Wonderfully beautiful sunset along the River Boyne out the Ramparts about half an hour ago.
Stormy sky over the Hill of Tara. The cross is a memorial to those killed at the Battle of Tara in the 1798 rebellion.
Another summer rain storm, this time over the hill of Skryne in County Meath, empties its load upon the lush green landscape of the Royal County, viewed from the Hill of Tara. As is typical of these heavy summer showers, the sky is dark and the rain is torrential, and yet the sun finds a crack in the clouds and lights up part of the landscape, creating this wonderfully dramatic effect. The church at Skryne is easily visible from Tara, looking across the Gabhra Valley. Here is a description of Skryne from the Sites and Monuments Record of the National Monuments Service: Located on the summit of Skreen Hill with wide views out in every direction; the S-N ridge of Tara is the most prominent feature visible c. 3.5km to the W. An early monastery was established at Achall (Gwynn and Hadcock 1970, 44), which was named after a daughter of Cairpre Nia Fer, a mythological king of Tara. According to the late 10th or early 11th century Dindsheanchas Érann a rath, by which is probably meant a mound, was built over her grave on a hill east of Tara (Bhreathnach 1996, 38-9). At some point the shrine of St Colum Cille, or a part of his relics which had been brought to Ireland from Iona for safe-keeping, was kept here. As a consequence the name changed to Scrín Colum Chille, from which the name Skryne or Skreen is derived. Under this name it was plundered in 974 by Domnaill Mic Muircertaigh, who was attempting to dominate Meath and secure the High Kingship for himself (ibid. 41-3). The monastery was attacked or plundered in 986, 1037, 1058, and in 1127 when the shrine was stolen but returned soon afterwards (Cogan 1862-70, 1, 152-3). The monastery was sacked by the Uí Briuin in 1157, but the community continued even under Adam de Feipo, who had been granted the barony of Skreen by Hugh de Lacy c. 1172. Adam founded a church of St Nicholas at Skreen (ME032-047010-), perhaps in opposition to the old foundation, and endowed it on his brother, Thomas. When Thomas joined the Cistercians of St Mary’s in Dublin (DU018-020048-) c. 1186, all the tithes and privileges of the large parish of Skreen were transferred to the monks (Hickey 1952; O'Neill 2002, 12-4). Skreen and its successo
After the very unusual summer we've had here in Ireland, with its endless days of sunshine, heat and lack of rain, it was very much a case of "normal service resumes" on a recent visit to Loughcrew. Here, in a side recess of the chamber of Cairn S, the weather behaved perfectly to create a very dramatic scene. The megalithic art decorating the right-hand recess was brilliantly lit at an oblique angle by the strong summer sun, but as you can see, dark storm clouds were gathering in the background. I love the Irish weather!
Reaching out ... ancient hawthorn tree near the summit of the Hill of Uisneach, Co. Westmeath. There are many folk traditions associated with the hawthorn (Sceach Gheal). Of course one of these is that a lone hawthorn, known as the lone bush, should not be disturbed in any way, and the lone bush is regarded with an equal mix of fear and respect. This one is very close to where the modern Bealtaine (May festival) fire is lit.
"All through your life, the most precious experiences seem to vanish. Transience turns everything to air. You look behind and see no sign even of a yesterday that was so intense. Yet in truth, nothing ever disappears, nothing is lost. Everything that happens to us in the world passes into us. It all becomes part of the inner temple of the soul and it can never be lost. This is the art of the soul: to harvest your deeper life from all the seasons of your experience." This excerpt from BEAUTY by John O'Donoghue seems so apt for the occasion. The photo shows the harvested wheat field where the "new" henge of Newgrange was discovered a month ago today, on 10th July. Sadly, the image of the henge in the crop is now gone, and there is no visible trace of the giant monument on the surface. In the foreground, Site P, a recorded (embanked) henge is ever-visible, perhaps to remind us of the size and scale of the new henge that, in our lifetime at least, might never be seen again... however, as the words of John O'Donoghue attest, nothing is ever lost. I will carry the images and memory of this summer's remarkable discovery with me until my last days on this beautiful earth.
Henge harvest ... the field in which the New Henge of Newgrange is located gives up its harvest. The henge image, which had already disappeared as the wheat crop ripened, is now just a memory, captured in our aerial photographs. Four weeks after its discovery, the field of wheat has been harvested. The remaining straw is being baled on Newgrange Farm. In this photo, you can see Site P to the right (east), and above that, you might even be able to make out the henge around Site A.
The new henge of Newgrange gives up its harvest at Lughnasa, the ancient harvest festival. It's incredible to think that all we were seeing of this giant monument was a ghostly image of it in the wheat crop. The wheat has now been harvested, but the archaeology remains ... beneath the surface. Brón Trogain is an ancient name for Lughnasa. It symbolises the sorrow of the earth. Why sorrow? Because although the earth is yielding its fruits, in doing so, it is returning to a dormant or barren state. And thus it is with the New Henge of Newgrange. Its image, discovered four weeks ago today, was vividly visible from the air in a wheat crop that had been starved of water. Now, less than a month later, that image is gone. But what lies beneath? What great secrets does the henge yet hold? Who knows? We are grateful for the harvest, and for the hard work of all the farmers who help bring food to our table. And we are especially grateful to this field for its wonderful harvest of archaeological treasures. Incidentally, the image of the henge has vanished just as it might have been in its intended alignment – towards the sunset at Lughnasa. Read more: http://bit.ly/henge-alignment
Lughnasa flame in the twilight at Uisneach. A huge fire and hundreds of visitors greeted the beginning of summer at Uisneach at Bealtaine. And yet somehow the meagre flame that greeted summer's end, and the beginning of the harvest season, seemed to glow magnificently in the solitude of the top of the hill after the visitors had departed. The lonely flame, perhaps a commemoration by Lugh for his foster mother Tailtiu, was a beautiful sight to behold in the fading light.
The Navel of Ireland ... Ail na Mireann, the Stone of Divisions, the Cat Stone, Hill of Uisneach, viewed from the air. The stone was said to have marked the fifth province (Míde), the magical and unifying province for the other four - Connacht, Munster, Ulster and Leinster.
Undoubtedly, you've heard the common Irish utterance, heard in late winter and spring, which goes "Grand stretch in the evenings"! This relates, of course, to the lengthening days and the noticeable extra daylight in the evening time. However, there might have been a similar phrase uttered around Lughnasa (occurring now) in relation to the fact that the days are now noticeably contracting, and the nights are getting longer. In her epic study 'The Festival of Lughnasa', Máire MacNeill makes reference to a tradition from Cape Clear Island off Cork (the most southerly place in Ireland) reported by Ciarán O Síocháin, in which the locals said of Lughnasa Day (the first day of the season of reaping the harvest), "Summer over: today is Lughna Day, the night stretches". The photo shows the setting sun viewed from Rath na Seanad (Rath of the Synods) at the Hill of Tara, looking towards the distant hills of Slieve na Calliagh (Loughcrew), taken on Monday evening last. https://mythicalireland.com/MI/blog/myths-and-legends/the-night-stretches-lughnasa-brings-a-noticeable-shortening-of-the-days/
Delighted to have made a huge discovery in the Boyne Valley near Newgrange of a giant enclosure/henge monument. Thrilled to have made this discovery in the company of Ken Williams of Shadows and Stone. There is huge media interest in the discovery and the Heritage Minister has been in touch with congratulations. Over the moon here. Never thought I'd make a discovery on this scale. Big day.
The great walls of Trim Castle and the steeple of St. Patrick's Church, Trim, under the waxing moon at twilight.
If you're in the Boyne Valley area today, pop along to the Midsummer Artisan Market at Millmount in Drogheda. Mythical Ireland is here, selling high-quality photographs of the landmarks, monuments and landscape of this very historic valley. We have something to suit every budget and taste. Hope to see you here.
Trim Castle, located in the town of Trim in County Meath, is the largest Norman castle in Ireland, covering an area of 30,000m2. It is splendidly preserved, and is beautifully illuminated at night, something that makes it a particular delight to photograph. It is built on raised ground overlooking a ford (crossing point) of the River Boyne. The town of Trim is said to take its name from an event in the Táin Bó Cuailnge, in which the great bulls, the white Finnbennach and the brown Donn Cuailnge, battle to the death. Donn Cuailnge wins, and carries the carcase of Finnbennach on his horns around Ireland. He drops pieces of the white bull in different places. At Trim, the liver of the Finnbennach dropped into the river, hence the name Troma or Áth Troim, the ford of the liver.