The Long Jump – from California to Loop Head by Camille Seaman < Back
I have been on all seven continents. I have stood atop the worlds largest Ice Shelf in Antarctica and walked to the very edge. I have climbed high desert dunes of the Gobi desert and walked across the oldest fresh water lake on our planet. I have hiked in jungles of Central America, and surfed waves in the South Pacific. It’s fair to say I have seen a good bit of the world as an explorer, as a photographer as someone in love with this planet. So how did this American come to be living in this quiet corner of West Clare, Ireland?
Sea bird flying high
I work as an expedition photographer on vessels in Antarctica and in our Polar Regions. There is a sublime silence and stillness and a sense of peace and ease that nourishes my soul. More and more as the years rolled on I find myself less tolerant of noise, of the busyness of the Bay Area in California. Six lanes of traffic and still going nowhere. My daughter sensed my ill ease and as she grew closer to her High School graduation she used her Jedi mind tricks on me and suggested that I should move to Ireland. “What are you talking about?” I asked her. She knew I liked it there. I had visited several times over the past decade. After a few weeks passed, she casually asked, “Have you found a place yet?” I laughed out loud at her and then I thought. “Well I may as well have a look online.” An hour poking around websites looking at places and houses, turned into a late night deep dive. Looking at maps and reading as much as I could about the different areas. Within a few days I had compiled a list of potential homes that I printed out. I let those papers sit on my desk for a few weeks. Then my daughter asked again.. “How’s the house hunt going?” I showed her the list and then we explored in more detail online together looking at the various locations and properties. I told her that if it was going to mean moving out of the country that I wanted to see it at its darkest and coldest and potentially wettest.
The Kilkee Cliff Drive
I booked a flight, rented a car and a house up in Belmullet in County Mayo in the middle of January and off I went. I started up in Sligo looking at properties and made my way south, sticking to the west as I knew I wanted a less developed area, a place with a bit of wild and still not too far from a good airport. The second to last house I visited was in a tiny village called Querrin in West Clare. I drove with my boyfriend to the house where the landlord met us. I was immediately struck by warmth of the south facing light filled house. It had a view of the Shannon River just a ways down the fields. I told the landlord I had one more house to view in Kilrush and then he asked me, “Have you seen the cliffs?” “No”, I said. He stopped the tour of the home and we drove to the Kilkee Cliffs and there as we stood in the wind looking out at the Wild Atlantic I said, “ I’ll take it!”
The Kilkee Cliffs
I went home to California and packed up my belongings and sold the rest. I arrived to Querrin in May of 2018. There is no way I could have known how lucky I was to choose this place. I could finally be the hermit who lived just ten minutes from town. I walk to the shores of the Shannon where dolphin swim nearby and Oyster Catchers cackle as they fly here and there along the shore. Being only 45 minutes from Shannon Airport, and hour from Limerick or Galway, I had the peace and quiet when I wanted it and access to sushi and museums when I missed those things. Here on the peninsula, less than ten minutes drive from my home, are the Kilkee Cliffs and Carrigaholt Castle. Just twenty minutes away are the amazing Bridges of Ross and the Loop Head light house.
The Bridges of Ross
As time time has moved on, I have realised that there were so many places to explore here on the Loop Head Peninsula not to mention the rest of Western Ireland. I recently discovered that there are at least 240 ringfort/fairy mounds here on the peninsula. As a photographer the light and clouds here keep me enthralled. The dark night skies are heavy with stars. The moon shine on the Shannon is lovely. Sometimes the moon dances as it is kissed by clouds passing swiftly in the night sky.. There is a great energy here, one that I am glad to return to after being away. Here in this place I have found a sense of peace and tranquility.
A peaceful morning view
The community here is amazing. So many talented, creative and intriguing people. I have met incredible artists, filmmakers, thinkers, world changers and environmental minded individuals. I was made to feel very welcome. Before the lock down due to the Covid-19 a bunch of us met every Thursday in a pub in Carrigaholt to knit, crochet or just catch up. Every Sunday Mags of Keanes Bar in Carrigaholt organises a community walk at a local spot (a different location each week). In the time before the virus it was hard not to find some community event or festival. Now that is starting to open up again I look forward to eating delicious food at the restaurants around Loop Head. Just yesterday I went to the peat bog with my neighbor to help him turn the turf. As I go through my lock down baking phase I deliver muffins (a different flavor each day) that I’ve made to my nearby neighbours.
Camilles’ view of the Shannon on a golden West Clare afternoon
I have been here now for two full years. I think it’s important to point out some of my struggles (to keep it real). In the beginning it was very frustrating to get decent internet, but as of this past winter (2018) fibre broadband is available to those in need (such as myself). This isn’t a place that is easy to be without a vehicle. I was fortunate to find such a lovely house with such incredible views. I do wish more properties were made available for sale, but every now and then they pop up. It is my hope to one day soon build a home here, perhaps it will be the Loop Head Peninsula’s first Passive Home, a highly insulated energy efficient building that uses unto 90% less energy to heat itself. So this is of course not the end of this story. In some ways it is the beginning.
Camille at the Bridges of Ross