The Time Wasted, That is not Spent in Ireland

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

In our work here we have the privilege of sharing in many peoples first experiences of native Irish culture and spirituality, some of which occur here in our island as Ireland still calls strongly for distant people to come and place their feet upon the soil. On so many occasions I have heard folk say 'I cant wait to come back' or even more telling ' I don't want to leave'. It was hard for me to truly comprehend the draw of Ireland until I spent more than a few days away from her.

In my travels I have crossed the waves, flown through the skies and ventured to far continents and though much of that time was passed with work or the pleasures of friendships renewed, there came moments of quite stillness where my heart would become heavy, my feet uncomfortable upon the land beneath them. It was at these times that I heard Ireland's call the loudest. Of course everyone gets 'home sick' when they travel for any great length of time and that is what I presumed it was, that is until I found a new perspective.

I am fortunate to have made many new friends on my travels and am forever grateful for their hospitality in opening their homes to me. It was through these friends that I gained my new view of my little island. At first seemed like a cast away comment, something added to a conversation to express the degree of affection they had for Ireland. Oh how wrong was I. Soon I had heard it from more than one friend and even found out that some had begun the steps to make their statement a reality. What statement was this? Well its 'I cant wait until I can just move to Ireland!'.

Of course, having lived my life growing up in Ireland it never actually occurred to me that I could live anywhere other than where I was born and raised, and since I had that realisation, I have decided that living anywhere other than this little island is not for me. What surprised me though, was how strongly the call of the land here is, even to those not born upon it.

With the gift of this new perspective I have begun to see more and more, the impact that Ireland has, and indeed had through out its history. The quote above is from one
Lady Isabella Augusta Gregory, an Irish dramatist, folklorist and theatre manager. She co-founded the Irish Literary Theatre and the Abbey Theatre, and wrote numerous short works for both companies.

Lady Gregory worked to explore and translate Ireland's ancient writings, some of these translations still in form the work of Irish literary research to this very day. She also produced a number of books retelling stories taken from Irish mythology. What's more interesting is that even in the mid 1800's, to someone born into a class that identified closely with British rule, and privileged enough to have traveled through out the Mediterranean, and even as far as India and Egypt, the love of Ireland never diminished, in fact it grew.

When her perspective grew to the degree that she could see the harm British rule was causing to Ireland, she turned against it. A term used for her changed stance could be said to be one of 'cultural nationalism', a reawakening of appreciation for the Irish language, its stories, poetry and cultural identity. What had been a person with a moderately unionist stance, shifted to a staunch advocate of republican ideology, national identity and a cultural appreciation. 

I have read some of Lady Gregory's works and stood within the Abbey Theatre in Dublin and though I see myself as late in coming to my own cultural awakening I do have to agree with her sentiment;

I feel, more and more, the time wasted, that is not spent in Ireland.

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