We had a really busy day collecting the stories on the 6th.
Starting at Doon Rock early in the morning, with the clear morning air and the stunning autumn colours meant we began on a high note.
One of the things that I love the most about being in Ireland is walking in the footsteps of our ancestors – whether it’s the generation above me or hundreds of years previous. I feel their presence in my bone marrow, I guess you could say in my DNA.
The water in the Holy Wells is imbued with the same wairua, the same spirit – connecting me to them through the life force, the mauri.
Highlights this day included walking some of Saint Colmcille’s journey, his birthplace at Gartan and his place of learning at Kilmacrennan.
Doherty Keep and the Grianán both make my heart beat faster.
In the strange times of 2020, it is a deep and abiding comfort to recall these ancestral places.
When the bus stopped outside the chapel on Bachelors Walk we paused to ‘pay a visit’, lighting a candle for blessings on us and our friends and families back in Aotearoa-New Zealand, the two entwined as always. A quick walk around the block and the sights and sounds of Dublin come tumbling back.
The tide was out on the Liffey, the thick lime green slime beckoning for a strong bleach! A young woman carrying a baby asks Jack for some euros and we crane necks peering up at our old shoe box apartment.
There’s time for a quick catch up with the ‘hags with the bags’ and we bustle alongside the lunch time walkers on the Ha’penny Bridge.
A loud ‘eruption’ of inimitable Dublin street shouting comes from three women and yer man ‘giving out’ to each other, while the banner on the Liffey River wall asks us a pertinent question, ‘What would you ask yourself?’.
I smile at the complexity and craic of Dublin, and love reliving it.
There are changes too – the roadworks and excavations we lived through have borne fruit and the Luas is working up and down Henry Street. The ‘Hop On – Hop Off’ buses are now bright green and the faces rushing past me represent multiple ethnicities.
As we wait to catch the bus to Sandymount I say out loud several times ‘I would so love to come back and live here!’ while whispering quickly to my children and grandchildren in case they are listening ‘but I probably won’t!’
It’s two years almost to the day since I was last in Dublin Town. I love the feeling of knowing my way around a little bit, at least once I’m at Bachelor’s Walk or O’Connell Street. Being back with Jack and Joanne is fun, their love of this city is infectious, and they show me how to see it and feel it below the surface of the ‘dirty ole town’.
Joanne is away to her dear friend Helen, soaking up her company. Meanwhile Jack and I have business to attend to. Tuesday is our first work day here and we have important people to see.
Claire Doohan is an Archivist at the Irish Folklore centre at University College Dublin, she is a Donegal native and could not have been more delightful. From one random email sent across the world we have connected over our shared passion for saving the heritage for those to come.
Claire had laid out lots of archive materials for us to enjoy; some with Donegal connections, others to do specifically with Dohertys. We spent a wonderful two hours together, talking about Walking to Donegal and archives and Co Donegal and all sorts of stories and storytelling.
I gave her a couple of our business cards, and then handed her the whole pile when she said she knows lots of Dohertys, thinking to myself “Of course you do!” We exchanged gifts, it was really touching and then we were off out to the sunshine.
The weather was beautiful, and Jack and I picnicked by the lake among the sculptures with the new students in week two of their academic year. A fossick about the bookshop yielded plenty, that will be my hardest discipline while we are here in Ireland. I love to see and touch the books that aren’t easily available in NZ, if at all.
I met with another colleague/friend who is a professor at UCD and Jack read the Irish Times and caught up on Brexit.
All day everything went smoothly and exactly to time. The public transport system of Dublin City was our best friend as we went about our adventures.
It’s exciting and heartening to see others get as excited about Walking to Donegal as we are.
We had a good and productive day, there are doors open and imaginations sparked, and we feel pleased and supported. No blisters or trip-ups to report to date as we press on with the Walk.