Abbey Island, Derrynane Beach, Ring of Kerry, Ireland
It's almost a cliche, those photos of cemeteries and crosses in Ireland. I didn't know, until I was there, how powerful these spaces are. And, it's like your camera has a mind of its own, and you end up with 500 photos from a single hour spent there, and still have time for quiet reflection and solitude. For it's like walking into a cathedral - the awes, the hush, the feeling of centuries of purpose - but it is outside, in nature's cathedral.
We rented the lovely Pier Cottage when we stayed in County Kerry, Ireland. Just down the road (well, it was a hilly, curving, thin road) that was the Ring of Kerry, you take a left at the Blind Piper (good seafood chowder) in Caherdaniel (visitcaherdaniel.ie/), and wind your way to Derrynane House (home of Daniel O'Connell, the Liberator). Now - here's the local trick - hook a right on this very small road, and follow it along the many curves until you wind up at Derrynane Beach. It's an incredibly beautiful location, and a true hidden gem of Ireland.
There's a beach pathway from Derrynane Beach over to Abbey Island - you can only cross it at low tide. Once you cross, you have a few hillpaths to walk, or you can climb and visit the cemetery.
There is the ruins of a church, now with graves inside. There are graves and crosses scattered up and down the hills, with worn paths alongside.
The crosses and decorations vary by time, from an old weathered iron cross, to tombs centuries old; from graves for fishermen to decorations both floral and ancient Celt; memorials in both English and Gaelic.
There are many sailors buried here - the Sea still with them.
There are beautiful memorials, for lives well lived and lives cut short. It's very peaceful, this community memorial with the extroardinary view. Love sings in the salty air.
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All photos copyright Jessie Voigts.
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