OF THE WELCOMES Vol. 66 No. 4 July/August 2017
BurrenBikoinngthe A Poet’s Life
BLeaglleyncdasatrlye Ireland €3.50 (inc. VAT)
United Kingdom Stg£3.50
“The music An Irish summer is a fragile unpredictable Tara Corristine takes us on a historical tour of
of Ireland thing. It often starts with an early blaze of Dun Laoghaire harbour (page 38) which this year
belonged to glorious sunshine sending us pale skinned celebrates its bicentenary.
the peasantry Irish folk frolicking about in shorts and sandals.
and was often Then just as we start turning a delicate shade of pink, And finally Vawn Corrigan celebrates the life and
their only grey clouds obliterate all light and we’re left to huff work of Francis Ledwidge (page 26) who died a
belonging as and puff in humid hell or retreat indoors to escape hundred years ago this year, one of many thousands
they travelled the thundery downpours. And so it goes on. of Irish men who never returned from the fields of
to the New Sunshine and scattered showers; the mantra of the Flanders.
World” Irish meteorological office from May to
September. We hope you enjoy this issue as much as we
enjoyed putting it together.
Fickle weather patterns are all part of the charm of
an Irish summer. Wet green leaves glistening in a Le grá,
stray ray of sunlight; small birds bursting into song
after a sudden downpour and the kaleidoscope of Carissa Casey
rich fertile green stretching in all directions. The
climate suits this country, or perhaps it’s the other
One of the most interesting features in this issue is
Gearóid Ó hAllmhuráin’s history of Irish music
(page 34) and its spread throughout the world.
During the famine, a music collector noted that the
music of Ireland belonged to the peasantry and was
often their only true belonging as they travelled to
the New World in search of a better life. There it
thrived, transforming itself with each new
generation, opening itself to other influences and
ultimately finding a worldwide audience.
Leon O’Cathasaigh travels through the Burren, the
extraordinary limestone landscape in County Clare
so rich in rare plants and wildlife (page 6). It’s a
strange place with evidence that even back in the
mists of time, it held a special attraction.
Elsewhere, Alice Taylor describes her small village
donning its best and displaying local creativity in the
form of gardens and paintings (page 12).
4 Ireland of the Welcomes | July/August 2017
From Our Readers
A Sea Walk Summer Haiku dark tunnel of trees, of stars settling in till dawn.
whitethorns light the way.
By Daniel K. Barnes By Patrick Hammer Jr Outside Kent Station, Cork,
Buttercups on the ditch purple signals their arrival--
I came to walk, Bright day getting darker: trying to mimic the furze Fairy Thimbles--right on time.
And dally awhile; blackbirds hedge high above.
Beside the Atlantic sea. on the whitethorn. Upper lawn, St. Fin Barre's, Cork:
Blazing sun, no cloud labyrinth among graves, a child
To watch the restless entity, Before two sentences spoken to cool or quench with rain: casts pebbles, eager to get on.
Wave by wave; Irish weather forecaster has this furze on fire.
Roll upon the waiting shore. some wet word out. Shannon fog at Limerick-Clare
Tonight above Millstreet border: losing the signal
To hear the incessant roar, Above the road in Mallow a stellar view: this mass to Cork Local Radio.
Yet peacefully so;
In ear and mind and soul.
And spy the scurrying,
Beside the ebb and flow.
While white gulls screech,
The windy skies;
Eager for their morning prize.
All the while,
Slow striding by;
Eye to the coming storm.
For your 100th We drove the groceries to the people,
birthday the full brown bags in the back seat,
and I in my ten year wisdom
By Carol E. Wheeler, RSM riding beside you
to houses I didn't understand.
Within me and around me Even now it is as it was,
wraps the wild wisteria still disappearing and returning,
of her memory. profuse in proper season,
At the south gate luring the fat black bees from winter
the sap seeps up from ancient roots rest.
and tendrils catch the yellow roses And should we call it fortitude or
Your laughter breaks the leaves that these dry pods
like sunlight. yield yet again another Spring?
Some people paint pictures on
canvas with a brush or palette,
while others create pictures
in a garden with a spade and
a shovel. Both are drawing
from their pool of creativity
bringing beauty into our
world, writes Alice Taylor
12 Ireland of the Welcomes | July/August 2017
I n and around our village we have many “After much coaxing, cajoling, My open day brought flocks of visitors
dedicated gardeners who have formed a bribery (but not corruption), because as my advisor had told me there
Flower and Garden Club where they we finished up with seven is nothing that gardeners like better than
love to share their gardening knowledge visiting other people’s gardens. It was a
with each other. Some local artists have brave gardeners ready to hugely enjoyable experience during which I
studios and also give classes; many people open their gates” met the most interesting people and learned
enjoy painting under their watchful eye. quite a lot from gardeners who were far
Both activities are enriching for the creators cause but the cost in kneeling hours was more knowledgeable about gardening than
but can be equally enriching when shared enormous. Because once you decide to open me. A day full of surprises and worth all the
with other people. your garden to the public you walk around it effort. My garden was perfect for the rest of
and view it as through the eyes of a stranger. the summer.
So an idea was born! What if we created a You see overgrown shrubs beneath which
showcase for their combined talents? What sun starved flowers are straining for light. So now I had to convince other people
if we held a celebratory weekend for our The blousy shrubs should have had manners of the joy of opening their gardens. I hoped
local gardeners and artists? Gardens and put on them long ago. And so on it goes, all that I would be as effective as my advisor.
Galleries would be the title for the weekend. around the garden.
The first weekend in July was the chosen After much coaxing, cajoling, bribery
time, right bang in the middle of our Irish I spent days weeding with my head in (but not corruption), we finished up with
summer when we were most likely to have the earth, my bottom up in the air. When seven brave gardeners ready to open their
sunny weather. weeding you get to know every stone and gates. Among them a castle garden, a
worm in your soil. I began at the right hand cottage garden, a village garden, a housing
With any outdoor event in Ireland you side of the garden gate and continued all estate garden, a farm garden and a riverside
are in the lap of the gods where weather is the way around the garden aiming for the garden.
concerned. On this occasion we were going left hand side of the garden gate. Finally I
to be very weather dependent. Nobody arrived there. By then I was crippled with Needless to say, the castle garden was
enjoys traipsing around even the most exhaustion and fit only for the kitchen the jewel in the crown and what a jewel. It
beautiful garden beneath trees and shrubs couch. Eventually I recovered! surrounds an old castle that the owner had
dripping with rain. That apart, a sunny day inherited from his grandmother and had
makes everybody feel good. lovingly restored from a forlorn ruin into a
beautiful elegant home. Once the castle was
The first hurdle to be overcome was restored, he began on the gardens and was
to find out how many brave souls would in the throes of bringing them back to their
be willing to open their garden gates and former glory. They were breathtaking. The
allow other gardeners in. Most people garden was on the top of everybody’s ‘must
recoil in horror at the prospect. A very see” list.
understandable reaction. A few years
previously when faced with that request I
nearly fainted at the prospect of submitting
my tangle of confusion to the gaze of
knowledgeable gardeners. But one shrewd
man who knew much about the gardening
world advised: “Your garden is grand and
anyway all that most people want is to get
their nose into someone else’s garden”.
So I was persuaded and every day for
weeks afterward regretted that decision.
I berated my self for my weak-minded
acceptance of the request by the local
fundraising group. Theirs was a worthy
Legend has it that Deirdre of the Sorrows
landed at Ballycastle in County Antrim,
when she returned to Ireland after a happy
few years in Scotland with her lover Fergus.
She was then forced to marry the King of
Ulster and, later, killed herself when he
threatened to give her to another man
56 Ireland of the Welcomes | July/August 2017
Rathlin Island coast, the northernmost
point of Northern Ireland
A lthough the story of Deirdre under Fair Head. The beach at Ballycastle The sea journey to Rathlin Island is well
begins and ends at the court of is a pleasant one with magnificent views worth making, not just for the experience
the Ulster King Conchobhar a towards Rathlin and Manannán’s Rock. of a beautiful and peaceful island, and
in Armagh, perhaps its Ballycastle is a lively seaside town and the the numbers of sea birds which make
strongest connection is with the glens of site of Lammas Fair in August, a gathering the island their home, but also for the
Scotland, where Deirdre made her home that has its roots in the Lughnasa festival. friendliness and kindness of the people
with her lover. The lament Deirdre sings At the east end of its beach, there is a who live there – there is nothing quite like
when leaving these glens has the same cluster of flat rocks, known as Pan’s Rocks the feeling of staying on such an island
emotional depth as the one she sings because, in the past, salt-panning was when the last of the day visitors have
when her lover is killed. carried on here by the local people. It is left and the island sinks into its world of
said that Deirdre protested to the very end quietness. Folk tradition says that Rathlin
But we look to the extreme northeast against landing here, wanting to land on was formed when Fionn’s huge mother
coast of Antrim, to the landing place Rathlin Island where at least they had the tripped and dropped a pile of stones in
where Deirdre returned after her few short security of the sea as a barrier between the bay, on her way to Scotland to buy
years of happiness. Tradition has it that themselves and the jealous Conchobhar. whiskey – she lies drowned under the
this landing place was Ballycastle Bay, just