The Time Wasted, That is not Spent in Ireland

As a tour guide on our little island I have the awesome privilege to interact with visitors experience of our landscape. In some cases their first experience and it always makes me smile to see the impact Ireland has on them when they get their feet on our soil.

Of course I am not unaware of my fortune in being born and growing up in this land, but it was only when I received the gift of a visitors perspective that I learned a deeper love for my island homeland. A love that I know many of our visitors share for I couldn't tell you how many times I have heard people say that they 'don't want to leave', 'can't wait to come back' or in some cases 'move to Ireland and live happily ever after'.

In my research of Ireland's lore and mythology I came across an amazing quote by one of the voices of the early Irish Literary Revival:

"I feel, more and more, the time wasted, that is not spent in Ireland." - Lady Gregory.

Isabella Augusta, Lady Gregory was an Irish dramatist, folklorist and theatre manager. She co-founded the Irish Literary Theatre and the Abbey Theatre, and wrote numerous works for both companies. 

Born into a class that identified closely with British rule, she was very very widely traveled and educated in the style considered 'proper' in Victorian England, though she had the good fortune of growing up in the care of Mary Sheridan a native Irish speaker who exposed her the the myth and folk lore  all around her. Her conversion to cultural nationalism came later in life when she took a visit to Iniseer in the Aran islands. This exposure to the living native language inspired her and she went on to produce many works retelling Ireland's folklore. Thought she deserves a lot of credit for her efforts in keeping the native language alive and exposing new people to the rich folklore of my little island, she was, unfortunately, raised within a rather repressive cultural perspective and as such omitted parts of the original lore in order to appease 'Victorian sensibilities'.

Still, though each of us carry our flaws, its clear to see that Lady Gregory did much for the Irish language and culture ,opening her home to many notable names in Irish literature, from Synge, WB Yeats  George Moore, Seán O'Casey, Katharine Tynan, Violet Martin and George Bernard Shaw. I fact it was Shaw who once described her as "the greatest living Irishwoman". It would seem that Ireland was place of much love and affection for Lady Gregory for even those who are born, live and die here still feel the time wasted, that is not spent in Ireland.

Do you feel as Lady Gregory did?

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