Saturday, July 28, 2012

Clogheen to Araglin

Clogheen to Araglin 7.27.12 I wonder if Jesus had been a Boy Scout? Well, “No, of course” for the one reason regarding Scout Master requirements, but aside from that “Huge” detail—question is, did Jesus know how to use a map? I was a horrible Boy Scout. Maps are important on a pilgrimage—even when following Way markers. On the route from Clogheen to Araglin, I was using a map, a guidebook, and trying to follow the Way markers. My map wanted to take me west, the guidebook was directing me south and then west, the Way markers were confusing me, good thing my compass worked well. I was never lost, I knew exactly where I was at all times. I just couldn’t figure out how to get to where I wanted to go. Like the old adage, “You can’t there from here,” that seemed to be my apparent fate. The climb out of Clogheen was steep, just a foretaste of coming attractions. After three hours I had barely gone three miles. Struggling up through the Kilballyboy Woods I reached a glistening ancient lake, Bay Lough. Some say the lake was glacial and is bottomless. By the time I reached the legendary pond I felt as if I had been walking since before time. I was also very discouraged because I just knew I was on the wrong path and would have to backtrack all the way to Clogheen in order to reach Araglin. Fortunately, it was Friday and there were some folks at the lake on this fine sunny day. The first two people I talked to confirmed my worst fears that I was indeed unable to get to Araglin from the lake and would have to go all the way back. However, the second man suggested I talk to his wife who knew the area much better than he. His wife was at the other end of the lake about fifty yards sitting on a rock getting some sun. She looked at my map, listened to my story, and suggested there surely was a better way than retracing my steps, but she didn’t know what that way would be. As a started to walk away, she asked to see my map again, and suddenly remembered seeing a marker at the top of the opposite hill where they had parked their car. She thought she remembered the marker being for the Blackwater Way that I was hoping to be on. I climbed the hill and indeed there was my marker. I could get to there from here, but it would be a long and arduous walk. The sixteen-miles took me eight hours over wind-whipped rocky hills, steep inclines, and wet clumpy grassy covered bog. At one peak two mountain goats stared at me in disbelief. I wondered when the last time they had seen someone where I was walking. The pilgrimage took me to the breathtaking top of Knockclugga revealing an incredible 360-degree panorama of five counties. The pictures I took will never give justice to the spectacular majesty of the view. From the top of Knockclugga the remainder of the walk was a long downhill trek. An hour later I passed Crow’s Hill, a knob of place compared to where I had been. There I met a straggling group of Irish Boy Scouts who had walked from the area I was heading. The best news they offered was they had been walking two hours, meaning my destination would be achieved. At one point earlier in the day I wondered if my dream of walking across Ireland was going to be derailed at the worse, delayed at the best. My heart was beginning to sink into the thought of failure. Others confirmed my worst fears. But, there was one woman, sitting by an ice-age lake who offered a tiny glimmer of hope, but only if I would climb one more hill. At the top of that hill I found a monument to hill walkers and a statue of Saint Mary. Each day of the pilgrimage, during Morning Prayer, I have offered a prayer to Our Lady of Perpetual Help—today, she was present, sitting on a rock by a lake.

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