Finding Faith in Ireland Day Four

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Tuesday 6 August -  Kilmallock to Cork City and Glanmire

This summer, VOX magazine editor Ruth Garvey-Williams is travelling around Ireland to hunt down stories of faith, life and reality. Each day, she will share the story of her journey and some of the stories she encounters along the way.

I didn’t have to rush on Tuesday morning so en route to Cork city, I stopped off at the ruins of the Dominican Priory in Killmallock where I had been staying and tried my hand at some arty photos. According to the internet (so feel free to correct this with more accurate sources) the priory was founded in 1291 and sacked by Cromwellian forces in in 1648. 

Somehow these stones retained a beauty and dignity that had seemed missing from Clare Abbey. Wandering through the ruins, I wondered what prayers had been whispered in that place, what faith stories unfolded here?

I drove on in pensive mood listening to the second half of Matthew’s gospel (audio version) as I headed down to Cork city.  I’m attempting to listen to all four gospels before the end of the tour… will let you know how I get on.

First stop today was LifeFM radio.  Cork’s community radio station provides family-friendly broadcasting with a strong Christian ethos. Run by an international and inter-denominational team, it has gone from strength to strength since its launch in March 2008.

I enjoy meeting a few friendly faces.  Tim Murphy is busy working on a new documentary looking at the changes faced by people who have been made redundant and need to re-train in order to find work. Tim and another volunteer, Harry Russell, are quick to offer me help with directions to my next appointment. [When I finish my radio interview, I discover that they’ve even printed me out a map!]

My interview is with Michael O Sullivan, standing in for presenter Anna Daly on her “On the Level” talk show, while she takes a well-earned holiday. 

Michael tells me he is passionate about community development and works with LifeFM to promote and support the work of a range of charities and voluntary organisations throughout Cork.

Chatting live on air is always fun.  I share about the journey so far and the VOX focus on faith, life and reality (or faith in the real world).  Michael gets this, “It’s no point bringing out your faith on Sundays and then putting it in a box for Monday morning, it needs to affect what you do throughout the week.”

From LifeFM it’s a short drive to O’Brien’s coffee shop in Wilton.  Here I get to meet musician and songwriter, Joe O’Donovan. Joe’s song “All I want” reached 11th place out of over 270 entries into the recent “We are worship” song writing competition.

“Music seems to go deeper into the soul and captures something that words can’t express.  ‘All I want’ is about longing for God’s presence.” The name of Jesus always gave me hope,” Joe shares.  “No matter what I am doing and whatever the problems are, there is always hope. I used to do a lot of dreaming that one day I would be able to do this for a living.  Then I came to realise that my day job is God’s plan A.  I was at work one day and I literally began walking around giving thanks to God as I did my work.  We can praise Him as much in our work as we do in church.” Watch out for Joe’s new worship EP out this summer!  VOX will definitely be giving you the heads up when it is launched.

I drove into the city centre, parked and began walking along the river towards Unbound bookshop where I was to meet Padraig O'Caoimh when I spotted the Yellow bus parked on the opposite bank.

I’ve visited these folks before and thought a “finding faith” tour wouldn’t be complete without stopping off and seeing them.  Week after week, the yellow bus parks up in the centre of Cork and provides soup and sandwiches, a warm welcome and a helping hand to anyone who needs it.

The bus is filling up when I arrive and they are scooping out the last bowlfuls of delicious beef stew to feed a group of hungry guests. I don’t want to interrupt so after snapping a few photos I’m on my way again.

Padraig and I sit down for a cuppa and chat about taking risks.  After several years of running the Christian bookshop in Cork, Padraig and his team have just opened a new shop in Killarney.

The last few months have proved a roller coaster ride of risks and miracles, which has seen the new shop thriving in the heart of Killarney’s Outlet Centre and the launch of a wide range of new hand-made products like cards, soap, lip-balm and mug warmers! 

“People told us it was really difficult to buy a Bible in Killarney.  We’ve focused on providing cards and gifts with positive messages and bible verses on them alongside a fabulous range of Bibles,” Padraig explained.

One of the biggest miracles was finding the perfect shop in the perfect location at a price that they could afford.  Since the new shop opened at Easter, it has never looked back!

Day four ends a short drive from Cork city in the village of Glanmire, where I’m staying with friends - Alex and Linda Gason.  We talk for hours which means I’m still editing until the “wee hours” of the morning but it is well worth it!