What do Brian D’Arcy and I have in common? I’m sure you’ve never given this any thought before and don’t have a clue…You probably aren’t interested either but I’ll tell you anyways….We are both awed by Glenveagh National Park in Co Donegal.
See for yourself:
“As a book lover and fellow writer, what is the must see spot that you would recommend anyone visiting Britain?
One of my favourite places is Glenveagh National Park in Donegal. Its own website describes it as ‘a remote and hauntingly beautiful wilderness of rugged mountains and pristine lakes’. It combines all the magical features of Irish landscapes and is precisely the kind of place that you referred to as mystical – the quintessential Ireland. For a writer, it is worth seeing and allowing it to inspire you.”
“Glenveagh is a wonderful place to visit. A fantastic castle, beautiful walks, stunning views and an amazing history. Manicured and wonderful gardens, 22 acres in all, golden eagles and red deer.
When our wee pilgrimage group got there, we went to the lake shore. We paddled our way to the rocks sitting at the side of the lake. The only sound that could be heard was the lapping of the water. There are no birds in Glenveagh because the eagles drive them out….”
Through the Year With Brian D’Arcy wouldn’t be my usual reading choice but when I was unexpectedly given a copy, I thumbed through it and found that I had to keep turning the pages. It really impressed me. It’s the type of book that is usually called a devotional or inspirational one – and I wouldn’t describe myself as a religious person. But Father D’Arcy’s religious beliefs are subtly and sensitively expressed.
Thoughts and reflections on spiritual and secular topics are a good way to describe the book. Some of the writings are by Father D’Arcy and others are by influential philosophers and thinkers through the ages.
This diverse collection touches on many areas – cultural, political, social and religious ones are all included. Helpful hints are interspersed between wise quotes.
Father D’Arcy isn’t afraid to tackle social issues and discusses abuse in relationships, bullying, patients’ rights, mental health, growing older, bereavement, alcoholism and suicide. He discusses the secular angle, offering practical help and advice, and also considers the Church’s response to social problems. It’s refreshing to see practical suggestions and spiritual insights without religious platitudes.
I was surprised and pleased to see that he also tackles practical topics such as how to recognize a stroke, how to survive a heart attack if you are alone, how to help cancer patients, how to cope with grieving, how to cope with depression and how to deal with arguments sensibly.
The book will make you laugh as well as think. Father D’Arcy’s seems to enjoy the lighter side of life and this shows in some entries. He quotes Barbara Holland on how it is impossible to take yourself too seriously while wearing a bathrobe, considers whether airport security is the new purgatory and wonders whether more umbrellas or spectacles are lost worldwide.
As a christian and a Catholic priest some of his thoughts naturally pertain to religion. He expresses his thoughts on spirituality, putting belief into practice, the future of the church – criticising failures and suggesting ways to move forward – and imparts wisdom from such diverse religious figures as Martin Luther, Mother Teresa and the Dalai Lama.
I had to check the 19 January entry (because it’s my birthday!) and on that day he quotes from William Ward, saying “Our words can cut or comfort, hinder or help, harass or heal, injure or inspire…” I think the words in this book are the latter choice in each of these comparisons.
Although you can glance over bits and pieces of this book any time of year, as a new year approaches it’s a perfect time to begin reading it and/or to give it to someone else. I’ve already given a copy as a Christmas gift – and I’m keeping mine too. It might be clichéd, but, there really is something for everyone in it. It made me laugh, cheered me, made me think – and reminded me why I love Glenveagh. That’s my kind of book!