Celebrating 25 Years at The Tara Centre

How blessed are we here at the Tara Centre, Omagh, to be alive and well and still “in business”, fully 25 years after we opened our doors to the general public at 11, Holmview Terrace, with our hopes and our dreams that the Centre might be able to be “… in the service of healing, peace and holistic wellbeing” among you for an, as yet unknown, period of time into the future. Critical for us from the get-go was to be of service in a manner which respects the sacredness of each individual’s right to remain “the captain of his/her own ship”, no matter how broken or vulnerable life may render any one of us to be, at any time in our lives, and for any of a multiplicity of reasons.

Sustained by this vision, a multi-disciplinary range of services evolved in the course of Tara’s early years – counselling/psychotherapy, art therapy, meditation and mindfulness, complementary therapies, yoga, a whole range of training and educational programmes – innovative for the most part – but always affirming, healing and empowering, as many of you who read these lines will already know.

More on all of this will have to wait for another day….

Just now, our purpose is to highlight the fact that there are 25 years of Tara to be celebrated – Tara –

“a timeless sacred place, a sanctuary for all”, –

“a place from which there is a broad perspective”, or,

as this Centre’s dear, now deceased friend, John O’Donohue, expressed it, having presented inspirational seminars at the Centre for ten consecutive years:

“The dream of peace is realised through the awakening, healing and integration of all the dimensions of the human heart.

The Tara Centre is at the frontier of this exciting transformation.”

Another association we are happy to share with you here has to do with the precise date on which the Centre was formally opened, 9th June (1996). A link was forged, albeit unintentionally, on that day with a proud son of Ulster whose lifework continues to be celebrated, not only throughout these islands but also in his principal monastic settlement on the island of Iona and, through his followers, throughout the whole of Europe.

We speak of Colum, Colmcille, Columba of Gartan, Co. Donegal, the 1,500th anniversary of whose birth is being widely celebrated this very year at home and abroad, transcending all traditions as the different versions of his name, as used above, signify.

During the past two to three years many energetic conversations took place among us at the Centre about how we would fling the doors open wide in the month of June 2021 and host a worthy celebration of all that we have seen and heard and done and received and hoped for and endured also throughout those 25 years. Little did we know that something as tiny as the COVID-19 virus and as universally pervasive as the pandemic it has spawned throughout the world over the past fifteen months or so, would call a halt to the realisation of that dream for now – but not forever!

September 2021 has now been designated as the time for us to celebrate with a tentative focus on Saturday 25th of the month. Our hope is to invite physical presence at the Centre of as many people as possible but we must bide our time before deciding whether it will eventually become that type of celebration or a virtual event or a mix of the two. Government NI Coronavirus Regulations for that time will be the determinant. Our commitment is firm; irrespective of the regulations, celebrations there will be at Tara before the 2021 Autumn season has run its course. We will keep you posted – all of you, whether you are already part of Tara’s story or are among those “strangers” who fit the definition, “a stranger is simply a friend whom I haven’t yet met.”.

For now, however, our awareness continues to be focussed on the immense pain, suffering and loss this pandemic has visited on so many individuals, families and groups over the past number of months here in Omagh, throughout Northern Ireland and these Islands, as well as across the globe, and we remain in deep solidarity with the bearers of that pain. We invite you, dear reader of this article, to join with us in sending the energy of healing love to those who continue to endure that pain and loss. We invite you also to share our gratitude that, through it all, we have been blessed with an opportunity to keep alive in our community the tiny flame of Hope that is Tara, adding its “widow’s mite” to the ocean of generosity, compassion, kindness, goodwill and patient service rendered by so many others throughout the world during these testing times.

Finally, it is probably fair to say that any of us living in this part of the world in recent years cannot but be aware of the steady flow of remembrance events which have been taking place in our midst, focussing on the deep historic roots of the two dominant traditions which have formed the unique society which has defined life here in Northern Ireland throughout the past century. It is our hope that the re-introduction of Dr. Eamon Phoenix’ series of educational seminars on that complex period of our shared history, together with the other programmes on offer throughout the month of June, as advertised, will contribute in some small way towards consolidating the good work of the Peace Process which has prevailed since the end of the more recent “Troubles” here in the North. In the words of that age-old Chinese proverb: Let us continue to “light that tiny candle rather than sit and curse the darkness”.