Monday, July 12, 2010
Everywhere we went we were greeted by the Irish Flag. We were also greeting by incredible blue skies, very uncommon in Ireland. We were told (on a daily basis) this was the best weather in Ireland in the past 40 years. I was also told before we left that we would benefit from a great blessing. I have no doubt that the incredible weather was part of this, as were our fantastic tour guides (thanks Tom, Stoney and Paddy), the remarkable hospitality, the great food, the awesome traditional Irish music (and I could go on, and on, and on). Please consider joining us next year when I return (with Dan Sebranek) to take a special group of people to the Emerald Island on another memorable healing journey in the Spirit of Ireland: Ruins, Runes and Tunes!
One of highlights of the trip, and there were MANY, was spending a night at a national theater in Tralee to see Clann Lir (a mythical fairytale story set to music.) Perhaps this could best be described as RiverDance meets Swan Lake. There really is no way to describe it other than Pure EXCELLENCE in Irish Theater. The Story: A widower king with four children marries a sorceress, who out of jealousy turns the children into swans for eight hundred years. Lots of Irish dancing and a stellar performance all the way around.
We went to several pubs to hear live traditional Celtic/Irish music. Fiddles, banjos, guitars, penny whistles and scores of Irish tenors. Every night was a treat (thank God there is a smoking ban now in Ireland). Many a late night was had at these pubs but the music was simply magical. Here Dan and Mary join in the fun on stage with Cooper and O'Neil at McDermott's pub in Doolin, Irleand.
This photo was taken at St. Bridget's well, a holy site believed to be founded by the original St. Bridget. Some people say that St. Bridget was a cross-over archetypal figure from the pagen world to the Christian world who's legend has become mythical in stature. There was certainly a sense of sacredness around the water.
Sunday, July 4, 2010
Not to be outdone by the doors of Ireland, I put together a composite poster image of the stones and stone formations as well. Ireland has NO shortage of rocks, but what they do with them is quite impressive (from walls to castles), dating back as early as the Bronze Age. I could have filled this single page with about 40 more images, but kept it to 9 so each could be seen without a magnifying glass.
There are several composit posters in Ireland of the many colorful doors. I thought I would take a stab at this effort myself. This image needs a lot of work (primarily to make all the doors the same size and such,) but it was fun putting this together. I think having the human element makes it even stronger. I even caught one guy painting a door. The two guys dressed up work at the Dromoland Castle and were getting ready to work a wedding when the obliged me of this shot. Enjoy
Thursday, July 1, 2010
We spend some time both in group and solitary meditation at the Stone Dolmen site. Joyce, found a great spot and it was way too tempting not to snap a photo of her. She said time stood still during her meditation. I think it did for all of us.
I chose to stay one more day in Ireland and fulfill a lifelong fantasy: spend a night in castle. The Dromoland Castle, in Shannon, Ireland is one of many castles that are now open as hotels. I highly recommend checking it out.
Of the many signature symbols of the Emerald isle, perhaps none is more recognizable than the thatched roof cottages that punctuate the countryside with flare. Ireland is changing rapidly as the influence of other European cultures infiltrate subtly. When you see these cottages, you are immediately transported back in time to a simpler age. One more example of magic.
First you notice the doors, then you quickly notice the pubs— the brilliant colored pubs. And there are MANY pubs, almost all of which have live music in the evenings. Then you notice the names: Murphy's Pub, O'Connor's Bar, Sullivan's Pub, O'Leary's Bar, McNulty's Pub, Houlihan's, Paddy's, etc. and if you are like me, you never get tired of the names, which often serve as reminders of people you might have gone to high school with.
One of the first things you notice is Ireland is the vibrant colors (blues, reds, purples, yellows, greens, etc.) used to paint the doors to people's houses and business establishments. You might have even seen posters titled, The Doors of Dublin, or The Doors of Ireland. Early on in this trip, I developed an affinity for photographing these doors (almost to the point of addiction). Here is but one of hundreds of doors... photographed for my upcoming version of The Doors of Ireland poster. Enjoy!
Live music was a cornerstone to our trip and many a night was spent in celebration of traditional Irish music coupled with an assortment of songs from audience participation. Pictured here is Dan and Mary on guitar, a local musician on banjo, with others from our group singing along to Mary's rendition of Nora Jones, Don't Know Why.
Ireland has many ancient rock formations built during the bronze age, this one is believed to date back between 5,000 and 7,000 years old. Noted as a sacred spot, it is believed to be an ancient burial site for the elite, but it may also have a deeper significance of sacredness. We celebrated the end of our tour by doing a celebration of the Hero's Journey (Life, challenges, death and rebirth, the return home.)
We took a boat ride back to Doolin, Ireland, a ride that took us to see the Cliffs of Moher from the water. The seas were calm enough that we could nearly reach out and touch the cliffs. This seastack rock formation was once part of the cliffs, but over time is has separated and one day may topple into the ocean. In the mean time, we enjoyed looking at it (resembles a tall ship,eh?) immensely.
On the Isle of Inish Oirr we visited an underground church (underground because over the past 1,000 years the sands have nearly coverered it up.) This was a marker over one of the grave sites near the church. The bottom right hand corner in this photo, through the tall grass ,is the ocean.
One of the highlights (every day was an encore to the last) was taking a ferry over to the Aran Island of Inish Oirr. Before it was settled, it could have been called ROCK island. These settlers smashed up the rocks, made stone walls, brought in seaweed, made soil and after three years were able to farm the soil. The prefered language here is Irish (Gaelic) and we heard it spoken everywhere. This is the island with the great wool sweaters... (and millions of stones found placed strategically in walls around the island.
There is a famous song named after the Cliffs of Moher and we were quite blessed (many times over, actually) to have one person in our group who not only plays the harp but brought one with her to Ireland to play at various sites on the journey. Here Joy is playing the Cliffs of Moher at the Cliffs of Moher. Thanks Joy!
No trip to Ireland would be complete without a trip to the renowned Cliffs of Moher, a spectacular view of the highest seaside cliffs of Europe. On this day, the clouds rolled in, which is only fitting, to give the Cliffs that mystical setting.
My co-facilitator and partner in mystical adventures, Dan Sebranek, sang the song, In My Life (Lennon, McCartney) after our group meditation and it was during this song that the last rays of the longest day of sunshine broke through the clouds to illuminate the inside stone house; bringing tears and smiles to each and everyone one of us. I think the smile on my face says it all (does this hat make me look Irish?)...photo courtesy of Lisa Dancing Light. Thanks Lisa!
This stone building is over 1,000 years old and was inhabited by Christian monks (carefully and masterfully built to withstand the powerfully strong winters). We gathered here just before sunset and held a summer solstice ceremony inside. It was magical and at the culmination of the ceremony, the last light of the longest day shone through the door to illuminate the entire interior. It was magical, mystical and a moment none of us will ever forget.
As a way to help promote a deeper, richer journey experience, I organized a non-competitive photo contest with three categories: 1) Irish scenery, 2) Irish people (without people looking at the camera), and 3) Other. Although I fell in the category of “Void where prohibited” I, too, took lots of photos. This is one of my favorite portrait shots.
For many the pinnacle of the Dingle Peninsula drive is Slea Head and the view of the Blasket Islands. Again the water was a Caribbean blue and all the more stunning with the afternoon sun. Slea Head takes on a whole different look and feeling when clouds and fog set in (something I saw 20+ years ago when I first visited the Emerald Isle).
One of the highlights of the trip was a drive around the stunning Dingle Peninsula and this is one of the beaches on the drive. The water was Caribbean turquoise color (the brilliant sunshine had much to do with this, I am sure). This is one beach where they filmed the epic movie, Ryan's Daughter.
Our guides (thanks Stoney, Tom and Paddy) gave us THE most authentic experience. We took a tour through the Skibereen Great Famine Museum and then followed that up with a visit to one of the mansion castles (not everybody starved during the great potato famine (now called the Great Hunger). This is the Bantry House which is now also a museum. Very impressive gardens too.
Very powerful place, this stone circle; all the more powerful in the early morning hours. This was certainly one of the highlights of the trip (and there were many highlights). One of the people in our group (Joy) brought a harp and played during our meditation there... simply magical.
We arrived at the stone circle (similar to Stonehenge, but smaller) and it took our breath away. We did a healing ceremony here for the stones, the ley lines and the Summer Solstice (even though they think this stone circle was designed for the winter solstice. We came back the next morning and had the whole place to ourselves. It was magical.
A photo taken from the top of the Bunratty Castle. I arrived a day early and did some photography in Shannon before the group arrived. Next year I am going to strongly recommend that EVERYONE arrive a day early to acclimate (and spend a few hours at the Bunratty Castle)