PROLOGUE (Subject to change and perfection)
Superlatives are what first comes to mind when we stumble upon ‘Thin Places’. Labels like ‘pristine and pure’, and also ‘mysteriously magnetic’ will underline the fact that these are much more than the usual tourist hotspots. But they are also likely to be far less because they don’t suffer the associated contamination. That means no three or four star hotels, no sun-loungers, no water-worlds or gaudy monuments. There will invariably be lots of history, though not necessarily the documented versions and anyway, history is probably the last thing that will strike us, but it will.
Anyone who has ever been drawn to a timeless oasis in this world on steroids can expect to be particularly susceptible to their seductive charms. There is however, an often darker aspect hidden behind their beautiful veneers which must, of necessity manifest itself to someone at sometime. This manifestation will come only to those who use a gift from evolution that many of us don’t realise we possess.
The thing is, human evolution never stopped. It continues to enhance us mentally, just as it does physically and biologically. One of our most notable, if not so recent mental enhancements goes back in time a little. It was called the ‘Third Eye’ by some older civilisations, who considered it a somewhat mystical facility. I prefer to call it our ‘Thinking eye’ and I’m guessing it was only considered mystical because, in those darker times, not everyone was enlightened enough to know that evolution never had a favourite child. You and I both know that any attribute, like muscles for example, will atrophy if we don’t exercise them.
Eyes are the same in that regard and there is no reason to think our inner eye will be any different. Anyone who has spent time developing their additional sense can expect to see far more than those who merely gape. In my own experience, anyone who uses it regularly, will most likely find it more effective with eyes closed to filter out purely physical distractions.
Evolved people will be the first to see a ‘Thin Place’ for what it really is and just like the rest of humanity, they will be naturally curious. The same sense of timelessness that all ‘Thin Places’ exude becomes an intoxicating fragrance that they can’t resist. However, this opium to our sixth sense is not just a bait that attracts unwitting witnesses. It is also the catalyst that expands the perceptive power of our ‘Thinking Eye’ which can then see even further. Like a suddenly resolved three dimensional stereogram or a revelation if you like, ‘Thin Places’ become exposed. We can then see them for what they really are and peer not at them but through them. They are portals, or porous mirrors through which both history and/or the predestined future can be sensed, visualised, smelled and even tasted, like déja vu.
Thus intoxicated, a fully evolved person is more than capable of accepting that silent invitation to delve deeper, to see and maybe even touch, or experience something of what might be hidden from everyone else. However, if one of us can see and touch other dimensions of our extended reality, then it follows that whoever or whatever is out, or in there, can reciprocate and reach back to us.
When we talk about timelessness, we need a better understanding of what time really is. Despite what we have been conditioned to think, time was never the simple ticking of seconds or the passing of hours. It is a very variable and dynamic measure of life until ultimate death, but that’s not to say there is no life after death. Time is merely the cycle by which a physical aspect is first removed and then reunited with the parallel metaphysical reality that is our constant companion, running closely and perpetually alongside us. Furthermore, if life until death is one physical cycle, then it can never be the same for everyone or everything, regardless of how clever we think we are by breaking it down into standard minutes.
The Blasket Islands are a ‘Thin Place’ but with the significant difference that destiny seems to have assigned them a more passive role in history. They have seen tragedy, but nothing that was judged more than a tragic footnote in an otherwise simple existence. Indeed, their greatest claim to fame may have been their gift to us of writers whose innocent offerings were accepted as largely inconsequential histories. People like Tomas O Criomhtain and his son Sean, Peig Sayers of course and Muiris O Suilleabhan and also Eilis Ui Suilleabhan amongst others shared an artistic genius that made their simple island living so paradoxically great.
The Great Blasket Island bathes in the Atlantic Ocean, just off the Dingle Peninsula of County Kerry, Ireland. It lies close enough to bask in the glory of Skellig Michael, possibly the ‘Thinnest Place’ in all Ireland, but that’s a story for another day. It is the Blasket’s vantage point just off the coast that has made it the perfect unbiased witness to histories as they unfolded both on and off shore.
Blasket is high enough to see most of the Kerry coastline and also peer into its darkest valleys. It towers over its smaller companion of Inishtooshkert, or the North Blasket Island, which is locally known as the Sleeping Man. That’s because from head to toe, it’s the profile offered to those who see it from sea level. The Biggest Island can also appear to be asleep or dead for most of the time, but no island is totally inert regardless of how much time it takes to apparently change.
Viewed from that mostly unseen extension of our reality, Blasket is just another physical thing like the physical part of us that is our bodies. It is also somewhere along its cycle of physical life until death and also subject to the command of destiny’s agent, evolution. Blasket is still fulfilling the function for which it seems to have been created, which is to watch and then record and then share. It could be argued that Blasket has already shared much of what it has seen. The evidence for that would be that prodigious crop of internationally acclaimed authors produced from a supposedly simple population maxima of only a hundred and fifty, give or take.
How is it possible to return to somewhere you’ve never been? Yet there he was, an ocean and at least fifty years away from Portland, Maine, which was another fifty years behind New York. He was back in time but he was also looking at an island on the other side of a turbulent sound, just like he’d so often done through his own weather smeared window on Maiden Cove.
Jack Sullivan didn’t notice the girl who was clearing away the breakfast things from his table on a hill, halfway between Dunquin and the lowering cloud layer above it. He was peering intently through the driving drizzle counting too many years since he’d actually sat behind the helm of a fishing boat. He then asked himself if it was possible that all islands could exude such a brooding presence when the weather closes in, or was it just Blasket. It was a skulking hulk looking more like a dog left out in the rain. A mixture of resignation to a fate undeserved with profound loss at not being recognised, heard or in any way acknowledged by someone who should.
He was in Kerry hoping to join some dots. Ideally, he would stand on the same patch of land his ancestors had worked to make his existence possible. If he could do that he would further indulge himself by turning over some of the same sods that they had, just to feel the dirt under his fingernails. Hopefully, that would satisfy his illogical urge to come full circle.
Considering that he was a fisherman with an understandable disdain for farming and farmers, it was an absolutely crazy compulsion to suffer. Yet it had lately been gnawing at him to the point where he was seriously considering if he wasn’t being haunted across the years. Maybe an errant farming forbear had committed some atrocity, which he had to return to somehow put right. It was that, or the very early onset of Alzheimers or Dementia but either way, it wasn’t something he could share with rational people.
He considered himself more fortunate than most fishermen, though some called him lucky while others pinned less generous tags on him. True, some of those might be deserved but he did what he had to do to survive. Either way, he had arrived at a milestone in his life where he could take as much time as he needed and invest as much money as it cost him digging for clues. The briefest of smiles creased his face as he remembered old Grandfather Pat telling him that only time itself could tell the whole truth.
There is another old Irish saying that says time waits for no man but apparently, not this time.