The journey through a year in this Gatherings from Ireland series has been a very different kind of experience to what I envisaged when I set myself the task of undertaking it.
I see now that I had very rigid views about what ‘gatherings’ involved. I had thought that the main focus would be on ‘events’ where at least two people were present. I came into it all with thoughts of Robinson Crusoe and the fact that once Man Friday arrived on the scene, a society was formed. I was definitely thinking along the lines of people and events.
Gradually I came to see ‘gatherings’ in terms of plurality of any description, be it stones, bridges, journals, hurleys, people, colours, waves, poems, places, photographs and then there was the whole business of ‘gatherings’ in more abstract forms, like ideas, memories, thoughts ….. And yet, another dimension was ‘gatherings’ as in ‘ I gather that ….‘
I’d have to say that one of the most enjoyable parts of the whole series was the experiment in November of hosting the Festival of Colour, Creativity and Connection. This made the concept of ‘gatherings’ really come alive and I just loved the way people from around the globe came forward with their own take on Colour, Creativity and Connection.
I’m so glad that I battled through to the end, as there were times when I felt that I had taken on too much and simply wasn’t prepared to post just anything for the sake of it. I certainly underestimated the extent to which my voice, feelings and moods would come through. This was a personal journey but it is one on which I met many fellow-travelers who kept me going with wonderful comments.
It would have been so interesting to see how a range of people of different ages, backgrounds and interests would have approached this venture. I’m sorry now that I didn’t try to inspire others to join me in the whole project from the outset.
I would like to thank each and every one of you who has joined with me on this journey. There will never be another 2013 and it is so satisfying to be able to look back at the posts which reflect a year in my life, but which also give a glimpse of key events locally, nationally and internationally across a range of different subjects which touched me deeply.
My plan is to take a break from blogging for the month of January and to come back when the snowdrops are in full bloom and the primroses are showing yellow!
Where would you get a pound of butter, if you lived around here? was one of my late father’s regular questions when we’d be driving around in the middle of nowhere.
Those drives and his question flash into my mind almost daily as I walk up to our local Centra shop which is just around the corner. We just call it The Tank because it was originally called The Tankfield Stores and you know the way you have a tendency as you get a tad older to call shops by the names they had when you got to know them first?
The Tank is all about ‘gatherings,’ for me. The staff are like old friends; it’s a place where I’m bound to meet someone I know; a place that has seen me in every conceivable mood; a place where I’ve shared in the highs and lows of community, town, county, national and international life; a place that I’ve seen change hands over the years but somehow retain that sense of being fundamental to my family, neighbours and local community generally. Apart from all that, it’s the landmark that I use to direct people to our house and a place where everyone, local, visitor or passer-by is greeted with a smile.
I suspect most people have a ‘local shop’ of some description ~ and here’s where I hand over to you!
Yesterday was one of those days when I let instinct drive me. It brought me to Garrarus where I got drenched by a big fluffy wave before I’d even taken off my shoes. December 28, 2013 was insisting that it wasn’t going to be written off as a day for either looking back or looking forward.
It splashed and coloured its way right into the centre of my stage as a day to be lived for its own uniqueness and beauty. Here are the scenes that unfolded along the coast from Garrarus to Tankardstown ~ that little stretch of the world here in Co. Waterford which is so incredibly precious …..
Blog posts are memorable for all sorts of reasons. For me, anyway there’s always there’s the rationale for writing; ease of writing, circumstances of writing, level of interest shown by readers, comments and where they lead ….. and a whole mixum-gatherum of other things.
I was flicking through my archives for 2013 and was surprised at the one that hit me in the solar plexus. It reminded me of wonderfully articulate man I interviewed as part of the research for my PhD thesis on the experiences of people with physical disabilities in Ireland back in the 1980s. He described a particular day as the day not-yachting and the post that is definitely my most memorable was written on the day not-going to New York.
I was feeling very sorry for myself as I had been soooooooooooooo looking forward to going to the America to do a writing course but it all became impossible for a host of reasons.
I’ve built up a whole menu of things over the years that I do when the ‘poor me’ train starts to gather speed ~ swimming in the sea, walking, gardening, reading poetry, diving into books of wit and humour, taking photographs and, of course, writing.
The weather that day wasn’t great or, at least, I was seeing dark skies; I was alone in the house and was generally mooching around. I can vividly remember pulling out boxes and boxes of my late father’s photographs ( the thought of it alone makes me smile now!) and finding all sorts of gems than transported me by currach out of my little Mount Misery. (There is such a place in Waterford City!).
So here’s the link to the post, A Journey of a Different Kind, that certainly wasn’t the most popular one I wrote this year but which drew some lovely responses for which I shall be forever grateful.
It’s quite a few years ago now that our New Year’s Eve Wishing Stone Ritual was born. My son and I make our way to Newtown Cove, just outside Tramore, here in Co. Waterford in Ireland. We each select the most perfect stones we can find and cast them into the sea. Newtown Cove is a magical place ~ high cliffs on either side and the hauntingly beautiful Newtown Wood just behind.
Such a simple ceremony, but one in which memories of the year just gone and hopes for the next are added to the whispering, or sometimes, roaring, waves.
If you would like me to cast a Wishing Stone for you, wherever you are in the world, just let me know, either in the comments here or by email: email@example.com You’ll know what that stone carries and the sea will certainly understand.
If this post feels familiar, it is one that I wrote too close to New Year’s Eve last year so I wanted to give a little more notice this time round!
I got to know Dunhill Castle through my father who took endless photographs of it from the 1940s onwards and in many ways I felt that it was ‘our place’ and couldn’t bear the thought of a new trail being developed anywhere near it.
But, the Anne Valley Trail is, without doubt, my favourite new haunt of 2013 and I’m really looking forward to seeing it through all the seasons. It’s a place where you meet ‘regulars’ and which inspires reflection. Here’s a glimpse of how it looks in Winter light.
Hell’s Bells, the storm that raged here in Tramore last night reduced me to a state of quivering, blithering terror, especially when there was a loud thump on the roof that would have been grand if it had been in the early hours of Christmas morning!
As I lay with my hands jammed against my ears, poetry came to my rescue and especially two poems that I read in the last week or so in what I call my ‘poetry bible.’
Oh yes, I came as close to praying as I someone like me can:
Some days, although we cannot pray, a prayer utters itself. So, a woman will lift her head from the sieve of her hands and stare at the minims sung by a tree, a sudden gift.
Some nights, although we are faithless, the truth enters our hearts, that small familiar pain; then a man will stand stock-still, hearing his youth in the distant Latin chanting of a train.
Pray for us now. Grade I piano scales console the lodger looking out across a Midlands town. Then dusk, and someone calls a child’s name as though they named their loss.
and in the deep dark trough of those dark early hours, I drew strength from remembering this one:
There are worse things than having behaved foolishly in public. There are worse things than these miniature betrayals, committed or endured or suspected; there are worse things than not being able to sleep for thinking about them. It is 5 a.m. All the worse things come stalking in and stand icily about the bed looking worse and worse and worse.
Carol and Fleur, thank you, thank you, thank you …..
There are times when you know that you are witnessing happy memories in the making and this morning I happened upon one of those moments. Four bubbly, carefree kids in bright, cheerful colours out for a walk on Tramore Beach with a man I took to be their father. They bobbed along in front of me for ages, often holding hands, looking out for each other.
They stood out, yet they blended totally with their surroundings and one lovely moment was when the father and one of the girls did a 1960s sort of jive twirl on the narrowest little path along the dunes.
Just imagine for a minute that you were only allowed to follow one blog (other than your own), which would it be?
This question has been flying around in my head since early morning when I was out walking at Tramore Beach. I could feel the social researcher in me coming out to play and I started to think of how I follow a very diverse range of blogs.
There’s an element of birds of a feather flock together in my choices but then again I can see patterns in my following that exemplify the old adage: opposites attract !
To single out one blog is certainly not easy but I got as far as realising that there are about 5 blogs that I absolutely have to read, and I make sure to set them aside for later, if they happen to appear at a time when I can’t drop everything and jump into them. Now choosing between these would be extremely tough but if I absolutely had to do it, I’d be bringing http://www.foxglovelane.com/ with me. I think if you take a look at it you’ll soon see why!
Now, over to you. I’m bursting to hear your choice!