I had never stood on Irish soil, sand, or rock prior to this summer. Although, I have dumped a small Ziplock Bag filled with Irish soil on the spec of land I own in America (thanks to John Triggs who snuck home a bit of the Emerald Isle in his suit case and shared it with me at my Mom’s funeral).
Technically speaking, I am a lot like America. I am a bit of a melting pot. I have German, English, and Irish blood. There are likely other ‘ingredients’ mixed in, but that’s what I can best conclude from my somewhat difficult to determine genealogy.
Despite all of that, I must say I have always felt like I was an Irish-American. I guess that’s because I have always identified with the deeply passionate love for Ireland that was so proudly displayed by my Mom and her many relatives that were no more than a generation or two removed from ‘the land of saints and scholars.’
Mary and I returned from our Ireland pilgrimage earlier this month. So how can I best sum up our journey? Well, when we were about to depart Ireland after a leisurely two week tour, I emailed my kids and said, “I am having a hard time determining if we are leaving, or coming, home.”
Ireland just felt right – except for the unfamiliarity of driving on the unconventional side of the street on the wrong side of the car when we were frequently on roads that were no bigger than a Texas sidewalk. But, on the whole, I would have to say it was the trip of a lifetime.
I went into our expedition believing it was beautiful beyond belief – it exceeded my expectations. I went into our voyage believing it would be enormous fun exploring Ireland with friends – it exceeded my expectations. I went into our jaunt believing I could get substantial photoremedy – again, it exceeded my expectations.
And, how did my aching body hold up to all of this? It exceeded expectations, too, for the first few days and when I was getting ‘endorphin rushes’ from the thrill of digitally capturing Ireland’s explosive combination of color and history.
Now that I am home, the recovery has been slow and we have determined we will likely be proceeding with more surgery in somewhat of a last ditch effort to fight what I’m now being told is Failed Back Surgery Syndrome or FBSS. I know it sounds a bit strange to treat FBSS with more surgery, but I have the best collection of doctors I have had to date. Mary and I have weighed the options, and we believe it is worth the effort.
My photography will likely be limited during a possible 6 -12 week recovery period. Since photoremedy is primarily aimed at helping others fight similar or related health challenges, I will blog more about the procedures and details at a future date.
The good news is that while I will have to limit my activity and photography, I took so many stinking pictures in Ireland that I have plenty of material to take me a long ways down the future blogging road.
I hope the first series of pictures we offered in the video at the top of this post was worth the wait and the snail’s pace I had to take in putting it together. The photos feature Ballyheigue and its surrounding area. Ballyheigue is a modest, breathtaking seaside village overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. It is near the spot where the famous River Shannon gloriously ends its freshwater journey and feeds the mighty Atlantic.
We traveled there primarily to meet up with our buddy Father Pat (Paddy as the Irish locals call him) Godley, who is featured in the photo-video. Fr. Godley–yes, that’s really his name–is a retired priest who serves our Arizona parish. Fortunately, for him, he returns to his native Ireland each year to visit his family and to make sure he remains ‘sufficiently Irish.’ He is 84 years old, but he would be a great tour guide if he decided to change professions. We hope that doesn’t occur. He still gives a great homily – filled with Irish humor and wise advice.
Note: The Photo-remedy mission is to encourage those fighting chronic pain and other afflictions to consider using photography as a powerful tool to move their focus away from the pain. In the process, we strive to enhance readers’ ability to see beauty and experience elevated joy in their lives. There are many gifts that can accompany health challenges; one of the greatest offerings is it frequently forces sufferers to set better priorities for their lives and assists them in seeing the world in new and more meaningful ways.