Indulge your body’s craving for hibernation this winter and curl up with one of these fabulous books on sacred travel – simply add a warm cup of tea and a favourite wool blanket and you’re good to go.
|Croagh Patrick, Ireland|
There is no better time to begin your sacred pilgrimage than the present. If you have been drawn here and are reading this article, then you have already been called. It is now in your hands to heed this call and respond as you will. I wish you an exciting, enlightening, and transformational journey, wherever the road may lead you.
~ Daniela Masaro
As I try to wrap up my thoughts, I realize there is so much more I can write about. For brevity sake, I will encourage anyone who reads this to visit Ireland and discover her many wonders. And I would direct you to the poetry of W.B. Yeats, the writings of John O’Donoghue, and the music of Christy Moore and Seán Tyrrell, just to name a few.
The last stops of our tour end in Galway and Dublin ~ urban, sophisticated, yet with a lyrical ambience. How serendipitous that we should be in Dublin for the misty full moon of autumn equinox, and the following day, September 23, 17:49 to raise a toast to Arthur on International Toast Arthur Day! For those of you who don’t know about Arthur Guinness, he is a revered man who founded his brewery in Dublin in 1749. He provided us with plenty of refreshment during our pilgrimage.
I write this last blog in the wake of Black Thursday, September 30, which feels all the more devastating after seeing Seán O’Casey’s play, The Plough and the Stars at the Abbey Theatre. Such a tumultuous history! But I leave with a bright vision for Ireland from atop the Hill of Tara; panoramic vistas, as far as the eye can see, and feeling the surge of energy coursing through the land as I joined hands with my roommate, Susan. This is a country that is no stranger to adversity, yet survives with a strong spirit.
At our farewell banquet, a final feast after days of consistently excellent meals, my fellow pilgrims and I are filled with gratitude – For Helen, who organized all the logistics and attended to every important detail. For our attentive driver Gregory, who took care of us with his unfailing hospitality and good cheer. For the great chemistry of our group; all of us undoubtedly have been changed by this experience. We are anam cara. For our extraordinary leader, Phil, who brought us soulful magic, mystery, literature, and music. And for all the people we met along the way who touched our lives.
What a blessing this pilgrimage has been. We can create our own Book of Kells with these rich memories and new understandings of the understory that is Ireland.
Suaimhneas (deep peace),
George Bernard Shaw said, ‘We spend our lives circling around what we really want to say.’ That seems to be the story of my life. But the Celtic swirl has propelled me into new self-awareness, sometimes welcome, sometimes not. And also with thanks to a small kick in the behind from Phil’s pilgrim insights and pointed questions. That being said, I want to send a couple more blogs and feel like I’m circling the Hill of Tara, wondering how to wrap up a royal and epic journey. There is enough to fill a book, so I’ll merely mention a few more highlights.
• Coole Park – beautiful and serene, home of Lady Augusta Gregory, and inspiration to W.B. Yeats, George Bernard Shaw, and Sean O’Casey, to name a few.
• The Abbey Theatre – a fitting birthing place for a true national theatre, in the heart of Dublin, near the O’Connell Bridge, site of creativity and revolutionary unrest.
• The lovely town of Clifden – where we experienced jaw-dropping visual arts and music at the Clifden Arts Festival, while mingling with the local artists. Once again I am swept off my feet by the romantic Irish. ;)
• A brief visit to the picturesque town of Westport – where I wanted to roam the streets and look for my new friend Aisling. Our conversation about her life, hopes and dreams was too short and I wanted it to continue. I didn’t find her shop, so I’ll have to e-mail her from the States, and hope I see her again one day.
• Who would’ve thought there would be a coral beach with pristine aquamarine waters? But there we were in Derrygimla, with most of our group dipping their toes in the ocean. I never saw such lush beds of kelp in all my life, so I had to sit in them while contemplating the starvation of millions of Irish. I was surrounded by opihi (cockles, I think), mollusks, and piles of delicious-looking kombu, a veritable feast already seasoned with ocean minerals and ready to eat. Here was an abundance of food, out of reach, and perhaps unknown, to the starving victims of English oppression.
• Images of the coffin ships are now seared into my consciousness. Entire villages, cleared of inhabitants, people sold into slavery or starved to death – these images haunted me as I stared out at the Atlantic and dug my feet into the kelp and coral. The dichotomy of our tragic human history set against the breathtaking beauty of land, sea and sky is jarring.
The beauty of this part of Ireland, the joy de vivre of the people who are embracing the fall of the Celtic Tiger as an opportunity for rebirth, will continue to speak to my soul.
From here we move on to city life, as we head for Galway and Dublin, and some final farewells. Guinness evenings help us on our way…
~ Joan Ishibashi