Carved out by the play of elements over thousands of years, the diverse topography that ranges from karst in the North to marshy in the South, is County Clare. It’s a special sort of County; so special that nature distinguished it from Ireland’s others by literally making it stand out on the map. All that be so, its folk remain modest – the celebratory roar for which its sports fans are known proves that.
Shrouded in tales of scornful women exacting revenge through curses, and others with beauty comparable to the Queen of all the Roses, it’s a bachelor’s Mecca. One of the county’s annual festivals, designed to encourage coupledom, moved celebrated Irish singer/songwriter Christy Moore to wax lyrical. And Sharon Shannon, that smiling long-haired accordionist and demon for getting feet to batter dance room floors, cut her musician’s teeth here. It’s the county that gave Father Ted a home; the place where Muhammad Ali traced his ancestral roots and, best of all, the place where Daniel O Connell, that eloquent freedom fighter, won his first seat. O’Connell’s electoral victory here was enough to re-launch the nation’s fight for independence – a fight that had been sidelined since the failed 1798 rebellion.
With its renowned reputation for smoked salmon and goat’s cheese, and its coveted bio-diversity, there’s scant evidence to deny the contrary: County Clare is a gem of a location.
But this is something that perhaps has been forgotten. Perhaps some made-up, embittered woman prophesised a time when a dark cloud would choke the ambitions of idealists; a time when the community would neglect to celebrate what’s best about it: its spirit. We’d do well to ditch any myths of that sort. Because lately there have been stirrings; subtle indications that Clare is ready to rise again. The recession, that black-cloaked prosperity squeezer, is being faced-down. An initiative to make Clare the customer service capital of Ireland, coupled with the launch of the new trading bazaar in Ennis to encourage people to earn in a depressed market, are just two examples. Let’s make some more.
With enough resolve, we can shuffle off our money blues. We can. Or, in Obama Speak: ‘Is feidir linn.’
Start by supporting the people who refuse to be beaten by the odds. Visit the Bazaar and, if your tempted, buy an item or two – maybe a lavender pillow to soothe you to sleep, or almond peanuts, or – if you’re in the mood to sample foreign cuisine – a Spanish Tortilla. Remember: all it takes is a few like-minded people to change reality for the better.
Defeat does not have to be accepted. Anyone remember 1995?
– Audrey Shanahan
Audrey is a budding entrepreneur with a penchant for word art. On the cusp of launching an online magazine after a spell at writing fiction. One time Clare camogie player and athlete who now prefers mellower activities, like yoga. She blogs over here