Casadh na Taoide

Casadh na Taoide

The Turning of the Tide

Casadh na Taoide – the turning of the tide – is the natural and consistent ebb and flow that happens effortlessly all over the planet, day after day, season after season. With each turn of the tide, as the ocean keeps its unique rhythm, the sea and her stories and histories are connected to the shores. Here on the exposed and westerly coast of Ireland, the dependency of our islands on the sea and on the tide has forged strong connections between those islands and the people who live on them.

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Island poet Páidín Póil (c.1840-1923) from Eoghanacht, Árainn, said long ago: “Astray I went as I wandered my native shores.” And so it was for me last July in the company of the crew of Mac Duach and Casadh na Taoide.

On the Feast-Day of Mac Dara 2021, we headed for Roundstone pier. The sea was calm and a bewitching fog surrounded us that gentle morning. A magical start to an island voyage, a sea pilgrimage that would lift the hearts of all that encountered it.

If 2020 saw the world trapped on a stray sod, freedom awaited us on the open ocean that summer’s day and the fine warm days that followed. Everyone belonging to the voyage was entranced: by the beautiful Galway hooker sailing northward; by the fine weather, goodwill, and conviviality; by the beauty and wildlife of the west coast; by music at sea throughout, music that touched the stars; and by the joy and contentment of the people.

But it was the wisdom of island life that impacted us the most. As Páidín Póil said, “The land of youth I had there.” In the face of various challenges arising from season to season and from generation to generation, from misunderstanding to neglect to storms, the islands live on. They survive and thrive because, here, we see immediately that “no man is an island.” Here, we see faith forming fellowship and collaboration building community.

In each island, we were welcomed with pride and with hope. Our arrival instantly announced an occasion for everyone to celebrate their heritage, creativity, and imagination. Spirits soared and we felt those newly met were truly the oldest of friends. From island hearths, Casadh na Taoide took a lit sod and, aboard Mac Duach, carried that spark until it ignited and shone the light of understanding, illuminating a golden path from cove to currach, from bay to quay, and from heart to embrace.

As we sailed from island to island, weaving together the history, stories, and knowledge of the islands, we were humbled by the irrepressible power of humanity, of courage, kindness, and wonder. These are beacons for us still, blessing us ever since. The heart, which was sore for a time from sickness and strangeness, leapt and expanded at the turning of this tide of delight. With each fastening – of mooring lines, harp strings, and heartstrings – a springtide of love was released, a love that will weather any storm.

– Dr. Deirdre Ní Chonghaile

Mac Duach Arriving In Achill

Video footage: Seán Molloy & Tomás Ó Madaoin

Mary Jo O’Keeffe talks about the arrival of the Mac Duach and the history of na húicéirí in Achill.

Photo Gallery

Photos: Michael McLoughlin, Deirdre Ní Chonghaile, Freda Hatton, Diarmuid Gielty, Laoise Kelly

Casadh na Taoide: