In traveling to Ireland over the years I have been cautious to speak much about the spiritual nature of these journeys with our B&B lodging hosts. I’ve always considered it not terribly gracious to broach the nature of my work with these lovely people raised and steeped in the Catholic tradition. Unless asked, which they never did. Yet after many return visits they generally had a sense of it and were cautiously comfortable with it. And some were delighted to share stories which are now included in my book. Brendan among them.
As I gift these folks with copies of the book I’ve been very curious about their reactions and careful about how I introduce the content. As I mention in a prior post the Catholic Church doesn’t do especially well in my writing. Sharing a bit about the book I focus on and highlight what I believe could be common ground. Of course when I handed a copy to Vera, our B&B hostess in Spiddal who had just returned from Mass, she opened the book right to the section on Catholics where I quote Tom Cowan about Christianity having caused the greatest soul loss in human history.
With all of these people there has been gracious hospitality for the idea of the book…yet guarded caution when they see the cover, read the sub-title, and scan the table of contents. I’ve already written about where this went with Vera. We did find common ground. Other friends in Spiddal promised to read the book before I see them again later this month. Perhaps they will.
Giving the book to Brendan was particularly interesting. Over our four day stay at Serenity B&B I would stop into the kitchen and see the book in various locations and sometimes catch a glimpse of Brendan studying the pages, reading glasses perched on the end of his nose. He and I had more than one circular conversation where we danced round and round. Him apologizing for not having yet read the book and promising to spend more time with it. My appreciating that he was in the middle of harvesting silage and assuring him that my giving him and Elizabeth a copy was in gratitude for the stories he shared and came with absolutely no obligation that he read it, let alone resonate with it.
When we were getting ready to leave on our last morning Brendan said again that he had only read bits and pieces but would read the whole book, although he wasn’t much interested in mythology generally. I again assured him the book came with no obligations. Turns out both he and Elizabeth had actually read quite a bit of it. In addition to his interest in the information on Biddy Early they were both very intrigued by the folk tales, especially those relating the consequences for disturbing ring forts and faery sites. For all his Catholic upbringing and affiliation, if spotty and sporadic, Brendan dove right into the subject of this lore. Referring to it as nonsense, he was still eager to share an incident from recent Sligo area history.
Apparently there had been road construction that was planned to go right through a faery fort. While there was much consternation and public debate over this, the construction continued as planned. Since the road opened this location has been the site of many tragic traffic accidents.
My time at Serenity Lodge was a meeting of cautionary tales.
The photo above is just one of the many spectacular Serenity views. This one from the dining room and back patio.