Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee,
Whether summer clothe the general earth
With greeness, or the redbreast sit and sing
Betwixt the tufts of snow on the bare branch
Of mossy apple-tree, while the nigh thatch
Smokes in the sun-thaw; whether the eave-drops fall
Heard only in the trances of the blast,
Or if the secret ministry of frost
Shall hang them up in silent icicles,
Quietly shining to the quiet Moon.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

An Irish Journey - Part The Second

On Thursday we drove up to The Burren again with a special purpose in mind. My friend had brought her husband's ashes with her from America to fulfil his wish that they be scattered in Ireland. After a special commemorative lunch in Ballyvaughan we drove to Poulnabrone, an ancient portal tomb dating from about 2500BC. When the site was excavated in 1985 they found sixteen burials here both adults and children - the name Poulnabrone means 'hole of sorrows'. It stands in a field beside the road from Ballyvaughan to Corrofin and it had seemed the perfect place until we got there and discovered that what had once had been a quiet and peaceful place was now thronged with people! It was decided that we needed a Plan B!

We drove on, still with the occasional stop to admire the scenery, I love this stone wall with a squeeze style leading into the field.

Finally we found a beautiful place for H to rest, O'Heyne's Church which is part of the monastery of Kilmacduagh founded in the 7th century by St Colman Mac Duagh. This building dates back to the early 1200s and is really lovely inside though there are no photos of this for obvious reasons. We held a short ceremony and after C had scattered H's ashes I read an ancient Irish Blessing very appropriate for both the place and the moment.

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and the rain fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

We looked around the rest of the site before going down to O'Heyne's Church,above is the ruin of the Oratory of St John which dates back to the 10th century.

The round tower is also 10th century and it isn't my photograph that isn't quite straight - the tower actually leans two feet from the vertical! It served as a belfry, a treasure house, a watch tower and a place of refuge for the monks from Viking and other raiders.

Here we have the ruin of Kilmacduagh Cathedral with the round tower beside it. Notice where the doorway of the tower is, it stands 26 feet above ground level. In times of trouble the monks scrambled up a wooden ladder and then drew it up after them leaving the would be raiders with something of a problem:)
I think there must be a good deal of archaeology under the grass and the gravestones as there is no sign above ground of the refectory and dormitory buildings nor of any cloisters.

When I was reading about Kilmacduagh later I discovered that St Colman is actually buried there and a certain amount of investigation leads me to believe that I took a rather poor photograph of his grave without realising what it was! I'm not absolutely certain so am open to correction if anyone knows better.

On Friday morning we headed for Connemara stopping on the way at the 16th century tower house of Aughnamure in Co Galway. It stands six storeys high and would originally have been surrounded by an inner and an outer wall though most of the inner one is gone now. Apparently this area was the territory of the O'Flaherty clan - one of my aunts was a Flaherty, I wonder whether there's a connection:)

The interior was less than riveting I'm afraid, this is the huge fireplace in the third floor room where the family members would have spent their days.

On the outer wall of the castle is the ruin of what was once a thatched banqueting hall where guests would retire to drink sweet spiced wine and eat sweetmeats after the main meal.There are two remaining windows with lovely stone carvings on the arches.

The rest of the day we drove round Connemara stopping twice to take photos, this is somewhere in Connemara.......

.....and this is somewhere else in Connemara. Where exactly we were I have no idea! As you can see the weather wasn't that great but the scenery was beautiful.

Back in Galway we finally stopped at Kylemore Abbey which apparently has a wonderful walled garden and a very good pottery. Unfortunately we arrived too late to see either and anyway it was pouring with rain!

Final day of the trip and an early start - we're off to do the Ring of Kerry.C and I at a view point along the way - it may be Caherdaniel or it may not. It really bothers me that the whole of this trip I spent most of the time not knowing quite where I was or what I was looking at! It isn't the way I usually travel.

This is Valentia Island where we finally stopped for a late lunch, if I'd known how long it was going to be before I got my next meal I'd have had something more substantial than soup and a roll!! This is the western most point in Ireland - next stop America.(Edited to add that apparently it isn't the western most point! A Heron's View lives in Ireland and tells me that this is actually on the Dingle Peninsula - must check facts more carefully!!) The first ever transatlantic cable was installed here in 1857 connecting Valentia Island to Newfoundland and the first telegram was sent by Queen Victoria to US President James Buchanan in August 1858. There's a Heritage Centre called The Skellig Experience on the island but sadly we weren't there long enough to visit it.

There's a nice little harbour and a car ferry runs across to Portmagee on the mainland although we used the road bridge.

The village of Portmagee, I love all the pretty coloured houses, it would have been nice to have a little wander round there. However we were off again to do the Ring of Skellig which is a superb drive along steep narrow, winding roads that follow the coast.

We stopped once at Bolus Head from where you can see the two Skelligs on the far right of the photo. The view was really stunning and on a clear day must be even better.

The islands are 9 miles off the coast and the smaller one is an important seabird sanctuary. The larger one is Skellig Michael which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Right on the summit of the island is a 7th century monastery which was occupied for over 600 years. Living there in winter in little stone beehive huts must have been quite an experience! Those who are both good sailors and fit enough to climb about 750 feet up the steep steps to the Monastery can visit the island - I fear that I wouldn't qualify on either count especially the good sailor bit:) This is a very poor photo as my zoom wasn't really sufficient for the distance.

The final photo is one of the Lakes of Killarney and no, I don't know which one! We arrived in Killarney itself around 7.30pm and had a very nice (and very welcome!) meal in an Italian restaurant. As the American party were leaving Caher House around 4.30am for an early morning flight and my flight wasn't until 7.15pm on Sunday evening my luggage had accompanied us round Kerry and I was dropped off at the Bunratty Castle Hotel on the way back to Caher.
This whole post is very grey and lacking in vibrant colour but since both the weather and most of the buildings were this colour for most of the time there isn't a great deal I can do about it I'm afraid:) It was lovely to be in Ireland again though and there are many places I'd love to go back to and explore properly someday.


Patricia said...

What a lovely post Rowan. You have been to some wonderful places and given us all the chance of seeing something of Ireland too. How lovely that your friend was able to fulfill her husband's wishes and what a lovely final resting place it was too. Thankyou for Sharing this. Patricia

WOL said...

Ireland is another one of those places it would take several lifetimes to do justice to. Thanks for sharing the pics. With all the grey sky and grey stone, no wonder they appreciated the green of the plants so much. It is the Emerald Isle, after all!

The Herbalist's Cottage said...

A sad visit but a lovely resting place. Ireland is a place I would like to visit one day. Thanks you for taking along your camera so we could share.
Love Leanne

Louise said...

You've shown me some fabulous spots in Ireland in these posts, it sounds like a fascinating place.

I'm glad you find a nice peaceful spot to scatter the ashes.

John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

A fine set of photos despite the grey. "Somewhere in Ireland" looks a splendid place.

A Heron's View said...

Well actually :the most westerly point is Tearaght Island, which lies in the Atlantic Ocean 12.5 km west of Dingle Peninsula, county Kerry. It lies at longitude 10.70ºW. Of mainland Ireland, the most westerly point is Garraun Point, Dingle Peninsula, county Kerry which is 2.5 km northwest of Slea Head. It lies at longitude 10.51ºW.

Dog Trot Farm said...

Simply a most wonderful post, Ireland appears so enchanting through your lens, bleak skies and all.I so enjoy reading the history of each and every location you take us to. Looking forward to seeing where you are off to next. I hope you enjoy a Happy Mother's Day. Greetings from Maine, Julie.

Thimbleanna said...

Now you've made me want to visit Ireland. Your pictures may be gray, but they're beautiful. I teared up, just imagining you reading that poem for your friend. What a lovely thing to do!

Betty said...

I have enjoyed these posts. I would love to see Ireland one day. In fact we are related to the O'Flahertys too on my Mothers Side.

Cheryl said...

Hi Rowan,

This post made me want to buy a plane ticket and get to Ireland as soon as I could. I have only been twice and that was many many years ago.

A beautiful post......I found the scattering of the ashes incredibly moving.
I love the Irish blessing and have read it many times but never ever tire of it.

Rosie said...

It all looks so beautiful! I love your somewhere in Ireland photos and what a wonderful, atmospheric place to choose for your friend's farewell ceremony:)


I love that Irish Blessing - I once used in on a piece of pottery which was snapped up as soon as it hit the shop shelf. We have always wanted to visit this part of Ireland and your account has made me even more determined than ever to go! xCathy

elaine said...

It looks a lovely place to visit - shame about the weather - but I suppose it's what you have to expect.

Sandi@ Rose Chintz Cottage said...

Hi Rowan,
What wonderful pictures you have shared with us. My hubby's ancestors come from Ireland so I enjoyed seeing your photos. Thank you for your visit and I hope you have a lovely week.


Clara said...

A lovely and informative post Rowan. I loved the Irish Blessing and my visit. Have a good day.
~Clara said...

Dear Rowan,
What a fascinating adventure you have had in Ireland.
please forgive me if i do not mention all the places you visited.. but i enjoyed travelling to these lovely places through your eyes and commentary.. it all looks so peaceful. Ireland is special. Now i feel i must take a visit there.
Thank you so much for sharing ..your photos are super. dont always have to be bright and sunny.. lovely
Thanks for always leaving a nice comment on my blog.
Happy Monday

Bovey Belle said...

Ah, happy memories for me too, and on my Archaeology Field Trip we were often just "somewhere in Ireland" - though I did have the archaeology we saw to pin it down a bit!

Poulnabrone is somewhere we sat inside, whilst our lecturer talked outside, to see if part of the experience of the living and the dead was still relevant today . . . I think the idea was to see if the living were included in the ritual which was assumed to have taken place within the tomb . . . What I DO remember was all the little "echoes" of the tomb which people had erected across that barren landscape.

Wonderful photos, even though the weather wasn't on your side.

Mary said...

Lovely post Rowan - when enlarged, your photos are beautiful and depict the true Irish feeling of damp but brilliant green countryside. Just need Enya's music to be playing along!

I've yet to visit but can see there would be much I'd love to view.

Thanks for sharing your trip Rowan. I do hope your friend has found closure for her sad loss now that she has scattered the ashes where her husband wanted to be.


Witchcrafted Life said...

Rowan, you are putting together a stellar, informative travel guide with your posts about Ireland. Though I lived there myself for a couple of years, I really didn't have a chance to see too much of the country, so it's always a treat to read image filled posts such as these as glimpse some of the locations I didn't make it in person.

Thank you very much for all of your wonderful blog comments, dear lady, I appreciate them to no end.

Wishing you a gorgeous Monday & week ahead,
♥ Jessica

Jenny Woolf said...

I am glad you found such a beautiful spot for the ashes. I last visited the West of Ireland as a child Even then it seemed so beautiful and your photos show it as not much different, .

Nan said...

Such a sad trip for your friend. Wonderful you could be with her. I think the landscape and the weather were just perfect. We went to the Burren in 1992, and our Christmas card that year is the kids on it, holding walking sticks. Lovely memories.

Sheila said...

It all looks so soft and ethereal.
Somehow the rain and mist just typifies the way I expect Ireland to be.
I'm sorry to say I was trying not to smile as I read your account of some of the places,as I know how you like to poke around and discover things of interest and it must have been very frustrating not to be able to.
I'm glad your friend was able to find a place to scatter her husband's ashes. It looks very peaceful.
I'm sure one day you will go back and discover all those interesting looking spots (again) and investigate them thoroughly.

SouthernHeart said...

A lovely post as always. The pictures make me long to visit the land of my mother's ancestors. What a peaceful place for your friend to select for her husband's ashes.

Gracie said...

Your post brought back so many memories....the entire region of Connemara, Ballyvaughan (we stayed there in a very cozy B&B) the castel in Aughnamure, the Ring of Kerry, and I have almost the same shot of Portmagee.....thanks for taking me along.

Zuzana said...

My old boyfriend lives in co Kerry, so this was a bit sentimental for me to read.;) The landscape of Ireland must be so rugged, unspoiled and pristine, love all your images.;)
Thank you for your lovey recent comment.;))

JoAnn ( Scene Through My Eyes) said...

This may well be the most amazing post I've ever read. The information is intriguing and I had to go and find out more about the Skelligs - what amazing places. I enjoyed every bit of the trip - and all the photos.

I was in a thrift shop the other day and there was a hand painted picture of a house that looked just like the pretty colored houses in your photo. Now I wish I had bought it - I might just go back and see if it is still there - and if it is I shall buy it and it will always remind me of your travels.

Thank you so much for sharing - I long to visit England and Ireland - and hear the names and see the wonders. Such amazing and ancient countries,.

Victoria said...

Wow...this is such an amazing post..gorgeous sceneries and so enchanting..How I would love to walk inside these gorgeous photos and journey!! Magnificent!