In March 2019 I travelled to New York on a work trip and paid a visit to the Irish Hunger Memorial.
Today I walk back in time. A time that ravaged my ancestors. I have always been torn inside by this ravaging time in our history and the imagery of my people stumbling around starving, their home torn down, dead and decaying bodies everywhere, manging animals feeding on these bodies and the whole of Ireland cloaked in its shawl of sadness.
I am descended from the survival of these great people. These are all the thoughts that flood my brain as I approach this elevated site of remembrance.
If I was an artist I could not have drawn it better than presented. The long potato ridges clothed with dying decayed straw like stalks. I walk on and enter through the roof stripped bothán with its elegant ancient hearth, where many a happy fire was gathered. As I gaze through the window space I can see backwards to the 1840’s. I feel my people on their knees in the soil.
This once ancient and sacred soil has lost its season of harvest. I lie against the cold stone wall and I feel the bitterness pass. This once torn and troubled ground will one day soon bear the seeds of plenty that will never again disappoint our nation and people. Every county in Ireland is represented here, its name engraved into the cold grey stone as if to remind us of the coldness of our loss but then I think to myself, “Sure we are a resilient race and we will be able to trust this earth again.”
My solemn mood turns to the sure intention of our ancient father farming hands that will turn and nourish our ancient soil back to fertility, keeping the intimate knowledge and knowing of the clay alive and bearing fruit to the rhythm of nature.
I must now leave this ancient, special and sacred place with very mixed feelings and I swallow my loneliness. I walk away with a deep emotion as if I was waving goodbye to a loved one forever reminding me never to forget her pain for survival on all our behalf.
The Mindful Farmer