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Time out

• One morning I set out at the break of dawn at a time when it was rush hour in the cities and entered a world I had not seen before, to a place of extraordinary beauty which can only be found in the country.

A world where birds' voices just rise above a humming silence before the new dawn and morning mists move back their veils to an audience of one, when as a child I became enchanted by its spell.

Shimmering droplets of dew covered spider webs that cloaked the yellow sage which was everywhere, creating a beautiful alien landscape.

By mid-morning, summer lambs played in the grass while their mothers looked on in lazy boredom; they had seen it all before.

A mare looked proud and magnificent as she lovingly nudged at her sleeping foal.

In the shadows behind me lay a cluster of trees guarding a small pond so still it mirrored their image.

In the distance, ancient walls cast their mysteries around the ruins of an old castle, its battles and troubles long since carried off into the tunnels of time.

Chiselled stone was all that was left in tribute to remind us of their being here at all; a lasting footprint of a place now walked only by their ghosts.

The castle's high walls cast shadows over a river bank that still served up the odd unwary salmon to the old man of the cottage nearby; a cottage built more recently of that same stone carved by those men over a thousand years before.

These were sights I could not write about unless I was there, and their smells today are always with me.

And when the world seems a little crazy now and then, I go there once again in my mind to remind myself that heaven is not beyond the clouds; it is for us to find right here.

Barry Clifford
Oughterard, Galway

Irish Independent