Poem | Missing the Point

Original image Philipp Reichmuth (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

They are dragged up the hill like beads on a rosary, their guide droning, words buzzing in one ear, dripping from the other like honey, to make room for the three other sites they will visit today.

They want to look through glass, sit in comfort, with information shouted through a mike, like on the bus in Dublin.

Instead, they trudge with shiny shoes over springy grass, bespeckled with sheep droppings, to gaze at bumps on a hill.

They want interpretive centres, toilets, cafés and shops. They want a monument reconstructed, like Newgrange, something physical created for them which their own minds cannot build.

Stop; let the breeze which has blown over this grassy knoll for a thousand years lift your hair and whisper in your ear. Listen; it is rich with the voices of people past. They are glad you are here. Look; they lived lives great and humble here, your very feet tread where did theirs.

Open your heart; feel their joy, their sorrow, their courage. Open your mind; fear not and let them in, for they are fierce and true, and their land we borrow is more than old stones and leprechauns.

Happy Paddy’s Day!

Here is a modern Irish anthem for the day that’s in it! I couldn’t find you a pretty video of these handsome boys, so the lyrics will have to do… enjoy!

Personally, I will be avoiding pubs, parades, Guinness, Leprachauns and all other Irish stereotypes tomorrow, but enjoy your festivities, whatever they might be!

St. Patrick's Day Greeting Card

May the luck o’ the Irish be with yez!


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A Samhain Story | Fionn mac Cumhall and the Sidhe-Prince of Flame


Fakir


“Tomorrow is the eve of Samhain,” whispered the Filidh, the High King’s Royal Bard. The crowd stilled, straining to hear through the smoky atmosphere of the King’s hall.

It was the night before Halloween. As always, the High King had invited all his favourite nobles to celebrate the festival at Tara. They crowded his hall, feasting at his table. The air was thick with smoke from the hearth fires, the scent of candles, the aroma of roasting meat, chatter, music and song. Now, when bellies were full and hunger sated, folk sat back and turned to their cups. It was time for the storyteller to weave his magic.

When he was sure he had their full attention, the Filidh continued, his voice rising, throbbing with the emotion and power of the words he brought to life before his audience. He stared round at them all, as if daring someone to disagree, his eyes boring into the soul of every one of them, or so it seemed.

 “Samhain is the night when all good people stay indoors, for on this night, the Sidhe will rise up and cause their mischief, as it has always been since the days they were banished by the race of mankind to their lands beneath the hills.  Continue reading

Imbas Forosnai | Poetic Inspiration of the Irish Filidh

Atlantic Salmon HeadSomething which intrigued me during my research for my latest book, Conor Kelly and The Fenian King, was Fionn mac Cumhall’s ability to call forth his magical powers and divine the future by sucking or biting on his thumb.

The story goes that, as a boy, whilst serving an apprenticeship with the Druid Finegas, he catches the Salmon of Knowledge and cooks it for his master. As he turns the fish in the pan, he scalds his thumb. Instinctively, he places his thumb in his mouth to cool the burn, thus ingesting the tiny scrap of fish skin stuck there, and acquiring the salmon’s knowledge. Afterwards, he has only to touch his thumb to his mouth to foretell the future, and seek the answers to his questions.  Continue reading

Tara | Ancient Seat of the High Kings of Ireland

Hill of Tara

This is an aerial view of the Hill of Tara, also known as Teamhair na Ri in Irish. It is located on the River Boyne near Navan in County Meath.

Along with Newgrange, Tara is probably one of the most famous and most visited ancient sites in Ireland, and for good reason; it is believed to have once been a sacred site associated with ancient kingship rituals. Now, there is not much left to see but for the raised mounds, banks and ditches which stretch over this vast and historic site.

The summit is crowned with the Fort of Kings, or Royal Enclosure (Rath na Rí in Irish). It measures 318m by 264m, and is surrounded by a ditch and bank. The most prominent earthworks on the site are the two linked enclosures within it known as Cormac’s House (Teach Chormaic), and the Forradh, or Royal Seat. You can just make out the standing stone, the Lia Fail, in the centre of the Forradh (the left hand enclosure).  Continue reading

Geis | The Curse in Irish Mythology

The geis (pronounced gesh or gaysh) is Irish for ‘curse’, or ‘taboo’, yet in some circumstances, they might also be seen in a positive light, as a ‘gift’. Irish mythology is awash with geisa, almost every hero being afflicted by at least oneif not more. At first glance, they seem little more than a sprinkling of magical spice to add a little extra drama to a story; if the hero violates his geis, he suffers dishonour and maybe even death.

However, a closer look yields a slightly different concept behind the use of the geis in Irish myth and legend.  Continue reading

Ancient Places | A Poem

What cities lie buried beneath each hill?

Monuments born of ancient times,

Forgotten and lost but standing still,

Neglected, disconnected, these are our crimes.

*

What histories are etched into ancient stones?

Tales decayed with the fall of walls,

The sag of dynasty, the crumble of bones,

The march of ghosts through tumbled halls.

*

If we could learn to unlock the past

What shrouds would unfurl from our eyes?

Would realisation be ours at last?

Understanding the what, when, who and why’s.

*

The power was strong, up on Shee Mor,

I felt at great peace, content.

At Moytura, where warriors fought their war

no harm for me was meant.

*

At Uisneach, by the lough where Lugh was drowned

I grieved for Eire’s loss, watched Beltaine fires leap.

Then to Tara, where High Kings were crowned,

the Sacred Stone sadly lost in eternal slumber deep.

*

These places, their magic floods my soul,

washes me clean of the now.

Their stories surge through me, re-make me whole,

ancient voices tell of the how.

*

Ancestors sing and call me home.

I would go if I knew the way.

Under my feet, beneath the loam

stirs blood, beats heart of a by-gone day.