Sunday, 23 May 2010

Red Bull Footstick

Barrow beach & ford


Pinkeens at play

The road of the disappearing hare

This sunny Sunday I decided to go on a solitary walk, away from the tarmac and on to the old roads used these days by the farmers and their cattle. Walking speed is reduced to an amble once you leave the council road. It suited my purpose, giving time to listen and enjoy the surroundings; as well as to think.

I noticed cows with calves in one field taking shelter from the hot sun and a large bull looking benign, standing quietly in his paddock on the opposite side of the road. I raised my camera and asked him to look at me 'I want to see the whole of your face please ?' and he turned his great head remaining in pose until I said 'Thank you'.

My route led me to one of this land's three sister rivers The River Barrow, the other two are the Nore and the Suir which rise within a few miles of each other, to meander through familiar named places and join as one great river that flows into the sea at Waterford. The Barrow, perhaps named after the goddess Berba, runs a few hundred metres to the rear of our home, to a place where it is both narrow and shallow, providing a ford for sturdy tractors. The banks are about 3 metres above the rivers' summer level and a footstick leaps the gap.

Here at the ford I stopped. It is truly our nearest sandy beach, one that on quiet summer afternoons when I lived alone, I would visit with a book, my pipe, a bottle of wine to while away time in peace and in perfect harmony with nature. Today I sat for a while and listened to the babbling Barrow as it flowed over stones. The sound isn't constant, it has a rhythmic sequence. It was to rivers such as these that

the bardic-filidh came to compose their poetry and to travel in a shamanic way.

As I looked at the shallows there was a shoal of pinkeens, or you might call them tiddlers or fry, they were darting in and out of the shallows, I was very conscious that it was the vibration from my movement on the bank that made them quite so active and so I stood still as possible to get the best photo of them.

From across the other side of the river, there came the sound of a cow pumping water. ref

She was a brown cow one of those with baleful eyes, as she finished drinking and came near me, I asked her to come closer to fill the lens and she did. Following this I tuned and ambled along only to see a smallish animal running towards me, at first I thought it might have been a hungry fox, then I realized it was a hare and by the time I had the camera up it had disappeared from sight. Similar thing happened with a field of sunbathing rabbits, that as soon as I stepped closer they all bolted. Perhaps I could have a camera attached to my hat so that the raising of an eyebrow takes a snap; I am able to raise one higher than the other just in case you are wondering.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Bealtainne - May

A decorated Maybush

The blossoming May tree with a well hidden
in it's roots.

Mare with a foal that was born
on 5th May

A possible Grand National winner ??

New Chest of Drawers !

I get an earthy sense of May or Bealtainne, as it is in Irish Gaelic, a few days before the start of the month, a quickening or enlivening of the inner self, so much so that I understand what is meant in the old poem about 'the merry month of May'. For yes, I feel Merry and slightly Loopy - actually it is with me now as I write this blog :-)

There are many folk traditions throughout Ireland and indeed Europe to do with the this month, too many for me to do them justice. Locally in the mountains the Maybush is still decorated with rags, ribbons and egg shells and some people get up early in the morning to wash their face and hands in the dew.

The swallows have returned though there are few near us, so I am wondering whether this is may be a portend for bad weather. I did see a huge amount of them on the West coast the other week and I heard a Cuckoo there too and I have yet to hear one near us this year.

I have been rather busy this last week assisting Mrs Heron rearranging and redecorating the roost (bedroom) The colour she chose is I am told Ashes of Roses, though to me it is a sort of lilac-pink, which I find amusing because it is similar to what it once was before herself deigned to migrate from Brighton (UK) to join me on this sacred island. As they say here 'What goes round comes round' and that is true.

Being a simple male little did I realize at the time I agreed to assist, that it was not going to be just a paint job or that it would entail the purchase of new curtains, bed-coverings, a chest of drawers and a decorative cushion solely to catch the light! To be honest though it does look and feel rather more comfortable than it did. I think this transition has much to do with the change of energies it being Bealtainne.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Connemara, Co. Galway


Coastal mountains

Cool Atlantic waters, tranquil, flood, surround

seaborne stone that glows in golden light,

A caress from Sun, a gift, a gentle kiss, a farewell.

For night is soon to birth.

All the world has heard of Connemara, a very special area in Co. Galway and it was to Carna, a small coastal village, that we headed off to early on Saturday morning for Carna's Sean Nós Festival and to visit friends. The journey of 3 hours was eased by using the motorway, which I generally try to avoid because they are so boring, my preference is for the quieter and more scenic type of road.

Many are the families that have lived long in Connemara, of who's sons & daughters have travelled out of this land to settle in every part of the world.

One in particular is Seosamh O hEanai (Joe Heaney) 1919 - 1984 a native of Carna, who spent much of his life living in England, Scotland and New York. Heaney was an artist-in-residence at the University of Washington in Seattle. The Joe Heaney Collection of the University of Washington Ethnomusicology Archives was established after Heaney's death in 1984. The Féile Chomórtha Seosamh O hEanai (Joe Heaney Commemorative Festival) is held every year in Carna.

In the pub where the Sean Nós singing was taking place, all attention was given to the singers, even pints of the black milk are left on the bar, customers stand with their backs to the counter and no conversation takes place, that is apart from the necessary hushed whisper to order another pint from the barman.

The long melodic notes of the singers in gaelic tongue, fit in very well with this land they suit the skies, the special quality light that landscape painters thirst for, the rolling fogs and the long waves that sweep the shore. Their songs and clarity of voice sweep before them conjuring images in the listeners minds, to such an extent that it matters not a jot whether you understand the language.

I feel that it would be remiss of me to ignore another family, who promote their Gaelic culture by contributing to the arts of literature, song and music, the Mac Con Iomaires.

(I am not sure whether I have done this correctly, if not please paste references into YouTube)





Colm & Darrach Mac Con Iomaire & Frank Tate - 'Frailach' & gan ...