Saturday, 23 February 2013

Go raibh míle maith agat to three quarters of a million readers

Over three quarters of a million readers ... but who and where? (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

About seven months ago, I wrote that I have never been very fluent in the Irish language, but how two sayings show there is a profuse and generous spirit in the language.

One is the traditional way of saying thank you: Go raibh míle maith agat. It translates not simply as “Thank You,” but “May you have a thousand good things.”

Another is the phrase for welcoming someone, whether stranger or friend: “Céad míle fáilte.” It means not just welcome, but “One hundred thousand welcomes.”

At the time [14 July 2012], This blog has passed a milestone with over half a million visitors.

Late this evening [23 February 2013] this blog passed yet another milestone with over three quarters of a million visitors. Once again, three quarters of a half million welcomes to each and every one of you, and 750,000 thank yous to each of you for visiting this blog, using its resources and making yourself at home.

I have been on blogger since 10 November 2007. But there were only 13 postings that year. By 2008, it was 183, 272 in 2009, 322 in 2010, 449 in 2011, and 498 last year.

Some of my postings have been reposted on other blogs and sites in Skerries, Lichfield and Greece, I have been invited to guest write for other blogs, and I have found myself part of new communities finding new ways of communicating, including and especially those who share my condition of living with sarcoidosis.

At an early stage, I resisted having a counter. I wanted to make my sermons, lecture notes and notes for Bible studies and tutorial groups accessible to students, and to give a wider circulation to the monthly columns I write in the Church Review (Dublin and Glendalough) and the Diocesan Magazine (Cashel and Ossory). But I also wanted to give a longer shelf life to occasional papers in journals such as the Journal of the Wexford Historical Society, Search, Koinonia and the Cambridge Review of International Affairs and occasional features in publications and newspapers, including The Irish Times, the Church of Ireland Gazette, Skerries News and the Athens News.

As sarcoidosis took a cruel grip on my lungs and my breathing, I started to write too about my health and my beach walks, including beach walks in Skerries, country walks, my thoughts on architecture, especially the work of Pugin, return visits to Wexford and Lichfield, and also found myself writing about travel in Ireland and England, and to a variety of countries, especially Greece and Turkey. There were accounts too of my regular participation in summer schools with the Institute for Orthodox Studies at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge.

I have never been terribly concerned about how many people have read any of these postings. If one student missed a lecture and found it here, or one person did not understand what I was trying to say in a sermon and came back here to read it, then it was worth posting.

I still resisted having a counter because I want to write to a very different set of priorities than popularity. This is a different style of writing and if I wanted to write for a mass circulation tabloid newspaper then circulation figures might have been interesting. But I feared a counter might change my style of writing. Now that I have got over that, I am very humbled that over half a million people would even consider what I am writing. That is more feedback than I ever got for a newspaper feature or a chapter in a book.

Three quarters of a million readers by this evening.

But where are you from?

And what do you read?

The statistics provided by Blogger show that the top readership figures are in the United States, followed by the United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Germany, Russia and Australia.

Many of you find this blog through Facebook.

But what are you reading?

The most popular reading has been three postings on the Transfiguration, which between them have attracted over 25,000 visitors:

The Transfiguration: finding meaning in icons and Orthodox spirituality (7 April 2010) with over 19,500 visitors;

Looking at the Transfiguration through icons (23 February 2011) with over 4,500 visitors; and

The Transfiguration: finding meaning in icons (9 April 2011), with over 1,300 visitors.

The next single most-read posting is one on the thoughts of Julian of Norwich:

All shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well (5 September 2008), with almost 8,500 visitors.

About 9,000 people have visited two postings on the Raising of Lazarus:

The grave of Lazarus (3 April 2010), over 5,500 visitors.

The Raising of Lazarus, John 11: 1-45 (30 March 2011), over 3,200 visitors.

These were Easter themes one year after another, so I was not surprised that over 1,600 people also visited Waiting at the tomb on Holy Saturday (1) (23 April 2011).

Liturgy, Icons, Orthodox spirituality and Celtic spirituality also proved interesting for thousands of readers.

The most popular lecture on Icons, The Cretan School of Icons and its contribution to Western art (27 June 2009) has had almost 4,000 visitors so far, An introduction to Orthodoxy  (25 November 2009) has had over 2,300 visitors, and a similar lecture, Orthodox Spirituality: an introduction, (15 March 2010) has had over 1,300 visitors.

Two versions of a lecture on Celtic Spirituality have had pver 2,500 visitors: Introducing Celtic Spirituality (7 February 2010), over 1,800 visitors; and Introducing Celtic Spirituality (21 November 2011), with over 700 visitors.

This blog also seems to be providing you with resources for the seasons of the Church Calendar. I was overwhelmed with the number of readers for my postings on poetry and saints in Advent, Lent and Easter in recent years. Indeed, anything I post on TS Eliot attracts a large number of readers. Spirituality for Advent: waiting for Christ in all his majesty (29 November 2010), has had over 2,600 visitors, and Who is Jesus? A Lenten Talk (23 March 2011), a Lenten talk in Skerries two years ago, continues to attract readers and has had over 1,300 visitors.

I am never quite sure of my writing abilities. Perhaps I should take heart from the number of people who have read Developing writing skills (18 September 2010), which has attracted over 2,200 visitors.

I shall keep writing. But please keep on providing feedback and criticism, both negative and positive.

And each time you visit this blog I hope you find “céad míle fáilte, one hundred thousand welcomes” – in fact, 750,000 thanks to you.

Go raibh míle maith agat, may you have a hundred thousand good things.


Leigh said...

I don't know if you were asking your questions with an idea to actual responses, but I'd like to take this opportunity to tell you how much I enjoy your blog. I am a homemaker in the southeast United States (Alabama), the wife of a Methodist pastor, with a keen interest in church history. I also enjoy your travel entries; the photos are beautiful.

Patrick Comerford said...

Thank you Leigh.

I was looking for no comments at all: without wanting to display any false humility, I'm just happy that my blog postings and photographs are useful to so many readers. I feel blessed. Thank you for your assurances and encouragement. I feel blessed, and see this as one part of ministry. Patrick