Gannet (in front) & Razorbill (behind)
Have you ever experienced something in Creation that took your breath away? It hasn't happened to me too often; I remember a volcanic pool in Yugoslavia (I think) that was two hundred metres deep and you could see the bottom so clearly through the depths of crystal-clear water. Another time I remember snorkelling and chancing across a magnificent Octopus that kept changing colour. I had the privilege once of seeing Mount Kenya emerge from the clouds, impossibly large on the horizon... (I realise that I am now sounding like Basil Fawlty giving his "herds of Wildebeest" speech!)
These small band of memories was joined by another on Tuesday as I was invited to join a couple of photographers as they headed out to the Saltee Islands off Kilmore Quay, Co. Wexford. It was a beautiful day and I was simply awestruck at it all, from the boat trip to the sheer number of birds and the beauty of the Island. It was stunning. At one point, as I rounded a corner of rock and saw ahead of me thousands of Gannets nesting and swooping and squawking I just wanted to fall on my knees and worship - not what I was looking at, but the One who created such incredible beauty.
Admittedly the little chap above wouldn't win any beauty contests but it was just incredible to be able to get so close, a real privilege. I felt like a special guest, invited to a place where yes I was an intruder but momentarily at least a cautiously welcomed one.
Great Saltee Island
One of the photographers I was with told me how, when he had brought his daughter to the Island on a previous visit, she had remarked that "it felt like heaven".
I got a little bit of that feeling too; I only know as much as what heaven will be like as the Bible tells us, but something tells me that there was at least a trace of that eternal magic ingredient here...