Ireland has been working on me for a while. It started when I was in my first call as a pastor in rural Iowa, putting many miles on my Camry driving all over the Loess Hills. Pre-podcast days, I started listening to books on CD. My dad recommended Ireland: A Novel by Frank Delaney.
Here is a description: “In the winter fo 1951, a storyteller arrives at the home of nine-year-old Ronan O’Mar in the Irish countryside. The last practitioner of an honored, centuries-old tradition, the Seanchai enthralls his assembled audience for three evenings running with narratives of foolish kings and fabled saints, of enduring accomplishments and selfless acts–until he is banished from the household for blasphemy and moves on. But the three incomparable nights have changed young Ronan forever, setting him on a course he will follow for years to come–as he pursues the elusive, itinerant storyteller…and the magical tales that are no less than the glorious saga of his tenacious, troubled, and extraordinary isle.” My dad read this book with his eyes, but I listened to Delaney read it and I started to ponder going to Ireland someday.
Fast-forward to my call in Idaho. I decided to see a Spiritual Director (SD) and for about four years I met with SD Peg Wuelfing once a month. Peg was connected to the Monastery of St. Gertrude, Cottonwood, where I will spend three weeks in August. She taught several cohorts of spiritual directors in Idaho. She was very interested in Celtic Spirituality. In the summer of 2015, Peg and her husband Ed hiked in Ireland. I followed their adventure through Ed’s blog and and then heard all about the trip upon their return. I wanted to go. And then Peg died on All Saints Day, Nov. 1, 2015. I lost a spiritual director, mentor, and friend.
That same summer of 2015, my friend Joy started a three-year Masters in Education program administered by Michigan State University and located in Galway, Ireland. Joy fell in love with the country and each fall I got to see pictures and hear what it was like to live there. Joy will be my travel partner in Ireland this July.
Joy and I at the Shakespeare Festival
So there they are–the three people who inspired me to travel to Ireland this summer: Frank, Peg, and Joy. Thanks friends.