4.44a.m.

That's the time right now (or at least when I wrote this last Saturday morning). I'm in (was in) Ballyporeen, Co. Tipperary, staying 2 nights with an uncle and aunt of mine so that I can visit my Mum + Dad during the day in a nursing home not too far from here over in Co. Limerick. After getting back from a pub in the village at about 1a.m. (as you do over here, although that's actually a little early!) with my uncle, I then had a 5-hour discussion with him (aged 71, a very holy man, also rather a private, shy person) about life, God, faith, our families' stories, suffering, books, films...

I've known my uncle for many years, but this is the first time that we have opened up to each other in this way: a God-given time of grace in and through which the Holy Spirit has been at work in our hearts and minds. He happens to be Gemma's Dad (see previous article) and she arrived on the Saturday. It was great to catch up with her and what she's been up to in the music world (performing/touring with Liam Clancy, the last surviving Clancy Brother, for example). She's a wonderfully talented singer/songwriter/guitarist who deserves to be much better known outside for native Ireland where she is a household name.

And I thank God for such an experience. Glory to you, Lord.

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