Thursday 8 September 2016
It’s day 4 of my road trip and I took a trip to Achill Island of the coast of Co. Mayo.
Again I listened to Anthony de Mello as I drove. Bloody hell he comes up with some radical ideas. His theme today was about the power of the mind – he states that all life’s problems is in the mind. “If it starts raining and you don’t want it to, is the problem with the rain or you?” Deep stuff! It is definitely the rains fault though…
The roads and houses on the way were covered in Mayo flags (red and green), as they play Dublin in the All Ireland Gaelic Football Final in just over 1 weeks time in Croke Park. When I seen them one word came to mind – passion! The Mayo people are showing their passion for their county and their team and I’ve been lucky enough to see Down in the All Ireland Final 3 times, winning twice. So I know what the passion and support in this respect feels like.
Then I asked myself what was I passionate about in my life? A few things immediately sprung to mind, history, culture, Gaelic games, where I come from, expanding my knowledge, my family and most importantly my mums memory.
I am also passionate about my own self development, but I seem to be taking a random approach at the minute – reading books on random subject, I’m also in a self development group and we are given a homework each month. I haven’t really concentrated on any of them! I really need to re-commit and re-focus on these.
Anyway back to Achill Island, I stopped at an art gallery where I talked at length to a husband and wife who owned the gallery, which also sells his own photography. He told me that he moved to Achill and started photography some 30 years ago and has never worked a day since, because he enjoys it so much. His passion for his photography was infectious!
I really understand this one, as since I’ve grown my exam coaching business I’m passionate about helping others. I encourage my clients that even if they aren’t passionate about accountancy, they should make this highly credible qualification work for them by using it as a “passport” to a career and life that they will be passionate about. That’s what happened to me.
As Ken Robinson said, “Most people didn’t pursue their passions simply of the promise of a pay cheque. They pursued them because they couldn’t imagine doing anything else with their lives.”
I saw some amazing scenery today, Grace O’Malley’s Castle (look up the “Pirate Queen”), 6 cows and about 6 million sheep! Flip me I’ve never seen so many and I’m from the country.
Friday 9 September 2016
Well day 5 has arrived on my West of Ireland Road Trip and in typical “James Fashion” today’s trip was by no means conventional as I really went off the beaten track.
Pre arriving in Sligo, I went in search for Carrowkeel (Irish meaning “the Narrow Quarter”), a Neolithic Cemetery, between 5400 and 5100 years old. I drove down a rough laneway for 2 miles and arrived at a sign saying tombs were 1.5 miles away and cars not advised to go any further! It was lashing with rain at this stage so I decided to drive on anyway, well it turned into a series of “Deadliest Roads” on the History Channel. I got to the last possible place that the car could go and immediately met the local farmer. “You couldn’t tell me where the Cemetery is please?” I asked.”Them fecking old tombs are 1 mile up that hill.” Was the rough reply I got.
So eejit James, jumped out of the car in the pouring rain to climb the muddy hill and halfway up I realised I had my “Good Shoes” on…but anyway I got to see the Cemetery which was really good, but ended up soaked in the process.
I saw loads of random stuff today, in no particular order – Boyle Abbey, Rathcrohan – the Ancient Capital of Connaught (one of the 4 provinces of Ireland), Roscommon Castle, Westport House and nipped into Andersons Thatched Pub for a bowl of Irish Stew!
I also saw the smallest church in Ireland, (apparently it’s the second smallest in the world). It’s called Costello Memorial Church in Carrick on Shannon and was built by a man for his wife as a memorial for her. That’s true love for you. You can see their coffins underneath glass panels which is freaky but really cool at the same time! This leads me on neatly to another place I went today – The biggest Church in Ireland!
It is the “Basilica of Our Lady of Knock, Queen of Ireland” in Co. Mayo, they have just installed one of the biggest mosaics in Europe so I was curious to see it. Knock Shrine is one of the main world shrines to Mary (Mother of Jesus) and is incredibly significant to me as my late mother, (also Mary) was very devoted to the place. As some of you may know my mum suffered from Multiple Sclerosis – I absolutely adored her and have written a blog post about her – “My Mother – My Hero”. I have enduring memories of pushing my mum around Knock in a wheelchair as a young boy from age 7 to 14 hoping beyond hope for a miracle.
I’ve been to Knock many times but why so different this time? Well I was brought up by very loving, devoted Catholic parents so religion was normal enough for me, but over the last year as I have searched for more self development something has been completely rocked, my faith in “God”. Religion and God is not my point here, everyone has the right to worship whatever they want or nothing at all, but what I am getting at is that I went to Knock absolutely braced to be overwhelmed with feelings and conflicting emotions about my mother and my current position regarding my spiritual beliefs. To be honest, I was expecting huge amounts of sobbing, tears and to be an emotional wreck.
I walked into the Basilica and looked up at the mosaic (which was breathtaking), but I felt nothing, nothing at all. No knots in the stomach or tears. Whether that was due to complete contentment or complete confusion I simply don’t know and I still don’t know as I am writing this.
And you know something, I don’t actually mind not knowing why, I normally would beat myself up for not knowing given my “all or nothing” personality. So this is huge progress for me!
So for tonight all is well!
Saturday 10 September 2016
So day 6 of my journey, where did I end up today?
As you probably gather by now I love old historical things due to Irish history and culture being a huge passion of mine. So I arrived in Carrowmore, one of the largest complexes of megalithic tombs in Ireland (3700 BC), got a tour with a group of German tourists with me tagging along. The tour was great, but it was really intriguing seeing the German tourists reactions when the info was relayed back to them by a translator – they were blown away with the age, pagan significance and mythology of the place.
Next on the list was Parke’s Castle, a Plantation Castle in Co. Leitrim where WB Yeats looked out at Lough Gill and wrote his famous poem, “The Isle of Innisfree.” I’m far from the poetic type but it was quite cool standing in the same spot where he got his inspiration – it actually wasn’t hard to see as they were stunning views.
Speaking of Yeats, I was heading north through Co. Sligo, towards home again and was passing Drumcliff where he is buried, so I dropped by to see his grave. I actually bought a book of his poems, I will give it a go to read them, all in the interest of self development.
I moved on to Lissadell House, the childhood home of Countess Constance Markievicz, (née Gore-Booth) who was a socialite, politician, revolutionary, suffragette and socialist. The house was unreal, 44 rooms upstairs (for a family of 10!) with 30 in the basement for the servants. The tour highlighted the huge social class differences that existed in the 1900’s. The servants entered the house through a tunnel and the windows at the back of the house were false, all so that the family would never see the servants, apart from the maids who served the family.
Driving though the scenic fishing village of Mullaghmore, I got some amazing views of Ben Bulben mountain, then onward to Bundoran, a small seaside town where I had a great walk along the beach, got some dinner then made up my mind to come home.
So after 6 days what are my thoughts?
- To be more mindful of each and every moment – As Amit Ray said, “Looking at beauty in the world, is the first step of purifying the mind.” Standing at the edge of a 300 foot cliff at Dún Aonghasa Fort, or at Keem Bay on Achill Island certainly blew all the cobwebs out of my mind. It’s so easy to get caught up in the “9 to 5” and the “Rat Race” and forget about the simple things in life.
- Like I have said before, I’m brilliant at beating myself up, no matter how small the issue. But when things didn’t go to plan over the few days, I just went with the flow and didn’t worry as much – a definite success!
- I have also became more conscious and self aware of my own thoughts, especially the negative ones – when they started to call I politely told them to “eff off” and continued doing other more productive things.
- To actually give myself a bit more credit when it’s due – to just hop into the car without any plan and travel about on my own isn’t perhaps the most conventional thing, but I’ve never been conventional. Like good old Joplin quoted, “Don’t compromise yourself. It’s all you’ve got.” I have always put everyone else’s needs in front of mine so for the last week I actually looked after myself and did what I wanted for once. Everyone needs to do this once in a while.
- Look after yourself emotionally, this is my main thought – I never did emotions as I believed I was a big, tough, hard man. Then a few life changing events forced me to acknowledge my emotions properly and now I am on this exciting journey of personal development, enabling me to become the strongest version of myself.
So my final thoughts –
- Sometimes the best laid plans never work out! I initially was going to write my eBook, read 5/6 books and relax.
- The reality was that I never started the eBook, struggled to keep up with writing a daily blog, read half a book (I did listen to some great audio books though) and I’m shattered due to the amount of driving and the many things I have seen and done over the last few days.
Would I change anything? You’re damn right I wouldn’t. I saw some great sights, met some fantastic people, ate a crazy amount of biscuits for some reason but created some amazing memories – so what more would you want?
Thank you for being with me!