I have always lived near water. In Co Cavan, where I now live, it is said there is a lake for every day of the year…that’s a lot of water! If Wicklow is the Garden of Ireland, then Cavan must surely be Ireland’s Lake District.
I come from a much more well known lake District; Cumbria, in England. There, the lakes thread their way like silver ribbons along the narrow valley floors between cloud-skimming, rocky mountain peaks. Here, the landscape is gentler, the lakes varying in size and shape, reflecting softer, round-shouldered hills to the sky, along with an abundance of trees, and an unfaltering vista of vibrant green.
In ancient Ireland, people believed these lakes were the gateway to the Other World, perhaps because they saw a world reflected therein which looked much like their own, yet vanished with the merest touch of the surface.
They also believed in the healing power of these waters. Just as in later times, the Romans established towns, such as Bath, where they believed the water was beneficial to their health. Perhaps the most famous of all healing water is to be found at Lourdes. But whether the healing comes from the chemical properties of the water, or divine intervention, is open to interpretation.
The ancient Irish had their own way of doing things. At times of conflict, for example, their armies’ physicians would select a suitable lake, establishing it as a Well of Healing by casting into it a mixture of medicinal herbs, and weaving incantations and magic between the waters’ molecules. Battle weary warriors would then bathe in the water.
Cavan lakes are cold…very cold! That water would have chilled them to the bone, stealing all sensation, washing away the blood and dust and sweat of battle, the ebb and flow supporting their tired, aching limbs, numbing the pain of their hurts. They would emerge enlivened, re-energised, refreshed. Healed.
These legends live on, and there are still lakes in Ireland with memories of their healing power attached to them, today. I, personally, have been healed by my nearest lake, Lough Ramor, on many occasions, but in a more subtle way. A walk along the shores of Lough Ramor never fails to ease my mind in times of stress, find a solution to a problem, or even dissolve a writer’s block.
We are the lucky ones, that water is so freely available and abundant to us, we can attribute more uses to it than merely drinking it.
Imagine living in such a dry, dusty country, that you can’t grow food because you have no water; you can’t sustain livestock, because you can’t grow the food to nourish them, because you don’t have water. The only water you do have, is dirty and brown, but you save it as if it was precious, giving it to your children who are most precious of all, knowing that if you don’t give it they will die, yet if you do give it, you risk passing on disease.
Wateraid works with such people around the world to provide access to clean, healthy water. Water which is safe to drink. Water which enables them to grow food and keep livestock. This simple provision of water enables these people to have a decent quality of life, and to live healthily and independently. That’s all they want. It’s not much to ask. So lets help.
Of Words and Water are a group of independent authors who have donated their writing to an anthology of the same name, with the aim of raising money to support Wateraid’s vital work. You can download a copy on Smashwords (available July 1st); it’s free! All we ask is that you visit our Just Giving page here, and make a donation to Wateraid in return.
Thanks, and hope you enjoy the stories!