Joggers on the Mutton Island causeway. In the background, clouds rising over the Burren Hills are illuminated by the rising sun.
In 2018, I had the privilege of working the last Saturday of every month on repairing the Fanore to Ballyvaughan trail that loops around Black Head along an old ‘Famine road’ high above the current road. My fellow volunteers and I were part of a Mountain Meitheal crew, and it was our first major project. We’d assemble in a field below the trail and hike up to the trail (sometimes with spades, crowbars and other gear) and then along the trail until we’d reach the place where we were about to work.

The Celtic Voyager shimmering in the morning light with the Burren in the background.

It’s almost a year since Covid-19 decended upon Ireland, and I haven’t made it back to the trail since then. This morning, I stood on Mutton Island and looked across Galway Bay at the trail, which was covered in snow. The Celtic Voyager research ship was passing in front of the very fields where we’d gathered 2 years earlier. We had plans last year to return to do some tidying up on the trail, but the lockdowns prevented it. We have plenty of plans for 2021 too, but they look as distant as the hills themselves right now.

The Mutton Island lighthouse this morning, with the snow-covered hills in the background.