5W, Rathlin Island, Visiting the ancestors and a 36km one day walk….

Today is a down and chill day, so I thought I would try to catch up on my blog post. My friend and I did the one day, 36 km Sligo Camino, and can hardly move, -more on that later- but thought this would be a good time to try and catch up.

The day after my last blog post, I took a bus from Cork, and made my way over to Wexford. Did I tell you there is a heat wave here? And one of the buses did not have air conditioning..it was warm. But I finally made my way to Wexford and was met by one of the 5W members. This time it was Heike, and what a wonderful generous women. I also met her lovely husband Thomas and wonderful 4 legged sidekick- a golden retriever name Rocky 🙂 We visited The Irish National Heritage Park, http://www.irishheritage.ie/ Hook Lighthouse, /www.hookheritage.ie a famine ship, https://www.dunbrody.com/ a tapestry exhibit, Which Heike took part in,http://www.rostapestry.ie/the-story/ a walled garden and so much more.

They treated me like royalty, showed me around, had great days out and lots of laughs. They fed my body, spirit and soul, they were amazing, kind , welcoming and caring. I feel blessed to have met them.

Wexford and the surrounding area is a must stop on your trip to Ireland, its beautiful and full of history.

After a wonderful welcome it was then off to Dublin, and the next morning my hiking and adventurer arrived on a 7:13 am flight. WE rented a car- did I tell you there was and is a heat wave- we upgraded to one that has air conditioning. Even the lady at the car rentel desk said he never thought she would be recommending to people to get air conditioning while in Ireland.

After a day of adjustment with time and traveling for 17 hours- the 1st day you feel like you have been hot by a truck. The next day we drove- well Sherry did- up to Crossmaglen. We visited another 5W lady, Roisin, the very same person who picked me up back in May when I first arrived in Ireland and I stayed with her for 4 days. It was great to see her again, and she had invited us up for brunch, it was also great to see her mom again who gave me a photo of my last visit. It was lovely of her.

On the way back to Dublin we stopped at Newgrange, oh dear, I’m so upset I had to see that again 🙂 Once again it was amazing, and magical…. we both enjoyed it. However because of the heat the grass is a little brown

The next day day Tuesday, we made our way up to meet up and stay with another 5W lady, Pat, who lives is Coleraine, Northern Ireland. On the way there. we stopped and had a tour of Trim castle. Back on the road, “Jane” our GPS took us on a side trip and up side roads that Sherry said..” this isn’t a road, this s a cow path” and she was right as there was cow poop in the middle of the road. After being turned around, filling the tank and bathroom break…we were back o the road and made our way up north, stopping at the Giants Causeway on the way..WOW!! IT is stunning….we could have stayed there all day…

That night we met Pat, and 3 other 5W members, who were from Japan , for dinner. The food was lovely, as was the company. Sherry and then followed Pat to her house, where we had a good nights sleep. The next morning we were up, and off to Rathlin Island for the day.

A friend of mine has a cousin who lives there. They have never met, but she hooked us up. We were met by the lovely Allison, and we were treated like royalty. She took us to the Rathlin Island Bird reserve, we saw Puffins, Razor Bill, Kitty wake and their chicks and more. https://www.rspb.org.uk/reserves-and-events/reserves-a-z/rathlin-island

On the ferry ride over I saw Gannets plunging into the ocean like missiles when they fold their wigs…they hit the water at 65 mph…it was amazing to watch..it was from a distant, but was still amazing.

Allison then took us on a tour of the island, I got to pet some lambs, see some young bulls being let out in the field for the 1st time, it was really funny, we saw all 3 lighthouses, were giving the history and treated to a delightful lunch. It was an amazing day, treated like royalty by a wonderful warm and funny lady. Time passed to quickly and it was time to get the 4:15 ferry. It was an amazing and magicial day.


n the way back to Pat’s house we stopped at the “Dark hedges” where some of the Game of Thrones series was filmed- poor Sherry- I have never seen an episode, but it was still pretty cool.

We returned to Pats house and she had done so much for us, made us dinner and wouldn’t let us do anything. She is wonderful, caring and funny, and anther amazing example why love 5W.

The next morning after breakfast, we stopped at a few more sites the Game of Thrones was then on our way towards Sligo. But, we picked up a passenger, the “tire pressure loss” indicator showed up on the dash. We stopped at Bushmills, the guy there had a quick look and said it was fine. We stopped in Derry for lunch, and when we came out the tire was lower. But the universe was taking care of us and there was a tire shop 400 yards down the road. We got a new tire and on our way, everyone safe.

We eventually found our place in Riverstown…Jane took us on another side trip… we unpacked, went tot he local pub and Sherry had her first Guinness in Ireland, it really is better here…

I had arranged to once again hire the guide I had last time I was here in Sligo, to take us to Carrowkeel. yep- you can see, I was upset again to go back to Carrowkeel 🙂 If your ever in this area, and you want to see the surrounding area, especially archaeology, myths and history , hire Auriel Robinson of Seatrails Guided Heritage Tours and Special Experiences http://www.seatrails.ie/

She is amazing, bright, a wealth of knowledge and funny. We met and followed her to Carrowkeel, which was once again magical and amazing and I said hello to my ancestors once again. This is a magical. powerful and restorative place.

After that we went over to the the Keash caves, https://voicesfromthedawn.com/caves-of-kesh/ once again Auriel showed her knowledge, passion and humor. It was great, the views are stunning and calcite from this cave have been found in Carrowkeel cairns. As well as human remains that go back thousands of years, as well as bones form extinct animals.


Then we come to yesterday…last year I saw information abut the Sligo Camino… I thought it was a good idea to do this while I was here. I asked Sherry if she would be interested, she said “hell yeah”- what were we thinking…we an hardly move today, and that’s much better then last night.

It was a memorable day, stunning scenery walking through forest, lane ways and up the Ox Mountains- where they found beads in Carrowkeel made from the stones in these very mountains. It was a day to remember, 36km in one day, up and down and around, and 1000 walkers in total. It was well organized and very welcoming. It was challenging physically and mentally and I’m sure we both learned lots from it and will be processing this walk for awhile.


I continue to be amazed, surprised and delighted on this journey. By the people, places and landscapes of this magical place. I have 2 weeks left here, but know I will be processing this journey for months once I get home. The gifts I have received while here, are priceless and will last a life time.

Those are a few thoughts for today. thanks for coming along with me on this journey 🙂


Transformation and a Shift on the Cape……

20180621_221113.jpgFour days ago I left Cape Clear Island a different person.

Did I tell you I love that place and the people I met there ? It was a magical, amazing and very insightful week.

When I started planning this trip, I told folks I wanted to do a solo trip for 5-7 weeks. I don’t know where that number came from, but my intuition told me that was the time I needed. I couldn’t explain it, I was more of a feeling then anything else. But my guts told me that’s what I needed to do. Am I ever glad I listened to my guts.

As you know, this trip has not been the typical tourist trip around Ireland As my solo section is of this journey is coming to an end, I knew my past and present would be bumping heads. It has not always been a good time, and some times have been really hard. But I have come through  much stronger and wiser for it.

I was spot on when I said 5-7 weeks on my own.

On Wednesday morning, while on Cape Clear Island, I woke and it felt like a shift had happened. For those of you who know me, you know that when I do my work, come out the other side I often speak about feeling like a shift has happened. I felt that when I woke that morning.

I feel lighter somehow, stronger, more then I ever have in my life, but there is more depth to my wholeness. There is a now a richness and texture in a place I didn’t know existed.

Being here, in this land, meeting the folks have, having the experiences I have have, have all added up. This  has  fed and nourished my soul in ways I could never imagine. And the week on Cape Clear was just what the Dr ordered. Actually, my Dr was one of the 2 people that told me I needed to go there.

I have written on the past blogs about the “Felt Sense” of Ireland. How I have felt this throughout the land and Cape Clear is no different. In fact, on the Caple Clear Island it was stronger and very special. There is something about that place, I cant put my finger on it, but its there if one sits long enough and is quiet enough, you can feel it.

One day I had walked to and found the neolithic standing stones, known as the marriage Stones. I emailed someone and told them of the feeling of power I felt at the site, and they replied “There is something powerful about those ancient sites. Its restorative.”

Restorative is an understatement. Its like everything I experienced on this trip, all I learned about myself and everything this land has given me, all came together on Cape Clear. I have found another part of myself and it feels like the long lost puzzle piece has been found and securely dropped into place. When I think of the puzzle piece I think of not a cardboard jigsaw puzzle but an old fashioned wooded puzzle. with thicker and more solid pieces. Its like everything is more secure, stronger and now in place.

I came to this land, not knowing what was going to happen, but have been called, and I am so glad did. I have also written about how I felt this land nourishing my soul, it has done that and more. It has filled and nourished the fibers of my soul. I am full of gratitude.

And I am tired. I wondered why, then thought about all the work I have done these last 5 weeks, its like its been a 6 week Outward Bound Canada course,  highs and lows but coming out the other end a much stronger, richer more competent person.

Tomorrow I make my way over to Wexford where I will be staying with a 5W member- Women Welcome Women World Wide- then Saturday I go up to Dublin and my friend and hiking buddy fly’s in Sunday morning, and we are renting a car. So as I wind up this solo , self growth section, I am looking forward to 3 weeks with her and celebrating all I have done, all the growth I have done, all the treasures I have found.

I am full of gratitude for all I have meet on this journey, the gifts they have given me.

Its time for me to start packing , but I think I will have a nap first. Thanks you once again for continuing to come along with me and this adventure, and lets see together what the next stage brings.

Rest, Relaxation and Reflection on Cape Clear Island Continued…

Have I mentioned that I love this place ?
Sometime yesterday afternoon I received a message from the Cape Clear Island Ferry via their Facebook page. Earlier on my trip I had communicated with them with regards to sailings, tickets etc….but this message was different, it was as follows….

” Can you let Suzy know that we are having a mid week session in the club tonight at 9:30 pm if she is interested in the experience~ They were talking about a traditional music session.
I replied ” This is Suzy- she is interested-Am I the right Suzy you are thinking of?’ which they replied
” Yes, thought you might be! Seamus asked me to let you know, regards Karen”

Well, I thanked them and said I had no idea who Seamus or Karen were. Karen replied that she is in Baltimore,- where the ferry leaves to come here – and that I would likely meet Seamus tonight ( yes, before anyone points out, I know there is supposed to be an accent over the letter e in the name but I cant figure out how to o that on my keyboard yet)

This is a small island, not a lot of people live here, but this message still surprised me.
Then I started thinking about Ireland and connections, and how connection has influenced my trip- in both preparation. research , and while here.

Do you remember in one of my very 1st blogs I mentioned reading the Red Haired Girl from the Bog, by Patricia Monaghan?

Well when the reality that I really was going to start saving and research for Ireland, I once again read that book. I then went to the internet to do some research and in no time I was overwhelmed by the amount of information that was coming at me. So, I stepped away for a day or two and thought about it.

Then I thought that because that book spoke to me, I would send Patricia an email,-if I could find contact info- letting her know why I want to go to Ireland and would she have any suggestions to where I could start etc. So that night I found her web page, found the contact info and sent the email.

About an hour after I sent the email, I was doing some research on Patricia Monaghan  learned that she had died in 2012. Then I was awake half the night worrying that someone would get this email and it would upset them. I needn’t have worried.

The next morning I got up, and I had indeed received a response to my query. The email was from Patricia’s widower, and he said happy to receive the email, as he was just wondering the other day if folks are still using Patricia’s book as a travel guide. Yep, they still are. He suggested that I get in touch with there very good friends Barbara Smith and Tony Cuckson if they were agreeable, and they were.

I remember having coffee with my friend Gloria the next day telling her about this and she said ” This one door opening, is going to open another, and another and who knows where it will lead.”, and she was right.

Now this was 2 years before I actually made the trip, Barbara is also a guide, and even if you did not use her for a guide, then she could also help you with your itinerary, I have used her for both.

So that’s just one of many connections that have happened before and during this trip, and as I saw yesterday by the message about the music session, connections continue to happen.

I did manugae to make it to the small club above the store/restaurant- Club Cleire-. I arrived there around 9:30, a few folks were there and the musicians started to trickle in. They ranged for age of early teens and up . They were all thee around 10:00 and started to play. There were folks playing the tin /penny whistle, and I’m sure it had other names, a small Concertina , guitar/banjo and the Uliieann pipes( Irish form of bag pipes) It was lovely to listen to, and watch these musicians. There was no “set” schedule – that I could see. One would start- ie the whistle, then others would join in. They all took turns starting and some played on their own. The young women playing the pipe added a piece to her instrument that gave it a low resonating sound and then she played on her own. I have no idea what she was playing, what it was called, but it was beautiful, haunting and moving and like this island- it fed my soul. You pretty much could hear a pin drop when she played. Then another song, more music and away they went again. It was fascinating to watch and listen as the played off each other, took turns, encouraging each other, it was an absolute pleasure to be there.
One of the fellows came over to me and said “Are you the famous Suzy” and I just started laughing and thinking..” Unlike my brothers, I can admit who I am “….so this was Seamus, he also mentioned that he has enjoyed my blog- word does get around fast here 🙂 We had a little chat and I thanked him for getting the message sent. then he went back to paying.

I sat there listening, writing, watching. This is so different the anything at home, and especially to what I grew up with around the drinking.

Here were folks chatting, various ages, young talking to the older, etc. Folks visiting, catching up etc. I loved hearing the Irish language being spoken. It was a lovely couple of hours.

I have also noticed here in Ireland, to the few pubs I have been at, one can order a drink, or a meal and write- no one is there getting ready to kick you out as soon as your meal is done etc. This has taken me sometime to get used to. I get that this may not be like all the places in Ireland, but it is here and was in Sligo.

As I listened to the music last night I thought about my visit to this magical island.The people I have met and the way I feel about this place. I have enjoyed my evenings down at the pub ether chatting with folks, or catching up with folks back home- its an 8 hour time difference so sometimes night is the only time we connect via social media. Sometimes I quietly sit and write away, and what ever I am doing I have felt welcome.

The host who is in charge of the place I’m staying, and owns Cotters bar/restaurant has been more then helpful to me and very welcoming.

I get that I am a tourist, and that is different then living in a place. I get I am not a rich tourist, dropping a lot of money wherever I go, but I am loving this place and it feeds my soul, as did the music. As someone wrote me ” There is something powerful in that ancient place. So Restorative” I agree.

I am also very thankful and full of gratitude for the folks that live here, and those I have met on my Irish Odyssey, who are taking the time and energy to make me feel welcome, and for moments like last night, inviting me in for a snippet, to be a part of their life. This connection, and its gift also feeds my soul and that, I will take back home with me.

Speaking of connection..Mary O’Driscoll, who owns the place I’m staying at and Cotters pub, knows the person I have been put in contact with from a friend, who now lives in Mexico. 🙂

Jeans cousin, Alison, lives on Ratlin Island, in the North, where Sherry and I plan on making a day trip to on July 4th!

Yep, the world just keeps getting smaller

Thanks again for continuing to come along with me on this journey.


A Sligo Interlude…..

It was brought to my attention this morning that I did not do a bog post on my stay in Sligo…so better late then never. 🙂
Sligo is one  of unsung beauty. When people ask me where I have been, I will mention Sligo. Those who know it say that it is an unsung Jewell of Ireland, and it really is. It has stunning varied scenery and you are within a 10 minute drive to so many amazing spots.
I hooked up with the lovely Val Robus, and she took me out a couple times and showed me around…it was varied and beyond beautiful. I could not get over the various natural beauty that abounds on her doorstep. I was grinning from ear to ear and must have looked like a kid in a candy store!
This is an ancient landscape and it shows. We visited Carrowmore,which is 600-800 years older then Newgrange. It was amazing,,,
I was taken to a secret Fairy glen,,,it was like walking back in time….almost prehistoric….I was waiting for a dinosaur, to walk along the cliffs, or a jewel encrusted dragonfly, to fly down from the tree tops above, it was magical. And yes, I did leave a coin …

Val also took me to see the wild Atlantic ocean and then Strandhill, I could have stayed there all day and Val treated me to the most amazing ice creme 🙂
She took me to a castle- and I looked out over the lake where the Isle of Innishfree is- the boat was not running that day, it was raining. But because it was raining Val took me to a waterfall, that I cant remember the name of right now- Maybe Val will put in the reply the name of it- she showed me the waterfall known as the Chimney Stack- I think that’s right.
The scenery around Sligo is beyond amazing, and varied and I love the sheep !!! its so close, like I said..a 10 minute car ride away.
While in Sligo I also hired Auriel Robinson, from Seatrails and she took me to Carrowkeel. I had been told by someone back home that I need to see it, and he was right. WOW!!!! I was there for a couple of hours, and it was amazing, magical and spoke deep to my soul in a way I never expected, and Auriel was amazing with the information of the site. being an archaeologist she knows all about this stuff 🙂 If you get a chance, hire her, you will not be disappointed.
I also know I have forgotten some places as I write this blog. You also have to do the Gleniff Horseshoe drive- it is stunning
Then there is the town itself, lots of higstory. lovely walks and shops.
It is really an amazing place, so much so that I am going back again, this time with my traveinging buddy. She flies into Dublin on July 1st, we are renting a car for 3 weeks, and we are gong to Sligo. I have once again Hired Auriel, and we are going back to Carrowkeel, because I dont think I could ever get enough of that place, and I heard the cuckoo bird while there 🙂
If your traveling in Ireland, or even live there, take a trek up to this section of the country, you will not be disappointing.

Rest, Relaxation and Reflection on Cape Clear Island…

20180617_153127Looking out over the Cape Clear North harbor, its a foggy, misty kind of day, as it was yesterday. When I arrived here Friday afternoon- after having to dash for the ferry as the bus was running late- but made it-phew- it was mostly sunny and blue skies.
After arriving at my present digs- with an amazing view of the North Harbor, I wandered down around the small harbor, went to the store/restaurant and ordered some fries- known here as chips- and sat outside taking in the view. Later that night I went back to the store/restaurant and had pizza, as it was pizza night. It was really good.
That night I slept like a rock.
The next day I went for a bit of a walk and ended up taking one of the two walking loops they have here on the island. The Glen Loop walking trail, and am I ever glad I did. I had no idea the surprise I would be in for. As I walked up the trail, and some points a little bit of a scramble, I found myself on the top of the island, overlooking the Atlantic ocean, and could see the Fastnet lighthouse in the distance. It was beautiful, breathtaking and it was a wee bit windy. I just stretched out my arms, breathed it all in and reminded myself, I was really on Cape Clear Island, in Ireland!!!!
I walked through various types of vegetation, small gorse bushes, ferns, various grasses and the scenery was beautiful. At some points you could see where the ocean met the island as the waves crashed in. I eventually made my way back, I had been a bit turned around- you know my dyslexic brain and map reading- but got back, had a shower and then later went down the the pub for dinner.
I slept like a rock that night also.
Yesterday morning upon waking up, it was as it is today, foggy and misty, but not cold. I spoke to the host Mary, and she told me her husband says it was going to clear up a bit around noon, and he was right.
So around 1:00 pm I went for a walk on the other side of the island, and did walk -literately- to the other end of the island as once again I got turned around. I was looking for two neolithic upstanding stones, called the Marriage Stones. I had heard about these from my family doctor, and an acquaintance in Ontario, both whom have visited this island many times.
After taking the wrong road- well actually missing the road- then taking another wrong road- they all look like driveways here, ending up in the wrong muddy farmers field, I persevered and found the correct muddy farmers field. However, there was a gate with a “Beware of Bull ” sign- I didn’t see any bull. But being the polite Canadian that I am, I didn’t want to trespass on anyone’s property. So went back down that road, got back onto the main road and started walking back thinking there must be another way in.
Did I mention the killer hills that are on this island?
There was no other way so I said screw it, went back down to the field, found a way in and went to the stones. It was amazing standing there before them. There is a hole in one of these stones and it is said that when folks got married, or commit to each other they would hold hands through the hole . Also, the hole aligns exactly with a passage grave on the neighboring island, and during sunrise of the Summer Solstice the stone lines up exactly with the suns alignment. I will be here for the summer solstice. We will see if the sun shows itself.
It was amazing standing there, wondering who had stood there before, and the fact that I knew 2 people, who live 3000 miles away from each other in Canada,do not know each other, and they had indeed, stood before these very same stones.
Who had put these up, why, etc.? Of course being the person that I am, as I have done with my trip around Ireland, I kept touching the stones, feeling its texture, the crevasses, getting a feel for them, and the land they are on. Wondering how smooth they were when put up 5000 years ago. 5000 years ago…imagine, I’m touching something that was put up 5000 years ago. It still amazes me. And I still have to pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming!
After spending time there, having a drink and a snack it was time to head back to the North harbor. I took my time and just reveled in the moment.On the walk back I could see the hills I had climbed the day before were still enshrouded in fog and mist. I got back to my digs, another shower- you work up a sweat with these hills. and put band-aids on my blisters. I wore the wrong socks..that will teach me.
I then went down to the pub for dinner, had a glass or two of Guinness and met 4 lovely ladies who are staying in the yurts just down the road. And one of these ladies loves Orca’s, I mean who could blame her. Also, apparently there were Basking sharks in the south harbor that morning. So we talked of our adventures- they were kayaking in the South Harbor, I told them about my trip, and my adventures in trying to find the Marriage stones.

They asked where they were. I told them…”You go straight down that road with the killer hill over there, you keep going straight and you will see a peach/pink colored house, you don’t turn there..” and they all started laughing saying- ..”yep, you have been here long enough, your talking like us, your an honorary Irish now” I just laughed.
I love this island. Its another one of those magical places, that speaks to me and feed’s my soul. There is something about this place, I don’t know what it is, and I may never know, but there is something. I find it amazing how some places can have such a strong feeling for me, and its as if my ancestors are speaking to me, reassuring me I am not alone and that they know I am here.
I came on this trip for many reasons and one was because I wanted to return to a land I never been, and be in the place that has called my soul since I was a small child. I also wanted to honor my ancestors that gave me the genes to survive what I did, and to lay old ghosts to rest, the family legacy of pain that had been handed down for generations. I think I have been doing that and doing it well, with care, with love and with authenticity.

And when I have landed on those sacred spaces- as this island is and feels- its like the ancestors know, because as much as I’m giving them- hopefully peace and rest- they are giving back. They are helping me find who I am, giving me strength, and as the women on Inishmore told me…” your Irish is speaking and you are now rooted in the subsoil and being nourished.” That’s what this feels like. I am here on this island, with every fiber of my being receiving nourishment that it has been looking for all my life. And I know it will stay with me when I go back home.
I think of those two people I know back in Canada, who both mentioned this island, and both surprised when I mentioned I had been told to come here. It was then I knew I had to come. I’m so glad I followed my instincts, and so very grateful they pointed me this way. And my ancestors are happy they did also.
I am here for 5 more full days, I leave Saturday on the noon ferry. I have a few things planned but not much, and know I will go on many walks and visit the marriage stones a few more times. I also know the ancestors will speak to me in their own time, in their own way and I will honor them. I will sit, I will listen and I will learn.
In the meantime I think I will go and place a few pebbles from home in the harbor.
Thanks for contuiing to come along with me on this journey.
Suzy                                                                                                                                                           To learn more about this magical place here is a link




Tomorrow is another travel day, I will be making my way to Cape Clear Island.

Yesterday I walked 15 minutes down the road to a short ferry crossing, crossed over and walked into Cobh. It took me 30-45 minutes to get there. It was cloudy, windy and it did eventually rain later in the afternoon.

Cobh has an amazing history, the buildings are colorful and the scenery can be stunning, even on a wet day.  I walked around, took pictures, eventually walked up to the St. Colman’s Cathedral. It is stunning, inside and out.  I could have spent hours in there looking at the carvings, tile work, stained glass etc. Wondering who were the craftsman, did they have families, what were they thinking, etc. As I walked along the tiled floor I wondered who had walked here before me and for how long.

I eventually made my way down to grab something for lunch and wander some more. The rain stared to come and did not stop so I decided I would grab a cab back to the ferry landing instead of walking for 30-45 minutes in the rain. I then did the 15 minute walk back and relaxed for the rest of the day.

Today, in the home where  I’m staying,  is one of the housemates birthdays . Last night he made an amazing dinner for us all- he used to be a chef- and it was a 5 Star dinner. And I was included in this event, it was lovely.

Here I was, in a home, and a country I do not live, but was included as part of the group. I looked around the table and thought..” how very fortunate am I to be here at this time.” Here around the table were 3 Irish folks, 1 from Spain, 1 from Latvia and her adorable 3 year old, and myself.  Here, at this table was a richness of humanity, and  genuine authenticity. It was a delightful evening and certainly not something I would get if I was staying in a hotel.

This is why I am staying with airb&b, and Homestay.com  I didn’t want a “antiseptic” experience of Ireland, meaning hotels …which I couldn’t afford, where you are in and out, and don’t get to know the folks who are serving you, or the area you are staying. Traveling solo has its challenges, and connections with others helps keep me in the present. Yes, I am doing a lot of thinking, writing etc while on this trip, but human connection is really important. It also helps me grow, push myself out of my own comfort zone, and become more confident in myself and what I can do.

That being said, I still have, and imagine I will,  continue to have blips and bumps, along the way. I had one last night in the wee hours of the night. It was very windy and raining and I woke in a panic with the thought..” what happens if the ferry sailing to Cape Clear Island is cancelled because of a storm? As I said before, I know my past and present will be bumping against each other and this was one of those moments. I am getting better at recognizing and picking up on these moments.  I am also getting better at recognizing that I tend to go into “survival mode” 24- 36 hours before I move onto my next location. I have decided to call this “Locked, Loaded and Ready” meaning its like I’m  preparing for battle, but these battles are from my past.

Very often, more then I care to remember, I would come home from school and everything would be packed as we were going to move that evening, or other times, I was woken in the middle of the night as there was great commotion and we would once again be moving. These would happen with no warning and was often a result of my parents not having any rent money, owed rent money etc. Put this onto of all the other crap that was going on and you would see one very frightened, little kid. There was no warning, no goodbye to friends etc.

No wonder I have these moments while on this trip, but the good news is I know whats going on, and am able to do what I need to do to take care of myself during these times. And I am getting better at it, and realize where these emotions and anxiety are coming from. And I am able to be pro active.

This morning I contacted Cape Clear Island Ferries and asked about local accommodation in case of ferry cancellations, and they informed me its all good sailing today and tomorrow 🙂  In the past, I would not have been able to do this, I would have been in “Locked, Loaded and Ready” mode and stayed there for a week or so, if not longer in the beginning of my journey. This once again shows me how far I have come.

In the past, I would also not have been able to accept and partake in the invitation to the amazing dinner last night, sit around chat and laugh with the folks and felt blessed and fortunate for the experience.

I have noticed on this trip that while the buildings and city’s are nice, its the land and experiences with folks, like last night, that speak to me and  have enriched me in ways I could never imagine, and will continue to enrich my tapestry of life, long after I get home..

Thanks for continuing to come along this journey with me.

PS- here is a link to the stature I took a picture of and wanted to include at the begging of this post, but cant figure out how to do it



Stepping Into The The Unknown Does Not Mean Stepping Into Danger….

Welcome back everyone and thank you for traveling with me.

I’m sitting here in the morning, drinking my morning tea, trying to wake up,  and thinking about this past week, and the past 4 weeks.

Last week I was in Ennis, a lovely town, with narrow streets, colorful store fronts, music and I had a lovely host Brid. She came and picked me up at the bus station when I arrived and she was wonderful to me. We had great talks and lots of laughs, I met her family when they visited and she has a great sense of humor.

After starting my 2nd day there with a bit of a tummy bug and not feeling great- things got sorted and I went into the tourist office in Ennis.

I  asked if there were any day tours, there were so I booked one for the next day.  It went through the Burren , stopped at a Dolmen,  – stopped at a small pub for lunch- cant remember the name- and we ended up at the cliffs of Moher. It was stunning. It was a good day out and I met some lovely folks. But I wanted more of the Burren.

I searched for guides, sent emails etc, and eventually was able to book one for Thursday Morning for a few hours.

She would pick me up in Ennis, take me for a walk on the Burren, and then bring me back. So the next morning we got together and away we went. She needed to stop at her house  for a few minutes, so that’s what we did, had tea and scones, watched some lovely miniature ponies and petted her 2 lovely dogs. She then took me for a walk in the heart of the Burren, it was amazing.

It was magical- I know I have been saying this a lot on this trip. If you drive by you may think that its a bare, sterile, limestone landscape. It is anything but. Here is a living, breathing , fertile land. If you stand still long enough you will  see and feel this majestic place in your bones and in your soul. I did. And yes, I cried- good tears, but this feeling of connection to this land, in its various forms,  moves me to tears.

My guide, Marie pointed out various flower and fauna, pointed the “erratic ” huge boulders left behind by  the glacier that covered this land, explained how the cows help by eating  the invasive species which allows the natural plants to grow and thrive. She also explained how beef raised on the Burren have a much better flavor as they are eating these plants and wild herbs such as Sage, which smelled lovely. Meadowlarks and other birds live there and I heard my 1st meadowlark song. I also heard the Cuckoo  bird again.

From now on, whenever I hear a cuckoo clock, I will think of Ireland and the people and places I was when I heard the real thing.

Marie suggested some quiet time n my own- perfect- so I laid down on a large rock formation. It was a warm day out and I was surprised at how much cooler the  rock was. I closed my eyes and listened to the silence, breathing in the Burren, so it will be carried with me, and felt it in my bones. Then the Medowlark started singing, and it song just kept going, and going, and going. It was amazing.

To soon, it was time to go, and we headed off. Marie had another tour group that afternoon, but she made a suggestion. She could drop me off in a small village, Corifin, where there is the Burren National Park information center, and I could get a free shuttle up to the park and do some walks. The park is on the other side f the place we were just at. And then she or her husband would pick me up around 5:00 and take me back to Ennis.

At first my anxiety was shooting up, and I was thinking nope, but I realized it was my anxiety, I was safe and I want to be in the Burren, so I agreed. So, she dropped me off, I picked up some water,  and I did get the the National park, and it was such a different landscape, there were some woodlands, meadows and more grass. I did a couple of the shorter loop walks, as it was really warm and to hot to do the 3 hour hikes. It was amazing.

After I went to a small cafe in the village and had something to eat, went back to the information center, watched their videos and learned more about the park. And just after 5:00 pm, Marie’s husband Mike, picked me up and took me back to Ennis.

It was an adventure filled day.

I have, and continue to learn many things about myself, and the world  on this trip. And as I said before, I knew on this trip that my past would be bumping into the present and this is a prime example. I’m glad I stepped into the unknown, because it has helped reinforce, that stepping into the unknown does not equal danger, as it did growing up. Growing up, I needed to know what was going on, when , etc, because it was about survival. This trip is not about survival, this trip is about recovering who I am, returning to a place that has called me for years, and experiencing the people and places.

Stepping into the unknown does not mean I don’t use my common sense, be wise and smart, and aware of  my surroundings, make plans  etc.  But it does mean, that in general, the world is a safe place, I am safe, and I do not need to be in survival mode.

If you think about it, this whole trip is stepping into the unknown, and I know I will go back home a much more confident, more whole and richer person.

Those are my thoughts for the day…thanks for coming along



An Enchanted Land…..

It’s my last evening on  this enchanted island of Inishmore. It has been an amazing, magical and sometimes challenging 5 days here. I have become more comfortable with the landscape, and with myself.  It has been an interesting transformation.


I have had some interesting conversations with folks from all over, and the locals. I have talked to people from the USA, Canada, Ireland,  Germany. I have had surprising conversations with some local folks and had lots of laughs.

A couple days ago I was at a local pub getting some lunch. There was a family a few tables over, a mom, 2 children, a boy around 11 and a girl around 14 and a grandma. The family had finished their lunch and they were talking about going for ice creme. The boy says, ” I’m not buying ice creme I’m saving money for a puppy” Then Grandma says             “Micheal, I told you, you’re not getting a dog, there is a giant rat in the basement that will do you”  I just about fell off my seat laughing.

The next day I was coming out of the grocery store and this women starts speaking Irish to me. I guess the non response from me gave her an idea that I could not speak it. Then she says to me, “I’m sorry, I thought you were a local” I don’t mind. So we sat outside eating our ice creme and chatted. She asked where I was from, what I’m doing here, how long I have been in Ireland etc. So, I told her all about my trip etc. I also told how I have been feeling about Ireland and how it seems to be feeding my soul. She said, “That’s your Irish calling and talking. Its like you have been planted and lived in soil all your life, but now  your roots ave reached and found the subsoil and pulling up the nutrients” yep, that’s what its like.

I have been riding a bike for the last 5 days as transportation, I forgot how much fun that can be, and have been fine with getting off the bike and pushing it up one of the many hills. Back home I would have pushed myself till I was dying  and berate myself for not making it to the top of the hill with out getting off of stopping.

I have noticed how some old coping patterns still show up when I’m stressed and have been working on that.

I have woken up to the amazing cornucopia of bird song and heard the the Cuckoo bird singing its heart out while walking or cycling. I have become a familiar face  to some of the locals who know me by name, and the lodging I have been staying at is amazing and they have been warm and welcome.  Everyone on this island have engulfed me with care, laughter, and concern. It has been magical in so many ways. From the gentleman who gets water for his cows every morning and chats with me, to where I’m staying, to the workers ask me how I’m doing and chat. The local who saw me drop off my bike this afternoon, and I needed a cab ride back to the lodging, who picked me up but refused a fee. They have all welcomed me, made me feel at home, and part of this community.

As I wrote in the last post, the 7000 miles of stone walls are like fingers that stretch across this land, holding it down and secure from the storms. This has been an amazing 6 days, its had its challenges, but this has also allowed me to stretch my roots, down  into the subsoil of the land of my ancestors, into myself to discover who I am and what I an do.

Tomorrow I leave this magical place on the noon ferry.  I hope to one day be back, or maybe even be back for a few days later on my trip if it works out. I have taken lots of photos, have great memories, and tonight I will go for a walk and leave a few pebbles from home, somewhere amongst  the many stone walls, along with a small pewter medallion that says “Connection”

For this island has given me connection to the land, and to myself, and for that, I am full of gratitude.

Thanks for joining me.  Come along with me to my next stage of my Epic Irish odyssey…

Next stop…Ennis.


The Felt Sense of Ireland…..

“Felt sence”- Philosopher Eugene Gendlin coined the phrase “felt sense ” as a concept of which ” functions as a connection between the mind and body….the unclear, pre-verbal sense of “something” the inner knowledge or awareness “

Well, it seems like my felt sense had been on overdrive since landing in Ireland.

I am now sitting at my accommodations on Inis Mor (Inishmore ) island. I landed by ferry last night, and this morning I got a ride into the village and rented a bike, and biked back taking the lower, coastal route. Once again it is beyond sensational, beautiful, and seems to be feeding something deep in my soul. As I have said in a previous post…its like some deep ancient dry fiber in my soul and being is finally being watered and nourished There is nothing I can measure this with, no scientific test or measurement etc. But it is something I feel deep, deep within my soul, within my very being.

Everywhere I have been in this land I have felt it one way or another, and if I am quiet and still long enough, pay attention and listen, it speaks to me. The more I do this the more I realize that it speaks on many levels. I am starting to believe that Ireland has many levels to her being. Its hard to explain, but this very fleeting sense is the land speaking to me.

For those of you that know me, you know I am connected to nature in a huge way, it feeds my soul, rejuvenates and clears my mind and has been a huge component in my healing journey. Nature heals on so many levels, often I don’t even realize it till after the fact, as it sifts through my being, and stays with me long after I come indoors.

The same is happening here but on a much deeper, deeper level.

In my healing journey and mental health work I have come across research in “Epigenitics” – and have become interested in the theory that trauma of your ancestors can be passed down via DNA, to the offspring. In other words, trauma from a parent, can be passed onto their children.

There was a study with rats, where the rats were in Rat Hotel, all happy, then the researchers would put the scent of cheery blossoms into the cage, as they did something negative to them. After doing this a few times, whenever the scent of cheery blossoms was put into the cage, the rats would run and gather in a corner and shake, even if there was no negative actions. The rats remembered.

So, these rats then had babies, and no time during the pregnancy or after birth were they exposed to any negative treatment, or the scent of cherry blossom. These baby rats then grow up, move out of Mom and Dads Rat Hotel and move into their own Rat Hotel. They then have babies, and for the 1st time, those now adult rats, and their offspring are exposed to the smell of cherry blossoms, and guess what happens? Yep, they run to the corner and shake, even though they had never in their life been exposed to the negative treatment or the scent of cherry blossoms. Their DNA holds the memory. I find this fascinating and it’s very important for people who are working with folks who have experienced trauma, and their families.

You may wonder why am I telling you this. I’m telling you this because I wonder if this is why I am finding this land of Eire feeding my soul and whispering to me in ways I cant explain. Does, somewhere deep in my DNA remember this land, the language of its varied landscapes and sacred spaces. Am I being nourished by the very lands that nourished my ancestors?

As I write this a thought comes to mind. Is this how the Indigenous population back home feel about the lands? After all, that is the land of their ancestors. If so, I now have a better understanding.

As I look out the window now, I see hundreds of dry stone walls follow the hills and crevices of this island, like the braille of the land. And I guess I’m like the blind, reading the land of my ancestors, not with my eyes, but with my senses. I know I will be changed, more whole and authentic and like when I’m in nature, the benefits will carry with me when I go back home.

Those are my thoughts for today, thanks for joining me on this journey, and come along with me to see where this goes…


It’s All About Connections….

20180528_194738260353330221042710.jpgTo start with this blog, I would like to thank everyone for reaching out, supporting me and letting me know I am not the only one to experience this Homesickness thing. As I said it was all new to me. But, by hearing the stories of others I realized its not “just me”, and with that came a knowledge and understanding I will get through this. Others who have gone before me shared their wisdom of what it was like for them, and folks sent me links on how to help with it and get through this. You have no idea how much I appreciate your love and support, it has made a difference.

If all goes well, this time tomorrow I should be on  the ferry about 15 minutes from Inishmore Island. The largest of the Aran islands in Galway Bay.  I have reserved a bike, and will pick that up sometime Wednesday. I will be there for 6 nights, and I want to ride, walk and write while I get the feel for the land, and yes I did bring rain gear just in case.

This morning I had a bit of anxiety/panic- who knows why, sometimes it just is, and after doing what I could, for the last few days- it just would not settle, so I took some medication for it, it was 1/4 of a pill, but it seemed to do the trick. It took the edge off and I was able to carry on and enjoy my day. I spent it walking around Sligo, writing, walking some more, watching ducks, pigeons and children. I thought about my last week here, the struggles, the accomplishments and growth, the people I have met and the amazing places I have scene.

I also wondered why I did not think of taking 1/4 of a pill before to help me. Well, its because the anxious brain does not always have the ability to think such things. And I also thought, if I am going to talk the talk and tell people there is no shame in taking medication, I should walk the walk. So once I was able to think these things, I took the medication. And it made a world of difference.

And with the ability to be calm, I could realize, and feel that even if I am over 7000 km from home, the people I love, who love me,and home, are right here with me, and that is huge. I was sitting by the river, writing when this realization came over me. The birds were singing, the river water sounded like  the wind gentle blowing through the cottonwood trees back home, and kids were laughing.

And something in me shifted and settled, and a calmness came over me. And I thought about connection and how it can make all the difference in the world, even 7000 km away from home.

And I thought of the work I do around mental health, and if I am ever doubt I make a difference, I will read this blog to remind myself, that I, and connection does make a difference.

Here in Ireland they have the Green Ribbon Campaign, to help bring awareness an to get people to start to openly talk about mental health. I found those ribbons today and promptly put one on my backpack. Why did I do this? Because I now what its like to realize your not alone, and we are ALL IN THIS TOGETHER, NO MATTER WHERE WE ARE IN THE WORLD.

Thanks again for being on this journey with me, and onto the next adventure- which really means I have to go pack. Stay turned….

PS- here is the link to the green Ribbon campaign