Bohreen is an Irish word, meaning little lane or pathway. As the road – if you can call it that – to our cottage is barely wide enough to accommodate a single vehicle and has a strip of grass growing down the centre, it certainly qualifies as such. We live down the bohreen in a tiny cottage on the green hill, on two overgrown acres of land in West Mayo that overlook Croagh Patrick and the drumlin islands of Clew Bay.
I like to think that living down the bohreen is also a mentality – the act of following the path less travelled by to a place where we live by our wits and our forethought and whatever our hands can do for themselves. It’s a place where there’s always peat smoke wafting from the chimney, and something hearty and delicious bubbling on the hob. It’s a place where the garden produces nutritious, sustaining fruit and vegetables year round. Potatoes and cabbages, of course (this is Ireland after all), but also heirloom varieties of leafy greens; peas, melons and squash; and flavourful herbs. It’s a place where we split our own firewood and cut our own peat, to keep us warm in the moment and warm the year round when the fierce winter winds blow off the north Atlantic. It’s a place where laughter, prayer, and a few choice curse words can be heard echoing off the hills between the lowing of the cattle and the clucking of the chickens. We work for a living here, yes, but we also work for a life. A life that is honest and real, bought with faith, sweat, and a few torn blisters.
You’re welcome to visit us at our humble cottage any time you like. It’s just down the bohreen, around past the split, third gate on the right. Bring a good story to share and I’ll put the kettle on.