My Irish times

One of my favourite Ferron songs goes like this:

All the world can love you save for one
And I don’t know why it is that kiss will be the haunted one.

Lately I’ve been relating those lines to my family history search. I know it’s not what Ferron had in mind! It’s not a kiss but a name, or the absence of a name, that haunts me.

I have ancestors from Canada, Croatia, Norway, Sweden, England, and Ireland. For all but the Irish one, Charles Johnston, I can tell you exactly where they were born and the name of their mother. And I don’t know why it is, but it’s the unknown Irish foremother I most want to know about. Partly it’s the chase – but it’s more than that.

It’s Ireland herself.

My friend Laurie asked me the other day what drew LW and me to Ireland. We just returned after 30 days there – 30 glorious days. It was our 25th anniversary trip and a gift for my 60th birthday, which we celebrated in the air enroute to Dublin.

“I don’t know,” I told Laurie. “I’ve just always felt pulled.”

Now that I’ve been there, the tug is even more insistent: I want to go back. I need to go back. I will go back.

In the meantime, I treasure the memory of my Irish times. I want to write about them here, and I’ll do that over the next few weeks. I’ll probably start where we started, at Drogheda, and end where we ended, in County Cavan, where my so-far nameless foremother may have lived.

I may write about the Irish place names I’ve been butchering for years. For example, the Irish say KAVin, not CaVAN, and it’s not Drog HEE da, it’s DRAW heh da. (Well, it’s almost that. The gh is a sound in the back of the throat I’m still learning to make.)

I will certainly write about how Chris and I felt guided the entire time we were there. How little miracles kept happening. How the sun followed us.

And the Burren. My beautiful Burren. Maybe I’ll start there.

11 Responses to “My Irish times”

  1. carin

    I get it. The pull that Ireland has on you, the realness of it comes through even in this wee post; it’s a true and beautiful thing, a gift, a ‘finding’, when this happens, and I’m excited for you and so look forward to your writing, though I can imagine words will ever hardly do the depth of it all justice. Still, the haunted kiss… how perfect.

    Reply
    • commatologist commatologist

      Carin, I kept thinking about you as we drove around the country – thinking how much like PEI’s the landscape is and thus how much you’d love it. Have you been there? Did you love it?

      Reply
  2. Sheila Peters

    Good to read this, Leslie. History seems to draw you. You live in a storied landscape and are drawn to others. Looking forward to reading more.

    Reply
    • commatologist commatologist

      Thanks, Sheila. History definitely draws me. I love your observation that I live in a storied landscape. I can almost hear the stories – I certainly feel them – when I walk through a landscape, particularly ours.

      Reply
  3. Laurie

    Amen to the pulling. Italy does that to me (so much so that, whenever I am there, I leave a plant of some sort planted in a garden somewhere–with permission–as a way of claiming to be somehow rooted in the place). France is calling me at present, albeit for different reasons. I’m glad you and Chris were able to respond to the pull.

    Reply
  4. theresa

    So lovely. And wonderful to read of a beloved place through another’s eyes. (My favourite Ferron is Ain’t Life a Brook…)

    Reply
  5. commatologist commatologist

    Thanks, Theresa. During my time on the coast, my nose was alert for the smell of seaweed and turf smoke! I did know it when I smelled it!

    Reply

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