Sunday, 28 March 2010

COOLE PARK, Gort, Co. Galway

Entrance Stone

The autograph tree in March

A Yew Arch

The script is an exact copy of GB Shaws handwriting!

COOLE PARK, Gort, Co. Galway.

The former home of Lady Augusta Gregory dramatist, folklorist co founder of The Abbey Theatre and the authoress of several books including Of Gods and Fighting Men. Who opened her home to the eminent figures within the Arts from 1896 to her death in 1932. Amongst who were George Bernard Shaw, WB Yeats, George Russell aka AE, Sean O'Casey, John Mansfield and many others.

To walk the pathways of this 1,000 acre estate, is to mingle ones energy with the spirits of those who came here in former times, to draw upon its ethos amid the woodlands and or walk the lakeside to the old boathouse. Where I sense a boatman is holding a boat ready for an excursion, while maids bring picnic hampers and rugs, as laughter and pleasant talk peel along the tree lined path..and the earthy roar of a distant tractor returns me to the present.

I am, I know not the only one who is drawn back through time, to feel and hear those notables who graced this place. WB Yeates spoke of faery's, AE of the spirits of the land, Lady Gregory collected folk stories. They too I believe imbibed on the magic of this place; just as we who visit frequently are pleasantly intoxicated by the traces they left behind.

For me to describe in great detail this place would be to spoil and impinge upon the maginations and experiences of future visitors. You have to visit Coole Park and it's autograph tree and before too long, for slowly the new growth is swallowing and taking into it's self those special signatures.

For future information visit

Monday, 22 March 2010

The Headache Stone

Well with token offering of a baby's shoe

Excellent signage

Here the sufferer lays their head & is cured.

On sunny Sunday it was a genuine relief to step outside and feel the warmth of the sun on one's body. So we took the decision to make a short tour to the Headache Stone, a place which we had passed on an inclement winter's day last year.

The sign on the gate depicts it as St Hugh's which is unfortunate because it is actually St. Aedh's (pronounced as 'aeh')

St Hugh or rather St. Aedh who was one of Ireland's primitive saints (The Royal Society of Antiquaries 1896) and his importance is that he reputedly cured St Bridget of a headache.

I had heard that it is best not to put a pain free head on a headache stone, because it is likely that you will then get one ! This advice I related to Mrs H as she set off to take photo's while Toby (dog) & I kept each other company. Not lazy merely cautious because there were sheep & young lambs close by and I like to obey the Countryside code. Mrs H had only been gone a few minutes when there came a loud bellow from a Bull, it is a very distinctive noise; this again reassured me by not taking Toby was the right decision and as I had not heard any screaming ! I guessed that Mrs H was free from harm and I was right as you can see from the photo's !

What I wanted to know was exactly how did St A manage to go from A to H there being no phonetic similarity. Research via Google has revealed :-

Mo-Lua ba hanamchara do Dabid
Dar muir modh-mall,
Is dom Aedhog, is dom Chaemog,
Is do Chomgall.

'My-Lua was soul-friend (= spiritual director) to David over the slow-rolling sea (i.e., in Wales), and to my-little-Aedh, and to my-little-Caem (Kevin), and to Congal.'

This quatrain refers to the time when there was constant and friendly communication between the schools and churches of Ireland and the Welsh and English coasts, when Welsh students came to study in the Irish colleges, and brought back with them to Wales many Irish traditions that can still be recognised in Welsh literature. This was the time when Alfred, a student in Ireland, laid the foundations of that love for learning which afterwards caused him to solicit the aid of his former Irish professors in founding the first University of Oxford. The quatrain also contains the name of one of our saints, a name disguised more effectually than any other, that of St. Aedh, if we may venture to call him so. Aedh is really his name. It is one of the commonest Irish names, and is now represented in English by Hugh, a name with which it has no connection whatever. Ref

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

A poet and his poetry

I started to write poetry in the late 70's when part of a line of prose started running through my mind. I can still recall what it was ' we shall walk through sunlit leafy glades, leading to sharp green swards'. I visited every available library in the area, asked English teachers and all sorts of learned men and women if they knew that line and its source. All to no avail, next came my attempt to include those words in a poem of my own, but no, it stills lies fallow in a corner of the mind.

Tripped though was the switch to write and lines seemed to tumble out of me at all hours of the day, such was it that the habit of carrying a few sheets of paper and a pencil or pen became second nature to me. Even during the night my mind would awaken me, to tumble me out of bed, to go down to my desk and write. To be found there scribbling and sighing away by my then wife when she arose to start the day.

The main rush of poetry lasted for about twenty-five years, well actually in two bouts, because I returned to pick up the paintbrush to paint using the same source of inspiration as I did to write poetry. Later on I was able to align some of the paintings with some of the poems; Very few of those people who purchased my paintings actually enjoyed poetry! Something that I found rather hard to deal with at the time and I stopped painting with colours. Preferring to paint pictures with words instead and play with the structure of lines, making up my own house rules as I went.

I have had tremendous experiences from being involved with prose and poetry. Meeting along the way several very interesting people, some of them quite eccentric or at least ahead of their time in their mannerisms and clothing. Two of whom are now long dead - Axel Firsoff (look in Wiki) and his wife Marjorie. Together they organized a poetry group. On hearing of this my first action before attending, was to purchase their anthology and appraise their poetry with that of my own. Dare I say that it stood the test quite well and we became the best of friends.

Over the years several pieces have been published in a variety of magazines, it was for a time a secondary

pastime to get the stuff out there and into the public domain.

Then I became rather busy in other areas of my life and the need slipped away. So something over one hundred and fifty pieces have been sitting quietly on my imac.

I related this to a man of letters (a solicitor) who insisted that I printed them out to have a paper copy. It was while doing so that an idea came to me to create an audio file and perhaps record them onto disc to circulate amongst my friends who enjoy poetry.

"We have the technology" (The Bionic Man) and the CD is, as you can see, now finished!

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Wells and Wells

St Monan's Well

Tribute tree with horseshoe

the neglected Anu's Well

Ballaun with stone fish!

On Monday of this past week we, that is Mrs Heron, a friend of ours and myself, took time out from the usual chores and had a day's holiday to tour some of the wells in our area. I have always been fascinated by these holes in the ground containing water and their elaborate kerbs. It is of course not so much the hole but the water that attracts me !

It was a glorious day, cool at first, needing a top coat, though as the day wore on I found myself quite happily leaving it in the car, as we walked the length and breadth of fields to lean over railings and peer into the watery holes.

What surprised me more than anything was the number of Ballaun stones that there were around. These are ancient stones that have a depression, a pot shape cut into them and are often water filled. The definitive purpose of them is not actually known so theories abound that they have curing properties for various ailments, or that the water is for cursing and they might just be bird baths. For Ballaun stones are mostly found adjacent to a well and sometimes in graveyards.

Healing wells are said to be potent if a water snail or fish can be seen in it's depths. Being a pragmatist, I believe that presence of a living creature shows that the water is fairly wholesome even if not actually potable. Having said that I have to admit to having drank from moorland streams on the odd occasion.

Some of the holy wells dedicated to ancient Irish saints, have Hawthorn trees growing near them which are draped with bits of cloth and religious relics of all kinds. Then there are others which have been allowed to fall into neglect which were dedicated to Pagan deities such as Anu's Well

(as in photo)

On arriving home we looked at the photos and noticed that there was a stone fish in the ballaun stone that was not present before the photo was taken. We assume that it is a reflection from the stones above. But then this is Ireland and anything is possible !

Monday, 1 March 2010


The Studio

Where dreams are created

A window of faces

What often comes to my mind when I walk into Jane's studio is 'This is where dreams are made into pictures & brought to fruition'.

The building was originally erected as a shippen for cattle, then it became a kennel for a Newfoundland bitch and her six pups. After that a wood carvers abode and almost my workshop, until a visiting eye fell upon the place and asked that it be her studio.

Three months it took to insulate the ceiling & walls, make the window with cill height to fit a table, bring in a phone line, erect a porch and paint the outside in faery colours of red, green and white.

Did I forget to mention the broom ? That came later, when herself was installed!

It is though more special than you can tell at first sight, for it is either the start or the end of a Faery path. The energy inside needs no enhancing with crystals, for we tried that at first and had to remove them.

The energy became too buzzy. For this is, as I may have said or hinted at in an earlier blog, is

Red Cap Country.

The Elementals live in a sphere of nature which overlaps the edge our world & only rarely am I allowed a glimpse of them. It is a special occasion for me personally although from my window here, I can see by the aid of the fading sun one of their villages. To others it may look like an ordinary field hedge and to see

such a sight you would need to look deep and long.

That is not always the case, for the other night I espied a small lad stepping through our stone circle towards the hedge that stands three feet south from its' perimeter. Generally all of our sightings coincide with a waxing, if not an actual full moon. There are many people in this area who can relate sightings of the faery; to such an extent that later this month a Folklorist from one of the universities will be coming here to collect and record the details.