Dunderry Park - a space for Soul
Twenty years ago the gates of Dunderry Park opened and little did we know that it would change the course of many lives, including my own. I was a teenager when the work on the house first began and I had a vague idea at the time of what everyone involved wanted to achieve. From a young age I was brought up to believe that we all had a responsibility to help each other, that the natural world was important, and that community would be the source from which I would derive my strength in good and hard times.
Twenty years later I am proud to see what Dunderry means to other people and I feel full of heart when I think of what it means to me. Sometimes when I think of Dunderry I think of it as having its own spirit, entirely separate to my relationship with the house and the grounds. It is a caring spirit that loves people and activities and wants to facilitate growth and change in me and other people. But I see it also as a sensitive heart that needs to be minded and cared for and loved also. My Dad and Annette have been its caregivers for many years now as well as many other people including Ollie and Kathleen. They have all sacrificed so much to make sure it is a beautiful, warm and functioning space for community to flourish, spirit to be explored and conversations encouraged.
I was very lucky to come on board 7 years ago now to help in running the Soul Seminars events, Spirit of Folk Festival and keeping the community updated on all the happenings at the centre. Through all these meetings I have gotten to know the Dunderry community and feel blessed to feel part of this vibrant family. I think in the years to come this collection of open-minded and warm-hearted people is going to become more and more important in a world where fear of other people is encouraged and propagated. In my opinion, the more we know our own fears, desires, hopes and dreams the better we can help others. The more we take care of ourselves and work on ourselves the more we can reach out to those in need and have the capacity to care for others as well.
One of the most important aspects of the work at Dunderry is the exploration of our relationship with the natural world. Through the shamanic courses I have found a deeper appreciation of the world around me. How important the trees, the skies, and the animals are to our wellbeing and if we can cultivate a symbiotic relationship in this world we will all be happier and healthier. The idea of the soul is very important to me and I think that it is the part of us that Dunderry Park wants to enrich. I think when we neglect the soulful part of ourselves we cannot be fully engaged and enriched in our lives.
Just as keeping a healthy body and a healthy mind is important through exercise, therapy and meditation, it is as important not to neglect the soul. So the question I ask myself is how do I nourish this very important aspect of being human. In my exploration I find that expression through art is an amazing way to access this part of us. Dance, sing, paint or take part in a play. You will be enriched by it in ways you wouldn’t imagine. Shamanic Journeying, trance dance, and taking part in inspiring talks or events is another way to access this part of ourselves. And lastly, making time for interesting conversation with friends, family or even strangers can refill the spiritual side of yourself.
All this comes back to the space that Dunderry Park occupies in me. It’s been there for me through every up and down. A space I can retreat to when the world makes me sad and fills me up again with its beauty and space and quietness. I am forever grateful that this space was created and humbled that I get to be a part in its care. I can’t wait to see what the next 20 years brings.
28/12/2017 to 12/01/2018