'One Great Irish Spot': Discovering the Sacred on Inishmurray Island

You won’t find it listed in most Irish travel books and I have yet to see a travel website that mentions it. But in my book, Inishmurray Island is the greatest place in Ireland, perhaps on Earth. Because I always strive to be a traveler rather than a tourist on my rambles, most of my travel plans through Ireland were gleaned from the Irish history books on my shelves and stories from friends. Since I am particularly drawn to monastic sites, the small island of Inishmurray made my list. So on a chilly Sunday morning during our two-week Irish stay, my husband and I drove down to the bay and met the boat that was to take us out into Donegal Bay, joining four others to walk the island of St. Molaise’s monks. As the waves rocked and the spray hit my face, I felt only a rush of anticipation, as if my soul already knew it was going somewhere it would remember forever.

The story of Inishmurray, like all good Irish stories, is a beautiful one, tinged with the sacred and with lament. It is a story of men of great faith, of a hard-working and tight-knit community, of painful farewells, and of the sea. The island still holds the ancient monastery- its church open to the heavens and the weather, a beehive hut still snug and dry. It also contains more weathered remains- the cottages and cemetery of the community who lived and worked, danced and cried, were born and died there until the last survivors left in 1948.

Within minutes of climbing the rocks and walking the fields of the island, I felt in my bones that this was a land that still breathed its memories, protected its sacredness, and stood apart from time. In that way, it seemed to me the perfect embodiment of Ireland itself, a land of myth and memory, change and stillness.

Even now, years later and thousands of miles away, I often close my eyes and picture myself there, especially when I am hurried or overwhelmed. My husband felt the pull of the island as well, and even now we speak of it as if it is our own special secret. It comforts me to think of that secluded, secret place surrounded by Atlantic waters; to know that even though I am not there to see it, the sea still crashes against the rocks, the seagulls still circle overhead, and the sea pinks still bloom in the spring. It gives me peace and hope to imagine that, whether in 5 years or in 50, when we return to Inishmurray, I will still find the piece of myself I left behind there and recognize the woman I was in a place my soul felt at home.

~ Jill Fuller, www.pilgrimsoul22.blogspot.com

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Tags: Donegal, History of Ireland, Inishmurray, Molaise

Comment by Gerry Regan on March 31, 2014 at 12:24pm

Jill, artfully written. I'm transported. Go raibh maith agat!


Admin
Comment by Fran Reddy on March 31, 2014 at 3:07pm

That was great Jill! How many of us come away from Ireland leaving a piece of ourselves there! I enjoyed this :)


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Comment by Bit Devine on April 1, 2014 at 1:41am

Beautiful, a chara! You truly captured the essence of Inis Muireadheach


Gaeilgeoir
Comment by Ryan O'Rourke on April 1, 2014 at 5:05am

Really enjoyed this blog, Jill.  Thanks for sharing it.  Hope to read more from you in the days ahead.

Comment by Jill Fuller on April 1, 2014 at 7:56am

Thank you to all! Writing this piece gave me such joy and I am glad it spoke to you as well. :) Slainte.

Comment by P.J. Francis on April 8, 2014 at 3:03pm

Wonderful article, Jill, and thank you for introducing me to The Wild Geese.

Comment by Jill Fuller on April 8, 2014 at 6:10pm

Thanks P.J.! I think this is just your kind of place. Have a wonderful trip- say hello to Sixmilebridge and Lisdoonvarna and the Burren for me!

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