In September 2018, 51 years to the month after my parents’ trip to Ireland, I finally made my first visit to the country.
I had considered writing ahead of time to Maria Simonds-Gooding, the artist who made the dolmen painting that’s the centerpiece of my project Where Your Treasure Is, but I was afraid if I wrote too far in advance, she would ask me why I was coming, and I would have to explain. I had a feeling she would be okay with what I have done with her painting, but I wanted to speak to her in person about it, definitely NOT over email!
So I flew to Dublin, took the train down to Killarney, where I spent a few days exploring with my old friend Linda Norton and my new friend Helen Horgan, and then they left me in Dingle, the main town on the peninsula where Maria lives.
The first night I was there, I went to hear music at a pub in town, where I met Robin and Charlie, a couple from Texas. Along with chatting hopefully about Beto’s chances — Charlie was wearing a Beto shirt — they recommended an archeological tour of the peninsula, which was the perfect trip for the next day, since it was rainy and very windy, not an ideal day for a bike ride.
Tim, the tour guide and driver, is a lifelong resident of the peninsula, and of course he knows all about Maria Simonds-Gooding, and pointed out the road she lives on, all the way at the westernmost tip of the Dingle Peninsula, looking out at the now-abandoned Blasket Islands and the raging Atlantic beyond.
So that night I was finally ready to send an email to Maria Simonds-Gooding, and the next day, in hopes of hearing back from her, I moved to a bed and breakfast in Ventry, one town closer to where she lives. When I told my hosts, Mary and Steve, that I was interested in dolmens and megaliths, they told me about a megalith in the meadow at the top of the hill above their house, and directed me up there — a bit of a slog through sheep fields and over stone walls and barbed wire, to one of the most amazing places I have ever had the joy to experience.
And when I got back from that outing, I had an email from Maria, inviting me to come to her cottage and studio the next day!
And what a cottage and studio!
And what a person she is!
On the eve of 80, Maria splits her time between Dublin and Dunquin, drives a little red sports car, is fiercely independent and a whole lot of fun, and is of course still making work: radically stripped down from the juvenalia my parents bought in 1967, and curiously more like what weather and time has done to that painting.
We spent two really wonderful days together, and I told her the whole story of what has happened with her painting, and I played her the music/video pieces Emma Courtney and I have made, and she was absolutely delighted by and supportive of the project, and now we’ve decided the next step is to see if we can find the dolmen that was the model for the painting that’s on my land. She has some suspicions, but isn’t entirely sure which dolmen it was, which of course gives us an excuse to wander and explore all the more!
So the plan is that Emma and I will come back to Ireland in 2019 and the three of us will have some adventures in Ireland together, and see what comes of that!
I can’t wait!
(click here to go back to Where Your Treasure Is)