|Stone arch at the end of Gola|
Getting Closer to God
|The Blessed Virgin|
We sought out the memorial for two Gola Island descendants who died in the Twin Towers on 9/11. As there were no remains, the only way to memorialize them was by a marker. So the islanders erected a memorial on the spot one of the two men had loved more than any other and had brought his children to visit. It was an amazingly emotional experience for us. Having lived nearby in New Jersey and having lived through the disaster, to realize how far reaching its effects were, that such a remote event could affect such a distant community, was a new revelation. We walked back to town in silent respect.
|A traditional currach|
The entire congregation took Communion, the offerings were a boat (a ketch with jib and jigger to be exact) and a lobster pot, and four young people sang and played string and wind instruments in a very innocent manner. It was powerfully moving in its simplicity.
The priest then sprinkled Ballygowan on the boats tied up at the pier including our dinghy and sent a blessing Aleria’s way. So we had finally made it to a blessing of the fleet. People lingered ashore and chatted amiably with us. It was a magical day to remember for a very long time.
Afterwards, there was a currach rowing demonstration. They brought out a couple of very narrow and fast racing currachs. They roped Alex into joining one for a spin. They thought, “ha, we’ll show the yachtie,” but they didn’t know Alex. He was a natural oarsman, despite having never before sat in one. He matched strokes with the other two perfectly as they rowed clear across the Bay in lightning speed. One turned around to Alex and said, “Sure you’ve done this before.” Alex told him never. “Well then ye are very good at it, a natural like I’d say.” Alex grinned the whole way, then winced the whole night from the strain in his muscles. Worth every second.
|Communion for the masses|
All in all, our day on Gola was the highlight of the trip. People were so friendly. They all expressed their condolences about Donegal beating Mayo last year, and said, "If we have to be beat by someone, it may as well be Mayo." A kayaker stopped by to talk and videotape our boat with his helmet cam, boaters stopped by just to chat, boaters’ waved enthusiastically and took lots of pictures. The ferry was considerate and slowed down as he passed us, while the people aboard cheered and waved. We had dressed ship for the occasion and Aleria did look splendid in the harbour.
|Abandoned homes being restored|
|The tourist office and cafe|
|Lake at the top of the hill|
|End of Gola|
|View from the top|
|Memorial to two island descendants lost in 9/11|
|Kayakers transiting under the arch|
|The road on Gola|
|The main pier|
|Alex in his Sunday best|
|Um, Monk of Iona|
|Mass on the pier|
|Coast Guard in attendance at Mass|
|Boat and lobster pot offerings for the blessing|
|Donegal colours...Jimmy is a hero.|
|Racing currachs ready for the demonstration|
|Alex being taken for a ride|
|Pulling with the best of them|
|In perfect unison, a natural|
|Aleria dressed for the blessing|
|Lobsters fresh from the sea|
|Alex is happy|
|Onyx is happy|
|The mainland lit up in sunshine|
|Bye bye sun. What a special day!|