According to Wikipedia, there are no less than twelve Irish saints called Ronan “…including St Ronan of Locronan, St Ronan of Iveagh, St Ronan of Iona, St Ronan of Ulster and St Ronan Finn”.
Not mentioned in Wikipedia is St Ronan of Aer Lingus, pictured below at Boston Logan airport, just before it took us home across the Atlantic. You can just see the name, written in black under the nose.
If I had to guess, I would have said that aircraft had names like Charlie Alpha Foxtrot, but maybe that is a residual memory of old black and white films.
It is rather nice to imagine air traffic controllers talking to a plane called St Ronan.
“This is Boston Logan control tower calling St Ronan. (That is St Ronan the Airbus 330 and not any other St Ronan up there who might be listening in.) St Ronan you are cleared for take off.”
Again according to Wikipedia, the word ‘ronan’ is an old Gaelic word meaning ‘little seal’. It became a name when, once upon a time, a seal got washed ashore and married a fisherman. All their children were called Ronan (presumably all boys and called Ronan 1, 2 and 3 so they could be told apart). Eventually, the seal couldn’t resist the urge to return to the sea, but she didn’t forget her children, so she can often be seen swimming close to the shore, looking for them.
This explains the harbour seal we saw in Penobscot Bay, popping its head out of the water to gaze mournfully at us. She was looking for her children.
St Ronan the Airbus took us and 300 or so other people from Boston to Dublin in five hours which is pretty amazing, though not strictly miraculous. No doubt it can be explained in terms of aeronautics and Newtonian physics – which of course a miracle cannot. I really hope that whimsy and make-believe are not Airbus ingredients – at least up until the moment someone in a marketing department somewhere has to decide what name to paint in black letters on the nose.
For all that, beneath the whimsy of the original Ronan seal-children lies an issue that we all face – balancing the urge to move on, to change and to go places, against the loss of what we leave behind. A bit of make-believe can be helpful in expressing and facing this.
I suspect a lot of that goes on inside St Ronan the Airbus.
Also, at 35,000 feet it was nice to think that the twelve Irish saints called Ronan might be keeping an eye on their Airbus namesake.
We got home safe – so thank you to all thirteen St Ronans.