Voodoo and Gabby Wild above Tra Mor

Yesterday as I watched the tide come in and out with its rise and fall, I couldn’t help but feel awe-inspired and terribly sad all at the same time. I would be leaving the charming province of Donegal for Dingle in the morning, and though quite excited for the journey ahead, I so desired to stay. The town that I was based out of, Dunfanaghy, was perfectly parochial. The people were real: they didn’t try to be nice, they simple were. They, for the most part, were carefree, hardworking, and covered with smiles. Everywhere I went people would say “hello!”, and even those who didn’t know me would ask me when I walked or horseback rode down the streets “How are you?” or “Are you well?”

So when I made my way to where Voodoo had so happily been munching on his breakfast in Dunfanaghy Stables, I wrapped my arms around his majestic black neck. I then mounted him and rode off from the stables on him for the last time. In an effort to make the ride memorable, I sharpened my senses and ensured that I kept the images vivid.

Voodoo and I rode up through the bay (as the tide was low), up through the forest of fierce fairies that, again, spell-bound the flies to attack us, through the hills, up the mountains, and down the sand dunes onto the silky shore of Tra Mor beach. Voodoo knew what to anticipate. He felt it in the water and my heartbeat that quickened as we neared the slick wet sand, newly kissed by the ocean. The clouds remained low, and the sun pretended to be on holiday, though I could see her peek-a-booing behind them. Voodoo quickened his catwalk strut and then began a trot unasked. I kept him under control, though he still resisted me. He felt the sea sliding beneath his hooves and wanted to collide with it at full throttle. I let go of convention, released all tension, and forgot about the existence of a world. Metaphysically “bound”, I gave Voodoo my leg and let him fly at a mad gallop across the beach.

The wind whipped “me hair” around in a frenzy of  freedom. I stood up out of my seat, bent down low to give us more aerodynamic flexibility and let Voodoo take me to the end of the beach just before we collided into the rocks. We had never gone so quickly before! Not only did I want to do again, but so did my black unicorn, the hair at the bottom of his legs feathery and light in the wind. I patted him and told him how much of a “good boy” he was. When we both got our pulses just above normal, we stared back out at the broad stretch of sand on the shore, the topmost section soft and down-like and the bottom section, squishy, wet, and plush. The sea just started to sparkle perfect blueness, and the rock that jutted up from the water and that carried upon it fields of velvet green enclosed us from all the terracing mountains around.

Voodoo began bouncing his head telling me, “Let’s go!” In complete agreement, I gave him his head and with a heartfelt stride with both his feet in the air, Voodoo galloped forward, his black mane swirling in the wind. Like black lightening, we swept back across the beach, his footsteps stamping the earth beneath us.

Parting truly is sweet sorrow. It was dreadful to bid my sweet and loyal steed goodbye. He was an incredible horse, and I so wish that I could have taken him to Dingle (and American, in fact). The journey to Dingle is a long one, and it truly would not have been just to him- not to mention: I didn’t own him! So after another handful of sugar lumps and few kisses on the nose and cheek, I said goodbye to my black hornless unicorn.

That night would be my last in the town. I had an absolutely incredible dinner with my newfound friends at Arnold’s Hotel,an absolutely charming, friendly, and perfect family-run hotel that had been more than accommodating and lovely to me. After dinner we held our own little talent show: double-joined friends popping themselves in ways I don’t want to imagine, sisters Irish dancing, and my opera singing. After a calamity where one of the little dancers flew her shoe off after a big kick in the air into the bank manager’s yard that was guarded by a fierce dog (not to worry- the dear double-joined talent rescued the shoe), we found ourselves in the pub where karaoke was the feature. After a night of singing and dancing to Abba’s “Dancing Queen” and Britney Spear’s “Oops I Did It again!” we all hugged fondly and bade one another “see you soon!” I greatly look forward to one day where I can return not only to visit this stunning country of northern Ireland but mostly also to visit my dear, happy-go-lucky friends.

Stay Wild,

Gabby Wild