Swan Lake

On the road from Waterford to Cork, between Castlemartyr and Midleton, there lies a lake by the name of Loughaderra. It’s a popular spot with anglers and birdwatchers alike, and locals have given it the nickname Swan Lake. I found out why when I passed by recently. A stunning stretch of water burst into view and I was compelled to pull over to watch the sun set in the company of dozens of snow-white swans.

swan lake, loughaderra, cork, midleton, castlemartyr, ireland, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney

swan lake, loughaderra, cork, midleton, castlemartyr, ireland, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney

Sitting by the side of the road enjoying the slow dance of those graceful creatures, while behind me, unseen, the hum of rush hour traffic started to build, I was reminded of a poem by Mary Oliver.

The Swan

Did you too see it, drifting, all night, on the black river?
Did you see it in the morning, rising into the silvery air –
An armful of white blossoms,
A perfect commotion of silk and linen as it leaned
into the bondage of its wings; a snowbank, a bank of lilies,
Biting the air with its black beak?
Did you hear it, fluting and whistling
A shrill dark music – like the rain pelting the trees – like a waterfall
Knifing down the black ledges?
And did you see it, finally, just under the clouds –
A white cross Streaming across the sky, its feet
Like black leaves, its wings Like the stretching light of the river?
And did you feel it, in your heart, how it pertained to everything?
And have you too finally figured out what beauty is for?
And have you changed your life?

About ailsapm

Hi there! I’m Ailsa Prideaux-Mooney. I’ve lived in many places, and travelled to many more. I had a lot of fun getting there and being there, wherever there happened to be at the time. I climbed a castle wall in Czesky Krumlov, abseiled down cliffs to go caving in the west of Ireland, slept on the beach in Paros, got chased by a swarm of bees in Vourvourou (ok that wasn’t fun, but it was exciting), learned flower arranging in Tokyo, found myself in the middle of a riot in Seoul, learned to snowboard in Salzburg, got lost in a labyrinth in Budapest and had my ice cream stolen by a gull in Cornwall. And I’m just getting started. If you’ve enjoyed what you’ve read so far, I’d love you to follow my travelogue - wheresmybackpack.com - and remember, anyone who tries to tell you it’s a small world hasn’t tried to see it all.
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33 Responses to Swan Lake

  1. 76sanfermo says:

    B E A U T I F U L !

  2. Kalpanaa says:

    Those photos are stunning and I love the poem too.

  3. Pickleope says:

    Swans are great, they’re like geese but prettier and less mean jerk-faces. Great photos and thanks for sharing the poem.

    • ailsapm says:

      Haha, you sound like someone who has had a bad experience with a mean jerk-face goose, your comment just made me laugh out loud. So glad you enjoyed the poem, it’s one of my favourites. xxx

  4. Lovely photos, Ailsa, and I enjoyed the poem as well.


  5. Mary says:

    That’s so beautiful.

  6. Such a poem.
    This really looks like a Swan Lake ballet scene.

  7. Jane Lurie says:

    Terrific composition Ailsa.

  8. carol1945 says:

    Mary Oliver is my favorite poet, and I had not read this poem. Her poems point us to something more for a fleeting instant, and then we forget again. Thanks for printing the swan poem. I will save it.

    • ailsapm says:

      She;s fabulous, isn’t she, Carol? I’m so glad I was able to introduce you to this poem, it gets me all emotional every time I read it. xxx

      • carol1945 says:

        I was recently at a retreat where her poems were read out loud. Then they are even more powerful. They go to a place in the human spirit that most poets just do not touch (for me, I know they do for others)

  9. smilecalm says:

    beautiful words & images!
    reminds me of the swans
    that graced the canal
    where i lived in Amsterdam 🙂

  10. travtrails says:

    stunning photographs

  11. Love the lighting in this photo!

  12. Sue says:

    Love that second image, Ailsa!

  13. So beautiful and graceful; and yet, swans can be so vicious. I photographed a fight between a swan and a mama duck who was trying to keep the swan from killing her little duckling. It was quite an event!

  14. I loved the place, used to walk down to it when I lived in Midleton for a while… now I live where Perth, Western Australia is famous for it’s black swans and even named their river after them.

  15. Amazing. Who wouldn’t pull over and stop what they were doing for that? No one I want to know.

  16. poppytump says:

    Such glorious birds … you show them off beautifully here in that light Ailsa !
    I just love the poem too … so evocative .

  17. elspethc says:

    The last line – especially – thankyou for the reminder of one of my favourite poems

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