Wednesday 2nd - later

Wednesday 2nd - later

I was woken at about 4 in the morning, though I didn’t check the time until later, by somebody knocking loudly on the door. To my chagrin (and there is a word which does not get enough use these days), I had fallen asleep at my new desk. Excited to start writing in these beautiful surroundings, I had spent that first hour after arrival not unpacking but sitting with a piece of paper and pen, jotting down ideas as they came to me. I had reached that state between waking life and sleeping dreams, when murmurs from your head whisper in your ear, when bizarre images float lazily before your eyes for just a second, committing suicide if you focus on them. At some point, my head had fallen to rest on the desk, and when I woke up it was to the incessant bang on the door.

The room was fairly cool, but nothing more than it had been in London, cold air streaming in through the window I had left open just a crack. It was on the hook so nobody could make their way inside, should they have a mind to. I have a terrible habit of insomnia in warm rooms.

I wiped the grit from my eyes and hastened to open the door.

Standing outside was a man dressed in a thick winter coat, bearing a grim look on his face.

“How can I help you?” I greeted him in the proper fashion one should afford to the residents of a place one does not belong to.

“Close it.” He pointed to my window.

How thoughtful of him, to look out for a stranger! “It’s fine, it’s on the hook, and I’d like to let a little breeze in. Thank you for the warning, though.”

He shook his head. “Close it, or on your own head be it.”

I smiled mildly. Clearly this man was having a minor psychotic episode, and I should do nothing to antagonise him.

A bird sang nearby. In some countries, that’s a sign of a disturbance, but here in Britain there are quite a few birds who make the night their enchanting domain. Take the nightingale, for instance.

The man did not seem to share my enthusiasm for birds. Upon hearing the nightingale’s cry, he stiffened and looked around wildly. He bundled his coat tight, gestured towards my window one final time, and took off running. How odd he was. Once he had gone I wrote this down. As I finish these words, I will retire to bed for the last few hours I may have.

Wednesday 2nd

Wednesday 2nd

Arrived at 12:20 at Sligo Airport. A few minutes delayed, but not a problem. Bus arrived at half past, and the journey to Heapstown took another forty minutes. It was a short walk from there to the lake itself, and the cabin I am to stay in. I had some interesting conversations on the bus which fired my imagination, as so I will reproduce them as faithfully as possible here.

Many of my fellow passengers were Irish, heading back to their hometown or to visit relatives in the winter season. I spoke to the natives - natives is the wrong word. I don’t mean to portray them as superstitious savages, come to warn Harker to stay away from Castle Dracula for fear that some unspeakable horror will follow him home. For one thing, we both spoke the same language. Most of the Irish speak English; less than half can actually speak Gaelic. It’s a little sad.

We chatted about our destinations. Some were heading to Geevagh, some to Riverstown, each one the other side of the lake to the other. Some were heading out to the lake itself for a paddle, or to see the legendary waters from the ancient fairy tales. The night well underway, we talked of darker Irish legends. The Sluagh, the mythical fairy host made up of dead souls who fly around stealing living spirits for their flock. The Kelpie, a shapeshifting horse-monster who encourages passers-by to ride it around - right up until it drowns them in icy water and eats them. A German traveler chimed in with a creature from his country, the Alp, a shapeshifting dwarf-vampire thought to be the cause of sleep paralysis and night terrors - like in Heinrich Fussli’s famous painting. He added that most of these little monsters were stillborn children come to cause their parents further anguish from beyond the grave. At this point, I was made uncomfortable to the point I had to ask him to stop. Thankfully he was an understanding man. Some tragedies are too fresh in the mind to be entertaining.

All in all, it was a far better ride than I had expected. Forty minutes passed in a flash.

The cabin itself is just as rustic as I’d imagined - thatched roof, that ‘little cottage in the big forest’ feel despite not being in the woods just a short distance away from it. It sits on the edge of the land. Sitting inside, there is a window which lets me look out over the lake, facing west with forest on one side and a smattering of grass on the other. I moved the desk to the window as soon as I got there. As I sit and write, the view shall inspire me.

Wednesday 1st

Wednesday 1st

Lough na Suil is beautiful this time of year. It’s cold, but not cold enough to freeze. Every few decades the lake drains into the channels and caverns in the limestone beneath it, but right now it’s full, a still pool reflecting the winter sun. Sheep graze on the fields around it, a long copse of trees stands not far from one of the long edges, and my cabin sits perched on the bank of the lake itself.

From the window facing directly west down onto it, I can gaze out over the waters and imagine how thousands of years ago, the brave Tuatha De Danann, the Tribe of the goddess Danu, fought to regain control of their lands and break out of the oppressive slavery of the raider Fomorian tribe. Young Lugh tore his evil grandfather Balor’s eye from its socket, and its terrible power burned a hole in the ground where it fell. When the battle was won, the crater filled with water and the Lake of the Eye, Lough na Suil, was formed. These dreams of ancient myth are why I am here, in County Sligo five hundred miles from my home. Even the best writer has their well of inspiration run dry in time, and I don’t attempt to claim that label.

I am to come here both to recover from my day-to-day life and to gain new ideas for my writing. Mythology has fascinated me for the longest time, and Ireland is the place I have set my sights on. I have camped in the Grampian Mountains in the Scottish Highlands, I have slept beneath the stars at Glastonbury Tor, but this myth is the one which has enraptured me for so long. Ancient battles between old god-kings and the hideous slavers they’d allowed to infiltrate their people? They say folklore came from myths, myths came from religion, and religion came from the truth. I enjoy writing it, which means people will enjoy reading it.

I said I am to go there, for I have not yet left London. My flight leaves in six hours. I will arrive at midnight.