A Visit to Proleek Dolmen

Romance of Stones

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. April 2018 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 townland is named after the dolmen.  The anglicized “Proleek” is derived from the Irish for “bruising rock”, as in a millstone. The grave is attributed in folklore to the resting place of the Scotch Giant, Para Buidhe More Mahac Seoidin, who came to challenge Fin Mac Coole.  

Click photograph to view my Ireland gallery

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.”

Click any of the following photographs to view my Ireland gallery

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.

Click any of the following photographs to view my Ireland gallery

We are surrounded on three sides by the golf course.  The “entrance” to the tomb, through the two upright portal stones, faces northwest toward Slieve Gullion, a mountain with its own Neolithic burial site next to a lake on the summit.  The mountain and the flat land, such as Proleek township, feature in the story of how the Irish hero Cú Chulainn came by his name.  To learn more, click this link for “On the Tain Way” the first of my posting that includes some stories of the hero.

The fifth hole.

We had a beautiful day, so I took time to capture all aspects.  The hedge is the northern property border.

The “warts” are stones. There is a local saying that success in placing three stones on top will give a wish or lead to marriage within the year.

Click for more Ireland stories.

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

When is “moss” not moss?

Southern Gothic

We spotted this stuff within minutes of arriving at McKee Gardens for an afternoon visit with the grandchildren. Festooned above our heads from thick Oak branches, I could not resist pulling out the camera for this photograph to capture the flavor of Southern Gothic. Fortunately, our group included neither deeply flawed nor disturbing characters, though we can confess to a touch of eccentricity.

Spanish Moss produces inconspicuous flowers with tiny seeds. Spanish Moss also propagates from fragments of the fine leaves.

Spanish Moss is neither moss nor Spanish. Scientific name Tillandsia usneoides, this flowering plant is in the family Bromeliaceae that includes pineapple. Here we have two epiphytic bromelias sharing the trunk of a palm.

A rootless epiphyte native to the tropical / semi-tropical Americas, Spanish Moss has a preference for southern live oak (Quercus virginiana) and bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) because of their high rates of foliar mineral leaching (calcium, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus) that provides an abundant supply of nutrients to the epiphytic plant.

My two volume “go to” resource for plants and trees had sparse information about Spanish Moss and no wonder as it is a burden on trees, though not parasitic, and so more a pest than a decorative element to cherish. Surprisingly, Spanish Moss was purposely introduced to Hawaii where it is now known as “Pele’s Hair” after their fire goddess.

Click me for a dinosaur video from McKee Gardens.

Reference: wikipedia “Spanish Moss”

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Island Shrine

part of the Irish landscape

A roadside shrine on Cottage Road, Inishmore. The faith brought by the saints has deep roots here.

A large crucifix set with wet stone walls with cut flowers. The walls are the native limestone.

It is a spring (early June) afternoon and there are fern and wildflowers. The white flowers are Greater Burnet saxifrage (Scientific Name: Pimpinella major).

Click Me for Getty IStock photography of the Aran Islands

The existing dry stone wall was interrupted by the shrine. In the distance are dry stone walls around fields, a stone shed, feeding horses and the sea, being Galway Bay, storm clouds with distant rain.

Aran Islands, County Galway, Ireland.

Click me for the first post of this series, “Horse Trap on Inishmore.”

References: search google “Wet Stone”

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

The Waterlily Genus Nymphaea

Congrats to all fathers and grandfathers, Happy Fathers Day

The McKee informative placard divides the Genus Nymphaea into “Hardy” and “Tropical” waterlilies. “Hardy” being plants native to temperate climates, such as New York State. I do not have photos of these from McKee. Nor are there examples of Lotus.

What I have is an abundance of the “tropical” varieties.

The family Nymphaeaceae, of which the genus Nymphaea is a part, is thought to be the most basic of all the Angiosperms. A minute flower of the Nymphaea type was found in early Cretaceous deposits in Portugal, dating early waterlilies to at least 115-125 million years ago.

Angiosperm,” the word referring to all flowering plants, is composed to two greek words angio-. meaning enclosed, and -sperm, meaning seed. “DNA studies indicate the Nymphaeaceae separated from the rest of the angiosperm family tree…..before the separation of the monocots and dicots.” – see reference.

Click me for wonderful sculpture at McKee Gardens

Reference: The Botanical Garden, Volume II, by Roger Phillips and Martyn Rix, Firefly Books, pp 382-383

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Inishmore Slideshow

An Aran Island Revel

Imagine yourselves in an open cart exploring the island. Here are the photographs from my Inishmore exploration posts. Enjoy!!

Click for another great Island post, “Inisheer Welcomes the 2014 Gaeltacht Irish Football Champions.”

Cliff Edge II

Flowers on the edge

From the commanding location of Dun Aonghasa, looking northeast across Inishmore island, we can understand why the ancient builders chose this location.

We also see the transition from exposed limestone to the fields built literally from the ground up (see my post “The How of Soil”).  For a closer view of island houses see my posts “Settled In” and “Cottage Road Cottage.”

The field walls are described in my posts, “What is a rock, what is a stone?” and “Stone on Stone.”

Click the photograph for a larger view.  Enjoy!!

Click the link for my Getty IStock photography of the Aran Islands

Breaking waves, turquoise sea below the dramatic cliffs of the ancient fort Dun Aonghasa (Dun Aengus),

in the distance the karst landscape of Inishmore with clouds of an approaching storm over Galway Bay.

Sea Campion (scientific name: Silene uniflora) (irish name: Coireán mara) clings to the edge.

Inishmore, Aran Islands, County Galway, Ireland.

Click me for the first post of this series, “Horse Trap on Inishmore.”

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

“Los Mariachis” and two metal owls

A selection of photographs from our January 2019 visit to McKee Botanical Gardens, Vero Beach, Indian River County, Florida

My final Seward Johnson sculpture posting opens with a piece of uncertain authorship, I just know it was not installed for our second 2020 visit just before COVID-19 hit.

Here we have a dynamic group, I can almost hear the music.

Click me for a dinosaur at McKee Gardens, Amargasaurus, a “small” sauropod.,

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Stone on Stone

Wide enough

Enjoying travel on a horse trap, a type of carriage, on Inishmore (Inis Mór), the largest Aran Island in Galway Bay we headed up Cottage Road from Kilronan, the main island settlement.  It was there we embarked from the Doolin ferry, hired the driver, his horse drawn trap.  Our destination an iron age fort, Dun Aengus (Dún Aonghasa, the Irish language name) and the sights along the way.

The feeling of this blurry photograph is too good to let lie.  I just kept snapping away from the moving carriage, here we are descending a hill and moving a bit faster, the elevation provides this view of Galway Bay, Connemara and the Twelve Pins beyond.

Click the link for my Getty IStock photography of the Aran Islands

There’s a gate in the cow field, though some fields with cows were gateless. There is a simple answer to the mystery. At one point our driver stopped by his field and and demonstrated how the wall is pulled down to make an opening, the rocks stacked to make this easy. When the cows are in, the rocks go back up, a matter of 10 minutes or so to make a cow-width passage.

Click me for the first post of this series, “Horse Trap on Inishmore.”

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

“Nice to See You”, “Stormy Weather” and “Cat Nap”

A selection of photographs from our January 2019 visit to McKee Botanical Gardens, Vero Beach, Indian River County, Florida

This set starts off with a nice guy at work. He was positioned on the large cafe windows. We met the grandchildren around lunch time, so we caught up around the food.

Click me for a dinosaur at McKee Gardens, “Herrerosaurus, one of the first

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Settled In

Inishmore Cottage among fields

An island cottage among fields along the Galway Bay coast, the twelve pins of Connemara beyond.

Click the link for my Getty IStock photography of the Aran Islands

Notice the playhouse, a replica of the larger cottage.

Click me for the next post of this series, “Stiffed.”

Click me for the first post of this series, “Horse Trap on Inishmore.”

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved