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Day 6: Press Coverage in the Irish Times

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You might be forgiven for thinking, just for a minute, that one has arrived – even if one is, in fact, far from one’s destination – when one gets a mention in the Irish Times.

And, without a doubt, this is true for many. In fact, we have to say that we are grateful that Anja’s pilgrimage received a write-up in a recent article by Barry Roche about Anja’s pilgrimage to Rome.

However, we also would like to point out, as Anja did in her rather eloquent words to the team at WestCorkTogether4Yes, who also gave Anja a shout-out on their Twitter post on 13th March, WestCorkTogether4Yes, that one should always be rather careful that one’s choice of words is in keeping with the spirit of what Anja’s setting out to do.

Though grateful of the mention, Anja wanted to set the record straight in no uncertain terms:

That’s is not how I would put it. To demand respect for women would imply that the opinion of the pope/church is important. I’m #walking to #Rome because in this extraordinary time in history I can. Because women including me can choose to do different to what was before.

To demand respect would imply I recognise power over my being. I just want to take up my rightful place in time, history and space. 50% of this rightfully belongs to women, that includes me. I am strong, I am able, I can do, I can change, we are strong, we are able, we can do…

So, just to be totally clear, if you’re in any doubt whatsoever as to why Anja is walking from Clonakilty to Rome:

– Her name is Anja Bakker.
– Anja is walking, because she can.
– Anja is on a pilgrimage, not a crucade.
– It is a personal challenge.
– It may inspire people (we think it is! We are inspired, which is why we are going on this journey with Anja – if just virtually!).
– If it is inspiring to people, it may show people, perhaps women in particular, who have often not had a chance, or were not given a chance, to believe what is possible.
– Anja is walking so she can play her gorgeous harp, Séan, for people.
– Anja may not realise this but she’s blazing a trail. Did you know that before Anja embarked on this walk, only one other person, a saint, in fact, by the name of Thaddius McCarthy (what a name! They don’t make them like that any more!), walked from Clonakilty to Rome? Twice? But hmm, it was 500 odd years ago. So Anja felt it was time to do the same.
– Apparently there is no record of a female bardic harper crossing the Alps. And Anja loves a challenge!
– Anja likes walking.
– Anja loves the harp, and is a hard worker. She’s more than happy to “play for her supper”, as Patricia Messinger put it.
– Meeting Pope Francis is completely incidental. It is not her primary mission. Her primary mission is to walk to Rome. Because she can.
– Anja is not demanding anything. In fact, she was very slow to accept money, and only does so if you remind her that that’s what pilgrims do! If pushed, she may demand a new plaster for her blisters.
– Just because Anja was angry when the Murphy report came out, does not mean she is still angry, and angrily demanding change. She may, however, still be angry at that first pair of shoes…
– Anja does have another travel companion. Apart from other walkers who join her here and there along her journey, Anja is also accompanied by Sébastien, who has been walking with her since Clonakilty. Why? Because he can, too.

We’d invite Barry and everyone else who thinks that Anja’s on a mission to turn water into wijn, to get in touch with The Flauting Harper and find out what flauts the harper’s boat, first hand.


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