This photo of my sister and me sitting by the dining table in the apartment where we lived in Tel-Aviv,
was taken by my brother who was undoubtedly a gifted photographer.
My sister is 11, I am 3 and my photographer brother is 16 years old.
Different times in different lives. A different reality.
Both of them are no longer with me. My brother and sister.
Forever longing, I dedicate this post to them.
Postcards with sheep
I am five years old, in my brother’s bed. We are covered by the plaid blanket.
The pleasant afternoon sun penetrates through the window of the room I loved so much.
To my request he shows me, for the who-knows-which-time, the book with the photos of all the countries and the illustration of their flag
and the name of their capital city.
I loved that book so much, I loved how my brother used to ask me again and again which city was the capital of which country, and what its flag looked like.
I knew it all by heart.
I never grew tired of it. Neither did he, asking me again and again. What was the capital of this or that country, what was its flag…
This pastime activity with my brother and the book is one of the few memories I have of this age, that are associated with both him and me – together; it is also one of the most pleasant memories I have from my childhood, in general.
After his military service he went to travel in Europe for a few months (South East Asia and South America were not typical destination on the map of the Israeli backpackers back then), and the postcards I loved the most where the ones he sent us from Scotland and England.
The postcards portrayed chubby white sheep, gloomy clouds and radiant-green grassy pastures, we could never dream of back here.
The landscape was as pastoral as it gets. I still keep these postcards.
He never made it to Ireland.
People didn’t go to Ireland back then.
In the beginning God created
One more, and one more and another one.
My brown eyes are filled with green, so green I could not believe my eyes. It doesn’t look real. Dazzling green.
We are newlywed, barely a year.
He is driving and I turn my face away from him, so he won’t see me crying.
I gaze upon the view, the beautiful view that changes rapidly through the car window. Mountains, trees, grass, a drizzle, clouds…
I cannot tell whether I’m crying because I am so excited that we finally went on that trip, or because of the piercing pain that cuts my heart to pieces. This longing sensation and this unbearable pain.
Six months before the trip she passed away. My sister. And everything is so fresh and painful.
A month before the trip my workplace went bankrupt.
Why Ireland? Everybody asked why I wanted to go there.
I insisted. I[simply] wanted to go.
How much for a ticket to Dublin? I asked the travel agent.
Oh… Ireland… expensive. There’s no direct flight. Let me find out if there is a connecting flight. And you know, it’s only one flight a week…
Ok, whatever, just tell me how I could fly there already.
To this day I remember every detail about this trip. There is something about Ireland that makes it unlike everywhere else.
I think that the verse “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” was written about Ireland.
Pristine, breathtaking landscape – the cliffs, the raging sea, the sandy beaches, the stones and shells, the grass – roaring green, satiated with the abundance of rainfall.
And everything looks “untouched”. That’s how it was created and so it remained.
I felt totally at home. Ireland let me cry. I knew there was a reason I wanted to go there.
My gut feeling was right. There is something so embracing, something warm, pleasant, hugging, moving.
At the very same time, it is sad and painful, and makes you rest your head on its shoulders. Hug the place. As if it is taken from a different era, something primordial and virgin.
The sea has no rules
We stopped by a lovely beach in a town by the name of Sligo.
The beach was abundant with pebbles of all sizes, so beautiful.
Eye pleasing tones of off-white, white, gray and brown… thousands of them were resting on the sand. Gifts of the sea.
We are sitting and talking, resting a little from the ride.
I am resting my eyes on the horizon, it is blue and alluring. And so crisp. There is a strong, chilly breeze but also a gracious sun that balances the sensations.
Let’s write that we were here, I tell my husband.
And we did.
Dozens of pebbles were meticulously placed on one of the most beautiful shores in Ireland in order to write our names and the date of our visit.
That is how we left them – like a souvenir for the sea to wash away.
The sea has no rules, you know. It can take its gifts back.
Just like God.
A bitter-sweet lamentation
The year was 1999 (yes, the previous century) and a great many people have been amazed by the wonder called Riverdance (which eventually inspired copycats and competitors).
People in Ireland always loved to dance, in spite of their unjoyous history.
This wonderous Irish dance show, which boasts dozens of dances who lift their legs and tap on the floor in perfect synchronization – on the beat, has given the world a taste of Ireland at its best.
Ireland was finally on the map thanks to one of its genuine virtues.
I vividly remember us walking hand in hand through the streets of Dublin, and all the shops were exploding with posters, magazines, CDs and video cassettes of the Riverdance phenomenon (it was 1999 after all) and we naturally bought some of the merchandise too.
A CD and a video cassette. And a copy of a magazine. How could we say no… Hysterical.
During the months that followed we used to listen only to Irish music and watch the Riverdance tape whenever we had a chance.
The Irish music and rhythm grow on you. They stay inside your body. There is a lot of sadness and a lot of happiness in that music. There is hope and past and present.
This music makes you feel you are in Ireland even if you don’t know anything about Ireland.
Their music reminds me of lamentation, sad but happy at the very same time.
Ireland is inked upon my heart. Forever engraved in my flesh. It was my cuddly hug, my distraction, my means of coping with unperceivable, irrational, unexpected longing pains.
If there is any place in the world I want to go back to, that’s the one. Ireland.
It’s on my wish list.
James Bond’s Crying Game
Sometimes you can imagine how a source of inspiration can affect you. Sometimes you simply cannot.
What did I know about Ireland besides the things I saw, read and remembered…
Ireland is basically an island in the Atlantic ocean, inhabited mostly by Catholics and by Protestants in the north.
Northern Ireland is a different region. Most of the people who are originally from this province reside in the USA.
Ireland’s population is a little less than five million. There are about 30 million more people of Irish descent who live all over the world. Amazing. There is an important historical explanation for that – The Great Famine of the 19th century.
Ireland’s beauty is not merely displayed on the walls of its museums. It’s all over the place.
The Irish are charming people. They are hospitable, warm. However, the tranquil, pastoral scenery was an amazingly misleading façade to what was really going on in Ireland during our time there. It was a horrible time, when the IRA (Irish Republican Army) was doing as it pleased in Ireland.
So much blood was spilled in the clash of the Catholics of the south and the Protestants of the north. These wanted a unified state and those didn’t.
The recent years have been very peaceful. One of my most favorite movies – The Crying Game (written and directed by Neil Jordan) – tells the story much better than me.
The author Oscar Wilde was Irish and so was the author and poet James Joyce.
And so is Sinéad O’Connor (now – Shuhada’ Davitt) and the fantastic U2 band.
And the hot (if I may) Pierce Brosnan (AKA James Bond)…
As a big fan of the Eurovision Song Contest I savor the fact that Ireland won the contest more times than any other country (7 times altogether).
Ireland’s favorite colour is green and Shamrock is its national symbol.
The potato with its myriad shapes and forms is their national vegetable.
And of course the dark, bitter beer… Guinness.
And so many redheads and gingers.
And traditional lace…
And English that is spoken in Irish, Celtic and even Gaelic accents in varying degrees of clarity…
What does it all add up to?
Ireland is a collage of sceneries, tastes, scents, sounds and textures. When I think of an artistic representation of this unique phenomenon I can imagine something very eclectic, yet very holistic. I love creating inspiration boards for such places, since they are a visual art form that can capture the whole of a place’s essence.
On one hand, when creating an inspiration board of a foreign country, one should be careful not to create a collage that looks like an official publication of a governmental tourism agency. I am usually very cautious.
On the other hand, I approach this subject with a very emotionally-charged perspective, dating back to a sad period in my life, that was a happy one at the very same time; this is the foundation of every sort of inspiration. Express your emotion, use what’s inside at this very moment.
The abundance of associations sent me to distant places that are sometimes related to this magnificent island (sometimes they were unrelated). And yes, some elements might resemble an imaginary board by the official Irish tourism department. However, this is the nature of any inspiration that comes from a certain country and reflects the culture and atmosphere of that place.
You can take a look at my Ireland Inspiration board on Pinterest. I love it dearly. It reflects everything I feel about this special country. admiration and yearning.
I look at my 14 year old son playing with his 5 year old sister.
He is playing his guitar and she plucks the strings with him and she is so excited about the song that comes out. She creates the music. All by herself!
They do it almost daily, a short visit in his room. They have these moments which are just their own.
And how her 10 year old sister plays with her behind the closed door so I wouldn’t hear anything. “Privacy” – they implore. But I listen nevertheless without them knowing.
They love role playing – mom, dad, sisters, friends… I am so delighted to hear them speak. Their dialogues are adorable.
Had we known where the journey of our lives would take us, we might have collected more memories. We might have done a better job remembering every single detail…
The words of this post flowed out – very determined and refined. I simply spoke the words to myself on my way home long ago .
I didn’t change anything when I wrote the words down now.
It was supposed to be the first post on my blog and I postponed it time and again.
In retrospect, it was written for years in my heart. I just needed to press the button and release it and let me write it somewhere else.
I am so glad you took the time to read my post.
What did you think about it? I’d appreciate your comments. I’d be delighted if you decide to share it with friends.
So tell me, have you ever felt embraced by a place you traveled to?
Do you have a memory of trip that had a significant impact on your life? I’d love to hear all about it!
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Inspiration board and collages: TAMARIANDME All rights reserved ©
Photos for the inspiration boards from here, B&W photo: Yoav Slonim (deceased)