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Update on progress!

I had a gorgeous time in Ireland on my research trip.

It was quite a whirlwind – firstly meeting up with a Facebook friend for the first time and embarking on a road trip around sites that relate to history and spirituality for us. We visited Rathcroghan, Oweynagat and Emain Macha before I returned to Dublin and Belfast for some more hostelling and catching up with friends.

I don’t usually talk much about my spiritual beliefs or practices in public, so this feels a little scary to share. I feel incredibly fortunate to have had Lora O’Brien as our guide to Rathcroghan. I don’t believe anyone else has the connection with or knowledge of the sites and the history of the place – mythological, spiritual and academic/archaeological. Lora managed the visitor centre for 8 years and has such unique and in depth insights into the area that it was an honour to share the day with her!

Your Truly outside Oweynagat, the “Cave of the Cats” – aka a Hell Mouth portal…

As a very new, slightly sceptical and anxious explorer of such matters, it was great to be around people who didn’t make assumptions about my level of knowledge or engagement, who had none of the intimidating gatekeep-y-ness that’s always a concern to me with my constant impostor syndrome. It was a glorious few days of giggling, pottering around wonderful countryside and feeling at ease, like I’ve found where I’m meant to be heading.

My travel companion Awen also offers services to the Pagan community and you can find more details at the Wild Magpie website.

 

However, not all was sunshine and progress – a very significant relationship in my life drew to a close and the focus of my final project on the art course has significantly changed. Before the trip I was confused and unclear about how I wanted to proceed, but having returned and spent a couple of weeks digesting my experiences, I have a goal in mind. I have a little over two weeks remaining to put the finished piece together, and I’m pretty happy with the way it’s going.

 

I received relatively few responses to my Irish Identity questionnaire. The scientific fussy side of me is unhappy that my data is from such a small sample size, but definite trends emerged and I have a very clear image in my head of the artwork I want to make.

You Never Wash Up After Yourself

I have to spend the next couple of weeks putting all my thoughts and feelings about this into a sketchbook, and then I’ll be able to articulate what it means to me and what I hope it will say to other people. Really, this is all tempered by the fact that I love art that is fairly open to interpretation, that will evoke different responses in people depending on their own experiences.

 

The general gist that I’ll share now is that …it feels like part love letter, part colonial guilt, part speculation on two cultures with an incredibly intertwined, complicated and at times appalling history. There is an element of personal loss, laying my period of visiting Armagh to rest, and I wanted to show that what brings people together – sharing cups of tea, building communities, creating distinct and separate national identities – can be a lasting monument to the individuals that make up the populace of these two islands. I’m still at the clumsy word soup stage, so I do hope I can cobble something intelligible together before the hand in date!

 

 

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