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Viewpoint from Rev Canon Nick Garrard 07/09/2018

NICK GARRARDRevd Canon Nick Garrard
Rector of the Broadside Benefice (Ranworth with Panxworth, South Walsham and Upton and Fishley, Woodbastwick)


as published in the Yarmouth Mercury

dove left 
It’s a rare privilege to watch dolphins and minke whales from the comfort of a sitting room window, but that was our experience this summer in south-west Ireland. Situated in ‘the last parish before America’, we were staying in a cottage on the remote, rocky north side of the Mizen peninsula. It was over half a day’s journey from Dublin and vague directions, lack of house or road name and my unhelpful attack of brain-freeze meant that we spent almost two hours searching for our cottage. Our guide book described the rural roads as ‘very perilous’, and climbing over the brow of one hill we could not see the road ahead because it fell away so steeply. In failing light, a local farmer drove ahead of us to the cottage, which we would never have found otherwise. But it was worth it
Dove rightWe can’t remember having stayed anywhere as beautiful. There was no TV, Wifi or nearby shops but we never ran out of things to talk about. Life in that part of Mizen had entered the modern world relatively recently. The first tractor arrived in 1974, electricity in 1977 and phone lines ten years later. The old ways of farming, supplemented by fishing and gathering gulls’ eggs happened within living memory. This beautiful place had also witnessed great suffering. Its Catholic population had endured centuries of persecution. Between 1841 and today, the parish’s population plummeted from over 12,000 to less than 1,000. This was mainly due to the Great Hunger, or Potato Famine that halved Ireland’s population. Emigration and returns remain a big part of local life
It is also a very spiritual place. A large cross on top of a nearby mountain stood silhouetted by the rising sun. People on radio phone-ins reminisced about the spiritual landmarks of their lives: first communion, confirmation, family weddings and funerals. Although Ireland is changing rapidly and the Catholic Church’s authority is increasingly challenged, it was refreshing to be stay in a land where people’s spiritual lives are close to the surface
Now we’re home again and a new school term has just begun. Harvest is happening all around us. Christmas is less than four months away! But in quiet moments I still think of the dolphins and whales in the bay and gannets flying overhead. I hope that you too have a place you can go in your thoughts, a place that centres your being and helps you find peace, whatever may be happening around you


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