My chaos with numbers, words, letters and even facts is not infrequent or specific to any area of my life.
I wonder if that year on interferon has made me worse though maybe it has actually improved me. I’ll never know because I didn’t pay much attention to the disorder until I really started living my life mindfully eight years ago after being diagnosed.
Recently I met someone who had just come back from Venice (Vienna is of course what I really mean).
As he described the city and its history, I turned to my colleague (we were at work at the time) and said: ‘That reminds me of a brilliant book I read called ‘The rabbit with the red eyes’
‘You mean ‘The hare with amber eyes?’ she replied after a puzzled pause
‘Yes that’s the one…I lent it to you!’
‘Actually’ she laughed ‘I lent it to YOU ! ‘
So there you have it!
Almost right but not quite.
The reason I’m confessing this is that maybe you should take a lot of my writings with a grain of pepper because what goes into my brain from reading comes out on paper slightly off kilter. Near enough for you to understand what I mean AND said with such conviction that you question yourself for a second before realizing…..
It also gives me the excuse to add links. (I have only recently discovered how to do this so there will be no stopping me now) which will allow you to read the true facts yourself.
‘As I roved out one fine summer morning
to view the sea and sky and all
what did I spy but a far off island
as she lay out across the bay.’
I changed the words to suit my first view of Omey Island but it can still be sung to the tune of Andy Irvine’s song.
As I roved out seems to be the start of many a folk song which would seem to indicate that unless you rove out you won’t have much to sing about (Or indeed write about).
It has come to my attention that this year has not been filled with rovings and therefore has been my least written about one.
This summer I decided to put an end to that and make as many rovings as I could fit in between my work as a nurse and family time.
But nursing is how I earn my daily rind and takes up a lot of my time. And family time is very important to me and included in family time are visits to my mother.
Visits which mean learning more about my family.
My mother is well in her eighties and is an avid reader with a sharp memory. (When she tells a story, talks about past family happenings, or describes a book she has read, she gets it right.)
On a recent visit I read her the story of my take on St Deirbhile and we talked about wells and springs and I told her about my latest cycle which was in search of Saint Féichíns well.
She didn’t find my obsession with wells in the least bit discerning, reminding me that my grandfather was skilled in the art of water divining and so the interest in searching for water could be in my genes.
She went on to tell me of a spring well near where she spent her summers on her Aunt’s farm.
The water from this well, she remembered proudly, once won first prize in the Royal Dublin Society spring show (The biggest annual agricultural show held in Ireland and sadly no more.) for being the best and purist in Ireland.
As she described where it was and urged me to visit the area and see if it was still in existence, and if it was, to bring her back a bottle of water from it, it struck me that a jug of the clearest freshest water in the land was way more deserving of a prize than the biggest turnip or the straightest parsnip, the whitest cauliflower or best filled pea pod, the highest milk yielding cow or the glossiest horse.
I had a vision of how the contest would go.
On a scrubbed table in a white marquee, open on all sides to allow for a wide audience, would stand a row of jugs, brought from every corner of the country and filled to the brim with the best each spring well could offer.
Lined up neatly they would wait to be sipped by the judges.
The jugs would be of glass and though plain (any distraction by showing your water off in fancy crystal would disqualify you) would twinkle like diamonds due to the natural brilliance of the water within.
And as the judges would reverently hold the first jug up to the light, checking for any impurities, a series of awes and gasps would come from the hushed audience. Then each of the five judges, one from each of the four provinces of ireland and one a neutral judge, probably from Vichy or Evian in France and brought over at great pomp and expense, would take a turn in lowering their heads and sniffing and filling their nostrils with hints of mint or meadowsweet or tones of turf or limestone, or silver in the case of my mother’s one. (Wicklow was renowned for silver).
Then each would pour some of the crystal fluid into the clean glass and taking a small sip would slowly roll the drops on their tongues and smack their lips in delight before spitting it out and moving on to the next jug.
Eventually they would put their heads together and try to agree on the winner.
Maybe they would have to do a second round of tastings just to be sure, and reeling and slightly drunk from the sheer sweet purity of the stuff, nearly fall on top of each other before swaying to the jug that held the water from the well my mother used to be sent to fetch from.
But maybe that’s not how it was done at all.
Maybe they just had a water analyzing machine. I shall have to ask my mother next time I have time between roving out and family time.
Which brings me to St Féchín’s holy well.
My interest in to St Feíchín was due more to that well than of the saint himself, though the origin of his name also caught my attention.
Seemingly he received his name when his mother came upon him gnawing on a bone and exclaimed ‘ ‘My little raven’ Mo Fiachan.
Now St Féchín was born in Ballisodare Co Sligo. His mother was Named Lasaire (The radiant)and of royal munster line. More recently it is thought he was born further south in connemara and on researching more about him I realised how far he travelled in his ministery (He was hot on the toes of Saint Derbhile, who had probably travelled the same route 100 years earlier) https://thewomanontheyellowbicycle.wordpress.com/tag/st-deirbhile/
He set up many monasteries, Including the one on Omey where he ended his days, and the monastery of Fore co westmeath. (the most famous and which I plan to cycle to in the Autumn) and was only in his thirties when he died.
I dont have a lot of sympathy for his early death as he and his colleague monks set about bringing, by means of prayer, the yellow plague, as a way of getting rid of some of the riff raff in the area and he caught it himself.
I found a very interesting article about his life (see below)
http://www.ucc.ie/celt/published/T201005.html Which I will let you read yourselves as I just know I will not get it quite right.
At last getting to what I REALLY want to tell you about.
Omey is small tidal island which lies in one of the bays of connemara and when the tide is out it is easy to walk to or cycle to as I did (though the ripples on the sand cause by the receding water made for a teeth rattling experience). Many drive over and the way is marked by blue sign posts
There is only one road which circles half the island and as I sped along between the fuchsia hedges and stone walls, I caught glimpses of the mainland to my left.
After a misty start to the morning, the sun was coming out, lighting up the beaches between the rocky shore line and turning the shallow sea to turquoise.
A black curragh tied to a rock had just enough water to continue bobbing about.
The road swung around to the right and though the gravel petered out it continued as a grassy path.
Ahead lay Cruagh island dangling mauvely above a grey sea (the sun had disappeared behind the clouds.)
I realized I was going in the wrong direction for the well and Teampaill Feíchín (Saint Feíchíns church). But I believe that when cycling there is never a wrong direction so I continued on and had my picnic on a smooth rock looking across at the Cruagh
(and wishing I had a boat because there is a spring well on that island too). After my lunch I turned and made my way back.
On my left, where the grassy path met the gravel, a small track led to a beach and, pushing the yellow bicycle across and up the other side I came to Saint Feíchíns well.
The water from Saint Feíchíns well is supposed to have the cure of the skin (Maybe as an apology for bringing yellow fever onto the peoples of the island) And as I was now well into remission from my melanoma and wished to remain so I was anxious to get hold of some of it.
Unfortunately there was none to be had.
I lay down and shoved my arm as far as I could into the well and all I came upon were some round wet stones. Feverishly I rubbed the stones then rubbed my wet hand on my ‘effected’ leg hoping that that would do the trick and stood up…
And stepped back into a rabbit hole.
That same poor leg now sank down as far as my knee causing me to sit down with a jolt. Stunned I remained like that for a minute before I realised I could feel a trickle of water running over my toes.
Was it my imagination or did I hear the monks laughing.
Over the brow of the hill came a husband and wife. The husband broke off from the telling of his funny story and the wife stopped laughing as they came over to help me up.
‘There has been no water in the well for some time now’ the husband (he was from nearby Claddaghduff) informed me.
His wife who hailed from Co Clare (A place of hundreds of holy wells) pointed me in the direction of Teampaill Feíchín.
I was able to cycle along the sandy track, by a small lake and, carefully avoiding the rabbit burrows, kept going up over a hill and down the other side and there lying in a large grassy hollow, sheltered from the elements, lay the ruin of the medieval church which was built on the early monastic settlement founded by Saint Feíchín.
I knew by now the tide was on the turn so saying goodbye to Saint Feíchín and his bunch I made my way back across the grass, onto the road and back across the teeth rattling sand.
Up the hill and turning left at the church I stopped for the best cure of all.
A bowl of seafood chowder served with brown soda bread and a glass of guinness in Sweeneys pub in claddaghduff.
Coming off the island ahead of the tide.