There are many words which have entered the lexicon of daily speech over the past number of months – words that hold the capacity to instil fear, trepidation and worry. However, we have also seen the resurgence of positive and heart-warming words, words that had perhaps become perceived as being old-fashioned and of a different time; words such as meitheal, community spirit, and self-sacrifice for the greater good.
It is refreshing to observe the strong sense of decency and community spirit within our people, and we can be rightly proud of a co-ordinated and selfless response to our present travails. This sense of community belonging is something that is of itself interesting to consider.
Abraham Maslow tells us that everybody has the need to belong, to feel a part of something, to be able to say “this is my place”. My place is Castleisland, it always has been, and it always will be. The great thing about having “my place” is that no matter where I am or what I am doing, Kerry will always be home.
And this got me thinking – why do people who live thousands of miles from Kerry and who may never return to Ireland, still consider Kerry to be their home? Why also do we encourage distant relatives whom we may never have met, but whos Great Great Grandfather was a second cousin twice removed, to call and see us if they are ever passing, and then when they do drop in, we ask how long they are “home” for?! It all begs the question, where exactly is home?
By any reasonable measure, surely your home is where you hang your hat, but it is not – your home is the place where you give your heart. If you truly know where your heart resides, even if physically somewhere else, with the miracle of technology, you and your loved ones can be geographically far apart but remain emotionally close, connected and part of the community of Kerry.
In my opinion, to fully appreciate Kerry and all it has to offer, you must take your leave of it for a while. I did – not by choice, but to follow a career. Living in Kerry, you tend to take its beauty, scenery, wonderful people and your own sense of belonging for granted. You stop seeing its majesty because it is all around you. But remove yourself from it, place yourself elsewhere, and Kerry changes in your mind’s eye. You quickly realise what your forefathers knew – that Kerry is indeed a very special place.
With full lives keeping us ever busier, and maintaining a diary a necessity for many, it is easy to get stuck on the treadmill of life, staring downwards at a to do list, instead of gazing upwards at the palette of colours that is the tapestry of life. With many at present being gifted a period of self-reflection, (my own interpretation on cocooning or self-isolation), comes the opportunity to take stock, consider, re-evaluate and realise – that life is precious, your place in the universe is a gift, and you are here on this planet to smile as much as you can, and to drag a grin from as many others as is possible! Being from Kerry, you have a head start on both counts on everyone else!
I love being from Kerry, living in Kerry and being a part of Kerry. I love its mountains, lakes, forests and beaches. I love its football. I love its friendliness. I love the way Kerry people are never cocky, but always confident and grounded. I love our sense of humour, our decency and our kindness. But most of all, I love our sense of devilment and sense of fun!
And remember, respect from a Kerryman is hard-earned – but is never surrendered if honestly won. The many men and women who daily risk their own health and futures, to keep the county of Kerry and its people functioning during these strange times, have certainly earned my respect.