Saturday, 14 October 2017

The Hill of the Witch

We took to the road last weekend intending to ramble around the area of Loughcrew otherwise known as Sliabh na Cailleach and to view the paintings of a Dublin based artist Lar Dooley, which had caught Mrs H’s eye on Facebook.

It was a soft day, meaning that although warm it was very damp, with fine misty rain. Not the type of day for me to walk up the hill to the cairns although I have done so in the past. The climb is quite easy when going up but coming down it can be very treacherous and my old bones no longer appreciate tumbles.

The hill of the witch - the Cairns of Loughcrew, a quick guide by Anthony Murphy

Instead we headed to the new to us visitor centre, several buildings, one of which was once a cottage home. The cafe was inviting and the staff friendly so we partook of a great up of coffee then went into the gallery to view the work of Lar Dooley. Each image was inspired by the landscape of Loughcrew and the ancient cairns with their stone art. His technique was unusual, to me it seemed almost ceramic in texture, with symbols seemingly carved into stone. Mrs H fell in love with an illustration of the stone which sits in a chamber inside Cairn T and is illuminated by the sun at the Equinoxes.

This over looks the childrens' playground.

The courtyard where an old bone shaker leans next to the wall.

A fairy bridge - not that I was aware of any!


We wended our way homewards stopping in Oldcastle Co. Meath which I was surprised to learn is a relatively new town, created by the Naper family in the 18th century.

This auction house had some classical pieces of furniture on show.

I can only presume that the people from these cars were
propping up the pub counters.

A memorial to two sons of Ireland who lost their lives
when fighting of independence in the 1920's

A colourful corner in Oldcastle

The link below has an audio which goes into great detail about the town of Oldcastle and I suggest that you read and hear for yourselves all about the place.

We shall shortly be revisiting the megalithic centre and hopefully to meet and speak with Lar Dooley
so I will keep you informed. Until then take care of yourselves.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Sailing Across the Pond

There is an old ugly Irish phrase for people have moved here from another country - 
‘blow ins’. 
I was called one several years ago and my retort was that every person in Ireland is either a blow in or historically related to one. 

The first known group of people who arrived here at the end of the last ice age were the Palaeolithic people, they were followed in turn by the Mesolithic, Neolithic Bronze Age and Iron Age people-the Celts. The Vikings,The Welsh and much later the Welsh-Normans followed by the British and were all of them, ‘blow ins’.
I must mention that there was a great flow of people moving out from this island to other parts of Europe throughout those times too.

A three masted barque.

Dunbrody's figurehead with bowsprit above.

Between the years of 1843 to 1850 great distress fell on Ireland caused by the potato blight which brought about starvation, illness and the death of a million Irish people. 
The migration of another two million departed and left Ireland with a depleted population. 

Dunbrody and her reflected image.

A great proportion of the migrants travelled to the USA from a variety of ports in England and Ireland. They left on ships such as the Dunbrody, a replica of which is moored to a wharf at New Ross in Co Wexford. Here the River Barrow flows through the town on it’s way to join the sea at Waterford and it was to New Ross that we drove on Saturday to view the three masted barque Dunbrody. 

A monument to those who emigrated

The Emigrant Flame

The link below is an Irish emigration database though this is not exactly correct as it covers all of the emigrant sailings to America from English and Irish ports of that period. Detailing the ages, names, occupations, nationalities and the destinations of people who emigrated to the USA are shown here. I found over five hundred people with my last name and a few had historically known first names from my branch of the family so I include the link here for you to do your own research.

You can also find much more information about the Famine times and all about the sea journey from viewing

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Blake's Art

I recently visited the home of a friend and was immediately attracted by a collage on his wall.

"Goodness who produced that ? It's terrific " I enquired.

"Blake gave it to me, it is one of his pieces that he did for an exam." He replied.

On my return home I phoned Blake and asked him about the work and what led him to produce this piece. 

He asked if I'd ever heard of Sacred Geometry?

In reply I told him what I knew of the theory and of how in my mind it has a loose connection with the earth energies that flow around the planet, for that that's what I saw in his illustration.

We then discussed how he had produced the piece by allowing his subconscious to randomly select a coloured pencil which he picked up with his left hand from a multitude of colours. 
Passing it to his right hand he drew and once used the colour was discarded and placed to his right. 

The real leaves that surround the drawing make a connection to the earth.

The CD placed in the centre reflects light and contains every colour.

Blake's creation reminded me of a colour sensitivity test that I devised many years ago. 
Participants who were right handed were blindfolded and randomly selected a coloured pencil with their left hand.
They held it for a few minutes and attempted to identify the colour using their other senses.
Then on a piece of paper they draw a shape or image which they thought was relevant.
Using the right hand they wrote the name of the colour they felt it was.
The results were very interesting, most people managed to get about forty percent correct on their first attempt. 
When the right-handed people used their right hand to pick up the pencils the results were a little higher and only one person out of a hundred was able to identify every colour with his right hand and none at all with his left.

Have you ever attempted to work with your subconscious or intuition ?

Monday, 18 September 2017

Pickled Christianity

A friend arrived a few days ago at our home and pulled out a bottle from under his coat and on seeing his action my mind leaped back into the past and I thought he had brought me a bottle of poitín [the home distilled white whiskey]. The magical drink of old Ireland and the famed base of rubs when mixed with olive oil as a treatment for greyhounds and arthritic joints.

I was of course totally wrong and found out that the liquid was white vinegar; hence the first word in the title 'pickled' the hand carved [inners] were made by his brother-in-law and depict the implements used in the crucifixion.The long legged cross, the nails, mallet (hammer), spear, an axe for cutting the tree, a saw for cutting  and a ladder - which I think represents ascension ?

To me personally not having any religious beliefs in any shape or fashion. I find this bottle and it's contents rather bizarre to say the least, although I do admire the craftsmanship...
I have never ever seen anything like this before and would be very interested in reading your thoughts.

Monday, 11 September 2017

An Almost Floating House.

We sat in the car after our rambles on the shore at Tracht, - see my previous post : discussing all that our eyes had feasted on and the conversations we had been part of with people who were previously unknown to us - and still are because we never exchanged names.
An interlude of silence followed, broken by Mrs H who said she would like a cup of tea. I suggested that perhaps a delicious ice cream from Messrs. Linalla at Finavarra would soothe her, as it was only a few minutes drive away. 

Map of Finavarra

The area around Fhíonaigh Bheara, Finavarra is rather special to me for several reasons.
There is a Martello tower on the point jutting out into Galway Bay, a place that I frequently visited in the past when wanting time alone with the elements and the curlew. 

A view of the countryside from outside of Messrs. Linalla's.

Quite close to the village is the ancient site of The O’Dálaighs School of Lyricists and Poets in Finavarra. It is commonly known as a Bardic School however, as the Bards were seen as low class poets who were largely uneducated and whose functions were story telling and satire, I think ‘lyricists’ is a better description of the Schools’ function. 
The higher classes of Poets were the Fillidh who were trained in rhythm of both words, music and mastery of the lyre, later the harp. The Fillidh functioned as Poets, Historians and Panegyrists. The head of the school would have been an Ollamh, the highest grade of the Fillidh (master poet)  attached to the court of each of the provincial kings and sub-kings. There were periods when an Ard Ollamh (High Ollave) was appointed to exercise authority over the provincial Fillidh.

another view from the same place

Another similar establishment was Cahermacnaughten, near Ballyvaughan along the coast, where the once great Brehon Law School was held under the auspices of the O’Davorens. 
Originally these laws were handed down by word of mouth, passed from master to student, but from the seventh century onwards they were written down. One of the most important recorded sources of Brehon Law is the manuscript Egerton 88, now in the British library. This was copied in the 16th century from older documents at the law school of Cahermacnaghten.

 inland bay

The other end of the same bay

'The Almost Floating House'
and I always wonder if the occupiers ever fish out of there windows 
from the comfort of an armchair.

This whole maritime landscape is steeped in all that is precious to me, Irish culture, seats of ancient learning, wild nature and deep peace.

Monday, 4 September 2017


TRACHT is the name of the strand or beach that I have taken you to before, perhaps this the third time and this might be our last visit, unless of course something spectacular occurs that needs telling.

The weather forecast wasn’t promising very much other than fine rain with a warm temperature - but then they do tend to exaggerate one way or another and are rarely accurate; for generalities is their game these meteorologists.

On our journey blue sky was appearing on our lefthand side enough to keep us living in hopes. Whilst directly ahead there were grey clouds  some looked ominous and yet they seemed to me not low enough to
weep on us.

All along the route we saw lots of county Galway flags flying high in the wind, on almost every house, though not all. I said to Mrs H 
“You know there must be a match on with all of those flags showing and those without are probably blow ins or those who don’t support the GAA”
[I should tell you that ‘blow ins’ is the phrase that is used to describe
people who come from another county or even a different country and that GAA stands for the Gaelic Athletic Association]

Kinavara, another favourite place was busy and the harbour car park was full, so we carried on to Tracht without stopping. I did though notice that the pubs seemed to be busy rather early, it not yet being much more than midday.

Tracht though was virtually empty with only half a dozen cars parked facing the sea and nobody was in swimming because the red flag was flying - a warning to swimmers and yet it was virtually calm - I heard later that there was a particularly virulent type of jelly fish about, although I can say that I saw no sign of any at all.

Mrs H inspecting some gem or other

One of the many piles of seaweed that came in with the tide,
one excellent thing that was fortunately missing from the
beach was plastic debris !

This gentle bouquet  caught my eye.

A miniature harbour amongst the rocks.

A line of flowers nicely litters fore shore.

Two other flowers stand chatting amongst their many sisters!

Are they Daisies ?

Yachts also catch my eye too and it has been many a year since I head the slap of water against the hull and the very buoyant sensation of being onboard in a wind driven yacht.

I was correct it was a Championship Hurling match
against Cork

Saturday, 26 August 2017


Whenever I see the wild deer I am always reminded of the Goddess Sadbh [Sive] for these to me are her special creatures, that is if any animals can be deemed  ‘special’. Sadbh is I think a most likeable personage, so very nimble and lithe in her cloak of green as she fits through the woodlands nurturing the wildlife that share her home.

Many of Ireland’s wild Fallow  Deer escaped in the early 20th century from private park lands and supplemented the old wild herds introduced by the Norman's soon after their arrival in 1169. 
They are now our most widespread species of deer and are found in most woodlands countrywide, both hill and lowland.

One of their favourite foods are the wild Bilberries that grow on the mountainsides, intermingled with the heather blossom. I was told as a young lad that where you see bilberries there are deer - perhaps they help to spread the seeds after digesting the berries.

The bilberries are a lot smaller than blueberries
but just as tasty especially as they are free!

These lads have a very keen sense of smell and are acutely aware of any foreign sound. One has to tread very warily making as little noise as possible to photograph them, otherwise they are off as quick as lightening, deep into the forest and you will not see them again.

I was very fortunate in being able to photograph the deer that you see here, that the wind was on my face and that even though they were perhaps aware of my presence I kept very still and managed to blend in with the trees.

Sunday, 20 August 2017


'Old Timers' are the many vernacular cottages and often deserted homes scattered across our rural landscape. The photo's that follow are a selection of some of the buildings in three counties.

Beneath the shroud of greenery lies a once handsome cottage with a tiled roof.
It caught my eye twenty odd years ago and I often wondered if anyone would appreciate its very private location and buy it, nobody did so nature has now taken over.

This one too has always attracted me. There were once figures on the porch roof but since the recent clean up they have sadly disappeared. I wonder if a 'For Sale' sign will shortly be seen, for it has a useful level field behind and would make a good wee home for someone with the energy to care for the place.

No hope for this old home I guess as it is only a couple feet from a busy road.

This old timer has seen it's folks move way and the present owner can see no value
in even maintaining it as a useful store. It is very sad to see unwarranted neglect.

A long house where music and yarns would have almost lifted the rafters off whilst the owners jigged the night away.

Once referred to as an Irish cabin, most likely thatched and now sheeted over with corrugated iron, then converted to a shed: the doorway increased in width to accommodate cattle.

All is not lost for this old gatehouse is now occupied and provides a sturdy home
for it's owners.

Yet another gatehouse that we often pass by. 
This was the original gate lodge for Castle Bernard, renamed Kinnitty Castle.
 The present entrance and driveway is now at Beech Lodge.