My Conversation With Ireland Now Available!

Ireland Cover_finalFor a country the size of the state of Iowa, one month isn’t enough to even scratch the surface…

Join me as I wander through 21st century Ireland, documenting my perspective (on the left page) and recording what I imagined to be the country’s response (on the right page). From surfing to must-sees to family roots, I hope that my photography, poetry, and prose will give you a glimpse of what I saw while I was there and inspire you to see the sights for yourself.

Here is a sample of what you have to look forward to in my first original, full-length book now available on Amazon.

DSCN0600Read the Fine Print

My body braces for the cold rush

My wetsuit holds it at bay surprisingly well.

Smile stretching from cheek to cheek

I know I look like an idiot

I don’t care.

Pure adrenaline fills my veins

More strength with each heartbeat.

 

I will stand up.

 

Board in place

Swing the leg over

Paddle furiously

Three extra strokes

Breathing forgotten

Pop

Lift

Pivot

Hold.

 

I’d never seen the ocean

Never touched or tasted it.

I stood up on a surf board,

On my first try.

There was a sign posted,

Written in fine print:

“Warning Surfing is Highly Addictive”

Always remember:

Signs are posted for a reason.

 

DSCN0621

Galway Bus Station Bird

I’m just a traveler, passin’ through, like all a them.

They don’t put spikes on the benches do they?

But sure put ’em all over my best perches.

I’m tired and hungry, too,

Trying ta get ta the nest and family.

So here I am, peckin’ around the ground for loose crumbs,

An’ what does this girl do?

She kicks me!

From outta nowhere a giant’s foot!

Now, how am I supposed ta respond?

I tried ta just hop outta the way,

An’ what does she do?

She laughs!

It’s true, I gotta busted leg,

Most a the time ya can’t see it

Cuz I tuck it up in my feathers,

But ta kick me, really?!

Hasn’ a bird been through enough?

I was jus’ flyin’ in from the ocean,

An’ I’m tired by now, been flyin’ ’cross the ocean,

So I’m flyin’ a lil lower’n usual,

But I still gotta right ta fly there, ya know,

So I’m flyin’ an’ outta nowhere

WACK!

Somethin’ hard snaps my leg.

I go down, a course,

An’ when I look up, I see ’em

Boy an’ board.

Damn surfer couldn’ even see through his hair,

All matted against his face from the wave.

Next time, I hope his board breaks his leg.

Dominick's Grave
The gravestone of my maternal great-great grandfather, Dominick Marley.

I ran my pencil over the rough surface, feeling the indentation of every letter, my hand going numb from gripping the pencil and paper so tightly against the wind. The rubbing would be worth it, though—a gift to bring back my grandmother of her grandfather that she never got to meet. So strange that a piece of paper that I could digitize and copy as many times as wanted felt more permanent than the stone itself. Age spots were creeping across the tombstone like frost across a lake. I worried how much longer the letters would be legible, how much longer my great-great-grandfather would be remembered. After all, I had no idea when the last time his grave had a visitor, or when he would be visited again. Would I be the last? Even the groundskeeper seems to have forgotten him as evidenced by the sack of pebbles left by the side of the gravestone, torn apart by the weather, spilling freely.

I knew nothing about Irish burial traditions, but I had seen many graves covered by small rocks or pebbles of all colors. A final burial shroud laid across the grave. I knew I wanted to do this for my great-great-grandfather as my eye bounced from the broken bag of pebbles to the grassy grave. But there was no way to know that those pebbles were meant for him and not for another forgotten soul. So instead I said a prayer for him and the others buried there, leaving it as I found it apart from a small white flower I’d plucked from the side of the road.

As I looked around I knew I had never seen such vibrant colors, from the deep green of the grass to the fading grays of the low stone walls that formed the barriers of a maze that could be truly appreciated only from a bird’s eye view. Out over the countryside I could see scattered buildings. Some were empty shells occupied only by the wind as I looked through their glassless frames. Others held people embracing the hope of a dormant seed waiting for the sun, as the floor-to-ceiling windows waited to magnify whatever small ray of light escaped the blockade of clouds. The silence was only broken by the sound of rustling plants and the occasional passing car. Exploring the countryside of County Sligo, Ireland, where my family had lived and farmed so long ago, made me question more than ever how I ended up being born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska, U.S.A. I couldn’t understand how anyone could leave such a stunning, and above all, peaceful place…

Order the full book now on Amazon to continue reading!

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