On one of her ‘doodah’ days, Jackie Keogh travelled from Barleycove’s magnificent beach up to Brow Head – the location of a recent Star Wars scene – and met a man on a mission
‘It’sa dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.’
It’s not my favourite JRR Tolkien quote. My all time favourite is: ‘All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.’ But maybe the two quotes are saying the same thing.
Besides, they are just a prelude to the fact that the decision to take a bit of a wander on Monday, January 2nd last ended up being something of an adventure.
My friend calls it a ‘doodah’ day. For a long time, I was unsure of the term, but it has grown on me because it has come to mean coffee and cake, window shopping, riffling through charity shops for clean but quirky clothes, and going where ever the wind takes us.
On January 2nd, it began with calamari, the purchase of a commemorative CD, drooling over Moleskin notebooks in Anna B’s Bookshop, a walk on the beach at Barleycove, and, invariably, competition for the best landscape photos for Facebook.
We are easily pleased.
Of course, if you are in that neck of the woods, you gotta call into O’Sullivan’s in Crook and have the crumble.
But before we did that very thing, we turned, on a whim, and took a right up an impossibly narrow road to Brow Head.
I almost left my coat behind in the car, thinking that the view could easily be observed by gazing over the gate at the end of the track. But suitably chastised and suitably wrapped, we climbed the gate and set off in the direction of the setting sun.
Signal towers, old ruins, and heptagonal shaped fields, – home of the Star Wars cast last summer – bordered by old stone walls, set the scene until we got to near the very end where a narrow worn path – brown against two narrow strips of green grass – was all the land there was between us and two cliff edges.
Being focused on one’s feet, and stopping only to lift one’s head to take a snap or two, means you tend to miss out on things like the man with the 12ft pole and peace flags right out at the very tip of Brow Head.
We loitered until he loomed into view and then, with the wind suddenly vicious, we turned and walked the broad, peaty headland back to the car where the last of the phone battery provided enough light for a hasty interview.
The Bulgarian-born pilgrim, Arthur Bogomil Burton, is 60 years old and he chose Brow Head as the starting point for his peace walk to Malin Head because it is the most southerly part of Ireland.
As a peace and human right activist, Arthur said he has walked on the six continents with groups and alone since 1992 and has put 45,000 km on the clock, so to speak.
His first pilgrimage was a walk across the US in 1992, but it was only after finishing a walk in Britain in April of last year that he resolved to walk Ireland.
Arthur is walking without sponsorship of any kind. He said he will complete the walk totally by the faith and goodwill of the people he meets.
‘The walking is like a prayer, a meditation,’ he says, as he walks into the dark unwilling, obviously, to take a spin, or even to have us double back with a hot beverage.
Look out for him when you are on your travels.