Wednesday, 29 March 2017

The Cockerel, Mouse and Fly.

On Mother's Day we took ourselves off on an adventure to southern Laoise [pronounced as Leesh] and in particular to the picturesque village of Timahoe.

Timahoe, derives its’ name from Saint Tigh Mochua, 
there the houses are built around a large, central piece of common land known as the Goosegreen.  
St. Mochua established a monastery at Timahoe in the seventh century which burnt down in 1142, later it was re-established by the O’Moores.  
A 12th century round tower standing 96ft high is located close by Mochua’s Abbey and there was a monastic community here as late as 1650. It was then that the Franciscan friars were murdered at a spot known locally as "Boher a wurther" or the murdering road, by Colonel Hewson and Cromwell’s army. 

Along the road to Timahoe.

The locals call it 'Goosegreen'

Looking East the River Bauteogue

Looking West along the River Bauteogue

The round tower stands in a lovely setting accessed by a footbridge that crosses the River Bauteogue, Báiteóg, meaning ‘a swamp’. Originally access to the tower and Abbey was via a ford.

Drawing from Laois County Council archive
Detail of the towers entrance.

The Round Tower 
St Mochua had a reputation as a healer, and is said to have cured two other abbots – St Colman Elo of a sudden loss of memory and St Fintan Munnu of ‘leprosy’.
Mochua died in the year 657.

St. Mochua's companions

St. Mochua lived as a hermit without worldly goods except for three pets – a rooster, a mouse and a fly. The rooster wakened him for the hours of Matins; if he didn’t wake up or dozed off during the day weak from his vigils and prayers, the mouse would nibble at his ear not letting him sleep more than three hours a day or night. The fly would walk along each line of his Psalter as he read and when he became tired, the fly would stop at the point where the saint had broken off until he could return again to resume reading the Psalms.

The Little Pets of St. Mochua

When St. Mochua knelt to pray
Each morning at the break of day
There always was about the house
A rooster, fly and little mouse

Three willing slaves to serve him well
And share his solitary cell
The rooster every morn would crow
And waken him for matins, though
When he slept too sound to hear
The mouse came forth and nipped his ear

And though he never had a clock
The mouse would call him or the cock
And if he had to leave a book
From out some dusty hidden nook
A fly, with patience and with grace
Would sit for hours and mark the place.

 © John Irvine

I very much hope that your appetites have been whetted sufficiently enough to make a visit to this breath taking place. Where a on a sunny warm day you can lose yourself in peaceful surroundings and enjoy some wonder filled dreams.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

To “A Road Across The Sea”

Last Sunday saw our first day trip of 2017. 
As usual the pull of the West and the sea took us to the coast. Now the weather forecast was not good and the temperature was in single figures, 8 deg C. It was overcast with fine rain, however experience has taught me that in Ireland forecasts are not that accurate because of the various factors involved, so we went off regardless. 
When we left the wind was blowing from the North-east and by the time we were half way it was from the South.

Our first stop was Portumna Forest Park where Toby (dog) and Mrs H stretched their legs and I opened up the picnic box for brunch and a cup of coffee. 
It was here that my eyes fell upon this delightful Silver Birch which seemed to glow in the sunlight.

The second stop was to photograph the flooded fields that lie in front of Lydacan Castle - Carnmore, Co. Galway.
Lydacan was an O'Heynes fortress in South Galway from the 14th century and Lydacan or Lydican Castle was the residence of the Lynch family in the 1770s. The Ordnance Survey records that the building was the “substantial residence of Mr. Gunning" in the 1830s. Lydacan Castle was purchased by Martin O'Flaherty in the mid-19th century and was subsequently sold by him to James Greated. It was burnt in 1922 and left in ruins. 

Our final destination, Traught Strand near Kinvara, in Co. Galway was reached and a chill wind blew strongly under a clear blue sky. After a brisk walk to watch the waves it felt good to be sitting in a wind proof vehicle, hot coffee in hand, looking out on the ever changing views of distant Connemara, Barna and Salthill.

The notice board reads:
“A Road Across The Sea”
Young St. Ciarán studied under St. Enda on the Aran Islands. 
Once ready to establish his own monastery, he and his monks travelled along a miraculous road which opened up on the seabed to Traught Beach.
Ciarán later travelled inland to the banks of the river Shannon in what is now County Offaly and founded Clonmacnoise, which became one of Irelands’ most famous seats of learning.

In the past pilgrims spent the eve of Garland Sunday praying besides St. Cairáns Bed behind the beach. In the morning the crawled on hands and knees to wash themselves in the sea before enjoying music, dancing, singing and boat racing.”

Here he is that bold young lad
St. Ciarán

On the horizon is Connemara

I love the ever changing colours of the sea.

Three brave and daring wind surfers entertained us oldies as we watched from the warmth and safety of our cars!

Finally before signing off I wish to draw your attention to 
Rescue 116 helicopter tragedy that took place off shore of Co Mayo
in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

Capt Dara Fitzpatrick, and her crew Mark Duffy, Ciarán Smith
and Paul Ormsby.
Were lost.
Please hold them and their families in your thoughts.