Leprechauns, four leafed clover and enchanted forests. Do they really exist or are they just myths from the past? Those thoughts can cross your mind as you drive along the N84 from Castlebar to Galway a West of Ireland road.
Once you cross over the Railway Bridge out of Castlebar, you get the feeling that you are entering another world. Where miracles and fairytales surround you and the harshness of city life has never existed and has been long forgotten by those that made the crossing.
The drive lasts approximately an hour and a bit. Taken on a bright sunny day, you can see far over the fields and houses. In the distance the rolling hills are covered in a blanket of clouds. Green fields and trees everywhere. "Forty Shades of Green", written by Johnny Cash, now a traditional Irish song - and while driving through Mayo you understand how the songwriter was charmed into writing those lyrics.
The scenery is breathtaking. Patchworks of fields are spread on both sides of the winding road. Ancient, rugged stone hedges hug the sides of the road and spread out like solid branches across the fields. Old, dilapidated gates entwined by lush green ivy. It all gives you the urge to look out for Leprechauns peeping through the growth. The land spreads over hills, around rushing rivers towards the far-set mountains. Multicolour greens as far as the eye can see.
Tall, arthritic trees accompany crumbling ruins of churches, farmhouses and barns. These all speak of history, of how the attack of Irish weather had taken its toll on the old buildings. But yet had not destroyed them completely. They have stood the test of time as the Irish population themselves.
Stone shells of churches scattered along the path. Their church towers still standing tall, proud to be part of the historic character of the land merging with the present…proud to be part of today. A reminder of the Irish will. Undergoing hardship through years of famine and unpredictable weather. Battered by gales, rain and damp, but yet they stand proud. The moist atmosphere of the country should make it an unattractive place to the tourist. On the contrary, it enhances the beauty. Cloudy days bring a hue of gentle and pastel colours, only to burst into a brilliant painting at the slightest touch of sun.
This mystical beauty will take the traveller back to their childhood, where stories of magic and wonders where told and will recharge your mind with memories of childhood adventures.
Leprechauns, four leafed clover and enchanted forests. Myth, fantasy or fact? Do we really care if they do exist? On this little speck of Ireland, the N84, there is no reason to ponder over the question. The stories have been around for as long as one can remember, being passed on from generation to generation. While driving through this lovely country, they do exist for the moment and will most probably linger for a while after you return to reality.
One drive, one road of many. There are no limits to where or what you will experience. The road belongs to the people who allow beauty and enchanted places to free their minds from the everyday life and allow them to dream.