For those of you who don’t know me, to make a long story short I’m a TV presenter with RTÉ and the current host of the Rose of Tralee. More importantly, I’m a Kerryman!
A Kerryman who, like most of you, who has had to leave home and set up camp in another parish. I have always joked that I’ve been exiled in Galway for 12 years and loved every minute of it.
Galway City is like a big town and an even bigger playground. Traditional music being piped out the windows of the pubs at 5 in the evening, with a carnival like atmosphere from one end of the year to the next.
When I took up post in Dublin I had to leave this behind me five days a week. At 35 years of age it’s probably no harm!
A friend of mine, Úna Bairéad, who I had worked with in TG4 for 10 years, sadly passed away this time last year. I was away in the States working and I missed her funeral. Another friend said to me at Christmas that there would be a memorial walk for her in Muigh Inis back in Connmara in May, I saw my chance.
The walk took place last week. This was my opportunity to meet her husband, children, and family. I met her dad, Mike Canavan, and ended up walking the whole 5 km with him. I told him stories of Úna and I working together, I’d bring the Chinese and she would bring the wine if we were working late.
It’s a good job the Boss finished early! Mike is a quiet and easy going man, it was easy to see that is wasn’t off the ground Úna licked it.
The day was clear and sunny with a winter cut in the wind. Mike was a great “tour guide”, a fisherman by trade. He pointed Ceann Golaime, Oileán Mhic Dara and Feenish Island out to me. Places I had only heard of in song.
That’s one thing about Connemara folk and their songs, if you were to put all their songs together as a mental image you could walk the area in your mind. I’d need help with some of the translations though. Even as a native Irish speaker I find it hard sometimes to get to their real meaning.
I have always said that there wasn’t a part of Connemara that would hold a candle to where I’m from in Corca Dhuibhne ( West Kerry). This has changed a little in the last week. My friend Úna and her family lived in Muigh Inis. Again, I had only heard of this place in song, Amhrán Mhuigh-Inise, one of my favourite songs from this area.
The graveyard is just by the cliffs and has a fantastic view, one of the nicest I’ve seen in a long time. As you sit there looking out at the Wild Atlantic, putting life into perspective, you realize why the graveyard is where it is.
There is Sólás or solace to be found here. You can get lost with every wave that comes in without forgetting where you are. That’s Muigh Inis, now my favourite place in Connemara.
As soon as the walk finished the rain started. I was heavy hearted leaving Galway even though I’d be back again on Friday! It was a long trek back to Dublin. The car almost went off the road near Athlone with the wind and rain.
It was great to meet old friends I had worked with down the years and as I’m in the big smoke for most of the week I don’t get to see them too often. Life passes us by and sometimes we need something or someone to slow us down.
I’ll definitely visit Muigh Inis again soon. I just can’t believe it took me 12 years to find her. My work had me looking straight ahead and not around me, not good for a fella who is supposed to be creative, lesson learned!
Here's a World of Travel video on the area of Connemara: