Saturday, October 16, 2010

Getting stoned in Ireland

A week ago tonight I was in Greens Pub (or was it O'Laughlins ? Logues ? ) enjoying a Guinness with my traveling buds. The dark broody brew of the West Coast. Well that is what we called ourselves anyway. I have no idea what the nickname for Guinness is. So even though I have physically been home many days, my heart is still in Ballyvaughan. Thus I must do one more blog on the bog and then back to my real life, the farm that is South Pork Ranch.

I love the rocks and stones of Ireland. It is their foundation and literally the only thing that keeps the whole isle from sinking into the icy Atlantic. A place I often revisit is Kilmacduagh Castle just one mile south of the village of Gort and about 40 miles out of Galway. Inside the castle ruins is a most special place, the O'Shaughnessy Chapel, built, I am sure by some talented relative of mine. I mean really, how about that roof job ?! I found the castle many years ago in my geneology searches and when my sister Mary, aka Moire' , and I first saw it and all the dead OShaughnessy's (neatly buried, don't freak) ,we knew we were "home". Here I am just last week in front of the chapel.

I am trying very hard not to stand on the head of any great great ancestors but its difficult not to do in this graveyard. As you can see by the decaying stones, remains have been there for many centuries. Poorer families had to bury their loved ones in stacks , one generation upon another in small areas . Might be the reason I don't have a problem with crowds. Not all graves were marked in the early years thus finding records of burials before 1850 is next to impossible. Surprisingly, this cemetery is still "active" as you can see by the very recent black headstone behind me.

The Irish are expert stone workers, being as the material was so readily available, and in addition to the stone walls and stone churches they also created the world famous Celtic Crosses. I tried to fit this one in my suitcase but once again the Garda snarled at me in customs and made me return it.

The intricate carving on this cross is unique as they all are. Several carvings on the older crosses originate from the Book of Kells , an illuminated manuscript Gospel book written in latin and beautifully drawn by Celtic monks ca 800 or earlier .Thus every cross tells its own biblical story. They are in every sense...awesome. Around the back of the OShaughnessy chapel is a rectangular section fenced off for burials of even more OShaughnessy bods which I assume were the richer of the tribe. The fence is well rusted but still sturdy and highly decorated with the OShaughnessy emblem O-S-H woven into this design...

The first time I saw it ten years ago I knew I wanted to have it made it into a ...oven mitt ? Noooo. A bumper sticker ?  Nooooo. A hair barrette ? Nooooooo. A tattoo ? Yeah, that's it. A tattoo. So with the help of friend Deb and her trusty digital camera we took pics, delivered them to a fine tattoo artist named Dave in Galway (Galway Tattoo owned by Sean Rickets ) and watched him turn ancient art into modern art on my fat back. Now a good amount of back fat is highly treasured in the chef industry when dealing with pasture raised hogs but on short irish Midlife Farmwifes ? Well, its stunning for sure. At least that's what Dave the tatoo guy said it looked like when he was done. And since I am not referred to as "stunning" very often I happily filled the guys hands with Euros and went forth to find some Nappy Rash Cream. The cream was to keep the tatoo looking stunning as long as possible.

Sunday, the day before we left, I felt the need to go to mass. Go figure. On the way out I noticed in the church yard...more stones ! And they looked a little like this,

They are the creation of an art student from Ohio , Hattie Hammersmith, studying art (duh) at the Burren College of Art in Ballyvaughan a couple of years ago. The figures represent the human spirit victorious over the earthly barriers represented by the arches . Twelve spirits in an eternal circle , arms raised victorious in praise to God. When I knelt in the thick sod to get a different angle I saw this,

People have in the past have asked me "don't you get tired of always going to Ireland ?" No, no I don't.


  1. Well yeah, NOW I remember it! Thanks for the memories.....

  2. Just saw your post today and it reminded me again how much I miss the feel of Burren stone under my feet and the wind off the Atlantic in my face. I spent a summer at the Burren College of Art and fell in love with the place, the people and the peace of that beautiful place. Thanks for sharing!