I persuaded my dear friend, the violinist Jonathan Evans Jones,
to write this for us...
Tÿ Willie Huw
In June of 2000 I came to Co Kerry on a week’s holiday. It was a part of the world I had long wanted to visit despite knowing very little about its topography and history. The Ring of Kerry- yes it certainly had a ring about it. At the end of that week, a week of enchantment if not unalloyed good weather, I found myself buying a remote farmhouse in need of a bit of TLC, going for a knockdown price, up a mountain on the edge of the Killarney National Park.
The rest, as they say, is history; sometimes tortuous, sometimes stressful and often expensive. In 2008, we got a bit carried away with an extension project and doubled the footprint of the original house, at the same time installing a ground-source heat pump,12 meters of solar panelling and sinking a well. Our water had previously and unreliably come from pipes in the mountain streams above the house.
So much for the nuts and bolts. My wife Lorena has often described the Kerry house as our lungs. You could equally use words like health spa, retreat, refuge. We have been holed up here now for 6 months weathering the meteorological storms and the storm of the pandemic. There really couldn't be a better place to be.
|Snow is about to arrive|
You cannot divorce the experience of being in our mountain house from the extraordinary habitat in which it nestles. Context changes everything. I often lie in bed at night listening to the wind, fresh off the Atlantic, rushing through the conifers that surround us, or on calm days, with rapt concentration, I’m aware of that rare thing, an almost absolute silence interrupted only by the bleat of sheep in the fields.
It is possible and desirable, to actively listen to silence here; it is much more than the absence of sound.The changing light and weather create spectacles in the landscape beyond the scope of the most vivid diorama. I step outside in the morning to the sound of the brook making its way from Mangerton mountain above to the Roughty valley below, sometimes a soothing gurgle but more often a raging, confined torrent. Franz Schubert would have loved it. William Wordsworth too of course.
We are located almost as far West as you can travel in Europe without dropping off into the ocean, near a designated UNESCO Dark Sky Reserve. On clear, crisp nights the canopy above our heads treats us to our very own planetarium show. Mars has been particularly obliging recently. Take a boat and row two thousand miles due West, if that were possible, and you would make landfall in Newfoundland. Over The Pond the word ‘awesome’ takes on a rather general and diluted meaning through careless overuse, but here in rural Kerry, (practically a tautology of course as Kerry is almost all mountain, pasture and river), where the natural world can surprise and inspire at any time of day or night, and in all seasons, awesome, in the old-fashioned sense, feels like the right word to use.