‘Strangers are only friends who haven’t yet met’

There’s an expression that sometimes pops up ‘Strangers are only friends who haven’t yet met’. I’ve grown up hearing this expression but I’d written it off as one of those ol’ sayings that you read on a card, or, these days, on the internet.
Lately, those ol’ sayings have been put to the test as I am out and about and meeting people. There’s a certain wisdom to be learned when we listen, but there’s so much being said these days that it’s hard to pick out who to pay attention to.
I’ve discovered this myself as I’ve been rummaging around and learning what I can about  the history of Ireland. For almost a year now I’ve been slogging through bits and pieces, linking in this date and that date and then along comes a mention of the Fir Bolg or the Tuatha dé Dannan that takes me off in another direction and I want to know more about them too, after all didn’t they all leave their mark?

So you can imagine my excitement when I discovered that someone had already spent years putting together a book that explains our legends in an everyday context while she writes about her own experiences in life. The book was recommended by several readers on The Irish Way facebook page and I can’t say that I jumped at the chance to read it, a lot of people recommend different things that I should look at, or read, or people I should connect with, and for the most part I do listen, however if a recommendation comes in while I’m busy there is a chance that I might miss it. I missed the recommendation to read this book, and it was only after a few people suggested it, that I went off and found a link, I read the first few pages and was hooked, bought it for my kindle within 5 min and got stuck into it that night. The next day I got in touch with the author and thanked her for her hard work and tried to explain how valuable this piece of work is. I wanted her to understand that I understood … so I wrote and told her ‘I love the book so much that I want to get in the car and drive down to tell you’ and she said ‘why don’t you’ so I said ‘right, I will so’ then I thought I might make a bit of a ‘tour’ out of it so I asked a friend would they like to go and they said they would so we went and yes I know how mad that sounds ~ perhaps if I’d thought more about it I wouldn’t have sent the message, but I reacted to her words … and I discovered that was the key that this author holds, she shows you what she loves and why she loves it, encouraging us to take a closer look and fall in love ourselves.

We were blessed with the day. The sun shone for everyone and the humour was good. We set off and chatted about what we were going to see and who we were going to meet.
I usually drive everywhere myself so it was a complete treat for me to have a friend driving while I gazed out the window like a child on a school tour.
I’ve been to Dingle so many times I’ve lost count, when my own children were younger we went there a lot, surfing, hiking, swimming, safety, wildlife, nature, the peninsula has it all. We often looked at the mountains and declared their beauty along with the beauty of Ireland itself. I wanted to know more about the area but was not drawn to any of the books that were available at that time. So when this book was suggested to me I wasn’t expecting what I read.
A writer that has a firm grasp of the Dingle Peninsula, London, Dublin and Connemara, a writer who can show me the dynamics of the people of these places and link in the similarities of the customs, breaking down barriers and opening up new ways to connect. Of course I’m going to be interested, this is the Irish way that I try to chat about. So while I gazed out the window and my friend negotiated the tractors (silage time) and we passed through the towns and villages that are scattered, I became more excited by what I might find myself. I’m coming back with a new perspective, a new sense of place. I’m coming back to see where these Legends of old walked (and danced) and told stories themselves.

We got to Felicity and Wilf’s house on an Irish hillside in the afternoon and we’re met at the door with one of the warmest welcomes I’ve ever received. I’m a psychoanalyst by training and I pick up on people’s body language, I do it without knowing I do it, I’ve been doing it so long it’s now part of who I am. My friend has an inbuilt aversion to ‘nonsense’, it’s something that I admire in them so out of the corner of my eye I checked to see how they were and I could sense their comfort too.  The long arm of the musician extended to offer his hand as Felicity herself appeared at the door, smiles all around with a hug for her and the first thing I notice were the spuds in the garden, not a bit of blight on them, the rows were perfect and even though this sounds idiotic, I even noticed the butterflies fluttering from one patch to another and I knew that what this woman writes is what she sees and believes.  I looked over the hedge to the magnificent mountains and recalled what I’d read in her book. Legends were made here, stories and folklore are still shared.

For people who still hanker for the ‘old ways’ this read proves that these old ways are still very much alive and can be re-created in our own home, wherever we are, with the smallest of efforts.

For me, personally, meeting people of integrity is always something to cherish, yesterday I met a couple of strangers and went away feeling as though I had made some new friends.
Today I’m still processing what all this information means and how this new knowledge has enriched my life.

Do consider buying a copy of this book as a gift to yourself or another.


13 thoughts on “‘Strangers are only friends who haven’t yet met’

  1. Fiona…what a wonderful opportunity that you grabbed with both hands! Reading Felicity’s book has been one of the most enjoyable things I’ve done in quite a while. I love how she places the reader right there on the spot. I love that I can picture, in my own mind, many of the places she talks about. I love reading her descriptions of music sessions because, where I come from, there’s not that many people who actually “get” the way a session works…the flow of the music, the sets of three tunes usually played through three times each, the sense of community that’s created, the craic etc. etc. I love reading about the legends and how, to this day, so many ancient rituals, for want of a better word, are still recognised and celebrated. I love how she describes the gentle, friendly and caring ways of the people because, for the most part, this is how I’ve always found Irish people to be. It’s why I prefer to spend time in their company whenever I can manage it. This is a book I will treasure forever and read again and again. The only thing I don’t like is the fact that I’m nearly finished it, even though I’ve been trying to make it last LOL! I was trying to describe it to a friend the other day and couldn’t think of the right words to sum it up. Now, reading your blog has fixed that problem for me. You put it just right when you said it was ‘the Irish Way that you try to chat about’ – that’s exactly what this book is about….the Irish way…and I think it’s a way a lot of us could learn from for a more peaceful, caring, meaningful and fulfilling life.

    As for your opening quote about strangers…..are we not proof of that?

    Cheers – Therese

    • Therese, you’re so right. I’d forgotten to mention the sessions. Growing up in a music household myself I just assumed, actually I didn’t think about it. A session is a session and in my own life, it’s not something that needed to be explained, so thank you for highlighting that and reminding me. When I think of how the whole meeting up happened, it does sound a bit ‘odd’ but I remember the time you and I met and I walked away feeling like I should have done more, I should have asked you if you wanted to grab a coffee … and then almost a year later ‘finding’ each other through social media. You’re in Australia, I’m in Ireland and we ‘meet’ up again, I’d love if someone worked out the ‘odds’ on that one!

      I know the blog is mostly about the book, but you know when you come across something that’s done better than you could do it yourself?
      There’s a choice that comes with that. My sons are of the internet generation, anything that’s on the internet will be copied at least 8 times, or so they tell me. Originality is gone and the best you can hope for is getting your ‘thing’ out there, if it’s good, it will be copied and you hope that the copy will not be better than yours! I am of the generation that believes in honour and respect. If a ‘thing’ is good you go find the original and help celebrate it with the creator of it. I get cross with the lads, they see me as old fashioned … but at the end of the day, I’m the one they’ll come to for an honest, thought out, opinion.
      I think myself, Felicity’s book will be copied, it’s too good not to be – I’d love to help her reach a wider audience before that starts happening so that everyone knows that what they read/see it, it’s brought to them because of the hard work, integrity and dedication of the author.
      Sure, it no wonder so many people tried to get my attention to go and read it.

  2. You, Fiona, and Joe make a wonderful twosome; you, with your background in psychology, and Joe with his beautiful photography. I have been following The Irish Way for a while now, and I just LOVE the photos and stories of Ireland and the Irish people. My family is from Co. Longford, and they emigrated to America in 1907. Personally, I have been to Ireland three times already, and I’m planning another trip over in 2014. I have visited, by guided tour, most of the areas of Ireland, with the exception of the northern part, and I look forward to doing that during my next trip. Keep up the good work with the page, and don’t let Joe loose-his photos are BEAUTIFUL!!

    • Ellen. Thanks a million for that feedback. Longford is a beautiful part of Ireland and it doesn’t get enough coverage at all. If you’re going up North for your next visit you will not be disappointed, it is also a beautiful.
      As for letting Joe ‘loose’ … he does his best work when he’s off by himself. When I’m with him he gets conscious of me waiting, I’ve tried explaining that I’m not waiting, I’m soaking up the surroundings myself, but I think he’s like most artists, he likes to see his subject privately so that he can figure out what way to best share it.
      I’m a huge fan of his work myself too … and he’s alright to hang around with – you wouldn’t get too much of a headache 😉

      • I’m looking forward to visiting the North, after falling in love with the rest of Ireland! I’ve never been to Tipperary, or the surrounding areas, but I hope that my tour will take us close by. I will be ordering a copy of Felicity’s book soon, and thank you for being such an ardent supporter of her efforts. She seems to be a lovely person!! Joe can be “cut loose” to take his wonderful photos, which I really look forward to viewing (and possibly purchasing!). 🙂

  3. That mountain looks a lot softer from that angle. I climb it from Kilcash and the view sure is different.

  4. Can’t tell you how good it was to meet you and Joe, Fiona – or how touched I am by this blog post.

    In the Afterword of The House on an Irish Hillside I tell a story about Fionn Mac Cumhaill and his warriors hunting the hills of Ireland. They chase the deer from dawn to dusk and then make camp to eat, drink and make music. As they sit by the fire, between tunes and talk, Fionn asks his companions a question. ‘What’s the best music in the world?’ One says it’s the cry of the cuckoo. Another says it’s the ring of a spear on a shield. Someone suggests the baying of a pack of deerhounds or the laughter of a girl. ‘Nothing
    wrong with any of them,’ says Fionn. ‘But there’s better music.’ So they ask him what it is and he gives them his answer. ‘The best music in the world,’ he says, ‘is the music of what happens.’

    That was how it felt when Wilf and I encountered you and Joe. It’s wonderful to find new friends whom one likes at first meeting and whose work one admires. Thanks for your generosity, your openness, your energy and your desire to find and share the best in all you encounter. #PositiveIreland is a great hashtag that’s been going the rounds on Twitter. I think you embody it.

    • Thanks Felicity … I just finished your book last night and I read the bit about Fionn … I am named after him; Being born at the foot of Slievenamon there are stories about the race to marry Fionn and the witches who tried to interfere. Perhaps it is just another example of the legends that live on in our lives. We think the old ways are dead but they are not, they are alive and beginning to thrive again. The fact that your book has been embraced by so many just shows how hungry people are to find it.

  5. I am a big believer in the “a stranger is only a friend you haven’t met yet”, I like to go out on my own and talk to people around me, I come home with some of the most interesting stories and it makes my trips very worthwhile.

  6. Wow! Firstly, hello. I stumbled across The Irish Way Facebook page by way of another Irish Group page I am a member of. When I saw you had a blog I knew I had to read it and I’m so glad I have. I completely understand many of the things you’re saying. A friend of mine used to say “Strangers, are only friends you haven’t met yet.” He was Scottish. Our Celtic cousins and ourselves share a common ancestry both culturally and genealogically so, it’s hardly surprising we have similar sayings.

    I didn’t grow up with much of an Irish influence in my life as a child, besides what’s in my DNA but I’ve always felt “the call home.” I can see what you mean about Felicity’s book. I just read a couple of pages online whilst waiting for the kettle to boil…it’s fantastic!!! I am going to buy myself a copy and buy another for my father (who spent many a happy summer in Ireland in his youth) He’s not into reading much but I know exactly how to sell it to him as he’s a very busy man who really needs to slow down. I’ll simply say “If ever you want to escape to Ireland but you really can’t, then this, is the book you should read.”

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