The country of Ireland calls me most profoundly. Perhaps it has something to do with growing up with the stories of that beautiful land told by the old folk in our family or listening to Irish music and poetry during childhood and beyond.
I believe it is also something to do with longing; an endless longing that the old folk had for their mother country and the urgency to pass on everything they knew of it to their kin.
Perhaps it also is to do with the memories or pathways of the past that may lie printed on one’s very DNA!
The Australian Aborigines speak of their belief in the idea of ‘country’ and of having a deep ‘sense of place’ to do with their connection to the very matter that makes up the physicality and the spirituality of this place we call Australia.
I cannot forget the feeling of complete connection, the sense of ‘coming home’ when I stepped foot in Ireland, the country of my ancestors. It was as if an ancient longing in me was finally fulfilled and many unanswered questions about my existence, finally answered. I remember kneeling down and kissing the soil in County Cork to the complete embarrassment of my daughter. It was a very important and deliberate act for me. I felt at last that I had truly come home.
Our plan in moving around Ireland was not to have a plan. We wanted to see as much of the country as we could, listen to as much music as we could. We wanted to drink as much Guinness as we could and meet as many Irish friends and family as we could in the time allotted.
On our visit I met many distant family or at least many who share my maiden name. Related or not, they embraced me as their own with unequalled generosity. In so many ways, the Irish people themselves felt like home to me.
We knew that we wanted to visit Bansha, where my Father’s family had lived and worked and had been forced to leave so long ago. It was there that we met a young man Kevin in Roche’s Take-a-Way. In a very real way this friendly gentle young man reminded me of every Roche I had ever known. Short of stature with a friendly open smile, blonde hair, green eyes and a large straight nose he seemed more Irish than the Irish and more family than family.