O. R. Melling

Grief: The Tour – Interactive Map

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The red dots are numbered in the order the locations were visited.

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Grief is a strange journey. I cannot shelter in place. I must move. Mad Sweeney Woman, I’ll wander the land with my sorrow and seek solace in other souls

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Crossing the River Dargle on way out of Bray to head north for County Monaghan.

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I’m astray in leafy rows of sun-warmed plants the same height as myself, stripping them in a crush cloud of green scent. www.kamahemp.com

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My fellow workers are young laughing men who try to convince me that the world is flat.



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I return to the Buddhist centre in County Cavan to where I retreated the month before, and fall into the embrace of my dharma family.

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I stay a few days in my old room overlooking the lake, meditating in the Shrine Room, walking through the woods, eating quiet meals with the rest of the community.

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Balm for the soul.

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Crossing the River Shannon into the magical mystical West …


On Traught Beach in County Galway I wander over sea-smoothed stones with the friend who convinced me to attend my mother’s funeral. They were last seen heading north with a lame dog, under the stars, singing.

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A craft shop displaying fairy art had a miniature raven-black gown of crow feathers framed in glass.
(Artist: www.faerie-tailor.com)

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Heading out in the morning, due north, I stop first to see a sculpture made by my brother-in-law. An installation in Oranmore’s tiny police station, it’s a giant silvery metallic finger print.

(Artist: James Hayes)


The sun is falling into the rim of the sea. This is the small town where my daughter lives and surfs, weaving her dream of a life outside big cities.

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I meet her by the fairy bridge, an arch of land that rises over the waves which roar beneath it.

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And when she brought me to the sculpture woods of Gleniff, there perched a great metal crow.


I detour to join friends for some madcap mayhem and a feast of curry and rice with a ziggurat of poppadums.

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In Boyle, the picture of a crow hung on the door opposite The Book Lady, the smallest bookstore in Ireland.

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We stop at a viewing point that reveals the curved hills of a female body and a green face gazing skyward. The grey circular ruin of the pre-Christian Grianan of Aileach rests on her belly. Omphalos. O Sleeping Woman. O Divine Mother.

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And now here, in Derry City, a painting by Christine Johnson Hume, daughter of the Nobel Peace Prize politician John Hume: Crow over the Peace Bridge

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Teamhair na Riodh, Tara of the Kings, the royal seat of ancient Ireland. I walk the airybreadth of grassy earthworks and mounds, recalling the time I came here with my mother.


When we were leaving, she stopped to watch a circle of dancers weave around the pillar of the Lia Fail, the Stone of Destiny. I caught the longing in her features, the urge to join them, and knew at last the source of my own spiritual hunger.

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Mum by the Lia Fail.

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O Sleeping Woman, O Divine Mother
To thee do we cry

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Homeward bound as the evening light Fades. I am a refugee from a family war, fleeing death and domestic disaster. Solace I found in my wanderings but no solution. No absolution.

Our Family Hemp Farm (photo credit: Kama Hemp)

M50 image, Wikipedia M50, public domain

All other images © O.R. Melling   

Map © O.R. Melling