Emma M.Murray is a mother, wife, teacher and writer.
She spent most of her twenties with a rucksack slung across her back, travelling extensively around the world. She returned to her native Donegal, a few years ago.
To date this year, she has had short stories and flash fiction pieces published by Rue Scribe, Ireland Writing Retreat and The Galway Literary Review. She has also been named as a finalist in the Wild Atlantic Writing Awards competition, in both the creative non-fiction and fiction categories.

Níl Aon Tinteán Mar Do Thinteán Féin

There’s no place like home

‘Bula, Bula!’ the few locals shouted gleefully, as our rickety wooden boat approached the island. Our home for the next seven days. Five strangers when we boarded, now a nomadic tribe connected. Orange and pink heliconias tucked behind our ears, glasses of happily fizzing Kava placed in our hands.
A traditional Fijian welcome, almost like a welcome home.

An idyllic paradise island, so small you could see the sea on both sides.
Surrounded by the glistening sapphire blues of the Pacific.
Drenched in tropical sunshine.
The narrow streets were made of sand.
No cars, no traffic, only wooden shacks and lounging locals.
Children played barefoot on rusty bicycles, while mud-crabs scuttled across the sandy paths without fear. Marking their territory in a comical fashion.

I didn’t wear shoes that week.
Not once.
For there was no need.
Something that had never happened before.
A feeling of liberation that words can’t explain.
An invigorating, unhinged sense of freedom.

And the people were glorious too.
Reminding me of my own.
An immediate kinship.
The kind of place that remains in your heart, long after you’ve gone.

I could’ve stayed barefoot there, forever…except that I couldn’t.

A primal prehistoric instinct deep inside,
Calling on me to return to my roots,
to lay my own.
A mutual understanding, between me and the leather-back turtles that swam by on the horizon.
On their journey home.

As good fortune would have it, I now leave sandy footprints in an even more beautiful setting.
The sand between my toes is not warm or flaky anymore…
But its home.

I stare in wonder at our iconic Bád Eddie, imagining the events of that fateful night.
A storm redirecting her to shore.
Where she would lie forever more.
An unplanned shrine.
The playground of my youth.
The heart of our tourism posters.

An incomparable beauty exists within this remote county.
Our beaches mirror heaven,
Caressed by our wild Atlantic swells.
Our rolling hills and majestic mountains, stand tall and proud.
Mount Errigal, our protector, keeping a watchful eye.
The sound of the rushing rivers, warm your heart, and excite your soul.
But this treasured land of ours, is more than skin deep.
It’s more than an untamed,
enchanting landscape.

It’s something else.

Something buried deep within everyone born to this rugged forgotten corner.
It’s our fierce and determined history,
Our fight to remain who we are.
Who we were.
It’s the songs in the air, passed down through generations,
Keeping the melodies and harmonies of our ancestors alive.
It’s our undying pride in our culture, our heritage.

It’s smiling neighbours,
And knowing their names.
Children laughing in their native tongue.

A collective happiness permeates the land,
The air we breath feels fresher.
A real life daydream, we never need to wake from,
The escape everyone else is searching for.

It’s powerful and wholesome.
Authentic and magical.
A spiritual connection to the world around us,

It’s divine.

Some say,
“Up here it’s different,”
And by God aren’t we so lucky that it is.