Being of Irish descent, my gift of gab is a birthright. I’ve kissed the Blarney Stone, to boot. My delight in serendipitous conversations with total strangers in far-flung places was a sign post on my journey to becoming a personal historian.
Travel, people, and story-telling are passions for me, ones that led me to create a website about the world’s cultural traditions and spiritual practices. I love to listen as well as share, and the site features a monthly interview column, in which someone with whom I have crossed paths offers a glimpse of life through their eyes.
Dara Molloy is a Celtic priest whom I met last summer when visiting the Aran Island of Inis Mor, off Galway and the West Coast of Ireland. Dara first discovered Inis Mor himself in the early 1980s, and the island’s pull on him served as a life-changing catalyst. What follows is an excerpt of my Q & A with him. I’ll let him tell you how he came home to Aran . . . and to himself.
On my first visit to Aran I knew instinctively that it was home. People have this experience on occasion. For example, when they meet the right person to be their life partner. They’ve been searching for a partner for years and can’t understand why it hasn’t happened. Suddenly this person is in front of them, and even before they speak, a chemical reaction takes place and something really serious is happening. In my case, it wasn’t to do with finding my life partner, it had to do with finding a place.
It was something that was missing for me for a number of years. I knew I was in the wrong place. In fact, I knew I was in the wrong place from the day I was born, in a sense, as soon as I became aware. I didn’t feel comfortable in Dublin, where I grew up. And then I went on this spiritual path into the Roman Catholic priesthood and into a religious community. When I got through that and qualified and was appointed to a school, it was quite clear to me that this was not what I was meant to be doing. This was not what my life was about. I had to find another way to be a priest or religious.
I didn’t even have the words to describe it but it was a spiritual way of life I was looking for, and not just to live a spiritual life, but to be of service to others in it. I knew that what I was living at the time was not what I wanted or needed, but there was nothing on the horizon that appealed to me. There were no other options that I saw anywhere that said come this way, this is the way to go, do this.
By accident, which is the way these things happen, I brought a group of young people to the Aran Islands for a camping holiday in 1982. Almost as soon as I arrived I saw the remains of the old hermit huts and Celtic crosses and holy wells and churches and monasteries. I heard the people speaking the Gaelic language, which is our old heritage. And I realized hey, this is my spiritual heritage out here. I would love to live out here in the wilds with the sea pounding up against the shore, with the winds blowing in off the Atlantic Ocean, with beautiful scenery around, immersed in my own culture, in my own native language. This is what my life could be about.
One of the ways I describe it is you have the binoculars up to your eyes but they’re not focused so you can’t see. Then you adjust the dial and eventually they become focused and you see everything so clearly. That was my experience. Suddenly everything became clear. It was totally obvious to me that I had to move to this island and to begin to live the life that would be inspired by the Celtic monks who had lived here one and a half thousands years ago . . .
For more of Dara’s story and others, visit my website, View from the Pier.
We all have stories that explain the twists and turns of our lives, and it’s such a privilege to be able to explore and share stories from people I’ve met on my travels around the world. Where are your life journeys taking you?
~APH: The Life Story People~
About today’s contributor: Meg Pier is an award-winning professional with a 20+ year career in writing, editing, interviewing, public relations, and brand building. Her credentials include a corporate career as the founding member of PR departments for four major financial services firms, a portfolio of bylines as a published writer, and publisher and editor of the website View from the Pier, dedicated to fostering cultural understanding and personal growth. The thread throughout these interests is an endless fascination with people’s stories and a passion for helping others to discover what makes them unique and to discern the value their experiences can offer others. Her personal history business is Life Lessons and Memories.
Photos from Meg Pier.