“Forty Shades of Green” it is, this land of ancient stone cairns. The Irish people’s thick accents slather around their words as rich as the dairy cream they pour on top of the delectable Irish coffees—as smooth and blankety as the dense foam on the head of a pint of Guinness. It wraps around the stories they love to lavish on visitors, stories and stories and stories piled up like strawberries on trifle. All blended in with the mysteries and legends of their history. Bodies of bones still jagging out of the rocky beaches at County Donegal which, Violette shares is, “just a wee drive to the West. Ye must go see the coast. During the famine they’d walk for days reaching the shore, where the boats were sailing to America only to die right there on the beach of hunger.” Her dense brogue unfurls the story of Ireland’s tragic past as she lays down plates piled high with her special boiled potatoes, roast lamb and aromatic mint sauce on the well-polished trestle table for our dinner at Crom Castle.
One blustery night at dinner, we ask Violet about sacred sites. Ireland is a bastion of superstition and magical lore. She says, “Ye must go to the wishing stone right here on the castle grounds by the lake. Me son, Noel, will show ye. Ye need to sit on the stone without touching the earth around it—every part of yer body. Not a limb on the dirt.”
One of us asks, “Violet, have you ever made a wish on the stone?”
“No deary, I have everything I want.”
Well, we don’t feel that way, ambitious American alpha females that we are. We hustle right over there with Noel in the mid-summer twilight.
As he cautiously holds down the electric wire fence for us to step over, we query Noel, “Have you sat on the wishing stone and made wishes?”
He responds, “Oh yes, indeed, many a time, and the wishes always come true.”
We each take a turn, folding ourselves on top of the foot-square dome of lichen-pocked granite. In silence, with eyes closed, hawthorn branches pricking our head like a crown of thorns, we wish mightily.
Less than twenty-four hours after my sitting session, my wish is answered in a way I never expected. An email arrives for me that announces I’m going to receive a tidy sum of money from an unexpected source! It is a doozy of conjuring that solves a major financial problem in my life.
This instant response inspires a daily pilgrimage to the wishing stone for the rest of our visit.
When I share my surprise results and our daily visits with Noel, he exclaims, “By gosh, I’ll have to build a hut over the stone so youse won’t get soaked in the mist.”