Saturday, 31 January 2015

Brighid's Crosses for Imbolc

Wrapped up warmly and wearing wellies I ventured into the Lough Field today to cut the reeds to
make Brighid's Crosses for our home and for friends.

As I mentioned in a previous post, the Lough Field was once a lake containing a tiny island on
which grew a fairy thorn. When the course of the River Barrow was changed the lake dried up
but local belief held that the thorn and the field was still the gathering place of the Sídhe.

Several stories about the field and the lough were told to me by an elderly man who had lived
here all his life and although Jim considered himself to be good Catholic, attending mass every
week and saying the rosary regularly, he confessed that he had a strong belief in the 'good folk'
and the Old Ones who are still about.
At one time, before electricity came to this part of the island and people still rambled to each
others' homes of an evening to tell stories, it was understood that the fairies lived in the Lough
itself, so today I made sure to ask their permission before I began to cut.

This year I was alone but in previous years several of my women friends have gathered
by the fire here to make crosses, drink tea and eat home made scones.

Pic © Séan Gilmartin

We make several different forms of crosses each once special to Brighid in different counties.
The well known four-armed cross,

Pic © Séan Gilmartin

My own favourite the three-armed cross,

Pic © Séan Gilmartin

And the more complicated woven cross which needs two pairs of hands.

Pic © Séan Gilmartin
Once completed the cross is hung above the hearth or the front door as protection against
famine, fire and disease.

Tonight the goddess is believed to walk the land of Ireland. 
So I wish you all the blessings of Brighid on your hearths and on your homes.

For more information on Brighid and Kildare please visit HERE

Saturday, 24 January 2015

The Ever-Living Ones stolen from the Irish landscape.

Image © Neil Meroney
The sad news of the theft of one of the most powerful depictions of the sea god Manannán Mac Lír
was reported this week.
There has been much speculation in the media about whether the thieves who stole the sculpture
of the pagan god were of the Christian belief because of a wooden cross and copy of the first commandment left
in its' place.
I don't know the religion (if any) of those involved but I do know that a beautiful, much loved work
of art, which embodied Ireland's rich mythology and folklore, has now gone and that many in
the local community feels its' loss.
© JD Sutton
'Manannán Commands The Sea' was created by the artist John Darren Sutton and the figure stood
on Binevenagh Mountain, Co. Derry overlooking Lough Foyle.
I had not visited the statue and now will not have the opportunity to do so and neither will you.

If you are on Facebook you may want to visit and 'like' the page -
Bring Back Manannan Mac Lir the Sea God where you will find many peoples' photographs and memories of their visits to view him.

To read about the folklore of Manannán in my previous post, please click HERE

Unfortunately Manannán Mac Lír is not the only statue of an Irish deity to be stolen from the landscape.

Image: Google Maps
In 2011 a depiction of the goddess Danú by Sandra Bell was taken from the roadside near
Rathmore, Co. Kerry.
She was placed here because of the proximity to the sacred mountains, The Paps of Anu, seen in the background
of the photo above.

Image: © M. Counihan
It is most likely that the goddess Danú was stolen because she was made from bronze and therefore
worth a considerable amount of money. The sculpture of the sea god was not stolen for its' bronze content as he was created using fibreglass and stainless steel.

Whatever the motives of those who took him, many of us here in Ireland believe that the thieves
shall have no luck at all in their lives from now on.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Slowly emerging

Despite the cold, snowy weather and limited daylight, nature is slowly emerging from Winter.
All around are small signs of growth and returning life:
Purple leaf buds on the elder tree -

Daffodil shoots poking through the earth -

A cap of rich moss on old stone -

Vivid green shoots through decaying leaves -

Tiny fungi peeping out from hedges -

A new painting takes shape in the studio -

And I am out from hibernation and looking forward to a creative 2015.....

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Whichever road you take this year may you journey in the company of good friends.

Happy 2015 and thank you for visiting my blog!