Awesomeness, Intimacy, Place

I do not often succumb to the urge to write! However an event yesterday is niggling me to do so. I attended the launch of the bird-hide in Portumna Forest Park on Saturday – a project conceived by Kieran Fallon of Coillte and Helen Carty of National Parks and Wildlife Service. The hide was built with the purpose of being able to view the White-tailed Sea Eagles on Church Island.
For me the launch was a special and moving occasion. The convenience of 4 telescopes allowed us to get close up to the now almost fully fledged chicks and it was a marvel. I also got a short view of some of Richard Foyle’s magnificent photos.


But there is another memory of the afternoon that is staying with me- maybe somewhat haunting me but in a very awesome way. This experience did not happen at the hide but on the walk to the hide. On the way I caught up with Anne Rabbitte and as we were chatting she told me that recently when she was out on the callows, one of the adult eagles landed close by. As she was describing the experience she conveyed a great sense of being overwhelmed, that she was trespassing and that she needed to get out of the place. I may be mistaken but I think this was not just a sense of fear but a sense of awe, a sense of the eagle’s strong presence and majesty, and of being overwhelmed with a deep sense of ‘place’. 


I like to stay with that feeling and believe that it is not only size that evokes such an experience and that the insect, tree, worm, mouse and all nonhuman species evoke a similar sense of awesomeness, intimacy and place. I am reminded of one of John Feehan’s mantras – ‘size is no measure of complexity’. Indeed John also describes a similar experience which he had on encountering a herd of elephants in the night in Malawi some years ago. He writes ‘ How can anybody who experiences this presence be so presumptuous as to deny this creature its God-given place on the earth? How can anybody who has come face to face with the elephant butcher it frivolously – so that some of us may use its teeth to decorate ourselves or its feet as umbrella stands in fashionable hallways – or banish it from the home for which it is made, so that we can grow tobacco?’

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