The William Butler Yeats exhibition at the National Library of Ireland
Recently invited to Dublin gave me the gift of a truly magical week, meeting many Irish poets, playwrights, and actors. I was also researching settings for a reincarnation action- romance screenplay set in Ireland that I wrote some years ago. Optioned 3 x but not yet produced. And, of course, the script that hasn’t been realized is my totally favorite project!
Dublin was magical, full of wit and humor. And storytelling. Though only 40% Irish, I felt at home, as if my ancestral genes were tipsy happy in being back home. Tim, a former student from my 5-day Way of Story class at the Esalen Insitute in Big Sur, CA, invited me to spend a week with he and his lovely wife in Dublin. While walking downtown, Tim said, “Oh, let’s pop in here.” The sign said Sweeney’s Chemist. Inside the shop, I noticed several photographs of James Joyce who would often drop by. Today there were about nine people seated in a wide circle reading Joyce’s masterpiece, Ulysses. No sooner had we entered the pharmacy (chemist), that we were each handed a copy of Ulysses by James Joyce and told to sit in two remaining empty chairs. After someone next to me read a bit, I was told to read aloud. Literary Dublin is alive and well.
Earlier, I had popped into a shop and noticed a sign “Discounts for Irish”. I told the manager that my ancestors came from Ireland but had left for America in 1646. In a split second, he replied with a twinkle in his eye, “Well now, it took you a while to come home now, didn’t it?”
The Irish have an uncommonly rare blend of playful, sometimes deadly wit. Not so different from my New York sense of humor – only the Irish wit is more playful, less cynical.
Also invited to Edinburgh which looked like a movie set for a Harry Potter film. The dark 18th c. buildings, back alleys, and courtyards could easily serve as a Harry Potter setting. The Scots are good people, reliable, but so-o somber that I found myself missing Dubliners.
A highlight in Dublin was visiting the W.B. Yeats Exhibit at the National Library. An amazing installation. It was a series of tiny rooms with comfortable older styled chairs to sit and view a multi-media experience of both the life and work of Ireland’s greatest poet. What moved me the most was being able to hear the voices of W.B. Yeats, Maud Gonne, and others central to the poet’s life. This was an unparalleled display of Yeats artifacts and memorabilia. I learned that Yeats and his wife, George, were immersed in the occult and were members of the Theosophical Society.
This two- week trip reminded me how vital it is for writers to journey into the unknown and experience and be inspired by those verbal giants who walked the earth before us. Grateful that I am still open to unexpected adventures that remind me how good life can be.
Happy Holidays 2019
May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
And the rains fall soft upon your fields.
May the hand of a friend always be near.
And may God hold you in the palm of his hand.
Catherine Ann Jones, a Fulbright Scholar studying shamanism in south India, holds a graduate degree in depth psychology and archetypal mythology from Pacifica Graduate Institute where she has also taught. Also, on graduate faculties at The New School University (NYC) and U.S.C. (LA) as well as the Esalen and Omega Institutes. Catherine is an award-winning author, playwright with twelve plays produced (NEA award, etc.), and screenwriter (Unlikely Angel, The Christmas Wife (four Emmy nominations), and the popular TV series Touched by an Angel). Her books include The Way of Story: The Craft & Soul of Writing, Heal Your Self with Writing (Nautilus Book Award 2014), Freud’s Oracle, and What Story Are You Living? Over 53,000 subscribers to her six online courses at DailyOM.com. For blog, workshop schedule, online courses, and writing consultant services please visit www.wayofstory.com