As she prepares to share the colourful bounty of her sunflower field this weekend, Geraldine Mullan tells the story of the leap of faith she made to mark the second anniversary of the deaths of her late husband and children.
On 20th August 2020, John, Tomás and Amelia Mullan lost their lives in a tragic road accident at Quigley’s Point between Derry and Moville. Geraldine was the sole survivor. Now, just metres from the crash site, a bright and beautiful field of sunflowers has been planted to share a single message – Hope.
Article contributed by Geraldine Mullan:
On the rugged Inishowen coastline just beside Quigley’s Point, a special project is coming to a colourful and interesting fruition. Created in the memory of John, Tomás and Amelia Mullan and in conjunction with the Redcastle Village Association and the Mullan HOPE sunflower festival, the “Field of HOPE” will soon be unveiled to the passing public.
“Plant a seed and see what grows” my John always used to say. For many years his garden centre offered rich evidence of those sage words. What started as a conversation some months ago between myself and Catherine Carlin – and with John’s refrain very much in mind – has led to an unusual transformation of Donegal coastal farmland.
Previously John McCarron would reap a nice barley crop from his two and a half acres that lie between the R238 and Lough Foyle. This year he let two ladies convince him to try something different. The leap of faith was enacted in Spring when he reached for sunflower seeds instead. Well his new tillage and the regular attention and care from Catherine, myself and the ‘sunflower fairies’ over the last few months has still produced a seasonal bounty of gold, it is just a slightly taller and more yellowy version than before ! Bordered by a mixture of wildflowers – from poppies to calendula, from cornflowers to daisies – this little slice of radiant nature is now a colourful forecourt to the water beyond.
Just a few hundred metres from where that same water claimed my beautiful family on 20th August 2020 and where a memorial “Three sleepers” now stands in solemn commemoration, these majestic and eye catching sunflowers are intended to bring hope in these much needed times.
A virus that still lingers and claims, a conflict that has brought death and displacement and a myriad of personal trials and tribulations – our lives are challenged daily. To the locals of Inishowen, to our Ukrainian refugees (for the sunflower is their national flower), to the many visitors that make their way to this beautiful part of Ireland and to those watching on from afar, gaze upon this fine work of nature and take a little something from it.
My motto has been “never lose hope” so when we thought up this project and named it accordingly, we wondered could we go a step further and have it physically expressed by the landscape. The idea became a reality when a maze was painstakingly carved out within the crop in the shape of those HOPE letters. Not only can one stand and admire the view but they can also take their own little journey through the field (please don’t attempt this walking in future years if John has gone back to his barley growing !!)
The 2nd anniversary of my beloved John, Tomás and Amelia’s passing is 20th August 2022. The Field of HOPE will be open to the public 12pm-5pm on Friday 19th, Saturday 20th and Sunday 21st. Park up safe and sensibly. Drop in for a look and a leisurely ramble through the rustic maze. No stilettos or good Sunday shoes, it is still a field after all !! Talk to other visitors. Talk to loved ones who have gone ahead. Take a sunflower home and help spread the idea of hope and to “cherish every moment”.
The Field of HOPE, Quigley’s Point, Co Donegal
For updates and more information on the Festival, please visit: The Mullan Hope Centre