What have I been doing for the last ten days, you ask? Or maybe you haven’t. More than likely, you haven’t given a single thought to what I’ve been up to. I’ll tell you anyway. I flew over 7400 miles in four airplanes. I rode over 1000 kilometers in a small coach bus. I hung out with 15 other people for 10 days. And I walked what feels like 500 miles, all up hill. I saw some beautiful beaches, some wonderful mountains, and a hell of a lot of sheep. I learned some history and heard some great music. I met some great people. I went to Ireland. I went there for two reasons. I’ve always wanted to go, and I wanted to take my wife’s ashes there. My wife’s maiden name was Sheehy. That’s a name that is unique to only one place on Earth. Ireland. Her great, great grandfather came to the U. S. with three brothers some time during the 1800’s from County Limerick, Ireland. She always wanted to go, but never found a way. I left her ashes in two places, both of which she would’ve approved of. I feel really good about that.
As I walked through places in Ireland, I felt her spirit. I felt her love and laughter. When Ann was dying of cancer I told her I would take her ashes to Ireland. I told her that the Sheehy’s would have come home then. She put her arms around me and said, “I am home”. It made me cry, as it’s doing right now. It is important to me that I did this. It is a fulfillment, an ending, in a way, of something that I felt was right. Her ashes should reside in the land of her ancestors. In life, Ann felt her Irishness. She was German also, but she always felt a closeness with her Irish roots. And she was a redhead. (I’m told that the red hair hair came to Ireland with the Vikings. More on that later.) So this was important to me, and I pulled it off. Everything worked right. That doesn’t always happen, and I had this silent nagging in my head that said something will go wrong, you won’t be able to do this right. But it worked, and for that I am grateful.
The two places I left her ashes would have been meaningful to her. The first was a little place called Guagan Barra. (Goo-gone Bar-ah) It is the 6th century ruins of the monastic settlement of Saint Finbarr. Ann was raise Catholic, and even though she wasn’t a part of the church any longer, it was still a part of her. This was an absolutely beautiful location on a little spit of land on a lake surrounded by mountains. She would have been in awe of this place. I know I was.
The second place was under the alter stone of a Standing Stone Circle. Even though Ann was raised Catholic she had a spiritual side that took a left turn somewhere along the way grabbed hold of her pagan Irish roots. She was very interested in Ancient Ireland, it’s people and their spiritual beliefs. She probably could’ve sat in the middle of that stone circle for a long time, communing with those who went before her.
Alter stone at Kenmare stone circle.
I’ll write more soon about the trip, the people I met and places I went. I just wanted you to know why I went. Not the least of which is that I just wanted to see Ireland too. I have Irish ancestors also. Names like Brown, Daily, Byrne, and O’Brien grace my genealogy chart. I’ve traced them back to the 1300’s and my mother always remembered her grandparents speaking in an Irish brogue. So now you know why I went, not that I would need an excuse, It’s Ireland after all. Who wouldn’t want to go there?