I’m a high-context guy. I value the orientation and meaning I receive from knowing the context I’m in.
In terms of my trip to Ireland it shows up in the form of these kinds of questions:
What life stage am I in and what is the developmental imperative?
How can this quest serve my living family to learn, heal and grow from the diaspora, both upstream and downstream from me? How do my ancestors live through me? What kind of ancestor will I be?
What is the lineage of my ancestors from this moment back through to a specific person’s feet on specific soil?
What was going on at the time that they left, culturally, politically, economically, ecologically?
What was left behind in exchange for a new life?
How does what I’m learning reflect on my life-work of regenerating healthy culture and my history of learning from native peoples?
These are the questions that give me pause prior to communicating my reflections from Ireland. As I move through the different stories and experiences keep these questions in mind with me as you read and comment.
I want to acknowledge the people that have and are helping me on this quest and share, I believe, a similar value for the importance of context, meaningful reflection and inspiring wisdom for the times we are in.
Ciara Hinksman who has held a torch for regenerating health for herself, her land and culture. Thank you for housing Lucia and I, being a home away from home and connecting us with good people for our travels.
Gerry Brady for being the iconic flame of Ireland for me for years before coming. Thank you for teaching me the bones, the lore of Irish music and the craic is ninety. If you can’t convince them, confuse them.
Greg Sommer who I met 20 years ago, when he was 16 yrs old in Duvall, WA at Wilderness Awareness School. Thank you for pursuing your own deep quest of language and culture and becoming a knowledgeable inspiring humble leader.
Jeannie McGartland who I also met 20 yrs ago, when she was 10 yrs old, when I was her nature mentor at Oyase in the first year of running Vermont Wilderness School. Thank you for your long-term dedication to healing and self-expression through the arts. The fact that you would call me Uncle today is a reflection of what you value in your heart.
Darach O’Murchu for quietly and powerfully living his truth and expression of his ancestral ways from Ireland. Thank you for trusting me with the numerous people you put me in touch with. This opened doors for me in the Gaeltacht Irish speaking areas like none other.
Kat Koch for housing me and making the unreasonable journey to Cobh, County Cork, a possibility. This allowed me to learn from the famine museum and travel back in time to a remote abandoned village, dated 220 yrs ago.
Fiona De Róiste for her vibrant determined spirit, Irish language placename geek, and a mighty user of the expletive. Thank you for housing us on two ends of our adventure and connecting us to people and place.
Sky Buitenhais for understanding the weight of the quest and stewarding the connection with Sharon Blackie.
Kerry from Derry Walker for spontaneously inviting me along to the enchanted island of Inishbofin. Especially meaningful because the trip to the Blaskets was canceled due to high seas.
Billy Mag Fhloinn for pulling the curtain back on the archetypal ritual Pagan Rave. Thank you for your generosity, the magic of pocketing my phone and the beginning of a long cultural creative friendship.
Caitríona Ní Chathail, Irish language heritage lover, for your commitment to keeping the language alive. Thank you for the breadcrumbs that led us to Toose Fitzgerald.
Máire Ní Chinnéide for your wisdom and passionate curiosity about life and heritage. Thank you for opening your home and exploring all musings as they arose.
Brenda Ní Shúilleabháin for her shared passion for storytelling and remembering the wisdom of the old ways for our modern times. Thank you for the connection to Anthony Griffen and your research and films, a rich journey to learn from you.
Sharon Blackie for holding the potential of becoming indigenous to place by honoring the old ways and being informed through grounded practice in place. Grateful to meet a kindred spirit on that path.
Toose Fitzgerald for bringing the passion of cultural knowledge to elderhood. Thank you for the stories, Irish language lessons and homemade poitín and for connecting me with Martín Tom Seanin.
Anthony Griffen for taking the time to answer all our questions about the old ways and teaching us how to play the card game of 31, which is what they did by the fireplace before tv and radio for evening entertainment.
Siobhan Fahey for opening up her home for a visit with travelers with questions and telling us about the traditions around home funerals and wakes.
Martín Tom Seanin for his passion for interviewing elders on his Irish radio show, High Noon, narrating traditional practices so they won’t be forgotten. Thank you for hosting us at your pub in the Gaeltacht in Lettermore, answering questions with knowledge and passion and for teaching us about and singing a Sean-nos lament for us.
Colm for sitting with me and my unanswerable questions about land-based traditions and coming back the next day with insights and people to talk to.
John Bhaba Jeaic Ó Confhaola for single-handedly creating a museum to the local Irish heritage while living as a fisherman in Lettermullen. Thank you for telling stories passing on memories and for being so kind to an Irish American returning to connect to land and people.
Joe Hogan for accepting us into his workday making baskets. Thank you for the vast knowledge and practice of making traditional Irish baskets, an inspiration that connects me to my native roots.
There are more people who have supported this quest long before I got here and also quietly helping in the background: Mentors, friends, Airbnb hosts, genealogists, musicians, accordion makers, seaweed gatherers, children, and ancestors.