We meet some wonderful people through The Irish Soda Bread Way. Many love to reminisce about their mothers, and grandmothers and what they baked and ate. Visitors from the US and UK, whose ancestors emigrated from Ireland, still feel a strong connection to all things Irish. They love to explore that sense of belonging, a sense of place. Baking soda bread with us, the smell, the taste seems to bring on a large dose of nostalgia!

We recall an extended family group from the US who joined us in April 2022, just after census day here in Ireland. (We were due a census in 2021, but due to Covid19, it did not take place until 2022). They wanted to bake traditional soda bread to honour their Irish ancestry. This family had travelled especially, from the US ,so that they would be present in the cottage of their ancestors near Newport County Mayo, on census night 2022. Their grandmother had emigrated to the US one hundred and eleven years before, just after completing the census in 1911. They had inherited her old cottage, a ruin, and were in the process of renovating it, stone by stone. They showed us photos of them filling in the census form for 2021 by candlelight in their grandmother’s cottage (electricity had not yet been connected). It was very emotional. They had tears in their eyes as they told the story, perhaps recalling difficult times and reflecting on the resilience of our ancestors.

While we are often told that we should live in the present, reminiscence can be good for the mind and soul. Social reminiscing helps us bond with others, often acknowledging shared experiences. It can also be a time of self-reflection. It is good to have a treasure chest of happy memories that we can delve into especially when going through a difficult patch in life. Looking back on good times can give us hope for the future and remind us that “it will pass”. Of course, not all memories are good.  Changing our negative way of thinking about difficult situations can help and is a skill we constantly strive to achieve!

So, let us embrace the healing power of reminiscing and the joy it can bring!