19 Jun 2023

By Kasia Stepien

Monastic Tour 2023 – Week Four: Belfast & Ards Friary

1st June: Finding Calm and Clarity in the times of Confusion Public Talk

Tall Trees Sangha, Newtownabbey and Leaves of One Tree Sangha, Belfast were delighted to welcome the monastics to Belfast again.

There was only one event in Northern Ireland, a public talk with 4 monastics. Brother Resolve and Sister Presence gave wonderful talks and all the monastics answered questions from the audience.  Over 200 people attended in the beautiful, historic and old First Presbyterian Church in Belfast City Centre.  Special thanks to Edwin Graham from the NI Interfaith Forum for supporting us and to Des McKeown and David Kerr from the First Presbyterian Church for giving us the church to use for free.

Approximately £2000 was raised from this event and we are really grateful for everyone’s generosity and support. 

“The Plum Village event in Belfast was absolutely wonderful. The brothers and sisters brought a true sense of calm and peace to the space and you could feel the love and joy in the room! I loved the whole evening from start to finish, from the beautiful singing and the meditation to the Dharma talk and Q&A. The personal sharing was truly heart warming and very relevant to the teachings on looking deeply and taking care of our suffering. All in all a wonderful experience. I hope you go to Plum Village for a retreat soon!” Lesley

I really enjoyed the evening.  The Monastics were so skilled to speak without many notes!” Ian

It was a beautiful evening, thank you.” Carol

I really loved the PV talk in Belfast, I was touched by the open heartedness of each monastic speaking of their personal journeys. It felt special to be among a big crowd of peace seekers and makers in a once very troubled city. Hoping the ripples of peace keep spreading here. Thank you for sharing peace and wisdom. – Susan

The Monastics also offered a retreat in Ards Friary, which was co-organised and attended by some of the UK Sangha members.

We had such a wonderful three day retreat in Ards Friary, Donegal. We were made to feel very at home by the Capuchin friars who live and run the friary and also by the beautiful setting. Mother Earth welcomed us with such abundance. We were surrounded by sea, blue skies, sunshine, forests and joyful birdsong.

The setting held us as the monastics invited us to contemplate the 5 Remembrances, impermanence and how the contemplation of this can help us to waken to life, to live more deeply and to cultivate joy.

There was certainly a collective joy and awakening to the beauty and simplicity of life over the three days – a beautiful coming together of the Irish sangha with rich sharings and deep connections. We are already looking forward to the next one. – Veronica