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Showing posts from April, 2007

When Druids Ruled

On tour and by email people ask me questions about the role of ancient High Kings and Druids, especially regarding the creation and enforcement of law as well as teaching of religion and faith.
Today, we are used to the laws and lifestyle of land ownership. If we want to live somewhere we either have to “buy” a house and some land or pay a fee as rent to use a person’s house and/or land. We also know that, at least, native Americans were and are still disconnected to the idea that land can be “owned”.
Before the Normans came to Ireland the land was administered by what are called Brehon Laws that were enforced with a respect for the goddesses who “owned” and cared for the lands. Us mortals were regarded as mere stewards. To be more correct, the men usually being the stewards while the women lived to care, nurture and nourish in the mortal image of the goddesses.
The head of a family was the man, the farmer, hunter and gatherer and then amongst the men in a village would be one man with w…

Green Solstice At Avebury?

I have just read that the Kennet District Council, who manage the village of Avebury and its stone circle, have served an enforcement notice on the National Trust of England to not allow its Avebury visitor car park as an overnight site for campervans, motorhomes or caravans, especially during the nights of the Summer Solstice.
The National Trust does support the use of the circle for ceremonies but Avebury is in an area of very conservative tolerance that calls upon local elected administrations to protect them from inconveniences. It is unfortunate that a minority of past campers have not left the site as tidy as they found it along with disrespectful language towards local people rather than offer courteous exchange.  

Part of the enforcement is to be the installation of a height barrier that will prevent all high-sided vehicles from entering the car park. Unfortunately, such a barrier would also prevent the daytime visits of minibus tours, at any time of the year, as there is just n…

Stone Circles of Boggeragh

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The Boggereragh Mountains are a beautiful part of Co. Cork that few visitors visit.
They are north west of Cork city and south of an east to west line between Macroom and Millstreet. Within these mountains is one of the largest collection of megalithic stone circles in Ireland, along with hundreds of standing stones. ogham stones, portal cairns and wedge cairns.
Today, April 26th, was a perfect sunny day, warm and very clear. Views from every site we visited were stunning. The ambience all around here on a sunny day is heaven.
Our day commenced with an unscheduled stop at Gowlane, (OS map 80 W 485 855) 
This circle is quite hard to find and most of its stones are scattered but the entrance orthostats and alignment stone are very much in position. I forgot to bring my compass but this appears to be an equinox sunset circle.
Last time I was here it was overgrown, very boggy and surrounded by a bull with cows. This visit was very comfortable without any of these distractions


Another unschedule…

While in Co. Kerry

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Tour guide books and brochures will introduce you to Kerry through the Killarney National Park, Moll’s Gap and Conor Pass on Dingle.
Two lesser promoted gems are
Bearra Peninsula, that I have dedicated a few recent blogs to due to its incredible beauty and abundance of stone circles and other ancient sites in very ambient surroundings.
and the other gem is the Prehistoric Museum near Ventry.
This vast archaeological collection exhibits over 500 authentic artifacts from the Stone, Bronze, and Celtic Iron Ages as well as Viking, Saxon and Roman objects.

Also features world's largest fossil Woolly Mammoth skull and tusks, a fossil dinosaur egg nest, and a complete fossil baby dinosaur skeleton.

The museum shop offers antiques, fossils, handmade jewelry, crafts and gifts.

Some of our “Veil Between Two Worlds” tours extend to visit Dingle and this museum.
Out tour will also visit there plus an evening concert by bard Robin Williamson at St. James Church, Dingle on Saturday May 19th.   For mo…

Origins Of Bréifne

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People ask me “what or where is Breifne?”
A previous blog posting I wrote asked more questions so it is a pleasure to add to this.
Through history there seems to have been 4 boundaries of the region we now call Briefne. As our tours focus on ancient traditions we follow a very old Briefne boundary, so please read on ……..
Where did the Briefne name came from ?
The name was brought into a north west region of Ireland by an O’Brien tribe or tribes referred to as the “Uí Briúin Bréifne” that sort of translates as “The O’Briens of the Mountains”.
It is said they were led by a Celtic Christian Abbot called Fechin from the mountains to the west of what is now Lough Mask in the Joyce Country that crosses the counties of Donegal and Mayo. This small exodus was around 500 AD. There is a remote ancient Holy Well below the Benbeg mountain south west of Lough Mask that is still named after St. Fechin.
Before the O’Briens there were the Erdinis
Some of this mountain O’Brien tribe settled into monastic li…

Angels & Energies! Do they make sense?

Our “Veil Between Two Worlds” tours attract a wonderful mix of people though many are women who have lived on this earth for over 35 years, usually with wonderful husbands they are still deeply in love with, have raised their families and are now enjoying the freedom to explore again and develop new interests and skills. More important, they have time for themselves again.
Many of our travellers have interests that connect them to what comes under a loose name of “new age”, though its seemingly not so “new” these days so that is a term less used each year.
However, two words from the “new age” culture do seem to be gaining strength and have cause me to think deeply about them during the last few days. These words are “angels” and “energies”.
When we travel and lead groups we try to remain as open and un-biased as we can to allow the freedom of every traveller’s beliefs, faiths and calls to ritual, prayer and meditation to flow and be given space to.
I do not facilitate, lead, co-ordinate …

Little Waves of Breffny

Today, I was sent an email with this poem by Eva Gore-Booth and asked if and how it related to our Breifne Region. Eva Gore Booth was sister of Constance Markievicz, daughters of Robert Gore-Booth of Lissadell House. Lissadell House is perhaps more famous for its occasional visitor, W.B. Yeats.  Yeats encouraged Eva to forward her literary abilities to compete and succeed in the male dominated literary world of Ireland.
The Little Waves of Breffny

The grand road from the mountain goes shining to the sea,
And there is traffic in it and many a horse and cart,
But the little roads of Cloonagh are dearer far to me,
And the little roads of Cloonagh go rambling through my heart.

A great storm from the ocean goes shouting o'er the hill,
And there is glory in it and terror on the wind,
But the haunted air of twilight is very strange and still,
And the little winds of twilight are dearer to my mind.

The great waves of the Atlantic sweep storming on their way,
Shining green and silver with the hidden …

Incarnations of the Beara Breifne Way

I connect a lot of our Bréifne tours to tours around the Bearra Peninsula on the Cork and Kerry border and the variations on spelling there go all over the place, Berra, Beara, Bhearra, and so it goes on.
What also fascinates me in Ireland is how certain stories seem to incarnate themselves over time, and sometimes in reverse.
As part of my Brighid goddess tours we visit Loughcrew, which is better named Slieve na Cailleach Bhéarra, hills of the "goddess" Beara. The word "cailleach" pronounced in Scotland as "kyack" like any ancient Gaelic word has all kinds of interpretations which sadly include hag and witch. In Scotland the word is still used for "wife" in the same spirit that men ask other men today " 'ow's the missus".
In ancient times it is said that High Kings were chosen by goddesses and the high king of all of the land was chosen by the incarnation of Brighid of the time. A ceremony to crown a High King was not a coronatio…

Is there a "Bréifne" Region of Ireland?

Here’s another dialogue I have just had on the “My Writer’s Circle” social site.
Allie:
I'm Irish. I have to say, though, that I wasn't aware that there was a particular area in Ireland called the Briefne area. Just shows you, you learn something new every day.

I just said to my husband, 'Here's a quiz question, where is the Breifne area in Ireland?' He immediately said, in the north around Leitrim, Cavan and surrounding counties.' Well, he used to be a history teacher, so I suppose he would know. However, I must have been day-dreaming or looking out the window when we were being taught about it, because he says there used to be a map in our primary school history books with all the ancient areas laid out. Now he's asking me what the others were, because it's niggling at him, so I said I'd ask you.
My Reply:
I am ignorant about most of Bréifne history as it is surrounded by concepts of ownership, disputes, battles and treaties. These are areas of ancien…

Are There Fairies In Ireland?

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Today I would like to share a dialogue I have just had on the “My Writer’s Circle” social site.
Charlie:
We are in thinking of going to Ireland at some point this year. My grandad is from Northern Ireland. When I told him the story i'm working on was about fearys, he said I have got to go to Ireland to learn about the hidden folk.
My reply:
Well, Charlie our Bréifne region is well and truly for you. Four of Ireland's Seven Fairy Hills are here, Sidhe Beg and Sidhe Mor are perhaps the most popular but I love Knockninny in Co. Fermanagh best of all.

The main popular legend, as you may know, is that the warriors of the Sons Of Mil, the Milesians (the Kelts, the Celts) drove the Tuatha De Dannan into the otherworld where they lived as the Sidhe, the "fairy folk". After some time of starvation the Celts formed a treaty with these "fairy folk" and since then to upset them would ruin the farming and bring famine. Most of this legend is centred around our Bréifne region…

Gairdin Bhride

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I read about a wedding held in in the Garden of Bhride in Co. Galway. How could there be a better setting for a bride than in Bhride’s, Brigit’s Garden.
Claire and I were sharing a few days in counties Mayo and Galway so we completed these travels with a visit to these wonderful gardens. 
Brigit's Garden, opened to the public in 2004 at Roscahill, between Moycullen and Oughterard
It’s a couple of miles from the main A59 Galway to Clifden road, about 20 mins drive from Galway. There’s a big sign pointing to the road that will lead you to Brigit’s Garden.
The garden was the dream of Jenny Beale and supported by her partner Colin Brown. For years Jenny had the idea of a Celtic garden in her mind and finally bought a four-acre field at Killanin, Rosscahill in Co. Galway.
Jenny commissioned the design of her dream garden to Mary Reynolds, a gold medal winner at the Chelsea Flower Show in 2002.
Brighid was definitely guiding her because soon after moving onto four acres three parcels of la…

And Another Sacred Well

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Well after posting the last blog I had to dash out and try for some more. I am staying at Cong, Co. Mayo over Easter so I thought while the sun is out, visit some more wells.
I have wanted to check out sites around Lough Mask on the Mayo and Galway border for some time. In the summer the landscape is very overgrown, the Lough has a foul odour in summer for some reason, which Lough Corrib next to it does not, and it is swarming with flies and biting insects.
Right now in Spring it is perfect and I had a chance to see how beautiful Lough Mask really is. It seems to have a bit of a Mississippi Delta feel to it with the trees growing directly out of the Lough water, very surreal.
I was intrigued by two Holy Wells shown side by side on a map at a place called Fox Hill. Again I was driving on unsurfaced climbing roads. Fox Hill is a beautiful place but I never found the wells. I did find the remains of two cairns side by side though. I wonder if the map made a mistake.
As the sun was setting f…

A Visit To Some Sacred Wells

Visits to Holy Wells is a beautiful experience, but can also be frustrating as I find I always leave them with more questions than answers. These questions are not of faith but of practical matters such as
“What made this Holy?”
“Why have they got that ugly concrete cover?”
“What’s this junk doing here?”
“Is this exclusively Catholic built by Catholics for Catholics or older?”
and the questioning goes on and on ….
My mission on this day before Good Friday was to check out just one Holy Well, St. Patrick’s Well below St. Patrick’s Hill, Ardras, near Celbridge, a pretty medieval town north west of Dublin. We have a group of Australian folk arriving in August and this well is just a mile from the hotel of their first night’s stay. I thought an arrival meditation there would be a wonderful idea.
Claire and I had performed our “Finding Brighid” show the night before near Howth, a lovely peninsula north west of Dublin. You fly over it before landing at Dublin Airport. The following day Claire ha…

Visiting Ireland's Holy Wells

On our tours I takes people to passage cairns, dolmens and stone circles, mostly off of the beaten track where no other tour buses go or can go. There we share the local stories, legends and ancient shaman sciences before the visitors are left alone at a site for their time of personal meditations and take photographs or write notes, even poems, for later memories.
My favourite sites of all are the sacred wells, but of all sites they are facing near extinction.
There are well over 2000 sacred wells in Ireland. There were 1000s more, but they have been filled in with modern farming and building development. Many of the existing wells are either under immediate threat of property development or farming and property development has terminated the flow of water to them so they dry up and merge with the existing landscape, never to be known that there was once a sacred well there.
A few hundred sacred wells have had some care and attention during the past 100 years, but their caretakers have …