This was supposed to be a post of our last week in Ireland. It was meant to honor the people we’ve spent time with. Those we love in Ireland.
We take care to avoid political discourse, as it has come to mean division, and our goal is to bring people together.
At this time, such discussion is unavoidable, our intended post will have to wait.
We’re in Ireland. We’ve been immersed in an international community here. We’ve made friends or come in contact with people from around the globe. All on this small island in the Atlantic. We have friends, we know people with close familial ties to Ukraine. Hearts are hurting here. The concern is real and it’s intense.
I suspect similar emotions are running high throughout Europe.
Please pray for those whose lives are being up ended. Please pray for peace, for wisdom, for God’s grace.
As mentioned last week, we had been invited by JP, the pastor at Listowel Christian Fellowship, to come Saturday and spend the night and have dinner together. This in itself is such a testament to the work God is doing in establishing us here. On the way, we stopped in Tralee to pick up some fresh flowers for their home. I ducked into a grocery store and Linda informed me she was going to get something at the drugstore across the way. I picked up a bouquet and walked over to the drugstore to find Linda. I couldn’t find her, so I returned to the car to wait. About ten minutes later Linda returned. I told her about not being able to find her. She fessed up and told me that she had walked past the drug store and had found herself about a block past when she realized she had missed the entry to the drug store. We had a good laugh.
We arrived at JP and Fidelma’s home and continued our mutual discovery of each other’s history and mission. JP had kitchen duty and prepared a wonderful roast with all of the fixins’.
Our weekend in Listowel ended on the sweet note of sharing in worship and teaching at Listowel Christian Fellowship. This group is transitioning from Zoom only to meeting in person again. The fellowship is lively and enjoys a weekly opportunity for testimony.
Driving back to Dingle, we decided to take advantage of the nice weather and explore a new area for us, Brandon Point. The sun highlighted some of the spring flowers popping up around the county. We find the activity in the sky fascinating. Cloud formations are different around the world. We drove home over Connor Pass. As the passenger, Linda was able to enjoy lovely views of the seashore, catch glimpses of sheep traversing rocky steep fields and enjoy the beauty of God’s creation. Tom got to navigate the long, twisting, narrow pass. At the top, where the road widens, there is a rest stop perched high enough above the shore that one is able to see the sea on both sides of the peninsula.
We lunched with Michael and Ninfa at one of the hotels in Killarney renown for hosting weddings. Much laughter ensued as we talked about some of Michael’s culinary surprises when he visited the United States. Though we all speak English, there is such surprise in learning how each culture uses some of the same words. He was encouraged to try biscuits and gravy for breakfast. He did, but could not imagine being served cookies with gravy for breakfast. They shared some of their dreams for their church. We felt honored to be part of their conversation.
The Tuesday fellowship group continued their gathering, moving onto “anointing” this week. There were good questions, conversation and encouragement.
Sometime in the night, rain moved into the area. There were a few breaks during the day. Laughter and great conversations filled the air of the alcove where the writers met at the Meadowlands Hotel and pub. The heat from the free standing stove kept everyone cozy on a dreary day. National news advised of worse weather coming late Thursday, and continuing onto Friday. A Red Alert was issued. Many events were cancelled.
Thursday, Linda met with the writers via Zoom. Maire Holmes is back as Writer in Residence again. What a treat for the group!
The wind howled and raged through Thursday night. We’d awaken to rain pelting the windows and doors. Brief reprieves offered calm moments. From the safety of our cottage the sound made me think we were in the middle of a brutal winter snowstorm. But no, it was an Irish winter storm. We enjoyed the safety of our cottage. The weather continued. Slightly abating on Saturday when we took a short drive. The wind and rain returned. Another storm on the heels of the first continued through the weekend.
This was the week Covid caught up with Tom. Seems to be a mild case, doing a lot of reading and taking naps. Perhaps a good week for the weather to be so bad it too limited our activities. Linda has continued to test negative. We’ll have to wait and see how Covid affects the rest of our trip. We appreciate your prayers.
Finding the Way Home, Book 2 of the Rosethorn series by Linda L Flynn.
This is a fictional story and will be available later this year. They say “All good things come to those who wait.” For those of you who read Dream Glasses and have been waiting for the sequel, thank you for your patience.
It’s editing, layout and then final editing time.
In Finding the Way Home, you pick up with Liz returning home from Paris with high expectations for all the future will hold. Before leaving the airport, it becomes obvious the plans she and Eric had set in motion are unravelling. Life happens. Just like to it does to me and you. The messiness of relationships and unresolved family issues threated to undo Liz. Finding the Way Home invites you to shadow Liz as she matures and refines the dreams for her future. Much of this story uses the Colorado Rocky Mountains as a backdrop. In this environment, you will discover the richness of natural beauty and friendships found there.
Visit the Sign Me Up page to be one of the first notified when this book is available.
…arriving back in County Kerry, we started the week at Killarney Methodist Church. On previous trips we connected with the pastor, and learned she was no longer at the church. Due to serious health issues, she returned to her home in Northern Ireland. Please pray for her. We hoped to meet the new pastor, but she was out of town for several weeks. Alas, our plans, not God’s.
We stopped by Living Rock Church after their service and connected with some friends there and had a quick bite to eat. From there, we took a chance and drove to a small studio on the edge of town to check out an artist we’d met on a previous trip to the Isle. (Upon research back at the cottage, it was 2016. Can’t believe it’s been that long!) We’ve tried every trip we are here to see her, but her shop was never open when we stopped by. Sunday, we arrived at the Blue Door and as always, her window was filled with lovely bits of pottery art. There were lights on toward the rear, but the place looked closed. We didn’t see her inside, but Mary saw us looking at the window display. She came to the door to tell us the shop wasn’t open. After speaking a few minutes, she invited us in with the understanding her shop wasn’t set up for customers yet. She was in the creation stages of art. Her work is as exquisite as ever. Mary has a personality to warm hearts. We laughed and chatted about life, her work and common interests for an hour. We’ll be taking home a couple small bits of her art.
And winter in Ireland is everything one would expect of winter on a northern island in the Atlantic. Grey, blistering winds whipping against anything in its path, rain to intensify the grey—all things one thinks about being cold and damp. Burr… It has felt cold.
We’ll say it again. We’re grateful for the warmth of friendship, which abounds in plenty.
Again, it’s been a week of connecting and absorbing more and more about life in Kerry. An afternoon in the home of Chris and Eileen where we shared stories and laughed. Irish history and culture are deeply ingrained in their lives. It is only through time, trust and God’s grace we’ve been accepted, trusted and invited in to enjoy the richness hidden there.
The Tuesday fellowship, with more teaching on prayer and time breaking into pairs and praying one for the other. Good fellowship and worship.
A visit to a leather worker’s shop hidden in the woods along the road to Slea’s Head on the Dingle peninsula was time spent in wonder and delight. The shopkeeper’s humor was delightful. He also took the time to correct some of our pronunciations of local words or names. Again, more history gathered.
An afternoon, or two spent with writers. The group meets around joined tables in a side room of the pub. There they eat, laugh, do readings, encourage and critique. This week an elderly group of three were also having lunch in the same space. The gentleman came over to our tables to tell us they had come to the pub for lunch and wanted to apologize for eavesdropping. They totally enjoyed our stories and he wanted to share one of his own. Leslie invited him to come any Wednesday. Before leaving, they thanked us for making their lunch so enjoyable. There you go—God never wastes anything! We just don’t always see how it will be used.
Tom, connecting again with Michael. We met at Costa in Killarney. Costa started 50 years ago by Italian brothers in the UK. Today it is the Starbucks of Europe with over 4000 locations. It was purchased by Coca-Cola in 2019.
It’s that time where we have logistics to arrange for again. Phone service renewal, car rental renewal, all requirements of daily living. All taken care of again.
Out to a favorite place for pizza with Judy, a friend from the Tuesday fellowship and her daughter. The meal was good, the conversation and laughter even better.
Saturday the sun returned and its bright glow upon the land is welcome indeed. We each did a few projects in the cottage to help our generous landlord and loaded up the car to head out of town for the weekend for an overnight in Listowel.
… was another week of connecting with folks. Scripture is replete with imagery of believers being a family. The last week has born witness to this truth many times. We stand in awe of our God. It is amazing how large and diverse God’s family is, and equally amazing how easily family members connect, breaking down cultural and geographic boundaries. We have been blessed as we’ve worshipped, dined, and chatted with friends around the county and beyond this week.
We spent Sunday with Tralee Baptist Church. We were blessed to witness how this community of believers has bonded together with genuine compassion and care for one-another. The church has a large outreach to the local technical college, with about 1/3 of their congregation coming from the college. This fellowship group meets in a historic site, which was cold when we arrived. The room was not heated yet. The caring for one another filled the room with warmth.
Each week, we connect with the Tuesday Fellowship. They are continuing a study on the power of praying for healings.
We enjoyed lunch with a pastor and his wife (Michael and Ninfa), sharing stories of how God is working in each of our lives. Then we drove to Galway to meet up with a young couple who we met in 2016. They have been missionaries in the Galway area for 10 years. (Chris and Larena) Their heart burns with a passion for the Irish, particularly in Galway, which they now call home. They are stepping into a new adventure as they prepare to plant a new fellowship in downtown Galway. They planned for us to stay with friends of their’s, also in the ministry. (Sean and Julia) They are close to our age. It was a pleasure and blessing to hear their story, to learn how they became pastors, to witness their hearts for the Lord and the Irish. Then they shared more about the country’s faith history and struggles. How I would like to bring them to the United States to help others understand why we answered God’s call to work in Ireland! Being Irish, they have put words to many of the things we’ve simply felt within our spirits.
Our week was full of stories of how God is moving and working, stories of how each is reaching others, and stories of Irish history and culture. It was a powerful week and our hearts were overflowing.
The trip to Galway is a three and half hour drive where the countryside becomes less rugged, the hills more rolling, fields and homes larger and the sky sports blue more frequently. Unless it isn’t! We saw both sides of the weather. The trip home from Galway didn’t provide many photo opportunities. It stormed all day. We did stop by one of our favorite businesses though. A couple runs two operations side by side. She is a baker who specializes in gluten free and dairy free pastries sold in her café and coffee bar. He runs a bean to bar chocolate factory buying raw cacao from South America, roasting the beans and creating a luscious line of chocolate creations. Much of the drive was along the “Wild Atlantic Way,” and it was wild. Looking at the ocean, everything was grey except for the white caps of the waves. You couldn’t tell the difference between the sea and sky. Tom was a trooper doing all the driving. We took the ferry across the Shannon River, grateful to return to our little cottage and shut the weather out.
Time with the writers was rich. We spent an afternoon and then a meal with Judy, discussing possible family connections. We identified many similarities in our histories, but her history records don’t go back as far as ours. Still, we will look. What an afternoon of fun we had talking about Irish culture and telling “Flynn” stories. Laughter bounced off the walls until we drove to town for an early meal.
While in Galway, we also connected with Maire, the “Writer in Residence”, during most of Covid. What rich stories of history. She had many questions about what we do in Kerry. She was interested and encouraging.
We’ve experienced several culinary treats which may creep into dishes we fix. First will be the search for recipes which seem to match what we ate. It is one way we carry Ireland home with us.
We’ve spent many hours on the road this week, which translates to many contacts. We’re also reminded of our appeal of the Dingle Peninsula. The terrain in County Kerry, Ireland is rugged, the peninsula even more so. We enjoyed the rare rays of sunshine breaking through clouds and more clouds this last week. It was the wettest week so far, but temperatures have been unseasonably mild. We’re grateful!
We reconnected with Grace Baptist Fellowship on Sunday and spent a very relaxed lunch together after the service with the pastor and his wife and son. Monday we drove to Tralee to have lunch with the pastor and his wife from the Listowel Christian Fellowship. They are currently meeting via Zoom due to the number of members who have Covid. They hope to resume meeting at their building a week from now. One of their customs I really enjoy is that after service they move the chairs around and set up tables to enjoy a potluck meal together. It is always a great time of fellowship and building relationships. This is one of the few Irish born pastors in County Kerry and serves the same community he was raised in. We joined the Dingle Fellowship Group on Tuesday. We attended in person while one member joined us from Russia via Zoom. Much like at home, churches here use technology to their advantage to conduct weekly services, Bible studies, and stay in touch with members. Both of the pastors provided updates to their ministry. Their love for the communities showed in numerous ways. Our prayer for the Irish churches in County Kerry has been for God to raise up leadership from within the faith communities. Both pastors welcome such prayers.
Tuesday, after the fellowship, we took a different route and ended up enjoying a different section of coastline. We were drawn to the area hoping to see an ancient castle, or as the Irish say, an old tower house. We couldn’t get close as the structure was condemned, but it was fun seeing such an ancient structure. While walking around the area, we found an outdoor baptismal fount in the woods. The air was fragrant from the early spring blooms of the Gorse plant. They are everywhere, breaking forth with their bright yellow flowers.
We took off on Wednesday. We drove over to Adare, hoping to connect with an artist friend there. It was during the drive when we recognized the countryside appeared more civilized. The fields were larger. The land was more even. We keep passing large 4-wheel drive tractors with farm attachments on all the roads this trip. Adare is in County Limerick. It’s a picturesque town, home to one of Ireland’s 5-Star Hotel and Golf Resorts, the Adare Manor. It offers an afternoon high-tea which we indulged in on a previous trip. For this trip, the memories from a previous visit will suffice. While standing in front of a pub, reading the menu, a young man, about 30 something stopped to tell us, “You won’t go wrong there. This pub has the best food in the village.” His recommendation was all the encouragement we needed. So we entered and enjoyed a great lunch. We connected with our artist friend (Mary Liston) and again enjoyed her lovely textile art.
Thursday was the writing group. This was the largest group meeting they’ve experienced since Covid. There were two others, beside Linda, who had been Zoom members. It was a fun afternoon of readings, laughter, and good food. When creatives connect, there is always fun in the air.
The grey skies and rain on Friday did not dampen the warm fellowship in the home of one of the writers, Leslie. She and her hubby have a lovely cottage in the country.
Today we slept in and just went into Dingle for a “cuppa”. Besides being a tourist town during the season, it is also a commercial fishing village as it has one of the few protected harbors along the west coast.
Another week winds down and we recognize how quickly our time here is flying. There are so many others we hope to reconnect with. This week we will attend we will attend Tralee Baptist.
Jet-Lag has been difficult to shake this trip, but may finally be behind us. Yeah! Just as Jet-Lag may be behind, it appears many of the Irish COVID restrictions will also be behind us. You may ask, how does that affect us while we’re here?
No longer will we have to show vaccination proof to enter an eatery, or indoor facility. Seating at pubs and eating establishments will no longer be limited to a maximum of 6 per table. Establishments can return to their normal hours of operations, (pubs and restaurants were required to close by 8 pm) and the work from home orders have been lifted. Masks are still part of one’s attire. Travel restrictions in or out of the country remains unchanged at this time.
Most of week two was under the old rules. We’ve been walking the neighborhood, the beach and several of the towns. Sunday, Living Rock church provided the opportunity for corporate worship and the chance to connect with a few folks we knew from previous travels and meet a new couple. A group of us went to the hotel next door for lunch, where we sat in the rear of the dining facility occupying four tables of four in close enough proximity to see one another, but not really converse between tables. Our drive home from Killarney afforded an opportunity to be at Inch Beach for sunset. This is one of our favorite walking beaches. You can literally drive out on the sand and park as close to the waves as you dare. What a treat!
Tuesday, we attended the house fellowship in Dingle, held at the location where we’re staying. It was the first “in person” meeting in some time, but most were familiar faces. It was good to connect with them again and participate in their study. The format has evolved, resulting more in a teaching than an interactive study. Everyone enjoyed the fellowship of being face to face with in person laughter.
Wednesday was the local writers meeting in person at the Meadowlands Hotel in Tralee. We were seated in an alcove area of two tables and there eight in attendance. What a treat for Linda to connect in person. Some of this group is also part of the weekly Zoom group which meets on Thursday. Good food, good stories, good friendship. It was a fine afternoon. When Tom arrived, one of the ladies asked who he was. Another replied, “my cousin.” They then realized he was Tom. Much laughter ensued. This woman and I have spoken before. Due to similarities within the family stories, strongly suspect there may be a family link and hope to resolve this question during our time here this year.
Friday, while out walking, we received a call stating there’d been a cancellation and if we could make it to Tralee Friday evening, we could attend a performance of “The Importance of Being Ernest.” Yes, we could meet the schedule. This was a high school performance, done well and entertaining. The show ended early enough for us to be able to just get into one of the restaurants we’ve enjoyed in the past. This rounded out the evening with good food, good memories and a great chat with the owner of the establishment. It’s a small family owned business, and he spoke of the challenges of COVID and some of the changes he has seen. His expectation is the impacts aren’t over yet even though the restrictions are being lifted.
We are certainly living in uncharted, ever changing times. Isn’t it wonderful to know, God is NOT surprised by any of this and HE is still in control.
Feet are back on the ground after losing Tuesday to travel. It felt natural to land at the cottage. Worked to set up housekeeping and set about getting comfortable with the time change. If you’re sleeping, we’re probably up and about.
Time is a strange thing. Our most recent visit to Ireland was 2020, same time of the year. To us, it has felt like it was last year. We’ve connected with a couple of our Irish friends from one fellowship and they, too, thought we were here last year. This trip the vegetation doesn’t strike us as being so unusual. Could this be because of our multiple trips, or living with similar plants in California?
Many of our friends expressed concern about traveling during Covid. After much prayer, we felt confident 2022 was the time to resume travel in Ireland, connecting with various pastors, church members and other friends we’ve made in County Kerry. Little did we know when we purchased our tickets, the EU considers Ireland to have one of the most successful vaccination programs, with about 94% of the population vaccinated. The Omicron variant is alive and well as it moves through the population, similar to its behavior in other countries. We’re still trying to understand how the pandemic has affected the churches, their work, and their people. Linda remains connected with a group of writers and knows from them how difficult the lock-downs were for many. We’ve still to learn how that affected the churches.
Life is hardly back to normal on the Green Isle. Pubs and restaurants close at 8 pm. To gain access to an establishment serving food, they request to see proof of our Covid vaccines, and most recently asked for a contact phone number in the event they receive the report of an infection at the establishment.
We’re adjusting to the “normal” here and expect before long we won’t notice.
In our efforts to get settled, we’ve gone to some places we’ve shopped in the past. Some businesses have been updated since 2020. We’ve noticed many businesses are closed out on Dingle Peninsula. Some due to normal winter shut-downs. Some due to lack of employees, caused both by illness and the lack of international workers. Those workers aren’t here because of the virus, international travel restrictions, or other international relationships; and the lack of affordable housing here. Some of this news sounds similar to what we hear at home. In the brief span we’ve been here, we’ve witnessed people attempting to carry on with life. We’ve a friend from an earlier visit whose daughter turned 11 this last week. That daughter wanted to have high tea with her mom and friends of her mom. They graciously included us in the gathering. It was an honor to see the lovely young lady Meabh is becoming, and to share in her celebration.
Ho, Ho, Ho! The stockings are all hung on the mantel with care.
Not with hopes of gifts, but stuffed full of memories from Christmases past.
Ho, Ho, Ho! Santa should come on a sleigh.
Ha, ha, ha—no snow here, but then there are no children here either. So perhaps no one will notice.
The music of the season fills the airwaves, the shopping spaces, vehicles and homes. Taking listeners on journeys back to their past, those years of prior Christmases. Some smile, some shake their head and think it is all nonsense. I’m one who smiles with memories of being a child, memories of being a mom and surprising a child. My memories overflow and allow me to derive pleasure watching others as they celebrate the season.
Back home, it is quiet here. Not an eerie quietness, but a quietness that settles like a soft comforter one wants to snuggle into. This season has brought contentment, joy and peace. I revel in these feelings.
Lights and baubles bedazzle the tree; some shiny and some not.
Each bauble holds the secret of its history waiting for the dark when only the lights of the tree allow them to speak of their origins and how they became part of this holiday tradition. How I would enjoy hearing them tell their own story, how they feel being out of the box for a brief season.
The nativity scenes on full display sit in several rooms, emitting their own scenes and memories from years past within the family tree. Now they live together in our home, with our family, and share their pride of being treasured for so many years. Their story continues to live in our lives.
Ho, Ho, Ho!
May this Christmas season come to your home and bring hope for the future, eyes to see the good in others, and peace to all who enter through your doorway, thus leaving you with many happy memories.