Thursday, 29 April 2010

The Seven Wonders of Fore

Please double click to enlarge images

St Féctains church next to the yew tree, the hill behind
is Carrick Balor (Balor is ancient one eyed god) the field
to the left is a water meadow. In the foreground is Féctain's
healing well & Rag tree where the water will not boil,
it is aso the site of a megalithic tomb.
The stone lintel that was lifted by the power of prayer

Photo taken from window hole in St Féctain's church,
the Mill is a small stone building on the right

The Sheela na-Gig in St. Féctain's Church

The Rag tree at Féctain's well it is
actually an Ash.

The tree that will not burn

Sheela na-Gig at St Munnas Church
Before Munna became a Christian
he was a Druid apprentice under the tutelage of his father.

Hello my friends!

Last weekend I had every intention of writing about The Hill of Tara and of showing you pictures from angles which are not normally shown. Alas, I went to Tara on Tuesday of this week with two others, who like myself normally carry a camera and guess what ? It was one of those days when the three cameras were left behind.

Wednesday afternoon, it being so very sunny, we made a trip to Fore [Fobhair] in Co.Westmeath which nestles in an airy valley between high stony hills. There is something very precious about Fore, in that on leaving I always feel as if I have had a long holiday; even though my stay there was only for two hours.

On reflection I think that it might have something to do with the water that flows rapidly through a large water-cress meadow.

Fore is unspoilt by commercialism, given that its' former glory was as an early Christian stronghold of St Féichin - his name means Little Raven. The Seven Wonders of Fore are all connected to him in some way, these being :-

1. The Monastery in a bog.

2. The Mill without a race. Féichin built the mill and then walked to Lough Lene struck the bottom of the hill that stands between it and the waters flowed into Fore.

3. The water that flows up hill. This is an optical illusion of course, though it does appear that way until one looks at the lay of the land

4. The tree that won't burn. It would if you were brave enough to face the consequences of burning a tree with a cure.

5. The water that won't boil. Similar to 4 above, the waters can be bathed in for healing purposes only and one would have to face Féichin's curse if you removed any.

6. The anchorite in a stone. This refers to a stone tower on top of Carrick Balor.

7. The stone lintel raised by prayer. It is said that the builders became exhausted trying to position the huge stone, so they stopped work for refreshment and when they returned it had been perfectly positioned by Féichin using the power of prayer.

The 8th wonder for me was the Sheela na-Gig carved into a coinstone that we saw in Féichin's church.

On the way home I became fed up with the behavior of other road users who were tailgating me, whilst others were simply dangerous drivers, so I turned off onto a narrow country road to connect with another route home. It was on this narrow road that we came across St. Munnas church, a very untypical design for a church, having a Norman style rectangular three storied tower (known in Ireland as a Norman fortified farmhouse) attached to the church. Above one of the windows there was yet another Sheela na-Gig.

Sheela na-Gigs in situ are rare finds in Ireland for most of them have been removed to The National Museum in Dublin where the majority are stored in the cellar and rarely see light of day, the public display of them is rotated so we are told and permission has to obtained from the Curator to view the majority.

My travels for this week are not yet finished, for on Saturday we will be driving to Carna in Connemara, Co. Galway for The Joe Heaney Commemorative Festival of Traditional Singing & Music. Where pride of place is given to Sean Nós singing which is unaccompanied and has a highly ornamented melodic line.

Friday, 23 April 2010

COOLE PARK -revisited

Please excuse me for returning so soon to Coole Park. My reason for doing so is that I want to share my recent poem with you before the trail went entirely cold.

Coole Park in March Twenty Ten

Coole Park in March Twenty Ten

Blackbird song under sun

echoes in sparse gentle rain

Through trees a breeze whispers

rattles twigs on bare branches

That wait expectantly to birth

bud leaf as hesitant Spring lingers

Above gravelled paths trodden

through woodland to lake or garden

Hidden old voices traverse converse

Tracks to collide with modern mind

to hear the intonation, an energy

A creative literary expression

borne in tranquil ancient air

Old inspiration so very rare

To kindle bright fires in the mind.

as a line of white ferries queue

On lakeside to carry earth spirits

from shore to shore across time

Past beyond AE or Yeats or Shaw

Where Tuatha and their Gods dance

forever, still alive noble proud race

On glowing illumined waters an entrance

extends past finger tips pens paint a grace

That human kind interprets tenderly.

As fragile as glass, as bright as bronze

a glimpse of fianna, faery and sidhe

Rise in wood smoke before our eyes

cry tears bereft of a child's vision, yet

We listen and yearn again to see.

©MRL 01-04 -2010

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Bitter and Red Tea

A dimpled pint of bitter


Friday morning saw me sitting in a comfortable chair in the library, the sunshine was streaming down and warming me, over my forehead came a slight, cool waft of air and in the quietness of that cosy corner memories started to flood into my mind, as I drifted back in time, revisiting places and tastes.

The flavour of a pint bitter filled my senses and in half closing my eyes I was sitting in the bar of a small pub in Builth Wells, Wales where the dark wood wall panels and cushioned benches provided me with an inner warmth. I muse on how the dimpled glass is held not by it's handle but with one's hand placed around the glass with the underside of the top the part of the handle resting on the the right index finger, as I sup to swallow a goodly draught of the nectar.

April does this to me, it draws in the memories more than any other month. I was reflecting on this earlier, when I recalled visiting another pub on the outskirts of Combe Down, Bath. I think it was called The Pack Horse, an old establishment that sold a delicious cider that oft tempted me as a refreshing lunchtime drink. It was there on the radio that I heard the news of John Lennon's untimely demise and where I immediately wrote the following piece

John born Liverpool 1940

ex Beatle and M.B.E.

Departed New York 1980

Cupro-nickle six

Impales vital flesh

Discord rhythm slips

Lennon into death

Amplified sound loses

Earth’s mystic beat

Playing Yoko’s love

with substituted pain.

Songs of love and peace

Will flower forever on

Echoing thro’ the world

In green growing harmony.

©MRL 1980

I don't want you to think that I spent all of my time in pubs. I did tho' frequent many an establishment in my younger days and they provided me with insights of human characteristics and some of them quite pitiable as:

Bristol 6

My favourite Pub

My favourite pub stands

gaunt to the street.

Yet alive with vitality

It’s balance of humour

A serious intent.

Not in this pub stand

the pretentious and proudly sober

they drink not at this bar.

They exist stoned, cold

Beyond their fronts

With hand held can


Hypocrisy for company

In this bar

Faded winter flowers

Open deep their centres

Bright blemishes lie honest

naked, bare to the sky

Avoiding not the quick glances

Nor to ask for dispensation

For here drink labourers, pimps

lags and tired working girls.

©MRL 1982

I was aroused from my reveries in the library by the arrival of Mrs H, who dragged me off to the health shop to purchase our weekly supply of Red Tea (Rooibosh).Which is now our favourite tipple, with it's versatile and restorative powers; and the person to who we have to thank for bringing it to our attention is the author Alexander McCall Smith and his series of books on Botswana - 'The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency', where the main character Precious Ramotswe indulges herself by making pots & pots of red tea. For it was in this library that we borrowed his books.


Friday, 9 April 2010


Dublin's famous beverage

Anna Livia - personification of the River Liffey as a woman.
Locally known as The Floozie in the Jacuzzi,
The Hoor in the Sewer or Viagra Falls.

Oscar Wilde
locally known as The Fag on the Crag, The Quare in the Square
or The Queer with the Leer

Sweet Molly Malone
locally known as The Tart with the Cart,
The Dolly with the Trolley or The Trollop with the Scallop

James A.A. Joyce
locally known as The Prick with the Stick

The second holiday of the year happened Thursday when we went up to Dublin, which is my second most favourite city in Ireland. My first preference, whatever the weather, will always be Cork. Some places have a special effect on us and speak directly to the heart and Cork does that to me.

Not that there is anything wrong with Dublin, for it is a friendly city as cities go. Small by comparison to most European capitals, though it still manages kill my feet and I am glad to find a bench on which to take a rest and have a puff on my pipe. Better was the pipe today for my sole purpose for making the visit was to go to Peterson's and replenish my stock of 9mm charcoal filters. My next visit to them will be to buy a new pipe.

I had a shock that morning for our rail station was jam packed with folk going to Dublin, even more than on that day when we joined the anti - Iraq war march and a 100,000 people peacefully marched through Dublin's main thoroughfares. So this morning I was almost tempted to go and ask a few of them if there was something going on that I should know about. It was a grand journey despite the fullness of the train and I managed to get a window seat, plugged in my Nano Shuffle only to find after fiddling with it that the battery was flat, so I caught up on some sleep instead.

From Heuston rail station we took the bus to St.Stephen's Green - Mrs H's first visit to Dublin's 26 acre inner city park. It is I believe a must for any visitor to this city with it's bronze statues, fountains, lakes and formal gardens with dozens of benches to sit on and watch the world go by. From there we went to the nearby shopping arcade the St Stephen's Centre, I felt that it would be the ideal therapy for my busy artist wife, especially with TK MAXX on the second floor.

On Grafton Street were even more stores to whet a shoppers' appetite, catering for the many different classes of credit cards right up to Platinum. This is a street of character though, with it's liveried doormen, conjurors, musicians, singers and many flower stalls whose scents perfume the pavements. It was on this street that many a now professional musician/pop star started their career. I once met the mother of a cellist in Belfast, who would regularly drive her daughter to Grafton St. for the sole purpose of getting the young woman accustomed to playing in public.

Throughout the city there are dozens of bronze statues, depicting some of Dublin's most famous characters: whether they be real people or fictional representations such as Molly Malone. It is the characteristic nature of the Dubliner to have an earthy sense of humour, that sportingly derides poshness or false dignity: thus there are nicknames for almost every piece of bronze in the city.