wet, good I was wearing waterproof pants and jacket. It’s a thin place. A great place to think and feel and be. To connect with God. As I laid down and closed my eyes three words came into my mind: meek, humble, submissive. I took that to mean I should again study Jesus’ life, this time looking for how he was meek, humble, and submissive and find ways to apply that to myself.

When I shared these thoughts with my daughter Emily she thought this was God’s way of saying I’m doing a good job with these three character attributes. That is kind 🙂


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Panoramic picture of the Blasket Islands – a thin place.

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3 thoughts on “The Blasket Islands, Ireland

  1. Thank you for sharing your personal journey in Ireland, Damon! I like how you call it (and the temple) a thin place — it’s the perfect way to describe it! Somehow those who have moved on to the next step can see and hear us, and there must be places in our sphere where we can see and hear them more clearly too. I am drawn to those places and activities that help me feel closer to Tiffany (temples and family history work). I’m just so glad you were able to go on this trip and that you found a measure of healing and peace. Love you!

  2. Wow! What a place! Having never been to Ireland, and only thinking of shamrocks, red hair, and cool accents, this was such a insightful post. Thank you for sharing. The notebook was beautiful. You know, in all that Tiff left for you, your kids, and the rest of us, in all her writing (email, letters, cards, etc. over her life), and in her recording stories, etc., it was all for love, was it not? For us to not really remember her statistics, but for us to remember that she loved us, to improve our relationships with her, each other, and with Diety. Man, she got it.

  3. Damon, what a beautiful and heart-felt post on your trip to Ireland. Thank you for sharing the lovely photos as well as your deep and personal thoughts about Tiffany. We all miss her so much and struggle each day to make sense of why she had to leave us so soon. I’m happy to know that you found some peace and closeness to Tiffany there.
    While I was at you home in Texas, I began reading the ‘Mitford’ books. In one of the books, Father Tim and his wife visit Ireland. His wife quotes a poem written by an Irish poet named W.B. Yeats. When I read that poem a year ago, I thought of you. I hope you won’t mind if I put it in my comment.

    ‘The Song of Wandering Aengus’ by W.B. Yeats (1865-1939)

    I went out to the hazel wood,
    Because a fire was in my head.
    And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
    And hooked a berry to a thread;
    And when white moths were on the wing,
    And moth-like stars were flickering out, I dropped the berry in a stream
    And caught a little silver trout.

    When I had laid it on the floor
    I went to blow the fire a-flame,
    But something rustled on the floor,
    And someone called me by my name;
    It had become a glimmering girl
    With apple blossom in her hair
    Who called me by my name and ran
    And faded through the brightening air.

    Though I am old with wandering
    Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
    I will find out where she has gone,
    And kiss her lips and take her hands;
    And walk among long dappled grass,
    And pluck till time and times are done,
    The silver apples of the moon,
    The golden apples of the sun.

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