Usually, by Mid August I would be walking the roads around Muirioch, Ballydavid, and Ballyferriter and on a good day looking out across the Blasket Sound where the Blasket Island itself loomed, a historical tract of land where many of Ireland’s best Irish language writers hailed from.
This week I had to do with a Facetime panoramic sweep of the island on a rainy day with glimpses through the window wipers of my brother’s car.
It was just one of the sights I missed. I wanted to pull over on the brow of the hill as I always do where the road out from Dingle divides between Ballyferriter to the left and Ballydavid to the right and take in the breathtaking scenery as the timeless beauty of West Kerry stretches in front of you.
There will be no trip to Tigh TP in Ballydavid, the finest pub in all of Kerry, which looks out over the Atlantic. No time for a chat with the owner, Sean, and his father T.P. about the gossip in the village or no stop in Louis Mulcahys for some exquisite handmade pottery or art pieces. No wandering the village of Dingle sampling the homemade ice cream here or the Irish scones with hot melting butte"r there, or watching the children lining up for a boat trip to "ooh" and "aah when Fungi the dolphin breaks cover and soars suddenly into the air.
No visit to the local bookshops, no day out at the Dingle races, no walk through the graveyard at Kilmalkedar to bid hello to the generations of my family buried there.
No walk from the holiday home to the old homestead a mile or so away, where well over a century ago my father grew up as one of 14 kids in a tiny three-roomed farmhouse. All changed now, of course.
I love to walk the roads he and my grandparents and their parents walked conscious of the power of the home place even generations later to grab and hold you. You feel you are back where you belong in communion with those who came before.
Read more: Is this the most beautiful walk in Ireland?
I love the pitch dark nights, the summer storms, the gale force winds off the ocean as nature effortlessly proclaims its power.
In Dingle, I love fresh fish restaurants the craic and banter, the little side streets, and knick-knack stores where meandering is the preferred mode of transport and everyone has time to chat.
No one in a hurry here.
Alas, I am far away from the clear air, here in a hot and humid New York trapped as surely as I was when the volcanic crater exploded a few years back over Iceland and blocked the sun and all transatlantic flights for a few weeks.
No chance either this year to practice my rusty Irish with the locals or hear a real session in pubs off the beaten path or pick up a book on local history, or make new friends and greet old ones.
No time this year unless I wanted to quarantine for 14 days but I hardly felt like intruding. For the year that’s in it better to let the locals be, lest heavens forbid you bring the virus with you. Unfortunately, in Donald Trump’s America that is always a possibility. Roll on 2021 and a vaccine and a date with West Kerry postponed but not forgotten.