PROFILE

Donegal woman Breezy Willow's unique ‘Bake Bread for Peace’ campaign

How something as simple as baking and breaking bread might inspire others

Frank Galligan

Reporter:

Frank Galligan

Email:

editorial@donegaldemocrat.com

Donegal woman Breezy Willow's unique  ‘Bake Bread for Peace’ campaign

Breezy Willow, is hitching the roads of the island of Ireland with her dog Sheila to promote ‘Bake Bread for Peace’.

Now in its 5th year, what began as an idea on Facebook has now gathered a head of steam and support from Stormont politicians, and fellow peace campaigners.

Glenties woman, entertainer, storyteller, balladeer and peace activist, Breezy Willow, is hitching the roads of the island of Ireland with her dog Sheila to promote ‘Bake Bread for Peace’.
Now in its 5th year, what began as an idea on Facebook has now gathered a head of steam and support from Stormont politicians, and fellow peace campaigners.
She is totally determined in her belief that something as simple as baking and breaking bread might inspire others.  In this feature Frank Galligan profiles this remarkable woman:

One of Breezy Willow’s favourite stories sums up her own life’s philosophy: “There was a humming bird lying on the grass one day with its legs up in the air when an elephant comes along.
The elephant says, “What the heck are you doing lying there, Mr Humming Bird?” The humming bird replies: “Well, do you know what, I heard the sky was going to fall in today so I’m here to hold it up.”
The elephant responds: “How do you think a wee buck like you could hold up the sky?” Sure I know that rightly,’ said the bird, “but if I do my wee bit and everybody else does their wee bit, sure it will be all right.”
How that wonderful outlook manifests itself with Breezy is the adage: “What must you break apart to keep a family together?” Answer...bread!
She recalls a very difficult childhood, and that - due to her father’s alcoholism - the only corner in which she felt secure was in the kitchen when her mother was baking her famed sodas, and ‘Injun male’ (Indian meal) bread.
To a young Breezy, the magical smell of the freshly baked scones enveloped her and kept her safe. Breezy has not touched a drink for 11 years, and at 54 is bluntly honest about the wasted decades.
She doesn’t have a TV but when she did, she awoke one morning after a restless night, and turned it on.
The news from Syria and elsewhere was horrific, Before her kettle boiled, her fairly happy sleepy mood had turned to despair. Just before dawn she came to the realisation that something had to be done.
It became an idea, not an organisation. Because breaking bread is a universal sign of peace, she posted her ideas on Facebook and the response was incredible….from Ireland, the UK, Germany and the USA.
She and her dog Sheila took to the road, hitching firstly through Northern Ireland, where she had an extraordinary reception and ended up buttering scones for all and sundry at Carson’s statue at Stormont.
She had landed there with a box of scones, a pound of butter and a knife. Security informed her that there was a certain protocol invlved in gaining entry, hence the retreat to Carson's statue. When moved on from there, she retired with her bread and butter to the summer seats and fed visitors and elected representatives alike.
She was delighted when Colum Eastwood of the SDLP became a fan and supporter of her Bake Bread for Peace campaign, and is convinced that her northern reception - as compared with the west and south - was so positive because the people there have known war.
"Northern people - of all creeds - were just so down to earth and generous". Generosity is imperative in her campaign as she spends what little monies she has on travel and publicity.
Later this year, she will hitch through the east of Ireland, sadly without Sheila, who’s age and health now precludes such journeys.
Breezy likes to quote Silvia Nedeicheva..."The smell of freshly baked Bread is the aroma of Peace", and she treasures the assistance and support of County Down’s legendary peace activist and entertainer, Tommy Sands.
She is also fulsome in her praise of Ardara’s Stephen McCahill who ran with her idea and incorporated Bake Bread for Peace in the Northern Lights Festival in June.
One of her guests in Ardara was peace activist Sheikh Muhammad Al-Hussain, a fellow in Islamic Studies at the Westminster Institute in London, whose repertoire of Irish songs include 'Siúil A Rún ' and 'Ar Éirinn Ní Neosfainn Cé Hí'.
October 24th is now the official date for "International Bake Bread for Peace Day" and it's in its 5ht year.
As I sip tea in Breezy's home in the Rock in Glenties, I’m struck by the fact that there are no longer elephants in this room... while outside the sounds of birds humming add to the ambience of inner peace on a sunny Donegal day.
As her friend Tommy Sands reminded her…”Don’t speak of both sides in any conflict...it’s all sides.” Time to get the scone out of her oven...and yes...it's perfect on all sides.