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Showing posts from August, 2007

Claire & John : USA Tour March 2008

We have booked to tour the USA during March 2008,
and where we would like to visit and perform is quite ambitious. Several things will have happened by then.
It started when Claire was invited to perform at the Spiritual Director’s Conference in Washington DC, towards the end of March.
Added to that will be the USA release of my book “The Harp: A Veil Between Two Worlds” on March 5th.
By March Claire should also have three new CDs released, quite a feat.
Her passionate original songs and piano collection, title yet not decided, provides a wonderful follow up to her “Out Of The Ordinary: Songs Of Love and Parting”.
During her forthcoming tour of Australia Claire is recording Irish songs with the Tara Singers choir in Brisbane, a perfect follow up to her “Lilt Of The Banshee” collection
We are also talking about compiling another CD to accompany both my book and new Ireland tour called “Around Bhride’s Garden”. There are several wonderful songs Claire has been performing during the past four…

"Around Bhride's Garden" - A Spirit Of Ireland tour

2007 tours have plotted the inspiration for 2008 Celtic Ways tours.
Here’s what I have discovered.
Travellers love quiet sites that restore
Though inquiries include requests to known places such as Newgrange, Arran Isles, Cliffs of Moher etc., travellers do prefer the quieter soul restoring sites that we visit. Initially, there is some concern because where we visit is not featured in many guide books. Access is often along hidden narrow roads that tour buses do not dare travel and self drive tourists would soon be frustratingly lost within.
Visiting one or two sites a day is better than site-hopping
We slipped into a wonderful formula of arriving at a site, giving it an introduction, letting our travellers discover their own spaces within it, and then coming together to share something such as an activity, meditation or sharing of feelings.
A circle tour of Ireland is preferred to part of Ireland   
As much as I tried to focus on our Breifne region, visitors want to travel to much more. We …

First, The National Heritage Park

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It was wonderful to guide four extended Ireland Spirit vacations through this summer. This has inspired and encouraged how to approach next year’s tours. There is indeed quite a thirst for visitors to really experience both the spirit and traditions of Ireland without visiting the “Made For Tourists” chat, snap and move on locations.
The last tour also showed how essential it is to try and start with an introduction to Bhride, Brigid, through a visit to one of her wells and guidance by the Brigidine sisters of Kildare. This truly sets the spirit and intent of the tour. 
However, there is one excellent “Made For Tourists” site that we never made it to that I do feel is quite essential before the bulk of our tour. I hope to correct this through 2008 and beyond.
This essential stop is the Irish National Heritage Park near Wexford. 
Our tours visit several spiritual and personally moving ancient sites with fallen structures that create curious questions amongst the personal spiritual revelati…

Cozy Cafes of Ireland

Our touring groups are surprised to enjoy wonderful food in Ireland. Prepared food is usually 100% local, often fresh and unfrozen, and presented in very attractive ways.
This is not limited to evening meals in restaurants as there is a wonderful revival of quality cozy cafe’s, especially in small Irish towns.
These cafes focus on both tastes and healthy options including choices of soya, rice, goats and regular cows milk plus choices for those with allergies such as gluten free choices. Usually these cafes are owned and staffed by attractive young and attractive local Irish girls who provide wonderful service and carry a true pride and passion for their work.
They are decorated with the intimacy of a homestyle lounge with a mix of small tables and chairs plus some comfy sofas. Current daily papers and some interesting magazines are usually in abundance. Each cafe is unique with no sense of following a particular fashion or duplicating a franchise like formula.
Many of these cafes also ho…

Claire's New Journey

While I was on tour with a couple of remarkable groups, one from the USA and one from Australia Claire secretly slipped out of Ireland to the USA and has just returned with a most remarkable set of recordings.
Most of the work is nothing like you have heard from Claire Roche before and I wonder how and where she will perform this new work live.
A few years ago at a soundcheck in a Meath church Claire teasingly burst into a couple of bluesy numbers revealing the most remarkable, passionate and “down and dirty” soul blues voice I had ever heard.
I said “Claire you must record a blues album”
and this is what Claire has just returned from the USA with.
…… but its so, so different to the bluesy album I expected her to do as I was thinking of smooth jazz, crooning, Detroit and Memphis covers, and not thinking of Claire creating her own blues songs in her own style.
Awhile ago I helped Claire to sift through a huge set of reel to reel recordings and cassettes she had made during her teen years in …

Solas Bhride

My work is a passion and intent to serve visitors to Ireland with an experience of Ireland rather than a tour.
Somehow, many tours embrace recent Irish history. By recent, I mean the last 300 to 400 years, the times of Cromwell, The Famine, The Troubles etc. Is this really the “sort of thing” that will truly provide a vacation that restores our spirit and energy?    
Ireland, like most places in the world, has a heritage that goes back at least 6000 years, if we go back to the times when our hunter gather ancestors moved into a culture of settled communities and existence from farming. This change in culture called upon a change in spiritual relationships and faith in these relationships.
Somehow, Ireland is still a “place” where the spiritual relationships formed over 6000 years ago are still present in the heart of its landscape, quietly in the hearts of the people that live here, and very open to sharing with the people who visit here. Our travellers discover that the spiritual relat…

Curse of Tara may have a sting in its tail

From today’s Irish Examiner

AS the shadow of desecration looms for the sacred site of Tara, the debate over the rights and wrongs of what is happening there has focused mainly on evidence from rivals within the field of archaeology, impassioned arguments by environmentalists, political posturing on all sides and weighty scholastic allusions to the site’s historical import.

But there has been nothing yet about the occult significance of what is unfolding at Tara. In the past fortnight, more than half a dozen large nests of wasps have been encountered in the valley.

In Celtic lore, the wasp is associated with the anger of Mother Earth at man’s wrongdoing. Its unexpected appearance in a given location was believed to portend disaster or ill fortune for anyone messing around with fairy forts or fairy rings.

In African culture, the wasp embodies powers of sublimation and transmutation. It was, and still is in many parts of the continent, believed to make its appearance to “transform the prof…

Tlachtga, The Forgotten Goddess

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When our tours arrive at Tara Hill I always hope that we also include Loughcrew, better named as Slieve Bearra, and Ward Hill, better named as Hill of Tlachtga.
Slieve Bearra hosts two of the most interesting passage cairns in Ireland, Cairn L and Cairn T. I find these cairns are far more interesting than Newgrange. Cairn T is also home of the Hag’s Chair that I feel is the true “Lia Fail” stone that was brought to Carnbane East, of the Loughcrew complex, by high king Ollamh Fodhla around 900 BC.
Hill of Tlachtga has an exceptional heritage in the druid tradition with stories and presence that are worth sharing. 
Unfortunately, Slieve Bearra is usually skipped through concerns for the hill climb, but Hill of Tlachtga is skipped through lack of time as there is so much on Tara Hill that our groups become very involved with. 
Co. Meath really deserves a two day visit, and that’s before even considering the very busy Newgrange and Knowth.  
About Mug Ruith, father of Tlachtga
Tlachtga was the …