Sunday, July 19, 2009

Staying Put in Ireland

First, my apologies for being Absent Without Leave. Things have been a bit crazy for the past 6 weeks or so, and are going to get even crazier over the next 2 months. I fly to Boston on business on the 3rd August; my day job provides no let up (thank God - it helps to make a bit of money just now); I have a screenplay due in 2 months (and haven't started it); and I'm messing with a new novel. The fact that I've relocated to Trim in County Meath has only compounded things a bit.

But Trim is lovely! A walking town, and with Trim Castle at its heart (the same castle that was used in the film Braveheart), it's a magical place which fills my soul with goodness.

How-and-ever. That's me. So what about you?

Today, I received a post on this Blog from a woman who has just returned to Ireland from what I can only assume was an extended period abroad. She states 'Now all I have to do is stay put!'

It's difficult, that. And she's not the only one. I have a close friend - an Irish fella - who has lived in the States for 10 years. He's moving back to Ireland this coming November. And he's worried about it. "What happens if I don't fit in?" he asks. "What happens if I can't stand the place anymore? I feel like a man without a country. I belong in Ireland, but I also belong in the States, my new home."

Oh, how well I understand that feeling! - of belonging, but not quite so. So what do you do to 'stay put', as my post-lady asks? What do you do to feel a part of the place again.

I'm not exactly sure. But I have one idea: simply breathe.

The Wonder of Irish Solitude
Last week I had a business trip to County Mayo. I visited Westport, and for 2 days I stood on an open field in the rain, watching as a crew of refurbishers put up a series of electric poles. I've been contracted to help a company with a website, and the owner - a big Mayo fella who used to be a lighthouse keeper but now owns the company - stood beside me as it began to softly rain. "Ah," he says to me. "Isn't it a wonder. Breathe that air. You can believe in angels in this weather."

Angels? From a guy as big and as tough as the solid wooden poles he was erecting? And yet, that was the case. He believes in angels and so, I suspect, does the entire population of Westport because of their soft and open nature, and the goodness that I met so many times while I was there.

The next morning, I woke up early. I wandered down toward the old Harbour, and there I beheld the sunrise. Croagh Patrick, the legendary pilgrimage site, rose hundreds of feet through a horizon of cloud scud, and for a long while I stood at the sea and beheld its glory as the sun finally painted it in the warmth of the rising sun. For a long time, I just stood there: hearing the whispers of the far-off cormorants hunting for breakfast; the gentle breath of a breeze on my balding pate. And in that instance, I felt part of the place. As if the angels of the Mountain were welcoming me home after a long journey.

How do you Stay Put in Ireland? Perhaps one of the answers is this: listen to the angels. They sing to us with a song of welcome.

1 comment: