Trasna na dTonnta (agus an idirlín!)

Across the waves (and the internet!) le Seoirsín Ní Mheachair atá lonnaithe i Stát Nua-Eabhrac

Léirigh an GPS go raibh mise agus mo chara Seán san áit cheart. Bhí fear ag gearradh an fhéir ar an pháirc in aice leis an Áislann. Chuir mé ceist air, “An bhfuil a fhios agat cá háit a bhfuil teach Bhríd Anna Ní Bhaoill?” “Ansin,” a dúirt sé agus dhírigh sé méar i dtreo teach néata cois na hÁislainne. Nuair a d’iompaigh muid chonaic muid Bríd Anna ag leac an dorais ag croitheadh a láimhe. Bhí muid ann!


Dhá bhliain ó shin bhí an domhan gafa sa bhaile le linn na dianghlasála. Rinne muid arán taos géar ar maidin agus manglam casta am dinnéir lenár n-intinn a chur chun suaimhnis. Choinnigh mé súil ghéar ar na meáin shóisialta le fáil amach an raibh rud ar bith suimiúil ar siúl.


Thug mé fá deara go mbeadh Ceardlann Scéalaíochta ar Zoom, á reáchtáil ag an tSean-Bheairic. Bheadh Seanán Mac Aoidh agus Bríd Anna Ní Bhaoill ag múineadh scéalaíochta. Tá an-suim agam i mbéaloideas agus mar sin de chláraigh mé ar an cheardlann.


Bhí an cheardlann ar fheabhas! Chuala muid Balor agus an Glas Gaibhnenn, Taisce Ghleann Domhain agus Banríon an Uaignis. Ach thar aon rud eile, bhí craic agus comhrá ann. Rinne mé dearmad go raibh an phaindéim ar siúl agus chuaigh mo chuid samhlaíochta ar shiúl i mo chloigeann ó Thoraigh go Rann na Feirste. Dhruid mé mo shúile agus bhí mé cois teallaigh in Éirinn, na focail ag sníomh scéalta draíochta.


Chuir mé nóta chuig Bríd Anna ag iarraidh ceachtanna Gaeilge a dhéanamh. Ach i ndiaidh cúpla ceacht rinne muid dearmad ar an obair agus thoisigh muid ag caint fá rudaí ar siúl inár saol féin. Tarraingíonn scéal scéal eile!


Mí an Mheithimh 2022 agus tá mé i nGaoth Dobhair. Cuirim téacs chuig Bríd Anna ag ráit go bhfuil mé ann agus ag fiafraí di an bhfuil sí thart. Tá agus fáilte, arsa Bríd Anna agus ar aghaidh linn go Barr an Bhaile.


Chuir sí fearadh na fáilte romhainn agus chaith muid lá ar dóigh ag caint fá sheanchas Rann na Feirste. Mhothaigh mé go raibh mé ag teacht le chéile le seanchara.


Seachtain ina dhiaidh sin, casadh Seanán Mac Aoidh orm i dToraigh agus luaigh mé gur bhuail mé le Bríd Anna den chéad uair. Dúirt sé gur shíl sé go raibh muid mór le chéile le fada an lá nuair a bhí muid ag caint ag an chéad cheardlann, agus sin mar a mhothaigh mé féin.


Is ait an mac an saol, agus ní bhíonn a fhios agat cá háit nó cén dóigh a dhéanann tú cairdeas le daoine. Cé go raibh an dianghlasáil an-chrua orainn, agus cé go raibh go leor scéalta tragóideacha ann, bhí dea-scéalta ann fosta. Sin mar a bhíodh i dtólamh in Éirinn agus sin mar atá sa lá atá inniu ann: nuair is gruama an saol, is comhrá carad a thógann cian dínn agus a mhúchann an léan.


Across the waves (and the internet)


The GPS revealed that myself and my friend Seán were in the right place. There was a man cutting grass in the field beside the Áislann. “Do you know where Bríd Anna Ní Bhaoill’s house is?” I asked him. “There,” he replied, pointing his finger towards a neat house beside the Áislann. When we turned we saw Bríd there, on the doorstep waving at us. We had made it!

Two years ago the world was stuck at home because of the lockdown. We made sour dough bread in the morning and complicated cocktails at dinner time to sooth our minds. I kept a sharp eye on social media to find out was there anything interesting happening.

I noticed that there was going to be a Storytelling Workshop on Zoom, organised by An tSean Bheairic. Seanán Mac Aoidh and Bríd Anna Ní Bhaoill would be teaching storytelling skills. I am very interested in folklore and so I registered for the workshop.

The workshop was excellent! We heard about Balor and Glas Gaibhnenn (the magical cow), about Taisce Ghleann Domhain (the Glendowan Treasure) and Banríon an Uaignis (the Queen of Loneliness). But above all we enjoyed the craic and the conversation. I forgot that the pandemic was happening and my imagination took flight from Tory Island to Rannafast. I closed my eyes and I was by a fireside in Ireland with the words weaving magical tales.

I sent Bríd a note, asking if I could do Irish lessons. But after a few lessons we forgot about the work and began to talk about things that were happening in our own lives. One story leads to another!

It is June 2022 and I am in Gaoth Dobhair. I send Bríd Anna a text saying that I am here and asking if she is around. “Yes, come on over,” says Bríd and off we go to Barr an Bhaile.

She gave us a great welcome and we spent a fabulous day talking about the oral traditions of Rannafast. I felt like I was meeting up with an old friend.

A week later I met Seanán McAoidh in Tory and I mentioned that I had met Bríd Anna for the first time. He replied that he thought we had been friends for ages when we were talking at the first workshop, and that is how I felt myself.

Life can be strange and you don’t know where or when you will discover friendship. Even though the lockdown was very hard on us, and although there were many tragic stories there were also good news stories. That is how it always was in Ireland and how it is even today; when life is tough a conversation with a friend can lift our sadness and gentle our anguish.


Seoirsín Ní Mheachair