Shining A Light - The Story

Shining a Light - the story

read by Sailí Áine Ní Mhurchú

As the sun sinks low on a dark winter evening and the howling winds strip leaves off the trees, a veiled woman slips down from the fairy ring at Mount Seskin. As she walks over these hills, frost glints at her footsteps and creatures from fields and woodlands flock to her side. She lifts her staff and lightning stabs the stormy skies illuminating the ravens and crows swirling around her head. Winter is truly here.


On one such dark night, this shadow of ancient times emerges again from the gloom. She moves along pathways and through the spaces between houses, rooftops and doorways. The light of the moon and stars are at her fingertips and she can see what has emerged over time in each corner of South Dublin.


Here she sees Jobstown that used to be farmland nestling in the western foothills of the Dublin Mountains. Now there are houses and schools where the energy of young people pours out of Citywise and onto the number 27 bus.  The wind blows her closer to Tallaght, once the site of an old monastery. The old mill is still there, but now a bustling town grows upwards with tall walls and glass windows. She feels that her gifts of knowledge, healing and peace are at work here. Songs and music pour out from the places where creativity and learning happen and she hears many voices speaking in Gaelic and other mother tongues from around the world.


She notices that natural life survives in the rivers and streams - the Dodder, Fettercairn, Tymon and Whitestone that flow under and alongside the man-made roads and walkways. She sees that Nature still has meaning for many people as they prepare for new spring growth in their gardens and plant pots on windowsills.


For this one night, she becomes most splendid when she hears music and voices singing. From Deansrath Community College, the spoken words of young poets ascend and unite with St Aidan’s Community College in Brookfield. Surely, this place hearkens back to a time when there were fields and farms.  Then, moving on to old Dolcan’s meadow, she finds it transformed into Clondalkin. Rising up beyond the Garda station, the take away shops and beauty salons is St. Mochua’s round tower that has endured the ages of industry, development and expansion.

She shines a light on Kingswood and melodious voices of choirs drift through the windows of the Community Centre. Her light catches all the everyday places, the industrial estates, schools, playgrounds, churches, temples, mosques, shopping centres and libraries. These are where memories are made and they are extraordinary.


The parks Tynan Hall, Ballymount, Tymon and the playing fields are green and open sanctuaries for people to walk, see family and friends at a distance and find peace. Moreover, she knows that nearby there are the remnants of magic and the old fairy tree where people leave their wishes and dreams for better, safer and happier times.


Now, because she knows that something harmful has disrupted the normal course of their lives, she shines her light on the heroes of these communities. Those who are making them safe and cared for, helping them to learn and create, keeping them fed, supplied and connected are recognised and celebrated in the beams of her light.


She is radiant when she sees so many hands of friendship and creativity silhouetted in the windows of homes, community centres and libraries. Children, families and young people have made these beautiful, illuminated signs of their goodwill and understanding. And with these gifts, she understands that the light will continue to shine even when she slips away like a swirling mist in the hollows of the hills.


In December how will you welcome this Winter visitor to your neighbourhood?

Poster cailleach black sky white clouds

Illustration by Jackqualyn Gray

Solas/Light by Lyndsey Lawlor

There once was a time there was nothingness


But then, one day

Before days did exist

There was this hiss

This burst of energy

This fire

This heat





And this light did burn

And light the planet we call home

And with it brought tribes and communities

And with this, immunity

From dark, from lonely

From isolation

But homely



We don’t know of who’s hands is this doing

This gluing of places and people

Our brains are needful of answers


For this could not be god,

And science tells us so

This was woman.


She brings us knowledge,

in the shape of our schools

She brings us peace

When the storm settles

She brings us kindness

That we must spread to all around


And we will heal,

Together we will heal


And she sees this

She plans it

She is the overseeing prophet

She is the bringer of light  


I light the eyes of the children

I light the fields where they play

I am the mother calling you in for dinner

I am the bringer of light


She is the light that grows the garden

your ma tells you to get out of


We are surrounded by her creation of

mountains and hills

We walk upon sacred stones

We fly with the crows  


We are grounded

By our mothers

When we commit wrong


We speak in unison

Our communities sing the same song


We are the accent of “ah jaysis howiyih

your ma your da, your missis, your fellih”


We are “swear on me ma’s life”

“and gis a bitta dat”

we are the large warm voices in the streets

shouting up the flats


We are born out of one hole

and we die into another

and what we get in between is a bonus


We are not paying the water charges

not answering the door to the salesmen

buying carpet from the local tradesmen


We are LIGHT


I light the family that feeds you

I am the sister that needs you

I put a smile on the table

I am the bringer of light

Feel like it’s only when you fly the nest

To come home to the community do you realise

we have people with nothing,

willing to give their everything

south Dublin is a fairy tale


and we weep for connection

integration of light brought from all corners of the


to land in this town

and we are no bigger or better than the next

and we shall all parade in the same crown

While watching

Fireworks spark effervescent Autumn

Over Close and Crescent



But the neighbours are never cold

Even in a rush

Always have time

To send love to yours from mine


To say the virus won’t define us

But if anything unite us

And build light thus


Allow grandmother to fuss

Are you hungry?

Can you see me?

I’m no good at skype you see



What I see is that we strive to live in a place

where the colour of your

skin doesn’t matter

where we will judge people on the heat of their



communities build light

collaborating through art

and this is just the start


To share stories from the Echo at the time

Na flora ‘is na fána, na saoilse,


on me, shine on you

and the fairy tree too


We zoom call our friends

from our homes where we isolate

we encourage the team work

mirrored in the art of Emma Blake


This is light


I am community strength

I am diversity through art 

I am the warmth of the heart

I am the bringer of light


For light is immortal

And this I believe

Until the very last white spec on this earth


When we’ve used up all of our resources with

our own greed

Our world needs us

She needs us

She is getting old and

We must take hold

And stop tearing apart our home


We light the gardens and the footpaths

We light the schools

We are film makers

We are song writers

And we sing across the land

We may live from hand to mouth

But we feed mouths with those hands

We have plans

We have dreams

We are the children of tomorrow

We take flight

WE are the bringers of light




Thanks to St Aidan’s Community School, Deansrath Community College, Kingswood Community College, Kingswood Community and Youth Choirs and SubSounds youth music group for their contributions to the spoken word project with Lyndsey Lawlor