I was on holidays for ten days and instead of travelling afar I decided to stay local. For the first week I was based in the village of Culdaff on the Inishowen peninsula. I was staying with family and friends and took the opportunity to reacquaint myself with childhood memories. Often in our search for the sun or far off climates we can ignore the treasures on our doorstep.
The only predictability about the weather was its unpredictability as we often endured four seasons in one hour. On Monday afternoon I ventured towards Malin Town, drove past the Five Fingered Strand where we used to fish as children and struggled up the Knockamany Bends towards a viewing point. The wind would have blown your head off but you could enjoy a spectacular view of the rolling waves as they crashed onto the sands around the strand and the Isle of Doagh.
No trip around Inishowen could be complete without visiting Malin Head and Banba’s Crown. What I hadn’t expected was the number of tourists who clogged up the narrow roads and occupied every parking space. Thankfully I’m the master of the sixteen point turn and within half an hour I was able to guide my car safely from the car park.
On Tuesday friends took me to Dunree Fort. I had never previously been there and could not believe the history associated with the headland including the Flight of the Earls and the First World War. We decided to clim to the top tier of the fort and after the climb I was greeted by the breath taking expanse of Lough Swilly with its many inlets and beaches. This provided an opportunity to snap about forty or fifty photos using my phone, well in truth it was an excuse to get my breath back after the climb. After Dunree we drove terrified over Mamore Gap towards Leenan and Clonmany.
As a child I remember my parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles taking us children to the beaches and towns around Inishowen. Often you listened to their stories, tales from their childhood when it wasn’t uncommon for ten or twelve to be crowded into a car. You were conscious of entering into a small family tradition which connected you to people and places.
All these thoughts flooded my mind as I recollected past summers when I was growing up. These occasions served to strengthen the bonds between family and friends, focal points which ensured a great sense of family unity.
The same is true of our faith; we are united by sharing in the life of the Church. We are strengthened through our participation in the sacraments and coming together to celebrate as God’s people. Only in the body of the Church, in the community of Christians can we experience the true identity of Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God. Together living as brothers and sisters in Christ we reveal the true face of Jesus to one another.