Michael Harding on a happy fortnight of Cill Rialaig calm

Then the shutters finally opened and I returned to the belly of this raging world

I saw the Skelligs on the horizon, where a monastery of hermetic monks survived for over 500 years. Photograph: Getty images

I saw the Skelligs on the horizon, where a monastery of hermetic monks survived for over 500 years. Photograph: Getty images

Every morning in Kerry I woke to the sound of the ocean crashing on black rocks at the foot of a cliff outside my door. I stood at the gable wall with a mug of tea and thought myself blessed to be alive.

On Sunday morning the ocean was as flat as a lake and after a short while I saw a pod of dolphins moving out into the bay, slipping in and out of the water as they journeyed around Bolus Head. And then I heard a great noise like an old man exhaling on a sofa after a long day. I heard it again and then, after a third time, I realised it was a whale somewhere down below me in the ocean.

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