The UnBEARAble Lightness of Being

Beara Peninsula

It’s…it’s… what? Beautiful? Yes. Serene? Yes. Remote? Yes. But it’s more than that.

It’s spacious.

It’s the penthouse suite of landscapes. You could argue all landscapes are spacious – deserts, beaches, fields but deserts can be empty, patchwork fields can look congested, beaches can be desolate. Here the scenery is full – chock full of natural beauty. Heaven meets earth. Sea touches sky. And the light…

It dances like a dilettante that cannot settle – it takes on a third dimension, appearing bigger, wider, longer. Softer and hazier too. And it’s active. It never stops moving. In the morning, the sun glints on the water making it sparkle like a thousand flashing paparazzi bulbs. The ‘God light’ streams through the clouds as if beaming from fingers in the sky. It pools onto the surface of the ocean like spot lights searching for survivors of shipwrecks.

As the clouds track across the sky, the light sweeps over the mountains, turning the green to black momentarily. It continues to darken, then lighten, then darken again. It throws shadow, then shade, it slides and slants, bisecting the scenery before pulling back like a camera lens and dissolving into soft focus. It’s this whirling movement of the light that creates mental space. It’s a natural brushstroke, it sweeps the mind clear, dusting away debris.

I spent five, sunny autumnal days here. It’s not my first visit but this time it seems to have crawled under my skin. I swam at Garinish. The waves crashed so forcefully, the stones seemed to scream in protest.

Garinish Beach

I walked on Allihies beach. From here the houses look like a rainbow thread pulled taut against the mountainside.


I stopped in Eyeries. My eye bobbed along the rows of candy coloured houses that create a sugar rush for the mind. What could be a garish gash of colour across the landscape is instead a colourful, cheerful village where I stopped to buy locally producted honey.


Dzogchen Beara, the Buddist Retreat Centre, feels like a life raft for shipwrecked souls battered by life, shored up for a while to take refuge. Being in the meditation room feels like sitting on a ship, in a cabin with a view, floating far above the surface of the water, suspended high above your worries, far enough from them to gain perspective.

Dzogchen Beara

Nature crowds you here. It flies at you, blows at you, sprays you, snags you, wets you, dries you. It reminds you of the naturalness of life.

The Beara peninsula lies at the edge of Europe. The physical, natural, geographical edge. I imagine those on emotional edges are drawn to it. Even its name inspires healing – Beara – as if you bare your soul or your emotions to it, a transformation will take place.


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