Showing posts from March, 2013

Easter on The Dingle Peninsula.

Jack says he doesn't know if anyone had chocolate eggs at Easter when he was a child. Round here they used to boil a big pot of newlaid eggs on Easter morning and compete to see who could eat the most of them. One man was said to have eaten twenty. There was a boy who claimed he'd had six hen's eggs, two duck eggs and a goose egg for his breakfast.  I sat at Jack's table and we agreed that they wouldn't do it now. They'd have chocolate bunnies. Here in Corca Dhuibhne, the earth is waking to springtime.   New traditions replace old ones and across continents and millennia the symbols shift and change. But this is the time of year when they all speak of death and resurrection, seedtime and harvest time, life in the earth, fire in the sun, and the power of the moon over water. Once, long before Easter was ever thought of, the egg was a potent symbol of fertility, strong enough to invoke a blessing or call down a curse.

Spring Equinox on the Dingle Peninsula

The earth is waking    Primroses and celandines gleam under briars on the ditches. Furze smells like coconut when the sun warms its yellow flowers. Snow lies thick on Mount Brandon, but the hills and valleys below are green with new grass.  This year Easter falls only two weeks after St. Patrick's Day and between the two is the Spring Equinox,  when day and night are in balance and the wheel of the year turns again towards light, life and fertility. In ancient Ireland at the turn of the year, fires were lit on the mountains and offerings were made to  the Good Goddess and her consort the Sun God,  to bless the earth and bring luck to seed time and harvest time. Beneath last weekend's rituals in honour of St. Patrick were echoes of those older rites. And this evening, high on Mount Brandon, the sunset glowed like a ritual fire . Dingle And Its Hinterland: People, Places and Heritage Publication date Apri

Memory and Potential on St. Patrick's Day

Ok, so this is the story... 'Patrick approached the High King's fort at Tara where the Druids stood by the chair of the High King. And every fire in Ireland was quenched that night. The druids had called up darkness and shrouded the hills in mist. Because there was a law that no fire should burn on the eve of the festival of Bealtine, when the druids themselves lit a fire to their pagan gods.' 'But Patrick came to the Hill of Slane and lit a fire there and prayed for the people of Ireland. The druids saw the flames of his fire from the height of the Hill of Tara, and they spoke to the High King and told him that Patrick should be killed. But Patrick came to the Hill of Tara from the Hill of Slane and he praised God there and told the High King of God's goodness. And the High King fell to his knees.' 'Then Patrick took a shamrock that was growing on the hill. The shamrock had three leaves on a single stem. And Patrick showed it to the druids and t

The Next Big Thing

Last week I was surprised and delighted to be tagged by the poet Aine Macaodha in a Blog Hop called 'THE NEXT BIG THING'   in which writers answer ten questions on their work in progress and tag other writers to do the same. (Image © National Museum of Ireland) When I'm sailing uncharted waters my mind's mostly on feeling the current, so I tend to be fairly useless when it comes to talking about work that's unfinished. But Aine's invitation arrived when the draft of my next book was already off my desk and with my agent. That means that although it's still a work in progress I do have some degree of separation from it. So here are my responses to the ten questions.   1) What is the title of your next book? Currently it's called The Songs Within Birdsong - titles often change before publication, though. 2) Where did the idea come from for the book? I've been exploring its themes all my life. The immediate impulse came

Thinking about mothers on International Women's Day

This week, intoxicated by the sense of spring in the air, I tweeted this photo of primroses. I love spring. I love its sense of expectation and anticipation, the gleam of celandines among green leaves and the way that primroses unfurl on the roadside ditches behind the dead, curling tendrils of last year's briars. When I was a child my favourite season was autumn. Spring was my mother's. I asked her why once and she told me that she loved its quiet promise of renewal and growth. I'd forgotten that conversation when I tweeted the photo. But the response to my tweet brought it back to me. Because so many of the replies I got were about mothers. Here's a typical example: -  'Lovely - not out here yet - always remember being little girl picking them for Mam.'   It's touching and fascinating to see how many women share the same memories of their mothers. But the response that touched me most was a series of Direct messages from a man. I'v