Technology and me.

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*Waving … Hello to everyone who reads this.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been stuck with the ‘The Irish Way’ and wondering where to go with it.
‘The Irish Way’ is just coming up to it’s one year anniversary (June 23rd) and I am overwhelmed with the response. I am not egotistical enough to assume that it’s me people have responded to, it’s not, people have responded to the words ‘The Irish Way’ and have grabbed the concept of it, I am so grateful for that. If I have presented it in a way that other people can relate to, then I can take a little credit for that, or can I?
If how I present ‘The Irish Way’ is what has reached over 350,000 weekly readers, can I really take credit for it? At the end of the day I am relating to others in the same way my Grandparents related to me … I am passing on an Irish Way of doing something, so I can’t really take any credit for it ~ the only thing I can take credit for is sticking to what I believed was the right way to interact with people in this whole new medium of internet connection. I believe in honesty and integrity, I believe that being kind, to those who deserve it, is the best way to communicate, especially with the written word. I am not attracted to internet spaces where ranting and bullying has been encouraged by the angry who need a platform to work out their own personal issues.

We are living through the Technology Age, and I’ve wondered how to approach it. Can I add something of value to it and I’ve come to a place where I think I can, but only by referring to an older way of relating to others. ‘Don’t mind what they say, watch what they do’ is a mantra that my Grandfather spouted and I ignored until I remembered it and began to apply it. It’s a mantra that’s kept me secure for years now, patience and allowing others to be heard, not jumping to ill informed conclusions but waiting to hear what the other is trying to say. It’s an age old way of communication that is very valuable in today’s world of wording. It’s even more valuable in Ireland as it’s the way we are, fighting against it only causes us hurt. Disregarding it as ‘old fashioned’ has led to nothing, because it exists as a core value in Irish society. Denying it’s existence does not remove it. Working against the grain of who we are leaves us rough and unrefined and Irish people are anything but rough and unrefined.
Just look at our arts and our scenery and you’ll see the beauty of what lives in Irish people.

Having spoken with Joe (photographer) and Felicity (writer) and thousands of others, I see them understanding, this grá is in them too and it has become the common ground on which we have formed very real friendships … and I am reminded that this too is The Irish Way.
We reach out to others – we find like minded people, we share what we love and invite you to love it too. It’s how we connect, it’s how we are.
Ireland, like a lot of other countries, is suffering a huge financial crisis, the breakdown of our church has left a massive gap in the day to day way we ‘gather’ and exchange topics of interest. Our emigration has increased and our dissatisfaction with our Governments decisions has manifested itself in outrage and death threats to certain individuals.
I too am angry, but I’m not as angry as I was because I’ve spent the last year listening to others and I’ve seen first hand the efforts people are going to, to get themselves away from the constant, negative, drip fed media mould of our newspapers.
I often get the sense that some ‘think tank’ has applied individual psychoanalysis theory to a group dynamic – just another botched attempt to ‘feed people thoughts’ – but here, in this cyber community, I see the realness of people. From your personal messages, you’re feedback and your comments I am no longer in doubt as to the heartfelt desire that people have, to connect with the place of their heritage, whether they now live in Ireland, Germany, Australia, America, England …  Sure, I have that myself and I live here, I want to know more about the stock I come from, we all do .. .and that itself reminds me of an old Irish way of doing something … do you remember years ago when you’d tell your parents about someone and straight away they’d ask, ‘Who’s their Mother?’ and then the connection would be made before you were allowed to tell your story?

After the ‘Celtic Tiger’ has roared and instilled the fear and mistrust of each other into us.
After the Irish government and the Vatican have argued about it’s embassy placement, and left people bereft in their spiritual searching, after our hunger for a better way of life has left so many in financial crisis and a feeling of desperation has oozed it’s way into the lives of too many … our death by suicide is frighteningly high, our drug dependencies are rising while our willingness to hope is decreasing … I can tell you that people are still reaching out to each other, we are mending ourselves, we are weaving old and new again and are allowing a healing process to work it’s magic and a lot of us are using the internet to do it.

Technology and me … Technology has crept into my life and the internet has opened doors that would otherwise have always been closed to me. I have a teeny-tiny window that I can see through but it’s only by approaching it ‘the Irish way’ that I’ve been allowed to see all the great things that are happening. Which reminded me of another old Irish saying
‘A skilled craftsman does not mourn his old tools, he keeps them beside his new ones’

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

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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 myself and Joe are 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 myself and Joe might make a bit of a ‘tour’ out of it so I asked him would he like to go and he said he 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 Joe 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 Joe 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. Joe has an inbuilt aversion to ‘nonsense’, it’s something that I admire in him so out of the corner of my eye I checked to see how he was and I could sense his 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.
https://www.facebook.com/TheHouseOnAnIrishHillsideByFelicityHayesMcCoy
http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-House-Irish-Hillside-Where/dp/1444730304

Photo’s to follow soon  … in the meantime we will be posting photo’s on the facebook page and on Joe’s page https://www.facebook.com/JoeOrmondePhotography?fref=ts

We Dance …

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Hear my cry,
In my hungering search for you,
Taste my breath on the wind,
See the sky as it mirrors my colours,
Hints and whispers begin.
I am living to nourish you, cherish you,
I am pulsing the blood in your veins,
Feel the magic and power of surrender,
To life. Uisce BeathaEvery finger is touching and searching,
Until your secrets come out,
In the dance, as it endlessly circles,
I linger close to your mouth.I am living to nourish you, cherish you,
I am pulsing the blood in your veins,
Feel the magic and power of surrender,
To life. Uisce Beatha(These lyrics were written by the award-winning Bill Whelan for the opening song to Riverdance. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3mC0rWgUqTc  )

It is not possible to say when dance became part of the human culture but it is possible to say, without any doubt, that we dance,

There is no doubt that music and dance has helped to define the culture of Irish people world wide, I am not the first to write that nor will I be the last. Every country and nation has its own dance and Ireland is no different, or are we?
You may have see excerpts of Riverdance or you may have been lucky enough to see the show itself?
I remember watching it when it first appeared on our screens during the Eurovision Song Contest of 1994. It left as powerful an impression on me as it did on the audience who jumped up and roared with pride while they applauded.
Dance did that.
It’s almost 20 years later and it’s only now I’m getting the time to question ‘why’, what is it about dance in our culture that helps to define us?

Gay Byrne had John Conneely on ‘The Late Late Show’ (apx 1970) and he started the conversation by saying
“You broke your back John”
“That’s right yea,” John replied …. but Gay went on to say “Right, but let’s have first things first”… and John got to show us how he danced ‘the fastest reel in the west’!      (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M-duDKzm3mY)
Watch it – you’ll see John trying to keep up with his legs as they take him around the floor like he had no control over them!

We’ve heard stories of dancing at the crossroads and after the harvest threshing but it’s only until I began studying our history that I realised how important dance became after the curfews of the civil war. The men and women of rural Ireland made time to gather with their music and the best place to meet was at the crossroads where people cycled from miles around just to … meet up and dance.

I’ve been listening to people for a long time, observing body language and the intricate ways we communicate and one thing I have observed is how we dance while we are about our every day lives … keep an eye out for it and you’ll see the different styles, whether it’s a slow reel of the farmer who’s slogging along behind the cows or the busy housewife who’s doing a jig around the supermarket, the steady hornpipe of the office staff as they go through their day, the rhythm is everywhere … we dance without knowing it.
And our older people, I’ve seen them at it too!
I’ve listened to the banter and even joined in and I see their eyes dance with divelment at times and I know that they dance when they are at home in the kitchen.
We dance when we’re happy and we dance when we’re sad, we dance around each other when we’re not sure of who of who we’re talking with.
We dance with our words on the internet and we exhaust ourselves as we ‘rave’ about our ‘leaders’.

Do you remember the first dance/disco/rave/concert you were allowed to go to?
Do you remember how excited you were and dreading the first dance? … Did you practise much and feel a fool when you couldn’t get the timing right and then thought ‘to hell with it I’ll just stand here and shake myself’ … and that became a dance all of its own! 

From ceílí dancing to set dancing, from step dancing to the Sean-nós – there’s the soft shoe and the hard shoe and if you feel like no shoes then that’s fine too! So long as you dance.

Zach Klingenberg and Ciaran Plummer are keeping an old style and giving rhythm to the music as they turn out some new moves, some new vibrancy as they dance like the rest of us can only dream about.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_jlJH65KR14#!

When you see where you’ve come from you can decide where to go and you can put a skip in your step as we go there.