Beyond this Point, There Be Dragons


Today I looked over the edge of the world. I am on Inishmore, the largest of the Aran Islands off the west coast of Ireland. This is a wild and remote place. Four hundred years ago Oliver Cromwell pushed many Irish off the mainland, and here they came. Over Inishmore’s limestone hills (geologic continuations of the Burren in County Clare) they spread seaweed and sand, creating a thin subsistence soil. There are no trees here to block the wind that buffets everything constantly. For ancient people, who arrived on the Aran Islands thousands of years before Oliver Cromwell walked the earth, Inishmore was the edge of the world. Beyond the sheer cliff walls on the island’s western side was the abyss, the place where the world dropped off. It was where the old maps warned, “Beyond this point, there be dragons.”

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