In Honour of Lyra McKee

I left Bealtaine Cottage this morning to travel to Derry, a city in Northern Ireland I last visited when my mother was ill and in hospital there.
Poignant memories, but brightened and lightened by the glorious sunshine of the morning, as I drove alongside Upper and Lower Lough Erne and across Boa Island…do check them out on Google maps if you get the chance for the scenery is simply stunning!

I am in Derry for the Vegan Festival and will be happy to report all to you on my return home. As you can see from the photos, home is very much in full bloom!

Driving into Northern Ireland from the west of Ireland brings back memories of my youth, much of which involved “the troubles,” as they are referred to…bombings, killings and the constant uncertainty of war.

My father was a Civil Rights leader and our tiny home was a hub for much social and political activity.

I learned over the course of my growing up in Omagh that the world was not fair and equality did not exist in social terms…it had to occupy one’s being instead, like an essential component of one’s own integrity.

My moral backbone grew strong in this respect, as I ventured into the world.

My love of Nature stemmed from this time also. Born at home, delivered by my father into a tiny room where he had himself been born, was a singular honour. I was named Frances after my father, whose name was Phelim Francis O’Neill. The tiny terraced house had only a small concrete yard enclosed by a tall brick wall…there was no garden, or indeed gardens in the area. The grey streets made up a larger area known as “Gallows Hill,” …you can guess what used to happen there in days of old!

So, driving into this part of Northern Ireland brings back memories, none of which are particularly sad. That said, this journey allows me the space and small time to look back over my shoulder and understand why I am this woman and what evolved in me to bring me to where I now find myself. The past is indeed a foreign country, as L.P. Hartley wrote:

The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.” So runs the famous first line of L.P. Hartley’s novel, “The Go-Between.”

“But men still shoot each other, don’t they?”

Lyra Catherine McKee was a journalist from Northern Ireland who wrote for several publications about the consequences of the Troubles.

She also served as an editor for Mediagazer, a news aggregator website.

On 18 April 2019, McKee was fatally shot during rioting in the Creggan area of Derry.

My journey today has helped me understand who I am…and why I plant trees and tend Mother Earth.

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In a time of destruction, create something: a poem, a parade, a community, a school, a vow, a moral principle; one peaceful moment.

— MAXINE HONG KINGSTON

When I return home to Bealtaine Cottage, I will plant a tree in honour of Lyra, in hope the tragedy of her death will be the last of so, so many acts of senseless violence and destruction.