The path to the round tower we had come to see meandered through a graveyard next to the ruins of a church. Glancing at one of the headstones I saw my name. Nilan. My people came from this small village but in all the time I’ve spent in this area I’ve not been called to explore any of those relationships. Not, I realize, the norm for people who come to Ireland, so many of them looking for their ancestral roots.
In fact not the norm generally as so many people are searching their history and heritage. I couldn’t find a number for ancestry.com but the LDS site, FamilySearch, gets between 35-45 million visits a day. That’s a lot of searching. Searching that yields an aggregate of names and dates. An intellectual knowing. But not a complete knowing.
A journey to Ireland can begin to provide context and a more personal connection. To hear the lilt of the spoken word. To engage with the people. To walk the streets. and yes, to even drive on the left. All contributing to another level of knowing.
Yet there is still deeper knowing to experience. For to be Irish is to be from Ireland, to be of Ireland. And Ireland is a landscape of 5,000 year old sacred sites. Sites that beckon to a knowing as old as time.