In follow-up to my last post my IStock photograph of Saint Patrick on the Hill of Tara was accepted and is available for viewing (click the link to go there).
Since July 2008 a sea generation tidal turban, “SeaGen”, produces electricity (1.2 MW) for between 18 and 20 hours a day while the tide is forced in and out of Strangeford Lough through the Narrows where the generator is installed. The first large scale commercial production of electricity from the tide, “SeaGen” is located between the Northern Ireland towns of Strangeford and Portaferry, the strength of the tides there were used by the earliest tidal mill known, the Nendrum Monastery mill dating 787 based on archeological excavation.
History records Patrick converted the island of Erin (Ireland) to Christianity in the Fifth Century AD as a return to his place of captivity and slavery.
There is a connection between “SeaGen” and the return of Patrick to Ireland. The first sanctuary dedicated by Patrick was at Saul, County Down not far from River Quoile that drains into Strangeford Lough. Historians identify Patrick’s first landing site, upon return, as Wicklow where he was forced to leave by the locals. Heading north in the boats of the time, the strong tide of Strangeford Narrows pulled them into the Lough and, from there, headed up the River Quoile to encounter the local chieftain, Díchu mac Trichim. Patrick’s first Irish convert to Christianity, the feast of Saint Dichu is April 29.
On June 7, 2014 Pam and I visited this area. Here are some photographs of the traditional burial place of Saint Patrick.
To continue my posting “Climb Hill of Tara” my first submission of three Hill of Tara photographs to Getty Istock had two of the photographs returned for revision.
For the fenced statue of Saint Patrick the reviewed wrote:
Please provide a full description for the work of art featured in this image. Include the artist, date of creation, location, etc. Works of art created by someone other than yourself must be free of copyright protection to be considered. If this work of art is indeed under copyright protection, a property release signed by the copyright holder will need to be provided.
Hmmmm….What I do while capturing a photograph of a statue is take photos of any plaque, sign, whatever to acquire the name of the creator, how it came to be there, community connections. There was nothing around the statue nor the very informative Office of Public Works placards at the entrance. I was proud to submit the statue photograph, as it turned out so well, and hoped for the best.
Last week, I put in a query to Ireland’s Office of Public Works (OPW), the agency responsible for the Hill of Tara, and did not receive a response when, for other queries, they were helpful. This Saturday and Monday mornings, several hours of internet research revealed this history.
The original statue was placed on Tara sometime after the 1829 Catholic emancipation. It was molded concrete, created by Thomas Curry of Navan at his own expense to honor the connection of Saint Patrick to Tara.
The OPW removed Curry’s statue 1992 for repair of a century of wear. During the removal the statue was damaged beyond repair and, afterwards, was further damaged by vandals who decapitated and used it for target practice.
Initially, the OWP decided not to replace Saint Patrick citing the “pagan” nature of the place. After an angry meeting of local people at the Skryne Parish Hall. In this meeting the local Rathfeigh Historical Society formed the “Committee to Restore St. Patrick to Tara.” In turn, pressure was put on Michael D. Higgins, Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht (and the OPW). It was decided a new statue was to be created, based on a competition, and instead of it former place at the hill summit (called Rath na Rí), it was to be near the entrance, outside the Interpretative Center, to offer a Céad Míle Fáilte to visitors and be seen on departure.
The outcome was the competition winner was rejected by locals. The winning entry, by sculptor Annette Hennessy, did not follow competition rules that specified the statue incorporate traditional features to include shamrocks, harp, miter, a crozier and, perhaps, fleeing snakes. Hennessy’s design was of a shaven headed teenage boy in a short (“mini-skirt”) kilt, a handbag-shaped bell in hand. She agreed hers was “not a traditional style statue” saying it “acknowledges our Pagan Celtic history.”
The rejection included a statement from Dr. Leo Curran, chairman of the Rathfeigh Historical Society, “We agreed that most of the monuments in Tara are from the pre-Christian era, but St. Patrick should be at the uppermost layer, representing Christian tradition extinguishing paganism.”
By this time, a new government and minister were in place. The decision was made to search Ireland to find a suitable, existing, replacement statue. By 2000 the present statue, donated by the Sisters of Charity, was in place at the Hill of Tara entrance.
At the end of this post I provide the two references from my internet research and from which many facts and all the quotes were used here. I concluded the statue author was anonymous without copyright protection and submitted a revised image description, attaching a copy of my research.
Let’s see what happens to my IStock photograph of Saint Patrick on the Hill of Tara.
Arriving around noon on a Tuesday, Pam and I were greeted at the Hill of Tara by these children, headed to the school bus.
A statue of Saint Patrick fittingly welcomes visitors to the Hill of Tara, County Meath, Ireland. This statue of cast concrete was an existing statue donated by the Sisters of Charity, moved from an existing installation to the Hill of Tara in the year 2000 AD. The creator is anonymous, the is no plaque or other attribution on or around the statue. The original statue was erected on the summit of the Hill of Tara shortly after Catholic emancipation in 1829, commemorated the events of 433AD when St. Patrick lit a bonfire on the nearby hill of Slane on the eve of Easter Sunday. Slane was the second site we visited on our day of arrival, Saturday, May 24.
Lighting such a fire was contrary to the pagan laws of the time which dictated that the first fire lit that night be in Tara. Observing St. Patrick’s bonfire from afar, the chief druid of the ancient Gaelic capital predicted that if the flame were not extinguished that night, Christianity would never be extinguished in Ireland. The saint’s bonfire continued burning and the next morning, Easter Sunday, St. Patrick entered Tara to convert the king and his followers to Christianity.
A series of mounds surmounts the hilltop, one is visible across the expanse of grass.
Climbing higher, the view opens.
On the top, views from all cardinal directions, 360 degrees.
The Hill of Slane is visible in the east, the tall cathedral ruin though not visible in this view.
The first of the following panel is a view northwest from looking across County Meath with views of Counties Westmeath and Cavan. On the horizon, right, is Hag’s Mountain, (Irish: Sliabh na Caillí) , site of the Loughcrew Cairns. The standing stone is the “Stone of Destiny: (Irish: Lia Fáil), which served in coronation the coronation of the High Kings of Ireland. It stands on the Inauguration Mound (Irish: an Forrad) of Tara. This photograph was taken the morning of May 27, 2014 hours before the stone was vandalized, doused with green and red paint.
A bit to the east is the Mound of the Hostages, a passage tomb.
Walk into a glade, through the ancient graveyard to the visitors center in a deconsecrated church.
Browse my reasonably priced stock photography. This blog features three (3) photographs I published last week to Getty Istock and my Fine Art gallery.
Gold on display for the permanent exhibit “Treasures of the Girona,” Ulster Museum, Belfast. It is not Leprechaun gold, certainly.
“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Matthew 6:19-24“
Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved
I originally published these blossoms as “wild rose”. It was my Facebook friends who pointed out these are hawthorn flowers. The key to identification was the shape of the leaves.
In correcting my mistake, I learned the young leaves of Hawthorn are excellent for salads. Wonder how the fairy folk, associated with single hawthorns (as in the following photograph from the Hill of Tara), react to picking leaves from their trees? I didn’t hear of the practice during our time in Ireland.
My mistake was understandable, in botany the hawthorn is in the same family as the rose. The flowers are similar, having five petals. The “haw” in hawthorn is from the Old English word for hedge, as is this linear standoff the tree lining the way up to the Loughcrew Cairns.
I read these votive offerings are made at Beltane, in which case these are fresh from placement May 1.
The following year Pam underwent double total knee replacements, never the less, she was great company for all our adventures on the island. Even this steep climb.
We marveled at the hawthorn hedges in field after field. I first notice them from the World Heritage Site, Newgrange (Brú na Bóinne, “Palace of the Boyne”). Here is one on the Dingle Peninsula, on the other side of the island.
This series of posts started with “Proleek, Grandfather McCardle’s home” where we explored the site of great grandfather James McCardle’s Proleek farm. A kilometer from there, at Proleek Dolmen, the ancient portal stones line up to face the plain rising to Slieve Gullion, a name for the mountain taken from the Irish, Sliabh gCuillinn, meaning “mountain of the steep slope” or Sliabh Cuilinn, “Culann’s mountain.”
Click photograph to view my Ireland photography gallery
There is an connection between Proleek and Slieve Gullion. Cycles of Irish Myth place a boy named Sétanta living on Muirthemne Plain, of which what we call Proleek Townland was a part. One day, the king Conchobar was passing his kingdom, Muirthemne, on the way to a feast on the slopes of Slieve Gullion hosted by the blacksmith Culann when he stopped to watch boys playing hurling, Sétanta among them (it is ironic the Proleek Dolmen is surrounded by a golf course in modern times).
Impressed by the Sétanta’s skill, the king invites him to the feast. Having a game to finish Sétanta promises to follow. As evening falls the boy approaches the smith’s house to find himself attacked by a huge, aggressive dog. Acting in the moment, Sétanta dispatches the dog with the hurley and ball he had at hand, driving the ball down the hound’s throat. (In another version he smashes the hound against a standing stone.)
Feeling Culann mourn the loss of his beloved animal, Sétanta promises to raise and train a guard dog equal to the one he slew. Until that time he also pledged to guard Culann’s home. From that time Sétanta was known as “the hound of Cullann”, Cú Chulainn in Irish.
Wikipedia articles “Slieve Gullion” “Cú Chulainn” and “Conaille Muirtheimne.”
Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved
To close our time on the Tain Way I offer a poem written and presented to the congregation of the First Unitarian church of Ithaca New York 25 years ago, 1992. Interspersed are final photographs from our walk on the Tain Way of 2014.
The poem content is not directly biographical / confessional although it draws upon my experience as a single parent in the 1980’s through 1990’s.
A Poem Read To The Congregation
a crisis threatened an Irish village men women children filled the meeting place everyone participated especially the infants
raising John alone was not part of the plan Its been just john and me helen gave birth to john to have a part of me in case of loss i felt the same way and she understood
a welcome feminine voice in our home “Little House on the Prairie” and “Little House in the Big Woods” twice.
Here is an excerpt from a newspaper article by Wilder called “HOME” that has an emotional resonance for me dated 1923 Wilder was in her 50’s.
Out in the meadow, I picked a wild sunflower, and as I looked into its golden heart, such a wave of homesickness came over me that I almost wept. I wanted Mother, with her gentle voice and quiet firmness; I longed to hear Father’s jolly songs and to see his twinkling blue eyes; I was lonesome for the sister with whom I used to play in the meadow picking daisies and wild sunflowers.
Across the years, the old home and its love called to me, and memories of sweet words of counsel came flooding back. I realize that’s all my life the teaching of these early days have influenced me, and the example set by Father and Mother has been something I have tried to follow, with failure here and there, with rebellion at times; but always coming back to it as the compass needle to the star.
So much depends upon the homemakers. I sometimes wonder if they are so busy now with other things that they are forgetting the importance of this special work. Especially did I wonder when reading recently that there was a great many child suicides in the United States during the last year. Not long ago we had never heard of such a thing in our own country, and I am sure there must be something wrong with the home of a child who commits suicide.
we give so much to our children what’s left over though is ours
Sunday, May 25, 2014 was a happy day for Pam and I. It was the first full day of an eighteen (18) we filled with Ireland, travelling in a loop of the island following the coast from, naming the counties where we spent time on the ground, Louth, Armagh, Dublin, Meath, Wicklow, Cork, Kerry, Claire, Mayo, Antrim, Down and back to Louth. The counties of Northern Ireland are in italics. Indeed, at this time the politics allowed us to travel freely between the Republic and the North. That day, our morning was spent in Louth attending mass, enjoying our first meeting with the family over a substantial mid-day meal (click the link for my Facebook album of the meeting). We split off that afternoon to visit the home of my cousin, Mary and her husband Joseph in County Armagh, just over the border. When Joseph offered to drive us over to Slieve Gullion it was totally new to us, we had no conception of the place or what to expect.
It was such a gift, we are grateful to Joseph for this experience. Only in 2018 when, at 64 years of age and retired”, was I able to research the place and spend time developing the photographs for publication. Two of the photographs illustrate this posting, to view the others in my online gallery, click either photograph.
Slieve is the Irish language word for “mountain.” Slieve Gullion is a lone eminence, one remnant of volcanic eruptions about 60 million years ago during the rifting of continents that produced the Atlantic Ocean. Around the mountain is the Ring of Gullion, a string of hills, 26 miles by 11 miles, surrounding the mountain and formed from the ancient collapse of a volcanic caldera. The technical name for it is a Ring Dyke and it was the first of its kind to be recognized and mapped, well before the nature of the formation was understood of be volcanic. The name Gullion is derived, in one formulation, from the name of the metalsmith, Culann. In Irish Myth, Culann’s home and workshop was on the slope of Slieve Gullion. A wealthy and respected personage, Culann invited Conchobhar mac_Neasa, king of Ulster to feast. During his approach to the mountain, passing through the surrounding plain, the king stopped to watch boys play hurling. Among them was the future hero of Ulster, the young Sétanta. Impressed with Sétanta athletic abilities, the king invited him to join in the feasting at Culann and the boy promised to follow after the game. Later, while climbing the mountain to fulfill his promise Sétanta was attacked by the guard dog of Culann. The myth says the dog was killed by Sétanta in self-defense. Never the less, in compensation to Culann, Sétanta committed to rearing a replacement and to act as guard dog in the meantime. In this way he became known as Cu Culann, “the dog of Culann.” Click for more about Cu Culann.
On the summit two cairns north and south of a small lake, tangible proofs of ancient peoples and beliefs. The north cairn is a more ancient passage grave, 90 feet wide, 16 feet high, the opening aligned with the setting sun on the winter solstice. The cairn north of the lake is less ancient containing two cist burials. For our visit Joseph drove us along the 8 mile drive. The following is an image of a viewing platform and the road. Just beyond, on the right, where the ridge meets the road, is the trail to the 1,880 foot summit of Slieve Gullion. Our arrival disturbed sheep resting on the asphalt. I’d have loved to spent a day climbing the summit, but it was not to be this trip.
The way is part of the Slieve Gullion Forest Park. Throughout are turnoffs to admire the view. It was during our frequent stops I pulled out the photography gear to grab the views. Here is one, looking southwest. For the other views, click either photograph to visit my Online Gallery of Ireland.
Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved
We did not climb so much as ascend, with effort, the flank of Slieve Foy, a peak of the Cooley Mountains, County Louth, Ireland. The group being cousin Sean, my wife, Pam, and myself.
The ridge of Golyin Pass loomed in the mist where the path dissolved in low cloud. Sean pointed above, to the right to Barnavave, also know as Maeve’s Gap for the queen who came from the west of Ireland to take Donn Cúailnge, the Brown Bull of Cooley, by force of arms with an army behind her.
When cousin Sean named Cú Chulainn, the champion of Maeve’s opponents, the Ulstermen, he recalled a story once lost, Táin Bó Cúailnge. A hospitable siege different from Maeve’s and mist are part of the story of the recovery of this tale.
A gathering of 150 poets, 100 pupils, and attendants strained the patience and wealth of Guaire Aidne mac Colmáin, King of Connacht, when it extended to a year and four months.
On that 16th month, the king challenged the leader of his guests to the telling of a tale. Guaire demanded Seanchan Torpest, the chief poet of Connacht, to recite the whole of Táin Bó Cúailnge, known in English as the Cattle Raid of Cooley or The Táin (Cattle Raid).
Click a gallery pic for a larger view.
In this way the king was relieved of his guests: the book of the Táin was lost before their lifetimes, rumored to be abroad. Abashed at his failure, Seanchan Torpest withdrew. Fellow poets and followers trailed out from the castle.
Seanchan Torpest regrouped the host (an opened question is who then supported them) in conference to construct Táin Bó Cúailnge. It was a false hope as the gathering discovered while each poet knew a part of the whole, most of the story was lost. His honor, reputation and self-esteem in tatters the Chief Poet of Connacht, set off with Murgen, his son, and second cousin Eimena to return the Táin to Ireland.
Into mists such as those Pam, Sean and I ascended, the travelers soon were lost and separated.
Magically, Murgen finds the grave of the Uncle of Cú Chulainn in the mists, there to meet the shade of that enormous man, Fergus mac Róich is his name. In the Táin, as related in whole by Fergus to Murgen, Fergus was led by circumstances to ally with Maeve, to guide her army against the Ulstermen. As a deposed king, traitor to Ulster and Uncle to the champion Cú Chulainn, Fergus knew the tale entire.
It was from the mists that Murgen emerged, found his father and cousin, and returned together without the book, but with possession of the substance of the Táin.
On Monday, June 9, 2014, cousin John Mills dropped his son, Sean Mills, myself and Pam Wills off at the foot of the western slopes of Slieve Foy on the Tain Way. Sean, Pam and I walked the way over the mountain and into Carlingford in the footsteps of epic Irish heroes.
Our guide, Sean Mills, proposed the walk and it fell on our last full day in Ireland. Sean’s father and our host for this visit, John Mills, transported the group including my wife Pam to the starting point at the foot of Slieve Foy.
Yes, if there is any part of the Tain Way the the mythic Irish heroes trod it is this one over Slieve Foy mountain. The saga, in Irish “Táin Bó Cúailnge” and “The Cattle Raid of Cooley” in English, features this bull, “Donn Cuailnge” “The Brown Bull of Cooley”, here as a statue erected 2011 by the Grange and District Residents Association.
Donn Cuailnge raged over the very slopes we walked this day. The myths themselves fill a volume and I am unable to do them justice here.
On the way, John stopped at the Old Aghameen School he attended in the late 1930’s early 1940’s 70 years before and we pass through the country soon to grace our views.
Many thanks to the Glenmore Athletic Club, the Cooley Walking Forum and land owners who provide access to the Tain Way.
We had our leave taking with John, who planned to stay near the phone for our call from Carlingford, if all went according to plan. That same year Pam had the first of two total knee replacements. This was our longest hike in Ireland and Pam was not likely to miss it, regardless of any pain. Pam is always ready to smile.
At start, the Tain Way is broad, green and welcoming.
The western slopes of Slieve Foy hold views of a valley among the Cooley Mountains with Dundalk Bay of the Irish Sea to the south / southeast. It was not long before the view started to open and, then, opened and opened the entire walk to the top. We were graced with a lovely, cloudy, June day. Mist only, no rain. Plenty of wind, not strong.
Farms are all about. Here a farmer attends to the flock. They know who he is.
The lower slopes hold many small stream among granite stones.
I will continue with our walk on the Tain Way soon enough.