Galivanting on Galloon *audio*
We are scheduled to meet Bridget McGuire on the Bridge to Galloon Island. It is an appropriate place to meet her, as she is to become our bridge to another time and our guide to her childhood home place, the figure-eight-shaped Galloon Island.
We all three load into the front seat of the van together and begin driving down the road, literally down memory lane. We’ve not gone far before Bridget asks us to stop in front of a gate which leads to the old home of her childhood school teacher. It is a traditional wattle and mud Irish cottage, now partially caved in and overgrown with ivy and fruit trees and inhabited by a herd of cows and a surly bull with a ring in his nose. “Someone must have let the fire go out” Bridget observes and we learn from her why keeping a fire burning in these traditional houses is so essential in this wet climate: the warmth from the fire prevents the walls from absorbing the damp and collapsing. Her eloquent descriptions and the nuances of her voice describing her sensorially rich memories of this place transport us to a different time.
She recounts the satisfaction of successfully stealing apples in the fall from her teacher (who at times asked her pupils to cut their own whipping switch from a tree outside the school house). And she describes a poignant moment with her father while passing the house during a visit to the island. Press the play button below to hear her story.
Through Bridget’s map of childhood memories and stories, we begin to discover a now somewhat invisible network of people, places and things on Galloon island infused with a potent sense of home. From the local roadside well, their family’s source of drinking water now buried unseen in a roadside hedge, to the “Secret Place” known only to her and her brother, Bridget’s tour of the island reminds us that where ever we go, there are many layers of memories, experiences, hopes and dreams all contained subtly in the place.
As we drive by a hedge we wonder, what secrets does it hold, what dreams of the past?