Endangered: Secret Places
It can hardly be a secret of course that secret places are on the endangered list!
Like the last species of a prey, the last secret places of the world are being threatened by committed hunters using powerful weapons of modern technology and media, operating with a power unimaginable just a short time ago.
Many formerly hidden places around the world that awaited discovery by the intrepid are now no longer off the beaten track and in a mere generation or two, there is hardly a region on Earth not now frequented by hordes. Details of secret, out-of-the-way places are now expected to be found on a web-search and social-media has blown their cover apart. Every other month around the globe, another last secret place is flushed out in latest editions of responsible travel catalogues and magazines – or by a leading travel authority, whispering into the World Wide Web of a remarkable place he has discovered but that needs visiting soonest before the mob get to it.
This progress has come to Ireland too, to some of the places that I wandered as a boy and indeed into adulthood rarely encountering another soul with the effect that some of these places are simply no longer hidden. In 2017/’18 an unprecedented glare was brought to bear on parts of Ireland through the power of modern film with the shooting here of parts of the seventh and eight sequels of Star Wars on the remote early-Christian monastic outpost of Skellig Michal and other locations on the Atlantic seaboard, now promoted by the Irish tourism as the Wild Atlantic Way. The exposure from these forces are bringing their own powerful affects arising from the bright lights of Hollywood and modern marketing aimed at commoditising everything, and every place.
Such are the times we live in and we are reminded of the impermanence of everything, however it is clear now that the spaces as yet undetected by the bright lights are precious. I now have an new awareness that the hidden places we still inhabit and share here in Ireland, sacred spaces where the soul is nurtured and that are still largely out-of-sight have a frailty I might naively have not imagined just a few years ago. This new awareness brings a responsibility whereby I now whisper quietly of such places and ask those who experience them to turn off the location on their cameras.
Writing of the spiritual hunger in our time, the late, great writer and teacher John O Donoghue wrote in his best-selling classic; Anam Cara; that;
“the light of modern consciousness is not gentle or reverent; it lacks graciousness in the presence of mystery; it wants to unriddle and control the unknown”. )