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.”
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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 2018 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved
I have an update to my post “Proleek, Grandfather McCardle’s home” where we explored the site of the boyhood home of my grandfather, Peter McCardle, on great grandfather James McCardle’s Proleek farm. Last April an email arrived from the brother of the owner of the house across the road. He recognized the property from the blog photography and reached out to introduce himself and share information. His own genealogical research suggested we shared a great aunt. We now work together to define this connection.
Our tour of Ireland was bookended by a visit to the farm site and, located little more than a kilometer away, a 5,000+ year old portal tomb, the last site Pam and I visited. We parked at the hotel / golf course built around the monuments. There is no fee to visit the site, number 476 on the list of Republic of Ireland National Monuments (Irish: Séadchomhartha Náisiúnta), protected at the level of guardianship by the National Monuments Act of 1930. The dolmen is named after the townland Proleek.
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Ballymascanlon House Hotel is on the R173, on the left heading from the M1 towards Jenkinstown. Path to the monument is marked here and there and requires attention. It helps to understand the general location of the monument on the property. The parking lot and hotel are on the southern end, the monument is on the north end.
The path leads through the hotel grounds….
….and golf course…
…and you first encounter the megalithic Gallery Grave of a type named “wedge shaped.”
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The 22 foot long tomb gallery supported stories of a giant burial. Pam poses for a sense of scale.
These are the only ancient monuments in Ireland were a stray golf ball may be encountered.
A short way ahead is the dolmen, or portal tomb. The informational placard is in English and Gaelic. There is an illustration of the stones covered with earth with a stone façade.
Some describe the formation as a giant mushroom with warts. The posting feature image is of the same aspect as the next photograph, with me for scale.
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In a previous posting we hiked through the only European Union Leprechaun Preserve on Slieve Foy above Carlingford, County Louth, Ireland.
This home was lower on the mountain, on the way to town.
You will not find Calla Lilies thriving in front yards here in Ithaca, New York (43 degrees north latitude) as they do in the Temperate Oceanic Climate of Ireland, pictured in Carlingford on a June day. At 54 degrees these Calla Lilies are growing at a latitude 800 miles north of Ithaca, in the middle of Quebec Province, Canada.
In spite of this, here in Ithaca we keep March 17th, Saint Patrick’s Day, warm. In the home of our three grandchildren (3, 4 and 6 years old) who live in Ithaca they celebrate by playing tricks on Leprechauns.
This year, we visited Saint Patrick’s Day eve and reviewed their bag of tricks with the Leprechaun in Chief, their Mom. In response, the Leprechauns leave them letters to make it clear the tricks did not work. On top of this, the children have big laughs on the tricks played in return. A favorite is finding their socks taped all over the mirror.
Mom pulled out a few of the Leprechaun letters and we read them for the children to great laughter as they remembered tricks of previous years. Afterwards, when alone with Mom, Pam and I recalled the tradition in Chicago, to color the river green (a well as green milkshakes, etc), and suggested to the Leprechaun in Chief to put green food color in the toilet. It was a winning idea.
The next morning Mom, on hearing the toilet flushed repeatedly, found her 4 year old daughter totally appalled. “The Leprechauns used our toilet (and did not flush). YUUUUKKKK.” She then ran upstairs hoping for a “clean” bathroom up there. Well, green milkshakes are off the menu.
Copyright 2018 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved.
In three, so far, postings on the cottage ruins at Loughan an Lochan (Loughan Bay) we explored a former community above the Irish Sea with a view of Scotland. For the third posting I shared some research on the last cottage people of that site with the intent of additional postings.
I wondered, “What motivates you to do this?” and remembered my mother’s Canadian passport in which, for place of birth “Proleek, Ireland” was written and my request to our cousin, John Mills, who invited us to stay with them after my mother passed away, June, 2013, the request being to visit the site of great grandfather James McCardle’s home, where grandfather Peter McCardle was raised, information since discovered from the Irish census.
On the morning of Sunday, May 25, John took us from mass on a tour of sites related to the family. One of these was the site of the McCardle home, Proleek Townland.
There site is an anonymous corner on a unnamed street with no outlet. The street ends close to the Proleek Dolmen, an ancient passage tomb, after passing farms and fields.
The 1901 Irish Census provides these details from 116 years ago:
The walls were stone, brick or concrete
The roof of thatch, wood or another perishable material.
Two rooms, with three windows facing the road.
Out buildings listed were:
Today, the site is another person’s property, it was not possible to explore further than when the camera lens reached when I leaned as far a possible into the brush. No sign of standing walls.
Modern homes surround the corner, solid and prosperous.
For this posting I collected the following images from Google Earth. The site is marked with a pushpin, “McCardle Home.” A “Proleek Dolmen” pushpin marks the passage tomb.
A closer view suggests, if we trespassed and poked around, some remains of the structure were concealed by the trees and brush.
Between May 2014 and this image, from 2015, the center of the plot was gouged out. The area corresponds to the corresponds to the remains indicated in the 2013 image. From this we can understand were the structures stood in relation to the road.
Using the polygon ruler tool the size of the site is 413 feet in circumference, 9,619 square feet, and the gouge, indicating the ruins, is 1,368 square feet.
But for John and Betty Mills, their kind invitation to stay and John’s guidance that day, the “Proleek” notation on my mother’s Canadian passport would still be a mystery today.
John Mills passed away the next year, September 26, 2015. Here are Hawthorne Blossoms from the corner of the former McCardle home in memory.
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
feminine voice in our home
“Little House on the Prairie”
“Little House in the Big Woods” twice.
Here is an excerpt from a newspaper article by Wilder
that has an emotional resonance for me
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