島が好きだ。I'm an islands lover.
There is an ordinary life on a visible limited area, which is an island; there are limited things and a small number of people.
I was born in an island country, Japan, and I am currently living in another island, Ireland.
There are more islands in Ireland. The Aran Islands in Co. Galway are consisted of three small islands. I crossed the Atlantic Ocean to reach one of the smallest islands there.
アラン諸島を構成するのは、世界遺産Dún Aonghasaを擁するInis Mór（イニシュモア）島、
真ん中に位置するInis Meáin（イニシュマーン）島、そして今回訪れたInis Oirr島である。
The name of the island was Inis Oirr in Irish.
This is one of the Aran Islands, apart from Inis Mór, which has a world heritage site Dún Ainghasa, and Inis Meáin, which is located in the middle of Inis Mór and Inis Oirr.
I can trace the beginning of this journey to the time when I first started the Irish fiddle last summer. My fiddle teacher, Claire, taught us one tune which name was Inis Oirr. Since then, the tune has become one of my favourite tunes. Also, Claire told us the island was very beautiful and it would be worth landing on. This is why, the lovely tune, Inis Oirr, lead me to go to Inis Oirr.
It took us 30 minutes by ferry to reach there from Doolin, a cheerful western town. We headed for the isolated small island which lies approximately 8km from the main island.
Shortly after we left Doolin, the small ferry moved up and down. I felt the island was sitting far away though I could see the island. We finally landed on the thankfully unmovelable land before my seasick condition turned into something disastrous. Huh…
We did not have any concrete schedule on the island.
We just walked around the island, took a break when necessary, and enjoyed the music session at night.
Their whole lives took place on the island. People hardened the land by clay and seaweed, and built loads of stony fences so that they could protect the crops from strong wind blowing from the sea. The intervals between the fences were narrow compared to other islands, as the size of the island was small.
What there is on the island: 250 people, one supermarket(rather a convenience store), an airport, and three pubs!
当地新聞記者が訪れて島一番のビストロと言われるSouth Aran Restaurantにて海の幸の夕食。
We had dinner in the South Aran Restaurant, which is said to be the best bistro on Inis Oirr. As a seafood loving Japanese person, I wanted to eat the stir-fried flatfish simply seasoned by sea salt. However, this is Ireland; We got locally caught fresh grilled whitefish slightly seasoned by paprika powder and salt. We enjoyed the food a lot anyway.
I brought my fiddle all the way from Dublin, as I was thinking to play Inis Oirr on the island Inis Oirr.
In the first pub:
An accordion player, a young guitar player and vocalist and an old man who could play whistles and Bodhran. The old man, who turned out to be a session leader, approached us and said, “Hey, girls!! Are you musicians? Please join us in the session.” .
私「じゃあ、まずはOut on the Ocean。」
The old lad: “So, what are you gonna play?”
Me: “Well, I will play Out on the Ocean.”
Irish music tunes are mostly consisted of 2-3 parts. We played double and continued 2-3 times per tune. I messed up as I was confused to count how many times we played.
The old man: “Then, what’s next?”
Me: “I will play Inis Oirr.”
The guy: “What’s that? Inis Oirr? I don’t know it!”
Me: “♪〜(I played a few phrases)”
The man: “?! It is the same tune as the previous one!”
Everybody: “No way! IT IS INIS OIRR!”
The old man was unwilling to know Inis Oirr, I chose other tunes and played. When I found I the tunes were becoming unfamiliar and I was about to reach the bottom of my glass of Guiness, we moved to another pub.
In the second pub:
I was looking forward to listening to music there, because I had heard after coming to Inis Oirr that a lady fiddler, who had won the national Irish music championship, Fleadh Cheoil, would be in the pub. It was already around 11pm. There were only a few customers left.
We found three young ladies in the corner of the room. They sometimes cheated and played the banjo, guitar and fiddle as if they had been whispering with each other. The sound from these instruments made harmony as three delicate yarns were tied. It was a sweet sounds, completely entrancing.
The persons who were playing the banjo and fiddle were sisters. Probably that is why they play and breathe in such perfect timing. I like the session where strangers play and mix up different tunes, but it was impressive to find a session as if close friends or family were chatting with instruments. I figured out that Irish music on this island was living together with its community.
On the following day, I found myself in a small shop where an island lady was selling handcrafts made of natural materials from Inis Oirr. She sold some baskets made of vines, and sweaters knitted by old ladies living on the island.
When chatting with the shop keeper, she was so surprised to know that day was Japanese marine national holiday. We talked a lot in a short time: it would be interesting if we could have local cultural exchanges between Inis Oirr and islands in Japan which have a similar size and population. Moreover, she told me about a Japanese guy who was residing on the island, Jimmy-San. Also, she told me about her life here: she gets newspaper everyday, but cargo reaches only three times in a week. I premised how hard it would be to live on the island, but I was surprised to hear that the life here was not inconvenient. If people get sick, they can take off at the airport and land on the rooftop in a hospital in Galway City. It seems they can also catch a flight with some discounts for island residents. Most importantly, she feels relief because everybody knows everybody.
The time to leave waas approaching steadily. I was worrying about the ferry trip back to the island, as I had to bear the tough journey again. The ferry was going up and down a lot. I took medicine to prevent seasickness, and I stared at the unmovelable horizon as if I had been on a meditation like monks.
I felt relieved when I saw the black long shades reflecting rocky cliffs on the surface of the water around the Cliffs of Moher.
The view from the main land overlooking Inis Oirr with a white beach was shining in the blue ocean. I wondered whether the island is going to be floating from now on as it used to do, regardless of wild sea and intense sea wind.
People and cows I met on the island, and even Irish music played are all existing lively there at the same time.
I found again, that I like islands.