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Latest Aran Islands News

Homecoming

Slabs of limestone

It is a cold and windy night when I set foot on the Glór na farraige or the voice of the sea. Many people have also taken the road to the pier like I did to sail for Inis Meáin. As there is already a big crowd inside when I enter the saloon but I only know a few of them. The people themselves though are joined in little as well as in bigger groups. They seem to know one another well. Although much talking is going on there are little parties as well sitting amongst themselves immersed in thought. No one however seems to be bothered by the unexpected rough movements of the boat. There is surely now the focus of mutual sharing of feeling in the familiarity of one another’s company.

Overlooking the fields

It is already dark when we arrive at the pier of Inis Meáin. A long row of people is moving slowly outside the saloon onto the lower deck when the gang way is secured. In the gleam of the light of the lantern poles I see another crowd of people on the pier in this cold and windy night. They are waiting expectant for their families and friends. As a welcome home the people have formed a half circle.

The cliffs of Inis Meáin

One after the other the passengers go up the stairs and disembark. As soon as the first one sets foot ashore the flow of mutual warmth in meeting is affirmed. The shaking of hands and giving hugs to share consolation as well as joy for reunion do not seem to come to an end until the coffin is shored by whom and for whom this all is initiated.

Coming home

With deep respect I look back on you who passed on suddenly. It is hard to imagine not to meet you anymore on the road, around the fields or coming back from Mass. Always there was a smile and a chat. And even the last two dogs you had; Rover and Sailor, in their dog way both of them had the same sort of gentleness and kindness towards the outside world as you had.

Welcoming

In the sunshine

Sailor

Thank you for all your sharing.

Slán go fóill,
Elisabeth from Inis Meáin

P.S. I am sorry to tell you that this is the last blog I wrote about my life on Inis Meáin. All these past eight years I have enjoyed to share my experiences with you on the middle island I love so dearly. Alas, it is time for me to move on now. Thank you in gratefulness. Elisabeth

The French lady

Strength of Inis Meáin

At least thirty years ago I reckon it was, that she came to Inis Meáin for the first time and spent almost the rest of her life time here on the island. She did not know anybody but soon when she wandered along the winding roads she met the lady with whom she bonded for life. She bought a house and while it was in the process of being restored by islanders she could stay with the family. She loved that period of time in which she was in the direct company of the islanders as one of the stories she kept telling me about how grateful she felt to the ‘bean a’ tí’ (her hostess) to find a bottle filled up with warm water in her bed the first night.

Many decades before she was born at sea while her parents re-migrated from America to Ireland. Her childhood she spent in Donegal but as soon as she became a young adult she left. Many years she spent abroad where she and her husband raised their own family. After she became a widow she moved to France. It was in her mid-fifties however that she had the desire to come back to live in the country of her childhood but because she did not find anyone anymore she used to know in Donegal, she looked for other places to find rest and peace what she found on Inis Meáin.

Rest and Peace

Along her work in writing and translating there was always time to meet up with her islander friends in church or in the organisation of the Order of Malta for gatherings. Or in her home for a coffee or tea break which she loved to share with others.

Maria Magdalena
It was only in the last ten years that the two of us met as being neighbours across the road in Tigh Cháit. There she distinguished herself by ringing the chime, I used to have in the porch, as to say: time for a break for sugar and tea. I dearly loved the sort of chats we had. Sometimes I called her when there were French speaking visitors she might like to talk to and over she came.

Inis Meáin

As time went on she became more dependent on help from outside that about three years ago she moved away from Inis Meáin to live in a nursing home. From time to time we kept meeting one another there as we were able to continue our being together for a chat. Although it became more and more difficult for her to express herself in the way she wanted, these precious moments of sharing I will keep alive.

For Alexandra

Thank you, Alexandra, for everything you shared with all of us.

Slán go fóill,
Elisabeth from Inis Meáin

Peek-a- boo in the Atlantic

Turn into Autumn

Line by line I see the Savanna-looking fields changing back into the juicy green colour I am so used to. As the side of the roads are also, after their late Autumn-look; the lifecycle of grasses and other plants has come into completion too quickly so it seemed. Now their look is refreshed with the new comers getting their chance in developing.

Island life

Refreshing

Despite of an ongoing heatwave in Europa, here the weather has been restored as it is mild again on Inis Meáin. There is sunshine but not too strong. During the night some gentle drops of rain are falling down as round and about the closing of day, there is even a slightly cold breeze coming along from the sea, just to let us know we are living on an island in the Atlantic. Actually, we too had some weeks in a row of pure sunshine and even at the end of this period of extreme warmth we had a heat wave also!

Summer holidays

Will it start raining

Slowly but definitely though we left the season of Summer behind us as we passed the threshold of the first month of autumn or Lúnasa called after Lugh, warrior and chieftain of the Tuatha Dé Danann, the people who adored the goddess Dana. It was them actually who once, wrapped in a thick mist, came from the north through the air to Ireland and landed on the north-west of Connacht. This image comes into my mind on a day like this: sea and sky are covered with a dense layer of fog only to be lifted once in a while by the sun peeking through to withdraw again the following moment. The common aspect lies in the unexpected.

Sportsmanship

Gift of summer

Right now, we are in the middle of the fortnight’s festival of Lá Lúnasa. In taking part in game and competition we celebrate our gratitude towards the gift of Summer and we prepare ourselves for what wants to come towards us from the future.

What is coming towards us

Slán go fóill,
Elisabeth from Inis Meáin