A More Wicked Side of the Wicklow Mountains

Images of the Wicklow Mountains such as the one above depict a landscape abounding with hills that seem to roll without end and water that seems to flow without care of a source or anticipation of releasing itself into the mouth of a river. With mountains to barricade and water to muffle, this labyrinth of hills also makes the Wicklow Mountains a place of unsolved mysteries, a tidbit of knowledge I know from a certain song…

The virtual exploration of these unbounded networks of hills reminded me of the song, “In A Week,” a dark narrative tune by County Wicklow native, Hozier. In the video below, Hozier describes the hills of Wicklow as a place well-known to locals for uncovering mysterious bodies. In his song, Hozier describes two lovers that make their way to these hills to die together, their bodies to be found “in a week.” As the 360 image and Hozier’s song reveal, these mountains can be a very dense and desolate place. However, the song highlights these mountains as a source of loss and burial, compensating for what the images lack.

Like Eavan Boland’s poem, “That the Science of Cartography Is Limited,” the images of the Wicklow Mountains, no matter how vivid, fail to capture its more wicked carnage. Maps and pictures can present lives rubbed away by the lines and designs that flatten their existence-—that cannot even acknowledge their existence.  Both Hozier’s song and Boland’s poem make mention of hunger and death—aspects less palatable to map or photograph. In a way, perhaps poetry and music compensate for what the science of cartography and photography so easily occlude. Though quite ironically music and poetry are less visual-driven mediums, they can often do a better job of describing a place or people in actuality. Perhaps this is because words and melodies have more room to explain themselves than the lines of a map or the pixels of an image. On the topic of using various mediums to depict “reality,”  film, often regarded as having the most potential for capturing reality, blends images, words, and music together in a way that might more effectively discern the more wicked hiding places of the Wicklow Mountains. Now to find that film…

Image Credit: Nigel Walshe, 360cities.net


  1. This entry made me SO EXCITED because my mind instantly went to Andrew Byrne as well. I’m not sure if its because I associate him with being Irish itself, or because Wasteland, Baby dropped the week I went to Dublin, meaning I listened to it probably 300 times on the trip (And yes, for the nearly 3 hour journey from Dublin to Cork to Kinsale, I did listen to nothing by NFWMB.), but I nearly wrote about Hozier myself in comparison to Boland’s poetry, since a song about finding something dark in the woods somewhere is just asking for it. I really like how you turned these mountains, which are gorgeous and peaceful, into something more ominous and spooky through your comparison of it to the lyrics of In A Week. It’s interesting because I’ve always interpreted the song as one of the more positive Hozier ballads, always beautiful and a bit disconcerting, but never definitively “dark.” I think the gentle cadence of the music contrasts with the macabre lyrics because they are so inherently beautiful. To me, it almost distracts you with its lovely sound and loving duet from the fact that the song is about decomposing in the wilderness with your lover. But even though I definitely agree it has the potential to be dark, I think In A Week still at its core is beautiful. Even though they’re dead, the couple most importantly is together, away from all other barriers, even those of physical forms, or time. It’s like the ultimate act of true love. Romeo and Juliet died for one another, but did they decompose in each other’s arms? In the same way, I think the Mountains, or even the Wood of Boland’s poem are both a mix of darkness and beauty. They hold different stories and secrets depending on who interacts with them. Even in Boland’s poem, they find the famine road, but they share the moment of finding it, in love. And you’re right, that a map or photograph could not hope to capture all that, because it stems directly from a human, interpersonal connection. Also, now I’m just waiting around for Hozier to put Boland’s poetry to music… or write his next album about inciting modern-day revolution through offering the soul of his faerie wife to those who died building the famine road, or something. Hahah!

  2. I love the connection between Hozier’s song and the mountains. I think it’s really amazing that places like the Wicklow Mountains can inspire such deep, introspective pieces of art. And I totally agree, music has the ability to draw us deeper into these places and see their beauty and mystery in totally different lights.

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