Originally Blogging the Artist's Way. Thoughts, musings, experience of the 12-week course, January to March 2006. And after that?.... Life, creativity, writing. Where does it all meet? Here, perhaps.

Monday, March 31, 2008

A Pilgrimage

First: If you haven't yet read my post about Jen Ballantyne, please do. She's an incredible woman who needs help, support, caring, prayers, people to witness her experience of cancer. Thank you.

This past weekend, I went to spend a few days in Sligo, a town I'd once lived in for 16 years. That's where I moved to when I first left home. It's where I had my first home of my own, where I grew up really: where I became responsible for my own life - paying my own electricity bill and buying my first TV and washing-machine. That's the town where I got married, where we set up home together, and where my son was born. He lived the first 9 years of his life there.

We left almost 13 years ago, and of course I've been back since - for family things, to visit friends, and so on, but I began to feel lately a real urge to go and spend a few days there, going to the places we used to take our Sunday drives to; revisiting not in nostalgia, but in order to claim these places now for myself.
I didn't create a real itinerary. The friend I stayed with was working on Friday, so I had all day to go where the wind might blow me, and that's what I did. I had vague ideas about where I might go, but wasn't sure until I saw where my car took me. I began at the cemetery where my erstwhile husband's parents are buried and paid my respects. It was my first chance to be there since my father-in-law's passing last year.

From there, out of town, and heading up a hill and around by Lough Gill, I found myself at a special place that I've always loved to visit. The Holy Well at Tobernalt is a peaceful little space which shelters a mass rock. A stream flows through the area, and dotted around are "rag bushes" where people leave tokens - ribbons, hair-ties, beads.There are 2 or 3 holly trees with branches laden with all sorts of things. I noticed a toy car, a glove, a harmonica, a tea-bag wrapper. Lately, I've become a candle-lighter, so I lit a candle. I walked through the area, soaking up the atmosphere of peace and prayer that pervades this spot.

At Dooney rock, I found violets peeping out of the growth of wild garlic leaves, moss and ivy. I love violets. Spring is here.

I stood on the shore of the lake, looking towards the spot where I'd had my first flat. (On the far shore, to the left)

Driving on around the lake, a drive that was so familiar to me at one time, I just enjoyed being in that countryside again. I stopped at another graveyard, where friends had buried their little daughter, Grace Alice, who died a scant couple of weeks before my own son was born. Her white gravestone bears an epigraph from Baha'i writings: "Let her drink deep from the cup of Thy love"

Rain started up, and I took to the road again, back around the lake to come into the town from another direction. I decided to go to Drumcliffe, one of my favourite stops. I've shared photos HERE from a previous visit to WB Yeats' resting-place. Nearby is the remains of a round tower, and a fine 11th century Celtic Cross

I had my lunch in Drumcliffe, and then drove out towards the sea, through the grounds of Lissadell house (and noted I'll be wanting to visit there later in the season, when the gardens begin to show themselves at their best). I came to the stoney beach at Raghley. I'd only ever visited here a handful of times in the past. The wind was literally howling at this stage, and I needed to wrap my scarf tight around me, fasten up my coat, wear my fleece hat in order to walk that beach even for a short stroll. It was worth it. The wind blew away my cobwebs. I gathered some stones. By the time I turned to go back to town, I felt renewed, revived. My pilgrimage was complete.


On Saturday, my friend and I went for a seaweed bath. That completed the renewal for me! I felt like a mermaid, emerging from the sea! Glorious! Add to that good company and good food for the remainder of the weekend, why wouldn't I feel revived, restored? It was wonderful!

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At 31/3/08 10:56 am, Blogger Karen said...

You have a gift for bringing your readers into your world. The photos are lovely, and the writing even lovelier.

At 31/3/08 3:32 pm, Anonymous A Fanciful Twist said...

Oh Miss Imelda, What a magical trip.. And I love that you just let in unravel... Thank you for taking me on a mini vacation with you!!! ;) Also, I loooove those rag bushes!!! I am still in awe of them!! xo (I think I need a seaweed bath soon!!!)

At 31/3/08 3:49 pm, Blogger Amber said...

How beautiful! How totally how so many of us here picture Ireland. lol! I want to see it someday myself. :)

It is so nice to have places like that, beautiful places that renew our spirits. It kind of reminded me of the river that runs through the town where I went to University. It had many quiet, lovely little places to sit or walk by the water.


At 1/4/08 12:40 am, Blogger jillypoet said...

Wow! Just reading about your trip left me feeling refreshed, if only for a moment. Thank you for writing about it!

At 1/4/08 4:40 am, Blogger George Wesley Dannells said...

With your permission I would like to excerpt from this post on Baha'i Views and link.

At 1/4/08 6:25 pm, Blogger Julie said...

Thomas Wolfe said "You can't go home again." I find that to be true. It depresses me so much because of the outmigration in that area. Thankfully, you were able to go home again. I am glad you found it so refreshing and rejuvenating. I was intrigued by the items left at the Holy Well.

At 1/4/08 7:16 pm, Anonymous tinker said...

What beautiful photos, Imelda. It looks and sounds so lovely. I love the photos of the area of the mass rock with its surrounding rag bushes, the sacred in nature.
I love the idea of a seaweed bath too - emerging like a mermaid - what a picture you paint with your words! Thank you for taking us back there to see it all with you~xo

At 1/4/08 8:40 pm, Blogger nonizamboni said...

I so enjoy reading about your travels and the photos take me right there with you. Thanks for sharing.
P.S. I did the photo game from your earlier post:

what fun!

At 1/4/08 9:22 pm, Blogger lila said...

What beautiful places for the heart, soul and eyes!
i recently read a Maeve Binchey (sp?) novel White Thorn Woods which has a Holy Well figuring in the story. It was wonderful to visit one with you!

At 2/4/08 2:29 am, Blogger Terri said...

wow, you really get around, don't you? thanks for the view.

At 2/4/08 11:30 pm, Blogger Rosa said...

What a beautiful place. I can see why it moves you. A seaweed wrap sounds heavenly. Thanks for visiting! Come back any time!!

At 3/4/08 3:31 pm, Blogger bella said...

i loved hearing about this trip, the places you went and things you saw, that experience of returning to where home once was.
You made me hungry for a pilgrimage of my own, revisiting places that have sheltered me.

At 3/4/08 8:20 pm, Blogger acasline said...

Hello Love tales of springs and wells.

Alan Casline


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