12:00 pm

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[Maam valley, IRELAND]

This heavenly landscape.
Light simmers in the clouds
And spills down the mountains.

We are on our way to Ashford Castle up north past the largest lake in Ireland, Lough Corrib. A simple drive. Or so we think. Next minute, as we emerge from what they call the 'Lake district' in County Mayo, we are tipped into the most astonishing, fantastical valley, where light runs like water down and over the hills and mountains, or moves upwards in shimmering white waves; the stone and heath, dark as blood over here, or floating, hovering in a golden wash over there. If there are portals to heaven on earth, this must be one of them. But it's not about angels and harps and pearly gates ... but elemental forces of startling power and beauty. Enough to transform you into ... who knows what, or when. Certainly, we feel completely different, changed, for having passed through this 'otherworld'.

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