Teaglach Éinne (Saint Enda’s Church)

The cemetery on Inis Mor is practically on the beach, because this sand is the only place deep enough the bury the dead. Near the back of the cemetery, hidden from the road, are the stone ruins of a medieval church, half-buried in the sand.

When I first walked in the door, I saw a búllan stone, a sort of one-piece stone basin, filled with coins and rainwater. There were lots of five cent pieces, but also larger denominations, and even some of the old pre-euro Irish coins. I had a twenty cent and a two cent coin. I deposited the latter and continued walking round the church, examining the carvings – spirals, knots, even a knight – around the alter.

Seeing this art, I felt stingy for having chosen the smaller coin. I argued with myself about whether it mattered, and even contemplated going back to the búllan with my twenty cent coin. But it seemed an odd, half-hearted gesture.

Then I turned back toward the door and realized that there were two búllans! A second lay tucked just inside the door. I left my second coin there, with a smile, and dubbed the place the Church of Second Chances.

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