i ache to go back.
The pavement quietly echoes footsteps, yet there is no one to be seen. Everything is caught in a dusky twilight. The streets are empty, the sidewalks grey to match the sky and the cold, harsh winds rustle the few leaves in the trees. The bus schedules are outdated and water stained. The buildings are aged with broken bricks, climbing vines, and weathered doors. A faded yellow “Bed and Breakfast” sign leans against the wall where it once hung. The air is lonely, but strangely welcoming to a wandering soul. This is Wicklow.
Ireland is known for her grey skies and green, rolling hills, but in Wicklow there is something else to be known. Despite being conquered by Vikings, the ruins of this little monastic town speak volumes of solace and meditation. The quiet life of a Sunday is a striking contrast to the bustle of Dublin. The streets are home to few cars and even less walkers. The Grand Hotel sits on the corner of the main drag, Dublin Road. Its parking lot houses a few vehicles, but little traffic. The lobby and bar is filled with only the local regular and weary bartender. The understood quiet, the understated simplicity of the town haunts her passer-bys.
There are scarcely any store fronts along the road and even less road signs or direction as to where to go. With incorrect information on the Bus Eireann signs, for an out-of-towner, figuring your way out or around the town may seem dismal. Waiting at the bus stop could take several cold, windy and rain beaten hours. Trying to catch a ride could take days. There may be better luck in walking into someone’s house and asking for help!
Despite the lack of direction, strolling along the bare sidewalks will eventually bring an understanding to the fresh air. The grey skies and grey sidewalks and grey streets empty themselves into the grey rocks leading into the grey Irish sea. The cold air beating against your face will seem to fade as the overwhelming smell of vanilla and saltwater meet your nose. The grey is interrupted by the mustard yellow wildflowers and soft moss clinging to the large rocks. A rusted and worn sign, warning IT IS DANGEROUS TO WALK ON ROCKS stands high above the mesmerizing grey-blue swirls.
The waves crash one after another, bubbling with anticipation to get higher and higher. They sing a song of hidden glory as the dotted rocky shore softens along the curve of the peninsula. The light house in the distance sheds hope with each turning light-beam. The shore spreads its arms out to welcome the water, foaming at the mouth to devour those who dare enter its bitter-cold pathway. The town can be seen at a distance from its skirt of silver splendor. The grey sits below a crown of green, Ireland’s green. There are no brilliant cliffs here. There are simply green pastures with halos of grey tresses.
A belt of houses and buildings follows the curve but does not venture too high. The little houses and small establishments are quiet and beg the question of whether they are ghosts from the past or remain active. The gentle stillness can either evoke interest or scare away strangers. Walking away from the harsh winds and strong scent of vanilla, following the grey wall separating nature from civilization (though of what sort it is hard to say) will lead you back into the waistband of the town. Leaving behind the toothless bite of the shore, it is difficult not to embrace the understated beauty that is Wicklow.