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WHAT BROUGHT ME TO IRELAND?

The simple answer is LOVE but there is a story behind each simple answer.

My first visit to this sacred land was in 2016. I was the artistic co-director of a project called ‘’Once upon a place’’. In collaboration with the Dun Laoghaire Library, we tried to build a cultural bridge between Ireland and Turkey using storytelling. On one hand, we wished to reveal the existing bonds between Irish and Anatolian oral traditions. On the other hand we wished to create new bonds between Turkish and Irish communities of modern urban life. For that to happen, two districts were selected in Istanbul and Dublin. In these districts, several meetings were organised that aimed to encourage local communities to express their own voices in public gatherings. Collecting the stories from both traditions and from local communities, we further trained storytellers to share those stories. At the end of the project, two different storytelling performances were organised in Dublin and in Istanbul where traditional and personal stories were intertwined in a way that the cultural bridge was visible and invisible at the same time. That is the magic of stories, they might belong to a specific culture or a specific community but they are also universal because they are all about being human on this planet.

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In the ‘’Once upon a place’’ project I got the opportunity to work with the storyteller Fiona Dowling and through her I connected with the ‘’Storytellers of Ireland’’ Association. Storytellers of Ireland welcomed me so warmly that they invited me to two storytelling festivals in June and September 2017. More trips to Ireland were planned without knowing my destiny.

In 2017, I went to a workshop on Crete island. It was a personal storytelling intensive workshop for three weeks facilitated by Sue Hollingsworth and Stella Kassimati. There were 10 participants from all over the world. During the course Sue and Stella skillfully paved the way for us so we could discover and share the wisdom of our personal stories. Everybody opened up and we became good friends with each other. One of the participants was an Irish man. Actually he was the only man in the group. His name was Peter.

A few weeks later, when I went to Ireland in June, I contacted Peter and invited him to my performance. While he could not come to the performance, we did meet for dinner in Dublin. He told me that he wanted to give me a book, but he forgot to bring it with him, so the following day we met again and Peter brought the book. The book was called ‘’Benedictus – The Book of Blessings’’ by John O’Donohue. That book became a milestone in my life.

As I started to read the book back in Turkey, I fell in love with each word in it. I was sending text messages to Peter including a couple of verses from the book and we began to exchange messages frequently. From the origins of a friendship based on personal storytelling and poetry and a shared love of learning, over time a romantic relationship emerged between us.

After a long-distance relationship and 2 years after we first met, we got married in April 2019. Since then, we live together in Dublin. We still share verses from the Book of Blessings with each other and feel blessed by the beauty and wisdom of John O’Donohue’s poetry.

For the ones who are not familiar with John O’Donohue’s brilliance, I would like to share one of the poems from ‘’Benedictus – The Book of Blessings’’.

The inner (hi)story* of a day
No one knew the name of this day;
Born quietly from deepest night,
It hid its face in light,
Demanded nothing for itself,
Opened out to offer each of us
A field of brightness that travelled ahead,
Providing in time, ground to hold our footsteps
And the little thought to show the way.

The mind of the day draws no attention;
It dwells within the silence with elegance
To create a space for all our words,
Drawing us to listen inwards and outwards.

We seldom notice how each day is a holy place
Where the eucharist of the ordinary happens,
Transforming our broken fragments
Into an eternal continuity that keeps us.

Somewhere in us a dignity presides
That is more gracious than the smallness
That fuels us with fear and force,
A dignity that trusts the form a day takes.

So at the end of this day,
We give thanks
For being betrothed to the unknown
And for the secret work
Through which the mind of the day
And the wisdom of the soul becomes one.

*The brackets are made by me.

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