An adventure and an art retreat. 3 weeks in Ireland. (3 part blog)
Part 1 | Dublin, Lough Bawn, Dingle (The first 10 days)
My first trip to Ireland began with an art retreat for 10 days with Melissa Harris Art.
It wasn't my first trip abroad but it was my first trip with a bunch of women I didn't know with whom I would be bunking and eating with 24 hours a day for 10 days. I was not entirely prepared for that however wonderful it was. (It's been a few years since college and even then I had my own place.)
I had the idea in mind that I would be finding like-minded souls with whom I would share something incredible with through art and sacred sites.
Now, there is usually some sort of personality conflict here and there when you throw people together in tight quarters or you end up with the wrong personality for a roommate. I was lucky on my end, however. It’s entirely possible (unbeknownst to me) that I may have driven my roommate nuts...but I was very happy with whom I was situated with. She was an upbeat sort, quiet, nurturing and positive. Just what I needed at the time.
We began our meeting at the Dublin airport. I was supposed to gather everyone, but I was the late comer due to my flight and others had taken over the task, thank goodness, and may they be forever blessed for coming to the rescue.
We met a charming fellow Anthony Finegan who was to be our driver to our first stop, also day trips to and from Lough Bawn House, our first retreat stop for the first five days. Our lovely hostess and owner of Lough Bawn House Verity cooked like an angel from heaven and gave us a bit of Irish/English wit.
It was a beautiful B & B in the Lake District with sheep, birds, dogs, beautiful roads to walk. We ventured and painted at sacred sites (circles, burial cairns etc.,) castles, gardens and tea rooms. "We will convene in circles and at sacred sites to encourage our creative visions to emerge. Meditation at these places will help us to connect with the spirit of the land." ~Melissa Harris
We experienced authentic Irish music in the B & B parlor, and it was truly the most beloved trip I'll ever have been on.
Our instructor Melissa Harris (with whom I had taken a course or two previously) is an amazing artist. She has a BFA from Syracuse University in Painting and an MFA in painting from Queens College in the New York City area. She also received a Fulbright grant to Paris for painting in 1985.
Including Melissa, I met wonderful ladies through whom I shared beautiful conversations, experiences and laughter. There were also a few tears and some wonderful Plein air paintings. The students were from all over: Australia, Massachusetts, Maine, Florida, New York, etc. The first week was about Art instruction and adjusting to know each other.
During my first part of the trip, I did have a mishap of an adventure. I did not have my hiking boots or sticks with me, just a pair of wellies. My hiking gear was with my United States companion who hadn't arrived yet for the third leg/part of my Ireland trip; I hadn't realized I would need the gear this early on. I had been trying to keep my luggage to a minimum, but that was a mistake.
We went to one of the many wonderful sacred sites to commune, meditate and paint. As I watched the group quickly get to the top, I very slowly picked my way up a steep incline and I made it. It was hard slipping in the shoes but I wanted to get to the top. On my way down, I realized I had done something to my knee. It was swollen for much of the rest of the retreat and the 2 weeks after that I had set aside for seeing the rest of Ireland.
(When I got home from the retreat, it took me awhile to visit the doctor. It was there I was told I had a radial tear in the mid body of the right knee medial meniscus. The X-ray confirmed that the there was a loss in the full-thickness cartilage along the median ridge and medial facet of the patella. They noticed a full-thickness cartilage defect measuring 4 mm along the inner lateral tibial plateau and a small heterogeneous lesion within the distal femur favored to represent an enchondroma. At this point nothing can be done to fix this condition until I am 55 years of age for knee replacement surgery, so I have to be careful where I hike and keep my muscles strong in other ways. Walking can be difficult at times but I use a knee brace. This did not prevent me from a second trip to Ireland with Melissa the following year although it made the trip slightly less adventurous for me.)
Below you will find photos from the art retreat and the first part of my 2018 Ireland trip. Here is the link to the second part of my Ireland trip in Dingle, and the third part of my trip was driving all over the whole of Ireland with a companion.