Our Equinox 2014

Its the last day of September so I had better post what happened during our Equinox Events over the weekend of 20th and 21st September.

Not all of these pics in this post are mine, like the beautiful one above, so I will look up who they are linked to shortly and let you know.

Claire Roche and I performed together at Spirit Of Folk at Noon on the Saturday then in the smoking area, of all places, in the Fincourt Hotel that evening. Claire had to be home that evening so on the Sunday I guided a Poetree Walk at 10 am in Loughcrew Gardens and at 2 pm at Mullaghdreen Forest about 5 km away from Loughcrew.

Ok, here is how it all went

Spirit Of Folk, I arrived about 11:40 am and was to perform at Noon, ouch !!!

Claire was going to be late due to some personal affairs she had to attend to. Arrived through the 'trades peoples' entrance but security folks were not helpful or informative so I gatecrashed everything and everyone to be able to get to performance on time.

Being a Noon start, we had been moved from 5 pm, I expected hardly anyone to be there, but at 11:50 the Cairn venue was packed !!!

Here's what it looks like inside ...

I started on a random story as I fumbled in the dark for my props, then dead on Noon I went into a new work, the opening of Tales From The Tree Labyrinth, the third of my trilogy. This is 'Another Creation Story'.

I was about 10 minutes into this, as it is about 15 mins, then Claire arrived and went straight into the harp voice bits at the end, and it sounded great.

Our set list for this was

Another Creation Story
Gabhain Molta Bhride
When You Become A Tree
Quirt The Apple, almost full version
Coll The Hazel
Ruis The Elder
Sleeping Awake

Unfortunately, we were not allowed to set up a CD and merchandise selling table, and were not given a reason. Disappointing as we needed a way to cover our expenses. Last time here there was a lovely merch table for all of the storytellers and poets.

After our performance there was plenty of time to explore the Spirit Of Folk Festival.

We met up with some folks who were here from the USA and had specially came to see us, as had a bunch of people in the audience. I think we helped Spirit Of Folk get some people in. Anyway, here's who turned up for us :-)

Embarrassingly, as I write this I forget their names.

Claire and I shared lunch with them. Spirit Of Folk vendors are generally very good with very fair pricing. I personally enjoy the falafel wraps there, some vendor as last time. They are huge and tasty.

Claire had to return to Dublin then so I hung out with our friends there for awhile. They reminded me that last time they were here they were on a tour with bard, Marc Gunn, and I was the tour guide.

They also told me the highlight of the tour for them was a visit to the Augha Kille Maude mummers in Fermanagh. Just as they were telling me this, who would appear but ...

Jim Ledwith !!! The Captain of the Aughe Kille Maude Mummer's troupe, just arriving at Spirit Of Folk.

One of those 'how did that happen' co-incidences :-)

That was a terrific meeting.

After then we all split up to do our own thing, when I solved a mystery that had bugged me. When I had opened the car to put some stuff away I got a waft of rotten smoke mackerel, and was quite embarrased as I had cleaned the car out thoroughly a few days before.

It was not mackerel but a waft of this going on ....

This is a traditional way of extracting copper going on there. What a smell !!!

This blog would go on and on if I posted all I did and looked at there, and listened to, but here are a few of the huge sculptures

and this one of the Salmon Of Knowledge that was to be set on fire at midnight

Met up with several friends, many of them doing things at the Spirit Of Folk Festival, but pics would go on for ages, but I must feature some people in a very rare pose of not doing anything other than chilling out and taking time out to really enjoy themselves. Deirdre Wadding and Roachey Man :-)

I did not mention what a beautiful warm sunny afternoon it was on the Saturday of the Spirit Of Folk Festival. This festival has so far always chosen fantastic weather days.

Before I left for Oldcastle, with some regret, I had to visit the Falconry area and of all the birds watched the Peregrine Falcon the most.

Not sure why, but we do have a regular Peregrine Falcon visitor here at Carrowcrory who seems to help keep vermin down and away. When the falcon arrives the rest of the twittering bird population goes very silent.

I would love to show more of Spirit Of Folk, while I was there, but I must move on to our evening in Oldcastle at the Fincourt Hotel

Claire and I were a bit nervous of this one because the gig had been moved from the Old Cinema to the Hotel Bar. What we do, especially Claire Roche's work, just does not work in bars or at festivals.

There we were doing one of each in one day !!!

The Cairn at Spirit Of Folk festival did work very well, though.

This time, when we arrived a hen party was about to get into full swing !!!

The hotel staff were not going to butt in as they were to make a lot more money from a hen party presence than our wee stories, songs and poetry session.

Excellent poet Kyrie Murray was on before us and started up,

but the noise drowned him. I looked at their smoking area, a lovely area, perfect for what we do, and quiet too, but it was getting cold and I did not think it would suit the audience.

Claire arrived, also looked at the smoking area, and insisted we used it or no show!
So, we all moved into the area, and all of the bodies present soon warmed it up.

When Claire and I got going ...

Extra people arrived, it got quite busy, and the audience were amazingly responsive. Some of them had also come over from the USA both for the Loughcrew Festival and some to see us as I had introduced this event to them through our channels.

Claire Roche was in top form, sang and performed very well

Here am I muddling with my props for Quirt The Apple as we perform it

Despite our concerns at the start this ended up being one of the best, and very responsive, audiences we had ever performed to.

Our drawback was again not have somewhere for our merch and stuff. Would we have anough change in the pocket to pay the petrol home? - we started thinking. Performing is a begging career really :-)

Our set list at Fincourt was ...

Sitting In A Green Field
Luis The Rowan
Coll The Hazel
Gabhain Molta Bhride
Quirt The Apple, short version
Star Of The County Down
Ioho The Yew, shortened version

After what was a wonderful day, really, it was a dash off to the provided B&B, which turned out to be an incredible treat. I di not take pics, which is strange for me, but it was Hounslow House near Fore.

Grainne, who runs this, is one of the best B&B host I have ever met. The rooms, food, garden, service and kindness were all very 5 star.

Unfortunately, Claire had to be back in Dublin so she misssed this.


As soon I was asleep it seemed like Treasa, the leader of a lot of the events around here, was waking me up to get to Loughcrew Cairn T on Slieve na Cailleach Beara.

Yes, that's it, with the folks flying the Donegal GAA flags on top.

Mobile phone calls - the parking spaces are full, parking spaces blocked !!! Just after 5:20 am !!!

We we told of a 'secret' road route and 'secret' parking place. They were good and we were up there waiting for the sun by 6:00 am :-)

and we were not the only ones ...

On the way there Treasa said 'oh, you're West'

There's a story with that, but I've got to get this blog done, so another time :-)

So here I am, The West, soon to call on the water spirits ...

and the people gathered around ...

and the sun rose, through these pics ...

It should have hit the Cairn T rear stone like this

Here's a graphic of the markings ...

but that band of cloud at the start delayed it a bit, but I heard all of these people got a peek

We posed for the press and got into the papers ...

Time to go down the hill, have breakfast and be ready for Poetree Walk at 10 am.

Who on earth come out for a Poetree Walk at 10 am in a September Equinox Morning after getting up at 4 am to get to a sunrise?

Well, here's some of them ...

26 people turned up, and they paid to do this too, for extra festival funds for next year. It set me off on ideas for Bards In The Woods which does need a funding too.

Where we were was Loughcre House Gardens on a beautiful warm sunny Sunday morning.
Loughcrew Gardens, mainly a garden of lines of ancient Yews

Sculptures ...

Hidey holes for creatures ...

Alice In Wonderland features

places where Bards can recite by water features ....

Well, this pic shows the water more,

including the gazebo where Treasa Kerrigan took many of us through a guided meditation themed on Trees

After an hour or so of that, people really did want to get back to somewhere for a nap, so it was farewell.

However, it was really only little time for me to get set up for the second Poetree Walk of the day at Maghereen Forest, probably spelled this wrong but I have to get this blog posted right now. Will check later.

2 pm there, a forest I have not been too, only about 5 km from Loughcrew House, but with the small roads to get to it, wrong turnings are likely. Well I made some. Signposting is thin.

I will write a separate blog about this forest on Bards In The Woods

Most people seem to come here for the mountain biking, whole families with mountain bikes, but very few walkers. The trackway here is wide and well gravelled and stretches for many km.

I had nobody here for Bards In The Woods, so went off to explore myself.

Main interest was the Native Woodland area

Extremely disspointing, and I will explain why in a Bards In The Woods blog on this forest. Great place for blackberry picking, but not for native trees.

I ended up walking about 7km of the trails here.

Many of them are straight like this ...

I climbed up to the Cairn remains above the forest.

Great views and hot sun at the time. Recommended as a good picnic spot, and so it is :-)

I will talk more in a later blog, but I will close this now.

This forest will probably not enter Bards In The Woods in future, but it is an important forest for the local people as this is really all they have. Forests are scarce in this area.

I have heard since that this Beech forest plantation was the first Public Forest crop grown after Ireland became Independent, became a Republic, and before they switched to Spruce plantations.

But to think of the Equinox Weekend I and we enjoyed. It was really very complete

... and my petrol was just enough to get me home too.

Really, I loved it all, especially how cacooned challenges broke open into special butterfly moments.


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