‘Because we are Dohertys!’

7 December 2017

It’s December 2017 and Sarah and Jack have excitedly landed on ‘Walking to Donegal’ as the right name for this significant Doherty project.

I sat ready with a pen and paper and listened to these proud clan members share their dreams and realities about being Doherty, about why they needed to share this treasure and about who with. I remember thinking ‘these talkers need a writer, so it’s just as well I am here!’

I glanced at the headlines I had scribbled on my paper – goals, objectives, milestones, risks, communications – the why, what, who, and how of project management. However, their talk was typical Doherty speak. It was punctuated with frequent new ideas, loud hoots of laughter and words like ‘why not? who else? or what else?’ Their risk strategy included phrases like ‘ of course we can’ or the simple explanation that covered everything else:

‘ because we are Dohertys!’

I had heard the vision being espoused by Jack since his life-changing trip to Ireland in 1993 so I was more than familiar with the content and purpose. Our time in Ireland with Sarah in 2012 meant the two of them were now fully engaged so where they would land was wildly unpredictable.

On the same afternoon, thinking of other types of yarns in our lives, Sarah and I wondered about whether ‘Walking to Donegal’ could literally, as well as figuratively, become  ‘weaving a Donegal tweed, stitching a fine garment in Donegal tartan or knitting a jersey in Doherty cables’

As the afternoon ended, a glass of wine was poured to toast the official ‘Walking to Donegal’ title. Jack knocked his glass over on the floor mat and grabbed a kitchen towel to march on and soak up the liquid. When we noticed the towel was a map of Ireland, we shrieked with laughter realising he was indeed ‘walking to Donegal’. It was a symbolic and memorable beginning.

In Continuum
In Continuum by Stephen King, Aotearoa/New Zealand

About Jewarne

Joanne pink jersey
Joanne Doherty

I was born Joanne Mary McPadden, a kiwi with several Irish great grandparents. My ancestors left the Counties of Leitrim, Donegal and Clare and arrived in Aotearoa-New Zealand, settling on the West Coast of the South Island. Their Irish cultural, spiritual and historical influences linger for many generations.

I first lived in New Plymouth by Mt Taranaki, probably travelling on the same train as Jack to Stratford for the St Patrick’s Day athletics. But it was when I was sixteen and a student at St Mary’s College in Wellington that I first knew I was Irish. I read Leon Uris’ ‘Trinity’ and knew deep within that this was so.

Marrying this Doherty man, Jack, 45 years ago remains one of the best decisions of my life.  We live and thrive in an ongoing adventure of five adult children, 12 grand children, wonderful families and friends and belonging to Te Wakaiti marae.

We shared Walking to Donegal after Jack’s first steps there. Being alongside him for the multiple steps since, and those about to be taken, is symbolic of our rich life together.

Being from Aotearoa-New Zealand provides me with a unique Pacific and cultural view of this walk to Donegal. Working and living with Māori who are steeped in their culture and know their whakapapa or clan genealogy, has led me to discover my own identity and going ‘home’ to Ireland has enormous momentum because I live here.

I have been known affectionately as Jewarne since writing about living in Donegal and Dublin, in ‘Mind y’self now, Jewarne’, published in 2005.  My reflections about this particular Walking to Donegal experience in 2018 will be recorded as Jewarne.

In Continuum
In Continuum by Stephen King, Aotearoa/New Zealand