An Irish Blessing

 

EagleAn Irish Blessing to all our friends.
   May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields and,
Until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Grace O’Malley – The Pirate Queen

Grace O’Malley – The Pirate Queen

There are still places in the world where time seems to have been somehow put on hold. Places that have been isolated by their geography, their history or simply because they were not well enough known. Inis Mor, the largest of the three Aran Islands, is such a place. Lying with its two cousins, Inishmaan and Inis Meáin strewn across the mouth of Galway Bay, Inis Mór has captured the hearts and imaginations of poets, artists and writers for generations. With a population of perhaps 1,000 hardy souls the island is renowned for characters like Grace O’Malley, the woman known as The Pirate Queen of Inis Mór. Grace O’Malley lived in the 16th century and at the height of her career, she controlled the entire west coast of Ireland, trading goods and political intrigue with Spain, Portugal and Scotland, she fought rival clans seeking to control the harbours of the West Coast as well as English forces sent to subdue her. At one stage she held 11 castles and a fleet that included captured Turkish corsairs and numerous hostages held for ransom.

Where is Inis Mór?

Kilronan

Inis Mór lies approx 25 miles or so off the Connemara on the west coast of Ireland. It is a wild windswept little island whose rugged and isolated nature has attracted writers, poets and artists to it secluded shores for many years. The first language is Irish, but virtually all of the islanders now speak English as well. The main industry for many years was fishing, although Inis Mór was also known for fattening up cattle for the market or for agricultural shows. The island has a fascinating history as well as some of the greatest examples of ancient forts and fortresses in the world. It also has an almost haunted air to it, perhaps by its isolated and rugged nature, or perhaps, as some suggest, that the ancient legends of Ireland are true, and that ghosts and such like things still wander abroad in many of Ireland’s hidden places.

The Storytellers of ancient Ireland

The Seanachie

The Seanachie of Inis Mór

Seanachie’s (traditional Irish storytellers) can be traced back in Irish culture for thousands of years. In ancient times every King and nobleman had in their employ a gifted Seanachie. The craft predated the written word in the Celtic world and seanachies were respected, almost revered, for centuries. The training required to become a seanachie was said to last twelve years and  they were required to know at least one hundred and seventy eight stories off by heart. one for each night of the Celtic winter. Storytelling held the Irish nation together in the years they were occupied by the British, keeping alive the myths, legends, history and language of the Irish people.

Meaning – Purpose and Passion

Deal boats

For a ship without a destination – no wind is the right wind

Do you ever wonder what your life is actually about? Is there a meaning and purpose to our existence? These questions have haunted men and women through the ages. It is often said that the eternal question is: Who am I? I don’t believe that. I believe the question inherent in us all is not who, but what am I – what am I here to do? That is the topic that fascinates me. Is there a meaning or a purpose to my life? Is there such a thing as a ‘calling’? Think of this. The poets, writers, singers, painters, dancers of this world fascinate and inspire us. Where does their gift come from. Is it only given to a few? Or do we all have special gifts and talents? The Irish, the Native Americans, the  Australian Aboriginal, the Inuit and in fact virtually all of the original cultures believed that there was a meaning and a purpose to every human life. Our Western cultures have lost that belief and you can see the results all around you. Depressed people working at jobs that hold little or no meaning for them. Skyrocketing rates of depression and suicide. Young people alienated and depressed, frustrated and angry at either lack of work or being coerced into taking boring, meaningless jobs that strangle their souls and quash their spirit. In the words of Carl Jung; “Every human life contains a potential, if that potential is not met, that life was wasted.”