Tag Archives: Ireland

Friends I’ve finally met!

Today I read the last of the poems in #ThelmaAnnBrennan’s collection entitled #EarthCarriesSpirit published in 2014 by #ChapelStreetEditions in Woodstock, NB. It made me think about the lady who wrote the contents in this anthology and what her words meant to me. I like to think that now she is a friend.

I met #AnnBrennan on my recent trip to Ireland with #GerardCollins and the Go and Write Ireland expedition. Ann was one of the participants, new friends all as we got acquainted with each other. But there was something about Ann – a kinship I felt immediately but couldn’t define.

Ann became our de facto tour guide as a few of us ventured out to explore Dublin. A prolific writer herself, historian and lifelong learner, this wasn’t her first trip to the Emerald Isle. As we roamed the streets, Trinity Library, the parks and the pubs, she regaled us with the history of the places, development and stories of her adventures.

Checking out the lunch menu

Ann’s gentle manner drew us all in as we learned to appreciate her unique viewpoint on Dublin, Ireland and the world in general. In turn, she keeps herself firmly routed in rural New Brunswick.

She’s a Leo

After our stay at Clontarf Castle, we headed to the west coast of Ireland. Again, Ann’s extensive knowledge of both the history and the mythology kept us intrigued.

Bundled up against the stiff breezes at the Cliffs of Moher

Ann’s passion for the faeries of Ireland drew us all in as we explored Poll na Bron – a portal to somewhere, or perhaps some time, else. Standing beneath a faerie tree she told us tales of the wee folk and their powers of regeneration or rebirth of the spirit and the land. And she left tokens to mark our passing through to thank them for their hospitality.

Under the faerie tree

Participating in an adventure like Go and Write Ireland yields unexpected benefits. New friends. New perspectives.

Thank you, Ann, for the gift of your friendship, the copy of your book, and the chance to follow your adventures around the world through your words and rhythms.

Ann Brennan with her Lion at Clontarf Castle

 

Posted in BLOG, Tourism, Travel, writing Also tagged , |

On the road again…

At this point I was beginning to think Willie Nelson’s song was our theme song as we piled into our bus to say goodbye to Sligo and head off to Ennis. Our driver, Patrick, was a marvellous man who regaled us with Irish lore, history and not a few jokes to keep us interested and amused en route.

Our first stop was in the charming town of Cong, County Mayo. Famed as the location for the film “The Quiet Man” with John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara, I was far more intrigued by the remains of the local Abbey. I couldn’t resist shooting the amazing stone structures, much of which is still standing in a beautiful park-like spot.

Town of Cong, abbey ruins

Apparently the abbey was originally built in the 7th century, destroyed in battle (several times) and rebuilt each time, the latest being in the 13th century. The stonework and detail totally intrigued me!

 

Mary’s Rock

One friend asked me to bring home a pebble from some place that intrigued me – and so here it is, Mary’s rock – from the Abbey in Cong.

Posted in BLOG, Travel, writing Also tagged , |

Insanity in Ireland

Did I mention that, in addition to staying in a castle, we spent a night in a former insane asylum? Oh yeah. Now known as the Clayton Hotel, the building served as a Victorian era asylum in a prior incarnation. Most of our group reported suffering through uneasy, if any, sleep that night and several felt eerie experiences. It is the one place where I felt no urge to take any photographs. When we left the next morning we noticed that, right next door, the more modern psychiatric facility had been built. Go figure!

Statue of William Butler Yeats

On the way to Sligo, after our tour of Lough Gill, we stopped at Drumcliffe, under the Benbulben Mountain, to visit the grave of poet W. B. Yeats.

Yeats’ epitaph

 

Benbulben Mountain

 

Benbulben Mountain

From there we headed to Sligo… and the asylum for a night.

Posted in BLOG, Travel, writing Also tagged , |

Magical time in Ireland

Spring arrives earlier in Ireland than it does here on Canada’s east coast. The flowers were beginning to bloom and the trees had fresh leaves – no doubt providing hiding places for all of the “little people” that the country is famous for.

Trinity College Library, Dublin

No trip to Ireland would be complete, for a writer, without a visit to the famous Trinity College Library. Standing in that massive hall gazing up and beyond over the thousands of books displayed was not unlike a religious experience. Did these authors share the doubts that we neophyte writers feel? Probably. But to see so many books of such historic significance was awe inspiring. I could have just sat there all day soaking it in.

Grafton Street

Just around the corner from Trinity College modern life exists in the vibrant centre of the city. Local residents and tourists alike roam the streets shopping, listening to street entertainers, hustling from place to place and, of course, dropping in to one (or more) of the ubiquitous pubs! Life in Dublin isn’t all about history!

Sligo

After five days in Dublin, attending workshops, site seeing, getting coaching from #GerardCollins and writing we headed out for a tour of the west country. The first stop was in Sligo for a quick walk about and a pub lunch. Narrow streets, ancient buildings and charming people made for an interesting, if short, time.

Sligo

 

17th century Parkes Castle on the banks of Lough Gill

An intriguing site to roam around and explore. Once we’d done that we headed out for a tour of the Lake aboard the #RoseofInisfree – known as the subject of several poems by Yeats.

The thatched-roof blacksmith’s shop within the castle walls.

 

Parkes Castle as seen from the lake.

Thank goodness for photos that allow us to remember at least some of what we saw on our whirlwind tour of western Ireland!

Posted in BLOG, seasons, spring, Tourism, Travel, writing Also tagged |

April on the Emerald Isle

What a month! I spent the last 10 days of April in Ireland, the Emerald Isle! And there they really have spring. In the ten days between April 20th and 30th the trees went from buds and tiny leaves to full blown foliage.

I went to Ireland with a group of writers for a retreat called #GoandWriteIreland led by #GerardCollins. Aside from the opportunity to see some of #Ireland and experience the culture, it was a chance to improve my writing under the guidance of an experienced author and teacher and to spend time with like-minded people.

Immersion into the culture began with our arrival at the airport in Dublin. The country is bilingual Irish/English with the original Irish (Gaelic) taught as part of the public education system to retain and revive the language. At the airport, and as we found out later, throughout the country, signs are posted in both languages.

Bilingual sign at Dublin airport

We spent our first five days at the #ClotarfCastleHotel – an impressive structure created from the ruins of the original castle.

One feature that I particularly liked was the castle’s “art trail”. According to their brochure, “Art is not an afterthought…it’s an immersive journey that will help you unlock the story of one of Ireland’s most unique castle hotels…carefully curated collection brimming with curiousities and waiting to be encountered.” The hotel commissioned local artists, including photographers, to create works that reflect the culture and history of the region.

Castle ruins and remains of churches, abbeys and other structures are everywhere in Ireland. Just behind our hotel there was a graveyard with inhabitants that had been buried as long as 300 years ago and as recently as a very few years ago – a strange counterpoint between the old and new.

I wandered there several times seeking peace of mind and wondering about the stories captured in the walls and tombstones. Some commemorated the burial of whole families, while others were ostentatious in their singularity.

The roof on the chapel is long gone, and you are barred from entry to certain sections – no doubt for your own safety. But still, it must have been impressive when it was whole.

And from the churchyard the castle was visible – overlooking all around it all the way to the harbour and the Irish Sea.

 

 

Posted in BLOG, photography, seasons, spring, writing Also tagged |