Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Ireland Mandalas 2004

Good~bye Chicago

Hello LimeRick!

Aer Lingus: Flying with the Lucky Shamrock ~ Aer Lingus dates back to April of 1936. In that month, in the midst of the Great Depression, Aer Lingu Teoranta was registered as a private airline company by the Irish Government. The name is an Anglicization of aer loingeas, which simply means "air fleet." Very original, eh?
The first Aer Lingus flight is recorded on 27 May 1936. In November 1945 the airline began flights to London-Heathrow with new Douglas DC-3s and a number of ex-military C-47 'Dakotas' (the military version of the DC-3). In 1948 Aer Lingus launched a venture called Aerlinte Aireann (Irish Airlines) flying to New York with Constellations (commonly called "Connies"). The flights to New York would last only a few months and the Connies were sold. Aerlinte Aireann would continue until a formal merger with Aer Lingus in 1960. The combined airline was then called Aer Lingus-Irish International.
The original craft was a six seat De Havilland 84 Dragon biplane named Iolar ("eagle"). The first Aer Lingus flight started from Dublin's Baldonnel airfield and reached its destination of Bristol. In September 1936 Aer Lingus took delivery of a fourteen seat, four engine De Havilland 84B Dragon Express. Today Aer Lingus operates from a main hub in Dublin to destinations in Europe and North America with a fleet of modern Airbus and Boeing 737 aircraft.

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm... Those triangles look familiar!!!!!! :-)

Shannon International Airport (IATA: SNN, ICAO: EINN), or Aerfort na Sionnainne in Irish is one of Ireland's primary three airports (along with Dublin Airport and Cork Airport). It is the second busiest airport in the Republic of Ireland (after Dublin) with 3.62 million passengers in 2007. The airport is located in Shannon, County Clare, around 24 km (15 mi) from Ennis and 25 km (16 mi) from Limerick City.

Limerick (pronounced /ˈlɪmrɪk/; Luimneach in Irish)[1] is a city and the county seat of County Limerick in the province of Munster, in the midwest of Ireland. The city lies on the River Shannon, with three main crossing points near the city centre. It has a 2006 population of 91,000 inhabitants within the Limerick urban area. It is one of the constituent cities of the Cork-Limerick-Galway corridor which has a population of 1 million people.
The city itself dates from at least the Viking settlement in 812. The Normans redesigned the city in the 12th century and added much of the most notable architecture, such as King John's Castle and St Mary's Cathedral. During the civil wars of the 17th century, the city played a pivotal role, besieged by Oliver Cromwell in 1651 and twice by the Williamites in the 1690s. Limerick grew rich through trade in the late 18th century, but the Act of Union in 1800, and the famine caused a crippling economic decline broken only by the so-called Celtic Tiger in the 1990s.

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm... That scene sure looks familiar2!!!!!! :-)

Limericks are five-line poems with a strict form, originally popularized in English by Edward Lear. Limericks are frequently witty or humorous, and sometimes obscene with humorous intent.
Gershon Legman, who compiled the largest and most scholarly anthology, held that the true limerick, as a folk form, is always obscene, and cites similar opinions by Arnold Bennett and George Bernard Shaw, describing the clean limerick as a periodic fad and object of magazine contests, rarely rising above mediocrity. That is to say, from a folkloric point of view, the form is essentially transgressive; violation of taboo is part of its function.
A limerick has five lines, with three metrical feet in the first, second, and fifth lines and two metrical feet in the third and fourth lines. A variety of types of metrical foot can be used, but the most typical are the amphibrach (a stressed syllable between two unstressed syllables) and the anapaest (two unstressed syllables followed by a stressed syllable). The rhyme scheme is usually AABBA.
Verses in limerick form are sometimes combined with a refrain to form a limerick song, a traditional humorous drinking song often with obscene verses.
The origin of the actual name limerick for this type of poem is obscure. Its usage was first documented in England in 1898 (New English Dictionary) and in America in 1902. It is generally taken to be a reference to the County of Limerick in Ireland (particularly the Maigue Poets), and may derive from an earlier form of nonsense verse parlour game which traditionally included a refrain that ended "Come all the way up to Limerick?" (referring to Limerick, Ireland).
n Mary Cooper's 1744 book, Tommy Thumb's Pretty Song Book, the following poem in limerick form appears and is the first example in print of an illustrated limerick.[2] It remains well-known today, in various forms.

Hickere, Dickere Dock,
A Mouse ran up the Clock,

The Clock Struck One,
The Mouse fell down,

And Hickere Dickere Dock. frOM

Croom (Cromadh in Irish) is a village in County Limerick, Ireland. It is located just off the N20 (which was recently routed around the town as a bypass) on the River Maigue. It is 8km southeast of Adare on the N20. Croom is home to Castle Croom, which was restored in the 19th century. In the 18th century, it was the meeting place of the "Maigue poets." frOM
Seán "Clárach" Mac Domhnaill (1691–1754) was an Irish language poet in the first half of the 18th century. Seán Clárach was one of the Maigue Poets, a circle of 18th century Gaelic Poets in County Limerick. Under his chairmanship, they met in the ancient ringfort Lios Ollium, in Bruree. His own house in Charleville was also sometimes a meeting place. Seán Clárach soon won the admiration of the other Munster poets, who gave him the title Príomh-Éigeas na Mumhan or Chief Poet of Munster. In Croom, Seán Clárach frequented the public house of Seán Ó Tuama, a good friend and another of the Maigue Poets. He could not, however, make a living out of his poetry, as previous poets had done, but had to work as a farm labourer and teacher from time to time. In 1754, Seán Clárach died and was laid to rest in Holy Cross Cemetery, Charleville. His grave is situated in the center of the graveyard, on the site of the medieval parish church.
Many of Seán Clárach's poems are characterised by a longing for the coming of a just, preferably Catholic, King to the throne of England. Ireland had been conquered by the English in the 17th century much to the despair of the poets, who lost the patronage of their defeated or exiled Gaelic lords. Seán Clárach and others were forced to work as spailpíní, or migratory labourers. Eyes therefore turned to Stuart Kings of England, in the hope that help would come from them.
Mo Ghile Mear is his most famous poem. It is a lament or caoineadh that was written after the defeat of the Bonnie Prince Charles at the Battle of Culloden, Scotland, in 1746. The Irish poets had pinned their hopes on this revolutionary prince and his flight was a crushing blow to the long-suffering Gaeil of both Éire and Scotland. Their exasperation and despair is vividly portrayed in this poem. Like all other Gaelic poems of the time, Mo Ghile Mear would have been sung rather than recited.
While not a true bardic poet like Dáibhí Ó Bruadair, Seán Clárach did keep to a complex ryhming scheme. His language can be ornate but it is certainly not the Classical Irish of the bards. By the 18th century this literary language had been abandoned in favour of the modern dialects. It had not become unfashionable or anything, it was just disused after the strict bardic schools closed down and a literary standard became impossible to maintain across the country.

Dáibhí Ó Bruadair (1625 – January 1698) was one of the most significant Irish language poets of the 17th century. He lived through a momentous time in Irish history and his work serves as testimony to the death of the old Irish cultural and political order and the decline in respect for the once honoured and feared poetic classes. His ode, D'Aithle Na Bhfileadh (The High Poets are Gone) upon the death of a fellow poet is a particularly poignant reminder of this decline and lament that Ireland was now a far less educated place due to it.
He was born in Barrymore, County Cork and spent much of his adult life in Limerick, receiving the patronage of both Irish and Anglo-Irish landowners. This patronage was vital, as Ó Bruadair was the first of the 17th century poets to attempt to live purely from his poetry, in the manner of the professional bards of the medieval period. It would seem that this attempt was not particularly successful, as his poem Is mairg nár chrean le maitheas saoghalta indicates that he was reduced to working as a farm labourer. He died in poverty and, as poems such as Mairg nach fuil 'na Dhubhthuata (O It's best be a total boor) show, with bitterness on him towards the 'blind ignorant crew' that was the peasantry.

Green, green, it's green , they say
On the far side of the hill
Green, green, I'm going away
To where the grass is greener still

Well I told my Momma on the day I was born
Don't you cry when you see I'm gone
You know there ain't no woman gonna settle me down
I just got to keep traveling on

There ain't no woman in this whole wide world
Gonna tell me how to spend my time
I'm just a good loving rambling man
Singing, buddy, can you spare me a dime

I don't care when the sun goes down
Where I lay my weary head
Green, green valley or rocky road
It's there I'm gonna lay my head

When Janet and i were in line at the airport in Chicago, there were a coupla ladies in line just in front of us. As it turned out they were on their way to Ireland2, and they were also frOM New Mexico2! They said they were looking forward to the green and the hydRAtion!

They say that there are many, many words for the colour green in Gaelic. Probably as many as the Hawaiians have 4 lava!
The history of Irish begins with the arrival of speakers of Celtic languages in Ireland. The precise date is an open question, debated by linguists and archaeologists. Some scholars put the earliest date at ca. 1200 BC, while others posit dates as early as the late 3rd millennium BC. The earliest written form of the language, known to linguists as Primitive Irish, is found in Ogham inscriptions from the fifth and sixth centuries AD, found primarily in southern Ireland as well as in Wales and Cornwall, where it was brought by settlers from Ireland to sub-Roman Britain.
After the conversion to Christianity in the fifth century, Old Irish begins to appear as glosses and other marginalia in Latin manuscripts, beginning in the 6th century, until it gives way in the 10th century to Middle Irish which was slightly influenced by Norse. Early Modern Irish was a literary language which preserved 13th century Middle Irish. It was used by writers until the 17th century, in the course of which they began writing in the vernacular dialects, Ulster Irish, Connacht Irish, and Munster Irish. However, after the last of the Munster poets had died in the late 18th century, the Irish language largely ceased to be used as a written language until the late 19th century, at which point only the vernacular dialects were used.

Ogham (Old Irish: ogam IPA: [ˈɔɣam], Modern Irish [ˈoːm] or [ˈoːəm], English /ˈɒɡəm/) is an Early Medieval alphabet used primarily to represent the Old Irish language (and, occasionally, the Brythonic-Latin ancestor of Welsh). Ogham is sometimes referred to as the "Celtic Tree Alphabet", based on a High Medieval Bríatharogam traditions ascribing names of trees to the individual letters.
There are roughly 400 surviving ogham inscriptions on stone monuments throughout Ireland and Britain, the bulk of them stretching in arc from Co. Kerry in the south of Ireland across to Dyfed in south Wales. The remainder are mostly in south-eastern Ireland, western Scotland, the Isle of Man, and England around the Devon/Cornwall border. The vast majority of the inscriptions consist of personal names.
The etymology of the word ogam or ogham remains unclear. One possible origin is from the Irish og-úaim - 'point-seam', referring to the seam made by the point of a sharp weapon.
The ogham alphabet originally consisted of twenty distinct characters (feda), arranged in four series aicmí (plural of aicme "family"; compare aett). Each aicme was named after its first character (Aicme Beithe, Aicme hÚatha, Aicme Muine, Aicme Ailme, "the B Group", "the H Group", "the M Group", "the A Group"). Five additional letters were later introduced (mainly in the manuscript tradition), the so-called forfeda.
The Ogam Tract also gives a variety of some 100 variant or secret modes of writing ogham (92 in the Book of Ballymote), for example the "shield ogham" (ogam airenach. Even the Younger Futhark are introduced as a kind of "Viking ogham".

The consonants of the ogham alphabet;

1. B beith [b] (*betwias)
2. L luis [l]
3. F fearn [w] (*wernā)
4. S saille [s] (*salis)
5. N nuin [n]

Right side/upward strokes

1. H úath [y]?
2. D duir [d] (*daris)
3. T tinne [t]
4. C coll [k] (*coslas)
5. Q ceirt [kw] (*kwertā)

Across/pendicular strokes

1. M muin [m]
2. G gort [g] (*gortas)
3. NG gétal [gw] (*gwēddlan)
4. Z straif [sw] or [ts]?
5. R ruis [r]

The vowels of the ogham alphabet. Note: This is the vertical writing of ogham. In the horizontal form, the right side would face downward.

notches (vowels)

1. A ailm [a]
2. O onn [o] (*osen)
3. U úr [u]
4. E edad [e]
5. I idad [i]

Of the five forfeda or supplementary letters, only the first, ébad regularly appears in inscriptions.

1. EA ébad
2. OI óir
3. UI uillenn
4. P , later IO pín (later iphín)
5. X or Ch (as in loch), later AE emancholl

* Beith, Old Irish Beithe means "birch-tree", cognate to Latin betula.
* Luis, Old Irish Luis is either related to luise "blaze" or lus "herb". The arboreal tradition has caertheand "rowan".
* Fearn, Old Irish Fern means "alder-tree", Primitive Irish *wernā, so that the original value of the letter was [w].
* Sail, Old Irish Sail means "willow-tree", cognate to Latin salix.
* Nion, Old Irish Nin means either "fork" or "loft". The arboreal tradition has uinnius "ash-tree".
* Uath, Old Irish Úath means úath "horror, fear", the arboreal tradition has "white-thorn". The original etymology of the name, and the letter's value, are however unclear. McManus (1986) suggested a value [y]. Peter Schrijver (see McManus 1991:37) suggested that if úath "fear" is cognate with Latin pavere, a trace of PIE *p might have survived into Primitive Irish, but there is no independent evidence for this.
* Dair, Old Irish Dair means "oak" (PIE *doru-).
* Tinne, Old Irish Tinne from the evidence of the kennings means "bar of metal, ingot". The arboreal tradition has cuileand "holly".
* Coll, Old Irish Coll meant "hazel-tree", cognate with Welsh collen, correctly glossed as cainfidh "fair-wood" ("hazel") by the arboreal interpretation. The Latin corylus is a possible cognate.
* Ceirt, Old Irish Cert is cognate with Welsh pert "bush" , Latin quercus "oak" (PIE *perkwos). It was confused with Old Irish ceirt "rag", reflected in the kennings. The Auraicept glosses aball "apple".
* Muin, Old Irish Muin: the kennings connect this name to three different words, muin "neck, upper part of the back", muin "wile, ruse", and muin "love, esteem". The arboreal tradition has finemhain "vine".
* Gort, Old Irish Gort means "field" (cognate to garden). The arboreal tradition has edind "ivy".
* nGéadal, Old Irish Gétal from the kennings has a meaning of "killing", maybe cognate to gonid "slays", from PIE gwen-. The value of the letter in Primitive Irish, then, was a voiced labiovelar, [gw]. The arboreal tradition glosses cilcach, "broom" or "fern".
* Straif, Old Irish Straiph means "sulphur". The Primitive Irish letter value is uncertain, it may have been a sibilant different from s, which is taken by sail, maybe a reflex of /st/ or /sw/. The arboreal tradition glosses draighin "blackthorn".
* Ruis, Old Irish Ruis means "red" or "redness", glossed as trom "elder".
* Ailm, Old Irish Ailm is of uncertain meaning, possibly "pine-tree". The Auraicept has crand giuis .i. ochtach, "fir-tree" or "pinetree".
* Onn, Old Irish Onn means "ash-tree", although the Auraicept glosses aiten "furze".
* Úr, Old Irish Úr, based on the kennings, means "earth, clay, soil". The Auraicept glosses fraech "heath".
* Eadhadh, Old Irish Edad of unknown meaning. The Auraicept glosses crand fir no crithach "test-tree or aspen"
* Iodhadh, Old Irish Idad is of uncertain meaning, but is probably a form of ibhar "yew", which is the meaning given to it in the arboreal tradition.

of the forfeda, four are glossed by the Auraicept:

* Eabhadh, Old Irish Ebhadh with crithach "aspen";
* Ór, "gold" (from Latin aurum); the arboreal tradition has feorus no edind, "spindle tree or ivy"
* Uilleann, Old Irish Uilleand "elbow"; the arboreal tradition has edleand "honeysuckle"
* Pín, later Ifín, Old Irish Iphin with spinan no ispin "gooseberry or thorn".

The fifth letter is Emancholl which means 'twin of hazel'

Monumental ogham inscriptions are found in Ireland and Wales, with a few additional specimens found in England, the Isle of Man, Scotland and Shetland. They were mainly employed as territorial markers and memorials (grave stones). The more ancient examples are standing stones, where the script was carved into the edge (droim or faobhar) of the stone, which formed the stemline against which individual characters are cut. Later inscriptions are known as "scholastic", and are post 6th century in date. The term 'scholastic' derives from the fact that the inscriptions are believed to have been inspired by the manuscript sources, instead of being continuations of the original monument tradition. Unlike orthodox ogham, some mediæval inscriptions feature all five Forfeda. Scholastic inscriptions are written on stemlines cut into the face of the stone, instead of along its edge. Ogham was also occasionally used for notes in manuscripts down to the 16th century.

Scottish inscriptions using the ogham writing system are known, but their language is still the subject of debate. It has been argued by Richard Cox in The Language of Ogham Inscriptions in Scotland (1999) that the language of these is Old Norse, but others remain unconvinced by this analysis, and regard the stones as being Pictish in origin. However due to the lack of knowledge about the Picts, the inscriptions remain undeciphered, their language possibly being non-Indo-European. The Pictish inscriptions are scholastic, and are believed to have been inspired by the manuscript tradition brought into Scotland by Gaelic settlers.
As well as its use for monumental inscriptions, the evidence from early Irish sagas and legends indicates that ogham was used for short messages on wood or metal, either to relay messages or to denote ownership of the object inscribed. Some of these messages seem to have been cryptic in nature and some were also for magical purposes. In addition, there is evidence from sources such as In Lebor Ogaim, or the Ogham Tract, that ogham may have been used to keep records or lists, such as genealogies and numerical tallies of property and business transactions. There is also evidence that ogham may have been used as a system of finger or hand signals.
In later centuries when ogham ceased to be used as a practical alphabet, it retained its place in the learning of Gaelic scholars and poets as the basis of grammar and the rules of poetry. Indeed, until modern times the Latin alphabet in Gaelic continued to be taught using letter names borrowed from the Beith-Luis-Nin, along with the Medieval association of each letter with a different tree.

The Trees of Ireland are very magiKAl, when you can find them. They are full of faeries, sprites, gods, goddesses, GeenMen & wOMen.

O I long for the time when the world was new
When the sun was warm and the skies were blue
And the waters clear and the forest vast
And men were true in the distant past...
~Rick Allen

The River Shannon (Sionainn or Sionna in Irish) is, at 386 km (240 miles), Ireland's longest river. It divides the west of the island (principally the province of Connacht) from the east and south (Leinster and most of Munster). County Clare, being west of the Shannon but part of the province of Munster, is the major exception. The river represents a major physical barrier between east and west, with fewer than twenty crossing-points between Limerick city in the south and the town of Carrick on Shannon in the north.
The Shannon has been an important waterway since antiquity, having first been mapped by the Graeco-Egyptian geographer Ptolemy. The river flows generally southward from the Shannon Pot in County Cavan before turning west and emptying into the Atlantic Ocean through the 113 km (70 mi) long Shannon Estuary. Limerick city stands at the point where the river water meets the sea water of the estuary. The Shannon is unaffected by sea tides east of Limerick.

Janet and i flew directly into LimeRick, while the rest of the folks we were touring with were flying in frOM London. We stayed at the dorms of LimeRick University, and were hard put to find anything open after our jet lag respite. We finally found an eatery at the student union building, where i watched a border collie practice herding skills on the rugby field. Later, a cab driver put us on to a reataurant nearby where we had a very elegant supper.

Sure would like to see this fountain in action someday!

The University of Limerick (UL) (Irish: Ollscoil Luimnigh) was established in 1972 as the National Institute for Higher Education, Limerick and became a university by statute in 1989 in accordance with the University of Limerick Act 1989. The university was the first university established since the foundation of the State in 1922, followed later in the same day by the establishment of Dublin City University.
The university is located along the River Shannon, on a 80 hectare (200 acre) site in the 240 hectare (600 acre) National Technological Park at Castletroy, 5 km from Limerick city centre and 20km from Shannon International Airport. The River Shannon is a unifying focal point, and the campus is in both County Limerick (South Bank) and County Clare (North Bank).

Adjacent to the University is the National Technology Park (NTP), Ireland's first science/technology park (263 hectares), which is home to over 80 organisations employing over 4,000 people. There is a close interaction between the National Technology Park and UL. The National Technology Park has been designed to meet the needs of high-technology and knowledge-based businesses by providing low density development in a high quality parkland environment. The Park provides a range of flexible business accommodation options for eligible activities.
The major areas of research concentration include: • Biosciences, Environment & Bioengineering • Information and Communications Technologies • Materials and Surface Science • Work, Quality and Productivity • Humanities and Social Sciences
Coupled to these areas is The Irish World Academy of Music and Dance at the University of Limerick is the leading research and postgraduate teaching/learning centre for Irish music and dance studies in the world.

If you listen I'll sing you a sweet little song
Of a flower that's now droped and dead,
Yet dearer to me, yes than all of its mates,
Though each holds aloft its proud head.
Twas given to me by a girl that I know,
Since we've met, faith I've known no repose.
She is dearer by far than the world's brightest star,
And I call her my wild Irish Rose.

My wild Irish Rose, the sweetest flower that grows.
You may search everywhere, but none can compare with my wild Irish Rose.
My wild Irish Rose, the dearest flower that grows,
And some day for my sake, she may let me take the bloom from my wild Irish Rose.

They may sing of their roses, which by other names,
Would smell just as sweetly, they say.
But I know that my Rose would never consent
To have that sweet name taken away.
Her glances are shy when e'er I pass by
The bower where my true love grows,
And my one wish has been that some day I may win
The heart of my wild Irish Rose.

My wild Irish Rose, the sweetest flower that grows.
You may search everywhere, but none can compare with my wild Irish Rose.
My wild Irish Rose, the dearest flower that grows,
And some day for my sake, she may let me take the bloom from my wild Irish Rose.

Oh, give me land, lots of land under starry skies above,
Don't fence me in.
Let me ride through the wide open country that I love,
Don't fence me in.
Let me be by myself in the evenin' breeze,
And listen to the murmur of the cottonwood trees,
Send me off forever but I ask you please,
Don't fence me in.

Just turn me loose, let me straddle my old saddle
Underneath the western skies.
On my Cayuse, let me wander over yonder
Till I see the mountains rise.

I want to ride to the ridge where the west commences
And gaze at the moon till I lose my senses
And I can't look at hovels and I can't stand fences
Don't fence me in.

Oh, give me land, lots of land under starry skies,
Don't fence me in.
Let me ride through the wide open country that I love,
Don't fence me in.
Let me be by myself in the evenin' breeze
And listen to the murmur of the cottonwood trees
Send me off forever but I ask you please,
Don't fence me in.

Just turn me loose, let me straddle my old saddle
Underneath the western skies
On my Cayuse, let me wander over yonder
Till I see the mountains rise.

I want to ride to the ridge where the west commences
And gaze at the moon till I lose my senses
And I can't look at hobbles and I can't stand fences.
Don't fence me in.
No, Poppa, don't you fence me in.

There’s an old saying, which goes “Gypsy Gold does not chink and glitter, it gleams in the sun, and neighs in the dark”. This proverb believed to be from the Claddaugh Gypsies of Galway refers to the magical relationship between gypsies and their most treasured objects, their horses.
For nearly 100 years, the Gypsies have bred and used colorful cob horses to pull their ornately decorated carts and living wagons thru the country lanes of England and Ireland. The horses they used were heavy boned and feathered horses, which are strong, sensible, docile, and incredibly hard working. The beautiful colors of these horses were not only pleasing to the eye, but also made them instantly recognizable, which helped to prevent them from being stolen or swapped discretely for inferior horses. The heavy feather on their legs, along with long flowing manes and tails added to the overall flash and flare long associated with the misunderstood and usually discriminated-against gypsy people.
The Gypsy Horse has come to be known by several different names. Irish Tinker, Gypsy Vanner, Gypsy Cob, Irish Cob, Romany Horse and the like, are all names used to describe the type of horse which gypsies have bred and used in the British Isles for generations.

Gypsies, Romany folk, or Travelers as the mobile ones are called, still exist, and are alive and well in the British Isles. Many have gone to a more modern lifestyle of motor homes and nice travel trailers, occasionally even going for a more traditional lifestyle of owning homes and land. In spite of all of the modern pressures of life, there are still some Romany people that hold out for the old ways of traveling the countryside with horse and wagon, settling down for a bit here-and-there when the work is good. Although many people of gypsy heritage no longer travel, many still breed these horses as a way of keeping tradition alive. In fact, the wealth and prosperity of a Gypsy family is still largely judged by the size and quality of their herd of colored horses.
Traditionally, the gypsy horse is involved in every aspect of family life, faithfully pulling the wagons and drays by day, while still being amenable and patient enough to teach the gypsy children to ride when the day is done. The horses are tethered at the campsite with the family waggon when they are not working, in all types of weather. They live, and thrive on only the grasses that happen to be growing along the side of the roads. The heartiness and exceptional disposition of these horses are their trademarks. They are known for being one of the most docile and gentle horses in the world - as well as being easy to train and easy to keep.
The Gypsy Horse is a hearty little draft horse which usually stands between 13 and 15.2 hands. Their exceptional stamina allows them to go all day at a steady trot while pulling a loaded living waggon with the whole Gypsy family. They are sturdily built with solid bone and, in order to be a “traditional horse”, they must have a good deal of feathering and hair. The Gypsy horse comes in all colors, with the most common being the "pinto" patterns, piebald and skewbald. Although they have been bred for a particular type for generations, they are originally descended from several draft horse and pony breeds, namely the Shire and Clydesdale along with Dales, Fell, and other native British breeds. The traditions of the Gypsies and the magical persona of these incredibly family oriented horses make for the perfect “horse for all seasons”.

The story of how Cúchulainn was begotten tells how Conchobor and the nobles of Ulster were at Emhain Macha. A flock of swans came to the plain and ate all the grass and plants out of the ground. The Ulstermen were angry at this and chased the birds away in their chariots.
Conchobor mounted his chariot with his sister, Dechtine. The birds flew to Breg Plain, which is in modern Ireland the eastern part of County Meath and contains all the major neolithic sites of the Boyne Valley. The story tells how there were "nine score" birds with a silver chain between each couple. Each score went in its own flight with two birds out in front of each flight.
The chasing party pressed on until they reached Brug on the Boann river (Newgrange), and night overtook them there. It snowed heavily upon them, indicating that the story took place in midwinter, and Conchobor told his people to seek shelter.
It is during this fascinating story that Dechtine is visited in a dream by Lugh, one of the supreme deities of the ancient Irish, while she is inside Newgrange. After this she is conceived of Setanta, who later becomes Cuchulainn, the best-known hero of Irish mythology.
The story of the Children of Lir, a tragedy in which four children are changed into swans for 900 years, moved the Milesian invaders to enact a special law when they came to Ireland. The Milesian chiefs made it law that no-one should harm a swan in Ireland from that day forth.

View frOM the top of Bunratty Castle.

We were sceduled to meet up with our group at Bunratty Castle and Folk Park. We had some anxious moments, but finally contact was made and we were on our way.

Bunratty Castle is one of the finest surviving examples of an Irish tower house. Although it is hard to believe that the castle has had a bloody and violent history. Its strategic position on the river Shannon made it the centre of many a battle, and it has it has been destroyed and re-built on at least eight occasions.
Stone castles were first built by the Normans who guarded their territory from a structure known as a "motte and bailey" - a watch tower on a artificial hill, surrounded by a stockade. The Irish chieftains soon copied this means of defence, particularly during the 15th century when there were over 80 tower houses in the baronies of Bunratty and Tulla.
The Castle is a cross between the earlier Norman Castles and later Gaelic tower houses. It is a rectangular tower with three main floors and four, six-storey corner turrets. It has been furnished with the finest collection of Medieval furniture in the country, thus preserving a vital part of the Celtic heritage.

The Folk Park adjoins the castle and aims to show what everyday life was like in rural Ireland about 100 years ago. It contains reconstructed farmhouses, cottages and shops, and care has been taken to make them as authentic as possible, particularly with regard to furnishings.

The Park is a living museum : animals are tended, bread is baked, milk is churned, walls are whitewashed and roofs are thatched. You may visit an Irish farmhouse, watch the blacksmith fit a horseshoe, attend a weaving demonstration, and bake and eat scones at the local tea house. The village also reflects the fundamental changes that led to increased mobility.

Bunratty Castle, was built in 1425 by the Earl of Thomond. Following his tradition of hospitality, the world renowned Bunratty Medieval Banquet is held twice nightly throughout the year.
Since 1963, the Ladies of the Castle, aided and abetted by the Earl's Butler, have welcomed guests from the four corners of the globe to dine at The Earl's Banquet at Bunratty Castle. The entertainment provided by the world renowned Bunratty Singers is a fitting compliment to a mead reception, a four course meal, and of course good wine.

The same cab driver that dropped us off that afternoon also drove us to the banquet and drove us back as well. I think he was disappointed that we had done such a touristy activity.

Sheela-na-gigs are images of women made in stone, often found in churches and other ecclesiatical buildings but also in castles such as Bunratty and Kiltinan and on walls and bridges. A number of meanings have been attributed to the name, but there is no one accepted definition. According to Barbara Freitag, author of Sheela-na-gigs: Unravelling an Enigma, there are 110 in Ireland, of which 39 are found in castles.
There are some elements that all Sheela-na-gigs have in common: firstly they are naked, secondly they expose their genitalia and thirdly their head and often upper body tend to be old or skull-like. The image of the Bunratty Sheela-na-gig shown here reveals a squatting woman with a skull-like head, large deep-set eyes, clearly defined teeth and very prominent genitalia.
As to the purpose of Sheelas, there are many theories. Some believe that they are charms that ward off evil, others have believed them to be the Norse fertility goddess, Freya and yet more have thought they could be Celtic divinities of creation and destruction. A number of academics have felt that Sheela-na-gigs might be didactic in nature, warning people against lust by portraying it as an ugly woman. One historian suggested it showed a woman in childbirth, demonstrating how the female genetalia represent the way of life which is why it would have been tolerated in churches. frOM

The Goddesses certainly abound in Ireland, as the VessiKApisces shape keeps appearing in the photaes and Dalas!
The vesica piscis is a shape which is the intersection two circles of the same radius, intersecting in such a way that the center of each circle lies on the circumference of the other. The name literally means the bladder of the fish in Latin. The shape is also called mandorla ("almond" in Italian).

Christian art often depicts some aureolas in the shape of a vertically oriented vesica piscis, and the seals of ecclesiastical organizations can be enclosed within a vertically oriented vesica piscis (instead of the more usual circular enclosure).

The cover of the Chalice Well (photae by Joseph Rosado) in Glastonbury, Somerset depicts a stylized version of the vesica piscis design. frOM

The word yoni is the Sanskrit word for "divine passage", "place of birth", "womb" (more as nature as a womb and cradle of all creations) or "sacred temple"(cf. lila). The word also has a wider meaning in both profane and spiritual contexts, covering a range of meanings of "place of birth, source, origin, spring, fountain, place of rest, repository, receptacle, seat, abode, home, lair, nest, stable" (Monier-Williams). The yoni is also considered to be symbolic of Shakti or other goddesses of a similar nature.
In classical texts such as Kama Sutra, yoni refers to vagina. Even more interesting linguistic example is the Sinhalese language, which developed from old colloquial Sanskrit of North India.
(: it might also explain the popularity of the game of football :) Lookie at what i just came a cross frOM frOM the (cf. lila) reference above! Lila, or Leela is a concept within Hinduism literally meaning "pastime", "sport" or "play". It is common to both monistic and dualistic philosophical schools, but has a markedly different significance in each. Within monism, Lila is a way of describing all reality, including the cosmos, as the outcome of creative play by the divine absolute (Brahman). In the dualistic schools of Vaishnavism, Lila more simply refers to the activities of God and his devotees, as distinct from the common activities of karma.
Joseph Campbell associates Yoni with "Kali, "the dark one" who is the "blood-consuming consort" of Shiva (Campbell, Joseph, Oriental Mythology: The Masks of God, pgs.170-171).

A MESSage frOM the Green Man (click on image for larger version)

~Rick Allen

Stop Thee Cutting Now

Please to bend down for the one called the greenman
He wants to make you his bride
Please to bend down for the one called the greenman
Forever to him you're tied

And you know for a million years he has been your lover
He'll be a million more
And you know for a million years he has been your lover
Down through the skin to the core

Heed the greenman
Heed the greenman

Please to dance round for the one called the greenman
He wants to make you his child
Please to dance round for the one called the greenman
Dressed in the fruits of the wild

And you know for a million years he has been your father
He'll be a million more
And you know for a million years he has been your father
Run to his arms at the door

Lay your head, lay your head, lay your head, lay your head on the greenman
Lay your head, lay your head with mine
Lay your head, lay your head, lay your head, lay your head on the greenman
Build a bed out of oak and pine

See the greenman blow his kiss from high church wall
And unknowing church will amplify his call

The Green Man motif has many variations. Found in many cultures around the world, the Green Man is often related to natural vegetative deities springing up in different cultures throughout the ages. Primarily it is interpreted as a symbol of rebirth, or "renaissance," representing the cycle of growth each spring. Some speculate that the mythology of the Green Man developed independently in the traditions of separate ancient cultures and evolved into the wide variety of examples found throughout history.
The term "Green Man" was coined by Lady Raglan, in her article "The Green Man in Church Architecture" in The Folklore Journal. The figure is also often referred to (perhaps erroneously) as Jack in the Green.
Superficially the Green Man would appear to be pagan, perhaps a fertility figure or a nature spirit, similar to the woodwose (the wild man of the woods), and yet he frequently appears, carved in wood or stone, in churches, chapels, abbeys and cathedrals, where examples found dating from the 11th century through to the 20th century.
Mythical figures such as Cernunnos, Sylvanus, Derg Corra, Green George, Jack in the green, John Barleycorn, Robin Goodfellow, Puck, and the Green Knight all partake of the Green Man's nature; it has also been suggested that the story of Robin Hood was born of the Green Man mythology. A more modern embodiment is found in Peter Pan, who enters the civilized world from a nether land, clothed in green leaves. Even Father Christmas, who was often shown wreathed in ivy in early depictions, has been suggested as a similar woodland spirit.

In the pre-Christian period of Celtic history, Brigid was one of the most beloved goddesses. The pre-Christian Brigid was a triple goddess whose blaze represented the spiritual fires of poetry, healing, and metal-craft. Both solar and lunar, she guaranteed the fertility of fields, sheep, cows, and human mothers; and she protected all bodies of water. Her principal symbol was a perpetual fire, representing wisdom, poetry, healing, therapy, metallurgy, and the hearth.

St. Brigid (Bridget, Bride, Efraid) is the most famous woman saint of Ireland. She was revered for her charity, miracles, and lavish hospitality. Some writers theorize that she may have begun her life as the last high priestess of Brigid. The other Irish bishops customarily sat at the feet of Brigid’s successors, until the Synod of Kells ended this custom in 1152. Brigid’s double monastery at Kildare was built at a location previously sacred to her divine namesake. It had a perpetual fire which was kept burning by the nuns in St. Brigid’s memory, until it was extinguished in 1540 as part of Henry VIII’s Desolution of the Monasteries. In 1993, two Brigidine sisters returned to Kildare and relit the fire, which burns to this day at the Celtic Spirituality Center they established there.

Brigid died in 525 on February 1st – the date of Imbolic, the annual festival of the goddess Brigid.


It would seem that Ireland is not only the Emerald Isle, but the Sapphire Isle as well!

Sapphire is the modern September birthstone. Sapphire is a variety of the mineral species corundum. Sapphires occur in all colors of the rainbow with the exception of red, which is ruby. The name corundum comes from the ancient Sanskrit "kuruvindam", while the name "Sapphire" comes from the Persian word "safir", meaning "beloved of Saturn", (or Greek sapphiros). It is noted in several texts that sapphire was the lapis lazuli of the ancient world, probably because the stones both have the same intense blue coloring. frOM

Emerald is the Modern and Traditional birthstone for May. It is also listed as a birthstone for the Zodiac signs for Taurus and Cancer, as the Planetary stone for Taurus and the Talismanic stone for Gemini. Emerald is the only stone, besides Topaz, that is listed as in all of the ancient birthstone tables. The name Emerald is derived from the French "esmeraude” and the Greek root "smaragdos” which means 'green gemstone'. Emeralds were used as amulets to ward off epilepsy in children and thought to cure diseases of the eye. Folklore suggests that these stones will improve memory, intelligence, and enhance clairvoyance thus helping to predict future events. They are also worn to enhance love and contentment. Cleopatra prized emeralds above all other gems. frOM

Blodeuwedd~(blo-DOY-weth)~"...And though I laugh, and speak and move, when you look in my green glass eyes, you see your own reflected love."
('Flower Face') Welsh Virgin Goddess of spring, all made of flower-buds, her beauty disguising a personification of the blood-hungry soil waiting to be fructified with the lifeblood of the sacred king. Her totemic form was an owl, the same bird of wisdom and lunar mysteries that accompanied or represented ancient Goddesses like Athene and Lilith. Owls were almost invariably associated with witches in medieval folklore. She was also the Ninefold Goddess of the western isles of paradise, otherwise known as Morgan, the Virgin blending into the Crone of death. "Nine powers in me combined, Nine buds of plant and tree. Long and white are my fingers, as the ninth wave of the sea."(The White Goddess, Graves., p. 41-42).
>>Blodeuwedd was created out of flowers by Gwydion to wed Llew Llaw Gyffes. She betrayed Llew, either because she had no soul, being non-human, or because she resented being his chattel, or because the triplet of one woman and two men must play itself out in Welsh myth, and Llew Llaw Gyffes must die. At any rate, she fell in love with Goronwy and, wishing to be rid of Llew, she tricked out of him the clearly supernatural and ritual manner in which only he could be killed: neither by day nor night, indoors nor out of doors, riding nor walking, clothed nor naked, nor by any weapon lawfully made. She asked him to explain this, and he did: he could be killed only if it were twilight, wrapped in a fish net, with one foot on a cauldron and the other on a goat, and if the weapon had been forged during sacred hours when such work was forbidden. Blodeuwedd convinced him to demonstrate how impossible such a position was to achieve by chance, and when he was in it, her lover Goronwy leapt out and struck. Llew was transformed into an eagle and eventually restored to human form, after which he killed Goronwy. Blodeuwedd was transformed into an owl, to haunt the night in loneliness and sorrow, shunned by all other birds. >> (Encyclopedia Mystica online) frOM

Flowers seemed 2Bee floating everywhere, on the trees and on the water.

Korrigan~A Celtic (Gaul/France) goddess associated with nature and especially with water; for example springs in the vicinity of dolmens and other megaliths. In daytime she appears as an old, wrinkled crone yet at night, at the height of her powers, she seems a beautiful and young woman. Her worship involved sacred prostitution.

The next night, Janet & I spent our free time in our first Irish pub. I was a bit nervous, as it was down by the docks, even though our cab driver had assured us that it was ok. There was a small group of older guys playing and singing. They also had quite a collection of Guinness posters. My favorite was one that said 'The Storm Before the Calm', refering to the art of pouring Guinness!

The Lady of the Lake is the name of several related characters who play integral parts in the Arthurian legend. These characters' roles include giving King Arthur his sword Excalibur, taking the dying king to Avalon after the Battle of Camlann, enchanting Merlin, and raising Lancelot after the death of his father. Different writers and copyists give her name variously as Nimue, Viviane, Elaine, Niniane, Nyneve, and other variations.
The Lady of the Lake's origins are probably ancient and pagan, like Morgan le Fay's, and she and Morgan may have ultimately derived from the same tradition. The first mention of Avalon, a magical island with which the Lady and Morgan are frequently associated, is in Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae; Geoffrey says Arthur's sword Caliburn was forged there, and says Arthur was taken to the isle after his battle with Mordred to have his wounds healed.
Chrétien de Troyes mentions in his romance Lancelot, the Knight of the Cart that Lancelot had been raised by a water fay who gave him a magic-resisting ring. Lancelot's life with the Lady of the Lake is detailed in the German Lanzelet by Ulrich von Zatzikhoven and the Prose Lancelot Proper, which was later expanded into the Lancelot-Grail Cycle. There, the Lady of the Lake fosters the infant Lancelot after his father Ban has been killed fighting against his enemy Claudas. It has been suggested that these three works are derived from a lost tradition of Lancelot, which is perhaps best preserved in Ulrich's version.

Within the Lancelot-Grail Cycle is a backstory for the Lady of the Lake. Viviane learns her magic from Merlin, who becomes enamored of her. She refuses to give him her love until he has taught her all his secrets, but when he does, she uses her power to trap him either in the trunk of a tree or beneath a stone, depending on the version. Because he could see the future, he knew this would happen, but was powerless to avoid it. frOM

Rosa canina (lit. Dog Rose, often called incorrectly Rosehip) is a variable scrambling rose species native to Europe, northwest Africa and western Asia.
It is a deciduous shrub normally ranging in height from 1-5 m, though sometimes it can scramble higher into the crowns of taller trees. Its stems are covered with small, sharp, hooked spines, which aid it in climbing. The leaves are pinnate, with 5-7 leaflets. The flowers are usually pale pink, but can vary between a deep pink and white. They are 4-6 cm diameter with five petals, and mature into an oval 1.5-2 cm red-orange fruit, or hip.
The plant is high in certain antioxidants. The fruit is noted for its high vitamin C level and is used to make syrup, tea and marmalade. It has been grown or encouraged in the wild for the production of vitamin C, from its fruit (often as rose-hip syrup), especially during conditions of scarcity or during wartime. The species has also been introduced to other temperate latitudes. During World War II in the United States Rosa canina was planted in victory gardens, and can still be found growing throughout the United States, including roadsides, and in wet, sandy areas up and down coastlines.
During the Vietnam War, for soldiers fighting with the North, Rosa canina was dried and then smoked with tobacco to produce mild hallucinogenic effects and abnormal dreams.
The hips are used as a flavouring in the Slovenian soft drink Cockta.
The dog rose was the stylized rose of Medieval European heraldry, and is still used today.
The dog rose is the flower of Hampshire.
Howard (1987) states that it was used in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to treat the bite of rabid dogs, hence the name "dog rose" arose. (It is also possible that the name derives from "dag," a shortening of "dagger," in reference to the long thorns of the plant.) Other old folk names include rose briar (also spelt brier), briar rose, dogberry, herb patience, sweet briar, wild briar, witches' briar, and briar hip.In Turkish, its name is kuşburnu, which translates as "bird nose." In Swedish, its name is nypon, which doesn't really translate. In Azeri, its name is itburunu, which translates as "dog nose." frOM

Caer Ibormeith, meaning Yew Berry, is the Irish goddess of sleep and dreams; and perhaps a less violent version of Mare; daughter of Ethal Anubail, a faery king of Connacht. Caer Ibormeith is a shape shifter and transforms every Samhain eve. She often took the form of a swan who lived on a lake called Dragon's Mouth, and wore a copious chain with 150 silver balls about her slender neck. She was loved by Aongus MacOg, god of youth and young love. When Aonghus saw her, she was standing by a lake surrounded by thrice fifty maidens linked together by a silver chain.
But when Aonghus asked her father for her hand in marriage he revealed that there was nothing he could do, as his daughter was a swan-maiden, and every year as soon as summer was over, she went with her companions to a lake called Lough Bel Dragan (The Dragon‘s Mouth), and all of them became swans. The white swans seem to be the teeth of the dragon that float upon the placid waters of the lake.
Aonghus went to the shore of the lake and waited in patience until Samhain Eve, the day of the magical change, and called to her. Caer appeared along with thrice fifty swans. She promised to be his wife, if he could pick her out of a flock of 150 of her ladies in waiting. Aonghus successfully passed the test and with a word she changed him into a swan. Together they flew three times around the lake, and took off side by side for Aonghus palace in Brugh na Boinne where the magic of their singing put the whole of Ireland to sleep for three days and three nights. frOM

OMGess! I finally found this flower's ID, and was amazed to find it was St.John's Wort. Earlier today, i made my sun tea brew, and instead of my usual mix the box that said 'Good Mood' on it jumped out at me. It was St.John's Wort!!

St.Johns-wort 'Hidcote'
Hypericum 'Hidcote'
Family: Hypericaceae


Head of Dog, Tooth of Cat, Skin of a Man and Ear of an Ass.
The conversion to this spell would go something like this:
Flower of couchgrass, leaf of catnip, frond of fern and Comfrey.
Herbal knowledge is a powerful tool. It was necessary for Witches centuries ago who possessed such knowing, to disguise the names of their ingredients so, should their sacred journal fall into the wrong hands, without the corresponding Herbal Code to decipher the true meaning of the herbal ingredients, spells, potions and medicines would be useless.
Ears of a Goat - St Johns wort
Shakespeare’s words in MacBeth are dotted with herbal lore. Here are some of the ‘translations’ of what the ‘witches’ might have put in their cauldron:
Eye of Newt - any of the ‘eye’ flowers such as daisy, horehound, bachelor’s buttons, etc.
Toe of Frog - buttercup
Wool of Bat - holly leaves
Tongue of Dog - houndstongue
Lizard’s Leg - a creeping plant such as ivy
Scale of Dragon - leaf of dragonwort, tarragon
Tooth of Wolf - leaf of wolfsbane
Gall of Goat - honeysuckle or st. John’s wort
Nose of Turtle - turtle’s cap
Adder’s Fork - bistort
Tiger’s Chaundron - lady’s mantle
from: The Magical Almanac, 1993, Scott Cunningham frOM

The Irish countryside is a patchwork of over 250,000 miles of stone wall. Built from local stone according to the style of each region - dry stone in the West and the Mourne mountains or mortar elsewhere - these walls are an intrinsic part of the landscape. frOM
Dry stone is a building method by which structures are constructed from stones without any mortar to bind them together. Dry stone structures are stable because of their unique construction method, which is characterized by the presence of a load-bearing facade of carefully-selected interlocking stones. Dry-stone technology is best known as wall construction, but dry stone buildings, bridges, and other structures also exist. frOM

Craggaunowen roses shot outside the gift shop.

Co. Clare

Near Kilmurry, about 16km (10 mi) from Ennis, lies Craggaunowen, a full-scale reconstruction of a crannog in its typical lake-setting. Inside the crannog are several round-houses, while a gate-tower stands over the entrance.

Crannogs are lake or lakeside settlements which were inhabited from the Mesolithic to the Early Medieval period. The name is derived from the Irish word crann, meaning a tree. Originally the term may have been applied to the timber palisades which surrounded such sites, the timber buildings within them, or the timber foundations on which they were erected. The same name is used in Scotland, where similar sites occur.

Prehistoric times saw the erection of platforms at lake edges, or in shallow water or marshy ground. These appear to have been associated with hunting and fishing or with industrial pursuits, rather than with long-term habitation. True crannogs, that is, artificial islands containing a dwelling and surrounded by one or more palisades, were being constructed in the Early Medieval period and these may be regarded as the wetlands' equivalent of the contemporary ring forts. Crannogs may have developed partly from a habit of living on small natural islands, either as a means of exploiting the fish and wild fowl of lakes or for providing security in times of danger. Many hundreds are known in Ireland, mainly W and NW of the central plain. frOM

Having taught in the Navajo Nation, i was struck by the similarities to the hogan.
The hogan (pronounced ho-wun) is a sacred home for the Diné (Navajo) people who practice traditional religion. Every family -- even if they live most of the time in a newer home -- must have the traditional hogan for ceremonies, and to keep themselves in balance.
The Navajos used to make their houses, called hogans, of wooden poles, tree bark and mud. The doorway of each hogan opened to the east so they could get the morning sun as well as good blessings. Today, many Navajo families still live in hogans, although trailers or more modern houses are tending to replace them. The older form of hogan is round and cone-shaped. frOM

Dolmans, properly called Portal Tombs, mark burial places in a very distinctive way, with large capstones elevated at an angle and held up by huge standing stones. They were created between 3000 BC and 2000 BC and are generally held to be tombs, though they may also have had a ritual significance. The stones we see now would have originally been covered in earthen mounds, with the area below the capstone forming an entrance leading to the tomb proper. Hence the correct name of Portal Tombs.
There are more than 100 dolmans scattered throughout Ireland, in various states of repair. Quite how the people of the time manipulated the truly massive capstones into place is unknown, but the fact that so much of their work still stands some 4,500 years later is a testament to their evident skill. frOM

The landscape of Ireland (littered with so much else) is also littered with uncounted Standing-stones (also known as Menhirs*). Two thousand years ago there may have been ten times as many as there are today. Perhaps ten thousand now survive, ranging from less than one metre high to more than seven metres.
* Menhir is an antiquarian fake-Breton word for 'long stone' [compare Cloch Fháda in Irish] - the actual Breton for menhir being Peulvan or 'stone pillar'. frOM
A Standing Stone refers to single upright stone, usually located on their own. Other names for a Standing Stones are; Coirthe, Dallán, Gallán, Lia, Liagán, Monolith, Menhir, Pillarstone, Stollaire. frOM

The centre of this unusual cross seems to resemble the tomoe. Pronunciation: toh-moh-ay
Tomoe (Mitsu tomoe, futatsu tomoe, tomoe-mon, fire-wheel) This symbol is ubiquitous on Buddhist and Shinto temples all over Japan. Its name is tomoe, meaning turning or circular, referring to the motion of the earth. The tomoe is related to the yin yang symbol, and has a similar meaning, representing the play of forces in the cosmos. Visually, the tomoe is made up of interlocked flames resembling tadpoles. The most common tomoe emblem has three flames (triple, or 'mitsu' tomoe), but one, two, or four are not uncommon. A mitsu (triple) Tomoe reflects the threefold division of Shinto cosmology, and is said to represent the earth, the heavens, and humankind. frOM

St. Brendan's Boat. Brendan (who died c.583) sailed across the Atlantic to the "Promised Land" in a leather hulled boat. In 1976 Tim Severin reconstructed a boat following the 9th century manuscript describing the voyage and actually crossed the Atlantic. Severin's actual boat is on display here. (sea Severin's true story, The Brendan Voyage) frOM

Click on photae 4 larger version.

St. Brendan's Boat, made of Oxhide, Irish Oak and Ash.

The Brendan Voyage by Shaun Davey Soloist Liam O'Flynn

SHANNON REGION - Killaloe - Limerick

Killaloe is the southernmost town on Lough Derg and is steeped in history, it is the home of Brian Boru, Ireland's heroic High King (1002-1014) who routed the Vikings from Ireland. Here he was born and reared, and here stood his palace of Kincora. In mid-July each year the village of Killaloe celebrates "Feile Brian Boru" - a weekend of partying with music, song, dance, and local competitions.

The Killaloe Music Festival has become one of the highlights of the Irish classical music calendar which is hosted annually in July by the Irish Chamber Orchestra.
Taking place within the historic walls of St Flannan's Cathedral (built between 1185 and 1225), the festival is an extended weekend of wonderful music-making by the Irish Chamber Orchestra and the most celebrated international conductors and musicians. frOM

The cathedral of St. Flannan, on the west bank of the river, close to the bridge, dates from the 13th century. It is a simple building without aisles but with north and south transepts and a low bell tower where transepts, nave and chancel join to form the usual cross. The church is of sandstone in a variety of shades. Immediately inside the entrance, on the right, a rich Romanesque doorway (taken from an earlier and, it is said, finer church on the same site) frames a window on the southern side of the nave. The stone standing before the doorway (the Thorgrim stone, because that name appears twice on it) is unique for its ogham and runic inscriptions. frOM

In ancient pre Christian times, the Celtic or wheel cross was simple in design and would only have markings to measure angles on a wheel that was either fixed to a cross with a long staff and using a plumb line to intersect the degrees so as to establish a fairly accurate measurement, or it would have been a simple rotating wheel weighted at the bottom so as to have the same fixed result.

The answer to why the occult symbolism was carved on the Celtic cross is the result of an attempt to maintain the knowledge by Mason's who were hired by The Roman Catholic Church to design the Medieval Cathedrals. Those who knew its original meaning in the later Dark Ages of Europe were mostly Knight Templar and Craft Masons who kept the knowledge alive in the face of persecution by making the symbols so obscure and occult that only those who knew the deep hidden meaning of the ancient knowledge would be able to understand and keep the messages that fundamentally explain the Laws of Nature.

Although Science in general has been in conflict with the Church since the early abuse by the Church of some of Sciences early leaders and the later Renaissance, it is obvious that they are still affected by religion in that they do not wish to offend by questioning this obvious piece of ancient equipment embodied by the cross that explains ancient navigation, astronomy, time keeping and the design and construction of henge's and pyramids on a world wide basis. frOM

And look what we found right across the street frOM the cathedRAl! i even spied a priest that went into the store! (the sign above the door says ALCHEMY)

Historic Killaloe, the ancient capital of Ireland, on the shore of Lough Derg in the beautiful county of Clare. Just 40 minutes from Shannon and 2 hours from Dublin this idyllic setting is also home to Kincora Hall Hotel, where these loverly daisies were poised 4 a photae! Overlooking its own Marina and Lough Derg, Kincora Hall is not to be missed if you want to enjoy some fine hospitality with a location and scenery to match. frOM

I think they just might bee African Daisies~Arctotis stoechadifolia is a species of South African daisy known by several common names, including silver arctotis, kusgousblom, and blue-eyed African daisy. They dew have blue centers and as i find this info, the South African group Ladysmith Black Mambazo is on the telly! frOM

The Holy Island or Inis Cealtra contains approximately twenty hectares is situated on Lough Derg, the largest lake on the Shannon. It lies at the mouth of Scariff Bay, an inlet of Lough Derg which gives its name to an unpleasant breeze known to fishermen in particular as the 'Scariff Breeze'. Mountshannon is the nearest village to the island, which is placed in the midst of some of the most beautiful scenery in the whole of Ireland. The island is accessible from Mountshannon by the boats of East Clare Heritage. East Clare Heritage was formed in 1989 as a not for profit voluntary group, with the primary objective of protecting, promoting and ultimately creating access to the vast heritage of East Clare. (sea

Holy Cow Batman! :-) And is that Beware of the Bull or Beware of the Blarney? :-) Seemed like every yard, or in this case island, had cows in it, with the subsequent end results. i tried very hard and was ever so careful in trying not to step in an end result, but in the distraction of taking photaes, i ended up stepping in it. i was unaware that i had until it was pointed out to me by a RAther dismayed fellow traveler as i approached the ferry dock. Niamh, our guide, said it was good luck to step in an Irish end result!

The island has a fine round tower, but the top is missing, the ruins of several small churches and cells, as well as part of 4 high crosses and a holy well. There is a stone with a hole in it, through which lovers held hands and promised to be true. The cemetery on this island is still in use, with the coffins being transported from the Clare side in small boats. Prior to 1849 it was part of Co. Clare, but in that year it was transferred to Co.Galway. In 1899, soon after the passing of The Local Government Act, it was restored to Clare. Ecclesiastically it belongs to the Diocese of Killaloe.

The island's name probably derives from two Irish words Innis and Celtair. Innis means an island and Celtair, which is old Irish, means a church. Hence we get Church Island and it is an easy step from there to its more common name Holy Island, when one considers the reputation it acquired for sanctity. Dr. Joyce, who was an authority on Irish place-names, interpreted the name as 'The island of Celtchair'. This name as well as references later on, suggest that the first christian hermits inherited an island that was already sacred to our pagan ancestors.

The recorded history of the island dates back to the sixth century. It was then, that a monastic community was established here by St. Colum Mac Cremthainn. Colum died about 548 A.D. of the pestilence known as the 'Crom-Chonail'. He was first buried on Inis Cealtra and after seven years his body was transferred to Terryglass to fulfill his expressed wish.

St. Colum's immediate successor was his pupil Nadcaoimh, who was associated with the monastery of Terryglass. He was succeeded by Fintan who had also been a pupil of Colum. Colman Stellann came next - he was one of the clergy to whom the Pope elect John IV addressed a letter in 640, concerning a controversy that arose at the time over calculating the date of Easter. The Roman Church or the Western Church in general had arrived at a more accurate method of calculating the date than that which prevailed in the Celtic Church. It was sometime before this matter was finally settled, with the Roman and more accurate method being adopted. Colman Stellan died in 651.

St. Colman Stellan was followed as Abbot by St.Caimin, whose name is still revered in East Clare. Both the Church of Ireland and Roman Catholic buildings in nearby Mountshannon are dedicated to him, and the large number of people who bear his name in East Clare is ample testimony to that esteem.

St.Caimin's mother was known as Cumman and according to the Annals of the Four Masters A.D.662 she had numerous children i.e. 77; yes seventy seven! Many of them became famous churchmen and lay rulers. Some of St.Caimin's half brothers were Guaire Aidhne, (the hospitable), a legendary king of Connaught, St.Cuimmine Fota, (the long), Abbot and Bishop of Clonfert, and St.Colman of Kilmacduagh, who has an oratory seemingly dedicated to him at nearby Clonrush graveyard in Whitegate.

St. Caimin's and WatchTower

The 17th-century Irish Fransiscan historian Colgan states, (from a study of early life of the Saint), 'that he withdrew to Holy Island for the sake of greater solitude and there began a life of great austerity and continuous prayer, but the fame of his sanctity was soon spread abroad and his disciples became so numerous that he was compelled to organise them into a regular monastic community'.

There is not a great deal of information concerning the history of Holy Island during the two centuries following St.Caimin's death, but what references there are in the Annals indicate that the monastery continued to flourish. The archaelogical evidence in itself supports this, eg. the wealth of stone recumbent slabs dating from the 8th to the 12th centuries. frOM

The Cross of Thoth~


The Order of the Alchemists~

THOTH~God of the Moon, Magic and Writing~

St. Brigid's Church~ With the dissolution of the monasteries in the 16th century and the introduction of Protestantism, the Island suffered ravages comparable with those that it suffered six hundred years before at the hands of the Vikings. The churches were unroofed at this time and have remained so ever since.

The above information is reproduced with kind permission of Gerard Madden. For more details of the booklet that this information was taken from - 'Holy Island - Jewel of the Lough' frOM

Gerard Madden was our guide on Inis Cealtra

To go to Rome, Is little profit, endless pain. The Master that you seek in Rome, You find at home, or seek in vain. ~ Anonymous 9th century author

(Left) View from St. Mary's ~ After the disastrous battle of Kinsale in 1601, the Irish hieftains who were in revolt did go to Rome. The Flight of the Earls is still regarded as one of the pivotal episodes in Irish History. In 1608, Inis Cealtra or Holy Island was one of twelve 'Notable Shrines' in Ireland to which Pope Paul V attached a Plenary Indulgence on certain specified days of the year. This was at the request of the Earls, who had fled to Rome. The day set aside for Inis Cealtra, corresponded with St. Caimin's feast day, the 24th March.

Archway and Window ~ St. Mary's

The Island Monastery was a centre of Pilgrimage for hundreds of years before this
event and the presence of two shoes - not feet, inscribed on a 10th Century grave
marker seem to indicate the resting place of a pilgrim.

Gerard told us that the Tiernan family always plants roses wherever family members are buried.

My first Holy Well to which i made a blood sacrifice, as i pricked my finger on a rose bush in my efforts to get down to the well.

After the Pope's intervention, the Island's reputation as a centre of pilgrimage was immediately enhanced. Within two years the Lord Deputy, Chichester, recorded 15,000 pilgrims there. For the following 250 years it was one of the most popular pilgrimage sites in Ireland.

The Bargaining Stone has a hole in it through which each party would put a hand in order to seal the bargain. This included the bargain of marriage.

Since ancient times the modern parish of Mountshannon was called Inis Cealtra, church island. A modern, 'official ' story board on Inis Cealtra gives 'island of the spear' as a translation. Needless to say no reference is given for this.

A very sacred tree as it is a conjoined Elderberry and Hawthorne tree. I left some of Rick's ashes in the crotch where the 2 trees conjoin.
Sambucus (Elder or Elderberry) bear large clusters of small white or cream coloured flowers in the late spring, that are followed by clusters of small red, bluish or black (rarely yellow or white) berries. Species have lifespans between 80 and 100 years. Both flowers and berries can be made into elderberry wine, and in Hungary an elderberry brandy is produced (requiring 50 kg of fruit to produce 1 litre of brandy). The berries are also used in the St-Germain Liquor. The flowers may be used to make an herbal tea, which is believed as a remedy for colds and fever. In Europe, the flowers are made into a syrup or cordial (in Romanian: Socată), which is diluted with water before drinking. The flowers can also be used to make a mildly alcoholic, sparkling elderflower 'champagne', and can be dipped into a light batter and then fried to make elderflower fritters. The Elder Tree was supposed to ward off evil influence and give protection from witches, a popular belief held in widely-distant countries. If an elder tree was cut down, a spirit known as the Elder Mother would be released and take her revenge. The tree could only safely be cut while chanting a rhyme to the Elder Mother. frOM

Hawthorn (Crataegus) is a large genus of shrubs and trees in the family Rosaceae. Hawthorns are among the trees most recommended for water-conservation landscapes. The dried fruits of Crataegus pinnatifida (called 山楂 or shān zhā in Chinese) are used in naturopathic medicine and traditional Chinese medicine, primarily as a digestive aid. A closely related species, Crataegus cuneata (Japanese Hawthorn, called sanzashi in Japanese) is used in a similar manner. Other species (especially Crataegus laevigata) are used in Western herbal medicine, where the plant is believed to strengthen cardiovascular function. In recent years, this use has been noted and adopted by Chinese herbalists as well. Hawthorn is also used as an aid to lower blood pressure, and treat some heart related diseases.
The custom of employing the flowering branches for decorative purposes on the 1st of May is of very early origin; but since the adoption of the Gregorian calendar in 1752, the tree has rarely been in full bloom in England before the second week of that month. In the Scottish Highlands the flowers may be seen as late as the middle of June. The saying "Ne'er cast a cloot til Mey's oot" conveys a warning not to shed any cloots (clothes) before the summer has fully arrived and the may flowers (hawthorn blossoms) are in full bloom.
The hawthorn has been regarded as the emblem of hope, and its branches are stated to have been carried by the ancient Greeks in wedding processions, and to have been used by them to deck the altar of Hymenaios. The supposition that the tree was the source of Jesus's crown of thorns gave rise doubtless to the tradition current (as of 1911) among the French peasantry that it utters groans and cries on Good Friday, and probably also to the old popular superstition in Great Britain and Ireland that ill-luck attended the uprooting of hawthorns. Branches of Glastonbury Thorn, C. Oxyacantha, var. praecox, which flowers both in December and in spring, were formerly highly valued in England, on account of the legend that the tree was originally the staff of Joseph of Arimathea.
In Celtic lore, the hawthorn plant was used commonly for rune inscriptions along with Yew and Apple. It was once said to heal the broken heart.
In Serbian folklore, a stake made of hawthorn wood was used to impale the corpses of suspected vampires. frOM

Inis Cealtra is a complex early church site with a diversity of surviving monuments. There are bullaun stones from pagan times, a ring fort from the Iron age, 8th century
grave markers, 10th century High Crosses, big and small churches, a Round Tower,
principal cemeteries, satellite cemeteries, a cillin (chidren's graveyard), pilgrim paths and stations, a holy well, a kissing stone and a bargaining stone. Holy Island ~ Inis Cealtra ~ Island of the Churches ~ Pilgrimage Folklore Graveyard Inscriptions by Gerard Madden

Ever notice the similarities beetween the Irish flag and the Mexican one?
The national flag of Ireland (Irish: An Bhratach Náisiúnta), also known as the tricolour, is a vertical tricolour of green (at the hoist), white, and orange. The flag proportion is 1:2 (length twice the width). The green represents the older Gaelic tradition while the orange represents the supporters of William of Orange. The white in the centre signifies a lasting truce between the 'Orange' and the 'Green'.
William II (c. 1056 – 2 August 1100), the third son of William I of England (William the Conqueror), was King of England from 1087 until 1100, with powers also over Normandy, and influence in Scotland. He was less successful in extending control into Wales. frOM
The flag of Mexico features three color stripes. The color green as seen on the flag represents independence, the color white as seen on the flag represents religion and the color red as seen on the flag represents union. The coat of arms located in the center of the flag shows an eagle perched on a cactus with a snake in its beak. frOM
Think there might bee a connection?
Since the mythical visit of St Brendan the Navigator to Mexico in the sixth-century, through the conviction in December 2004 of three Irishmen known members of the IRA accused of training guerrillas in Colombia, the pattern of relations between Ireland and Latin America has been heterogeneous, fragmentary, and erratic. The chronicles of the Irish in Latin America often reveal epic qualities, whether from the victim's or from the hero's standpoint.
The early links between Ireland and Latin America may have been rather mythical. Some Mexican historians mention the possibility that St Brendan of Co. Kerry (c.484-580) landed on Mexican shores, and the Aztec deity Quetzalcoatl was identified as a white-skinned and bearded figure who had visited the region and promised to return.
From 1768 to 1771 an Irish Regiment played a role in the Spanish army which served in Mexico. All its companies were commanded by officers with Irish names, O'Hare, Barry, Fitzpatrick, Quinn, O'Brien, Healy, O'Leary, and Treby (Tracy).
A more celebrated military exploit involving Irish troops was that of the San Patricio Battalion made up of deserters from the US army during the Mexican-American war of 1846-48. Led by John O'Reilly, a deserter from the British army in Canada, some hundreds of Irish crossed over to the Mexican side. The bravery of San Patricio battalion is widely known among Mexicans today, and every September 12th, a ceremony in their honor takes place in the San Jacinto plaza in Mexico City.
Successful Irish settlements have been established in Mexican Texas in the period 1829-36. San Patricio and Refugio colonies in the Gulf coast of Texas owe an important part of their history to the system of land grants allocated under the Mexican colonization law, and to the Irish empresarios (entrepreneurs) John McMullen, James McGloin, James Power, and James Hewetson. They were men of vision who had perceived themselves as Mexicans through marriage, commercial contacts, and as Spanish speakers. During the Texas Revolution of 1835-36 some of the Irish colonists were loyal to the Mexican government, to whom in law they owed allegiance as Mexican citizens and to whom they were obligated for the land grants bestowed upon them. Furthermore, the Irish colonists who had settled alongside Mexican neighbors acquired from them the skills and know-how of cattle ranching. frOM

I left one of Rick's CDs with the 2 lovely ladies that ran this loverly bookstore.

King John's Castle is a castle located on King's Island in Limerick, Ireland, next to the River Shannon. The Viking sea-king, Thormodr Helgason, built the first permanent Viking stronghold on Inis Sibhtonn (King's Island) in 922. The arrival of the Anglo-Normans to the area in 1172 changed everything. Domhnall Mor O'Brien burned the city to the ground in 1174 in a bid to keep it from the hands of the new invaders. The Anglo-Normans finally captured the area in 1195, under John, Lord of Ireland. A castle, built on the orders of King John and bearing his name, was completed around 1200. The walls of the castle were severely damaged in the Siege of Limerick 1642, the first of five sieges of the city in the 17th century. In 1642, the castle was occupied by Protestants fleeing the Irish Rebellion of 1641 and was besieged by an Irish Confederate force under Garret Barry. Barry had no siege artillery so he undermined the walls of King John's Castle by digging away their foundations. Those inside surrendered just before Barry collapsed the walls. However, such was the damage done to the wall's foundations that a section of them had to be pulled down afterwards. frOM's_Castle_(Limerick)

Grange stone circle, near Lough Gur in County Limerick is the largest stone circle in Ireland. It is situated beside the Limerick-Kilmallock road. It was built at least as far back as 2000 BC. It is 46 m in internal diameter. Its purpose was most probably ritual. frOM

The Irish name for this is Lios na Grainsi and it translates to mean “Stones of the Sun”. This was built around 2000 BC by the people who brought metal and beaker pottery to Ireland. This site is older than the later phases of Stonehenge’s construction (Stonehenge was built in 3 phases between 3000 and 1600 BCE). The Grange is the largest standing stone circle in Ireland and one of the most impressive.

The Grange is the largest standing stone circle in Ireland and one of the most impressive. It is 150 feet in diameter and is enclosed by 113 standing stones. The largest stone is Ronnach Croim Duibh (the prominent Black Stone) and is over 13 feet high and weighs 40 tons. The stone circle is aligned with the rising sun at the Summer Solstice so on that morning the sun shines down directly in the center of the circle. The entrance stones are matched by a pair of equally impressive slabs on the southwest side, whose tops slope down towards each other to form a v-shape. It has been calculated that these stones and the entranceway were aligned with the sunset of the Festival of Samhain.

The Grange Stone Circle is a very interesting place and quite eerie even during the day. The locals won’t come near this place after sunset because the belief is that the place returns to the Fey and the other worldly beings. The entities tolerate visitors during the day, but at night it belongs to them and we’re to respect that.

(click on photae 4 larger version)


If you peer thru the trees, just below the red roofs on the top of the hill and just behind the barns at the bottom of the hill, you will see a very large standing stone. i might add that the circle was full of the most beautiful saphire blue dRAgonflies! (sea 4 info on the dRAgonfly)

Lough Gur, Loch Gair in Irish, is a lake in County Limerick, Ireland near the town of Bruff. The lake forms a horseshoe shape at the base of Knockadoon Hill and some rugged elevated countryside. It is one of Ireland's most important archaeological sites. Man has been present in Lough Gur since about 3000 BC and there are numerous megalithic remains here. The largest stone circle in Ireland, at Grange is located near the lake. The remains of at least three crannogs are present, and remains of stone-age houses have been unearthed (the house outlines are known as "The Spectacles"). A number of ring forts are found in the area, with one (a hill fort) sitting atop the hill that overlooks the lake.

There is a castle, or tower house — closed to visitors — near the entrance to the carpark. Named Bourchier's Castle after Sir George Bourchier, the son of the second Earl of Bath, it lies at the neck of the peninsula around which the lake washes. There is some other architecture dating from more recent times, with the ruins of an early Christian church by the road leading down to the lake. At the far end of the lake are the ruins of a Norman castle, Black Castle, which is reached by a hill-side walk along the east side of the lake and with a walled enclosure and a causeway leading up to the entrance gate: this is one of the keeps used during the Desmond Rebellions, and is probably the place where the Earl of Desmond secured his authority in 1573 after casting off his English apparel and donning Irish garments on his return to Munster from London. frOM

A Souterrain refers to an artificial cave or passage cut into clay or rock, often with stone-faced walls and roof. Other names for a Souterrain are Fougous, Wag and Weem. frOM

We were told that there was a shape~shifter at Loch Gair that changed himself in2 a RAven, and then couldn't turn back. He called upon his mum, who was a witch, for help. She returned him to his human form, but also banished him to the bottom of the Loch. After a while she relented a bit and allowed him 2 come out of the Loch every 7 years. He would ride upon a white horse with silver hooves. It was said that when the hooves of the horse wore off, then he would be allowed 2 remain in his human form.

The Goddess Ainé

Another topical goddess was Ainé, the patroness of Munster, who is still venerated by the people of that county. She was the daughter of the Danaan Owel, a foster-son of Mananan and a Druid. She is in some sort a love-goddess, continually inspiring mortals with passion. She was ravished, it was said, by Ailill Olum, King of Munster, who was slain in consequence by her magic arts, and the story is reed in far later times about another mortal lover, who was not, however, slain, a Fitzgerald, to whom she the bore the famous wizard Earl. [Gerald, the fourth Earl of Desmond. He disappeared, it is said, in 1398, and the legend goes that he still lives beneath the waters of Loch Gur, and may be seen riding round its banks on his, white steed once every seven years. He was surnamed a "Gerald the Poet" from the "witty and ingenious" verses he composed in Gaelic. Wizardry, poetry, and science were all united in one conception in the mind the ancient Irish] Many of the aristocratic families of Munster claimed descent from this union. His name still clings to the "Hill of Ainé" (Knockainey), near Loch Gur, in Munster. frOM

Built in 1480, Dysert O'Dea Castle is at the former O'Dea clan stronghold at Dysert O'Dea near Corofin, County Clare, Ireland.

O Say Can U Sea the Face(s) in the Stone?

Dysert O'Dea Castle and Archaeological Centre in Corofin is known for its wealth of historical and archaeological remains. Built in 1480 the castle is now an archaeological centre with more than twenty five archaeological and historical sites.

Notable aspects are the 15th century Dysert O'Dea Castle itself, two stone forts used during battles between local noblemen in the 16th century and the Saint Tola's High Cross, which dates from the 12th century. There is also an example of a fulacht fiadh, or ancient cooking site. An archaeological trail has been developed to highlight 25 of the field monuments within a 6km radius of the Castle, the most famous of which include a Romanesque Doorway and High Cross. frOM'Dea_Castle

The Battle of Dysert O'Dea

The O'Deas trace their ancestry to Milesius, whose descendants lead the Gaelic race to Ireland, and his wife, Scota, after which Scotland is named. For many centuries the O'Deas fought side-by-side with the O'Briens, O'Quinns, O'Connors, O'Hehir, MacNamaras and others and were loyal to the King of Thomond.

In 1318 A.D. Richard de Clare with a formidable army, decided to attack Conor O'Dea, chief of the Cineal Fearmaic, at Dysert and so cut off the strong arm of the combined Gaelic opposition.

De Clare, seeing only a small body of Conor O'Deas's men at the ford, rushed across with some English knights and was immediately surrounded by the O'Deas. He was felled by the axe of Conor O'Dea himself.

The O'Deas were joined by the O'Connors who were followed by the O'Briens, O'Hehir and MacNamaras and the English were soon defeated. After the victory, the Irish marched back to the De Clare settlement, only to find that de Clare's wife had set fire to everything including Castle Bunratty and had returned to England.

In the battle of Dysert O'Dea over eighty Englishmen of noble birth and many foot soldiers were killed. For two hundred years after the battle of Dysert O'Dea no Englishman held power or land in County Clare. frOM

Crataegus monogyna, known as Common Hawthorn, is a species of hawthorn native to Europe, northwest Africa and western Asia. Other common names include may, mayblossom, maythorn, quickthorn, whitethorn, motherdie, and haw. The younger stems bear sharp thorns. The hermaphrodite flowers are produced in late spring. Later in the year bear numerous haws. The haw is a small, oval dark red fruit about 1 cm long, berry-like, but structurally a pome containing a single seed.
In Gaelic folklore, hawthorn (in Scottish Gaelic, Sgitheach and in Irish, sceach) marks the entrance to the otherworld and is strongly associated with the fairies. Lore has it that it is very unlucky to cut the tree at any time other than when it is in bloom. During this time it is commonly cut and decorated as a May Bush.
Hawthorn trees are often found beside clootie wells; at these types of holy wells they are sometimes known as 'rag trees', for the strips of cloth which are tied to them as part of healing rituals.'When all fruit fails, welcome haws' was once a common expression in Ireland. frOM

Thistle is the common name of a group of flowering plants characterised by leaves with sharp prickles on the margins, mostly in the plant family Asteraceae.
In the language of flowers, the thistle (like the burr) is an ancient Celtic symbol of nobility of character as well as of birth, for the wounding or provocation of a thistle yields punishment. For this reason the thistle is the symbol of the Order of the Thistle, a high chivalric order of Scotland.
Another story is that a Viking attacker stepped on one at night and cried out, so alerting the defenders of a Scottish castle. Whatever the justification, the national flower of Scotland is the thistle - specifically Onopordum acanthium, the Scots thistle. It is found in many Scottish symbols and in the names of several Scottish football clubs. frOM

Saint Tola is the name of a seventh-century Irish Roman Catholic saint also referred to as "a good soldier of Christ". Tola, the reputed son of Donchad is also referred to as Thola or Tolanus. He died between 733 and 737.
Tola was the bishop of Clonard in Meath, Ireland and a crozier ascribed to him now resides in the NMI in Dublin. He sent missionaries to Europe and also helped aid the expansion of various scholarly studies.
About the year 700 he established a monastic community in northwestern Co. Clare, between the River Fergus and the Burren. Portions of his original church, a very early church, or at least portions of its foundations were incorporated into the 11th century Romanesque Church that lies in ruins near Corofin. The High Cross located here, at Dysert O'Dea (or the hermitage or desert of the O'Dea clan - who took control centuries later), is referred to as Tola's Cross, Crusha baunala or "the cross of blessing". It is from the 11th or 12th century, however, and there is no direct connect between the saint and this particular, late, high cross although one of the figures on the cross appears to be that of a bishop, perhaps St. Tola.
His feast day is celebrated March 30. frOM

Saint Tola's High Cross. A 12th century cross at Dysert O'Dea near O'Dea Castle showing Christ and a bishop carved in high relief on the east side, with geometric motifs and animal ornament on the other sides. On the west side of the base are shown the Temptation, with Adam and Eve beneath the tree of knowledge, while on the north side is some ceremony with several figures holding croziers. This is a particularly finely preserved twelfth-century example, that does not use the circle of the Celtic cross. frOM

One side of the base of St. Tola's Cross had a design a bit reminiscent of a Navajo rug design.
The two stacked diamond medallions and the other symbols in the field are typical Navajo design elements. frOM

The church consists of nave and chancel, 21.64m x 7.24m and 6.4m x 7.26m (see plan in Westropp 1900a, 416), both now roofless. The S nave wall is in line with the S chancel wall as far as a projection to W of S doorway, and appears to have been rebuilt to the N of an original line incorporating some stones with angle roll and fillet. The chancel arch is therefore not central in relation to the nave. The chancel arch is plain and of a single square order on slightly inclined jambs with chamfered impost blocks. The base of the E wall seems 12thc. (and in its original location) and retains some corner stones with angle rolls in the two lower courses on the NE corner and the third course on the SE corner. The N nave wall is extensively rebuilt, especially at the W end, and has a later Gothic window at the E end. The W wall is totally rebuilt. The chancel has three pointed E windows with plain chamfered mouldings on the exterior. The gable over the chancel arch has a belfry. The major Romanesque decoration of the church consists of the limestone S doorway (rebuilt, not in its original location) and the W window (rebuilt from fragments of a number of windows). There is a round tower near the NW corner of the church, and a 12thc. high cross in the field to the E of the church.


A High Cross is a standing cross with a circle, made of stone and often richly ornamented. They are the primary surviving monumental works of Insular art. High Crosses exist from the 7th century in Ireland, and were later seen in Scotland and the rest of Britain, especially Northumbria, and some examples are also found on Continental Europe where the style was taken by the Irish monks. Most Irish High Crosses have the distinctive shape of the ringed Celtic Cross, and generally they are often larger and more massive, and feature more figural decoration, than those elsewhere.

The ring initially served to strengthen the head and the arms of the High Cross, but it soon became a decorative feature as well.
The High Crosses were status symbols, either for a monastery or for a sponsor or patron.
The early 8th century crosses had only geometric motifs, but from the 9th and 10th century, biblical scenes were carved on the crosses. There were no crosses after the 12th century. frOM

(left) Oddly enough, a young man named Griffin had just joined our group as a guide!
(click on photae 4 larger version) BTW, i added the griffin!

Windows~Round-headed, of one order with angle roll and slightly inclined carved jambs. The windows are a later reconstruction using fragments from several different Romanesque windows.

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