We’ve been having some walks with the Welshies very near to where we live, in a town called Sion Mills based in Northern Ireland. I can’t begin to explain just how close to ‘The North’ we live. Walk just up the road and you will cross the border into Northern Ireland, then you walk over a small bridge (of which there are many over the glens) and your back in ’The Republic’. To me Ireland is Ireland, a fantastic, stunningly beautiful Island that sits in the Atlantic like a green jewel created by nature and that’s it. I don’t ’do’ religion, and I don’t ’do’ politics.
Many of you who have followed this blog over the years know how much I love Autumn, with the colours that it brings. But for me it is the message that comes with it: of understanding where there are the colours and fun of summer there has to be balance, Winter must come, and everything seems to leave in a blaze of glory. Where there is life there is death, the age old lesson, that we have to let go. For us that is especially poignant this year, with Wiglet’s diagnosis, and our realisation that Harley will be 11 in March and has started to slow down and sleep more. Welshies really are the perfect dog for Autumn, with their Autumn coloured coats. Nobody displays this better than my beautiful boy.
Sion Mills is named after the huge Mill that was built on the river Mourne in 1835, on the site of a corn mill that had stood there since before 1640. Sadly it closed its doors for the last time in 2004 and now stands derelict and crumbling whilst the river, as ever, continues to rush on by. There is always something sad in abandoned buildings, of a time past, a time when they were loved and now stand lonely and forlorn. You can imagine the workers, over the hundreds of years teeming out of the gates at the end of the day. After all the Mill built the community that is now Sion Mills, and the village prides itself on being a non sectarian village, something that was encouraged by the Herdman family who built the mill in 1835. But sadly it has still been touched by ’The Troubles’ most recently in 1989.
The river is banked by a wood, and it has immense power. At this time of year it becomes a raging torrent of rapids, which you can view from the viewing platform, that has a Victorian dilapidated bridge to it. I let RD take his life in his hands and cross to it. There is a man-made weir where some of the water is redirected to pass the mill, and on the day we visited the whole spectacle took our breath away.
This is what I love about living here in Ireland it doesn’t matter where you are there is ALWAYS a breathtaking view, with mountains virtually everywhere you turn. Sion Mills is nestled in the foothills of The Sperrin Mountains, the very mountains that we look out onto from our little house.
There is nothing to compare to nature and her force. Nothing. God knows she has shown us that over the past two years. Standing on the banks of a powerful river, fuelled by all the glens that make their way to it, make their way back to ’The Source’, I was reminded that is what we will all do one day, and it grounded me in that moment. It is a reminder that all the shit that can come into our lives is meaningless, because ’The River’ will always run on. Rivers are a metaphor for life, they will keep moving forward to their destiny and they are not in control of the flow, we are not doing the driving.
To give you an idea of the beauty of this place it was where C F Alexander was inspired to write the hymn ’All Things Bright and Beautiful.’ I think we can all see why.