I spent last Thanksgiving in Dublin, Ireland, and while there, I paid a visit to the National Museum of Ireland: Archaeology, hoping to do some research on my next book, a fantasy YA story based on the Tuatha Dé Danann – the ancient gods of Ireland. This particular bit of sight-seeing comes with a story.
This stone is actually enormous and dates back to between 3000 and 2500 b.c. It bears a spiral design, which fascinates me because I was doing research for a book a while back and discovered that the spiral symbol is common (and sacred) to just about every primitive culture – check out Chaco Canyon and the sunstone there, or the carvings of the Inuit or the Maori, check out China, Japan, all over Asia and Africa – seriously – it’s everywhere in primitive cultures.
Anyway, I glanced around sneakily, and then I reached out and touched it, low down on the design, skimming and tracing the groove with gentle fingers. I know, I shouldn’t have done that.
I started to move away and the museum attendant by the door – who was a stern looking older gentleman – leaned in and said, “Please don’t touch the exhibits.”
I gave him a guilty look and I apologized, and he leaned in again and said, “So you’re a writer.”
“I – uh – yeah. I’m a writer,” I stammered, and he smiled.
“Some people touch the stone to feel what it’s made of,” he told me, “or because they find the design interesting. But you touched it lower down, and traced it out. The writers do that. You wanted to know about the man who made the design. Touch where he touched and find out what he was like. What made him do it. The writers touch that way to reach back in time.”
So I asked him about the great Irish gods, and he pointed me to this wonderful book.
And he asked me to “do their stories justice, if you please.”
Some moments stay with you a lifetime. I can’t carve my design in stone, but I can carve out a story in words, and maybe someday, someone will read it and trace the words with their fingers, reaching back through time as they wonder about me.
[You can check out the rest of my Dublin Diary on my other blog]