As many of you might know, after the Portuguese Camino my wife Jennifer and I went to Ireland.
I’d never been to Ireland before, and had always wanted to go. For some inexplicable reason, I was drawn to the place.
About ten days before arriving, I set about booking our accommodation.
Our flight had us getting into Dublin about 5pm. I didn’t want to stay in Dublin though the first night – I wanted to stay somewhere out of town, in a small village, and get a real sense of the Irish countryside, and the people.
I looked at various options within about 90 minutes drive of Dublin, and finally settled on a little B&B in a tiny village called Avoca in County Wicklow, south of Dublin. The B&B in fact was situated just outside the village, at a place called The Meeting of the Waters.
This place, for some reason, called to me.
I should explain that when I plan a trip, or when I organise accommodation, I always allow my PGS – my intuition – to guide me. I disengage my logical practical self, and use my intuitive processes.
That’s what I did in this instance. I don’t know why I chose Avoca, and The Meeting of the Waters – as I say, it just called to me. It just felt right to stay there on the first night in Ireland.
We flew into Dublin, picked up a rental car, and drove to Avoca. It turned out to be a picture postcard little village – famous for being the location for the tv show Ballykissangel, which I’ve never seen.
Avoca was just as I’d imagined an Irish village to be – beautiful.
We then drove a couple of kilometres out of the village, following a river through some of the most exquisite countryside I’d ever seen. The B&B was a restored farmhouse, and it lay at the confluence of two streams – hence its name, The Meeting of the Waters.
The following morning Jennifer and I walked around to the junction of the two streams, and discovered that it was the place where the Irish poet and writer, Thomas Moore, wrote many of his famous works, including a poem called The Meeting of the Waters.
I stood there, at this meeting of the two waters, and immediately felt comfortable there. Like I had a connection to this place which went back centuries. Like I belonged there.
It was a very strange feeling.
Some of you who read my blog posts from Ireland might recall me writing at the time that I felt like I had come home. In fact on April 27th I wrote:
I feel at home here.
For some reason, I feel like I have come home.
That I was always here.
Mothers Day. This past Sunday. I called my mum to wish her happy Mothers Day. She was out having lunch with my family in Brisbane. I spoke to her for a while, and then for some reason I had the urge to speak to my sister, Anne.
I hadn’t spoken to Anne for several months. In fact she didn’t even know that I’d been away, or that I’d been to Ireland.
Those of you who are followers of this blog might recall that prior to my first Camino, I’d been estranged from my sister Anne for decades. We’d always fought. The Camino in fact reunited us. Brought us back together. I regard it still as the single most beneficial gift the Camino gave me – my sister.
Anne has spent many many years researching our family tree and ancestry – our genealogy. She asked about Ireland and said: You know that’s where our family came from…
In fact I didn’t know that. For some reason I’d always thought we’d come from Wales, or Scotland. I’ve never really taken any interest in our family heritage. But Anne has. She’s been dogged in finding out where we came from.
And then she said: Yes, we come from a small village in County Wicklow. Avoca.
What? I said. Avoca? Are you kidding me?
And then she told me about my forebear – Mary Fairfield, married to a man named Donovan. They were tenant farmers and had a small farm just outside of Avoca.
I was stunned.
Of all the myriad of places I could have chosen to stay that first night in Ireland, I’d chosen the place where I’d come from.
This was seriously spooky.
And then I began to wonder: could that B&B have been Mary Fairfield’s farmhouse? Could I have actually stayed in my ancestors’ home?
(a photo taken from my bedroom window of the B&B)
I’ve said before that I’m constantly surprised at how my PGS guides me. Some of you have said to me that I shouldn’t be surprised, that I should just accept it.
But incidents like this just knock me sideways.
Of all the places I could have chosen to spend the first night in Ireland, I was led to the place where I belonged. To my ancestral home…
Here is an excerpt from Thomas Moore’s poem, The Meeting of the Waters –
There is not in the wide world a valley so sweet,
As the vale in whose bosom the bright waters meet;
Oh, the last rays of feeling and life must depart,
Ere the bloom of that valley shall fade from my heart.
The vignetting is a little bit corny, I know – but hey, it visualises a very fruity poem so I figured sentimentality was okay in this instance…