In Honour of Lyra McKee

I left Bealtaine Cottage this morning to travel to Derry, a city in Northern Ireland I last visited when my mother was ill and in hospital there.
Poignant memories, but brightened and lightened by the glorious sunshine of the morning, as I drove alongside Upper and Lower Lough Erne and across Boa Island…do check them out on Google maps if you get the chance for the scenery is simply stunning!

I am in Derry for the Vegan Festival and will be happy to report all to you on my return home. As you can see from the photos, home is very much in full bloom!

Driving into Northern Ireland from the west of Ireland brings back memories of my youth, much of which involved “the troubles,” as they are referred to…bombings, killings and the constant uncertainty of war.

My father was a Civil Rights leader and our tiny home was a hub for much social and political activity.

I learned over the course of my growing up in Omagh that the world was not fair and equality did not exist in social terms…it had to occupy one’s being instead, like an essential component of one’s own integrity.

My moral backbone grew strong in this respect, as I ventured into the world.

My love of Nature stemmed from this time also. Born at home, delivered by my father into a tiny room where he had himself been born, was a singular honour. I was named Frances after my father, whose name was Phelim Francis O’Neill. The tiny terraced house had only a small concrete yard enclosed by a tall brick wall…there was no garden, or indeed gardens in the area. The grey streets made up a larger area known as “Gallows Hill,” …you can guess what used to happen there in days of old!

So, driving into this part of Northern Ireland brings back memories, none of which are particularly sad. That said, this journey allows me the space and small time to look back over my shoulder and understand why I am this woman and what evolved in me to bring me to where I now find myself. The past is indeed a foreign country, as L.P. Hartley wrote:

The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.” So runs the famous first line of L.P. Hartley’s novel, “The Go-Between.”

“But men still shoot each other, don’t they?”

Lyra Catherine McKee was a journalist from Northern Ireland who wrote for several publications about the consequences of the Troubles.

She also served as an editor for Mediagazer, a news aggregator website.

On 18 April 2019, McKee was fatally shot during rioting in the Creggan area of Derry.

My journey today has helped me understand who I am…and why I plant trees and tend Mother Earth.


In a time of destruction, create something: a poem, a parade, a community, a school, a vow, a moral principle; one peaceful moment.


When I return home to Bealtaine Cottage, I will plant a tree in honour of Lyra, in hope the tragedy of her death will be the last of so, so many acts of senseless violence and destruction.

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14 years of Goddess Permaculture at Bealtaine Cottage, West of Ireland...drop in, power up! Colette O'Neill is a writer, photographer and teacher who has devoted the past 14 years to turning 3 acres of derelict land into a woodland sanctuary for all life, planting over 1,100 trees in the process.

19 thoughts on “In Honour of Lyra McKee

  1. They just can’t stop killing each other … no matter which ‘side’ they’re on, no matter in which ‘god’s’ name they think will serve their cause best, they can’t stop the killing … and women will always pay the final price, every, single, bloody, time.

    The politicians hover, like vultures as they mouth hollow words of regret and the need for change, but once their deckchairs on the Titanic are slightly more advantageously rearranged, they settle their charnel-house feathers, and it’s business as usual.

    They don’t, perhaps can’t, understand that they are already extinct.

    The Mother has no use for them, not the politicians nor the killers.

    May the tree you plant, Colette, in this young woman’s name, grow strong and true.


    1. A tree for Lyra, bless her.

      Bless you Colette.

      Bless all the beautiful peace that is on this dear Earth, our Mother.
      May it always remain and grow ever stronger in all cycles of time and in love.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Heard nothing about this, thank you Colette for your sharing, and teaching, I learn from you every time I hear from Bealtaine Cottage. love and blessings from me to you and doggie.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Such a difficult time to live through, yet it brought you and others strength and clarity and passion for what is important. I love the quote by Maxine Kingston. I work daily on creating peaceful moments where I feel closer to nature and what is real. Thank you for sharing this. I have shared it with others.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh Colette! I received my book yesterday, In Search of the Goddess Rising and I am awestruck!  Thank you so very much for the inscription and especially for writing the book.  It came at a meaningful time, a day wrought with senselessness.  Not only for the words in your blog post, but also for a personal matter within my family, having to do with male dominance.  So you can see how serendipitous the book was for me to receive. I sat down and started to read, and the words soothed me beyond belief.  Then I watched one of your videos.  Again, the feeling soothed that part of my soul which has been torn open.  Slowly I’m coming round to being back where I was.   I called my friend, Nancy Dart, (I noticed she posted something on your blog page) and told her all about your book.  She came to you through me, and hopefully she will be buying it soon.  I also noticed how quickly I received it, when it takes about three weeks for me to send something to the UK.  I’m very much looking forward to the next book I purchased, A Cottage and Three Acres, and my map which wil pull it all together.  I’m eagerly awaiting your next book on fairies; I have a friend, Colleen who is pagan and I am sure she would love a copy of that and I will purchase it for her. Thank you so very much for being on this wonderful planet and for sharing all your knowledge. In fondness,Beth P

    Liked by 1 person

  5. What a sad story and yet with your Goddess wisdom, you help it rise like a phoenix. Here in the US, we didn’t hear much, if at all of this travesty. And it outrages me to read about it. Blessings to you for planting a tree in her honor.

    I am reminded of a sign in my doctor’s office: “Well behaved women seldom make history” and it shows that Ms.McKee wasn’t too “well behaved”. I can only hope that by her transitioning, it will transform the area and growth can begin again.

    By the way, your photo reminds me so much of my beloved Step Mum, a Welsh woman from Cardiff. You both have the same facial features and hair style. She’s gone now, but she taught me so many things about motherly love; much like yourself only with Mother Earth!

    Beth P

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Your blog is amazing. I just learned of you recently.
    I am so sorry to hear of the tragedy of Lyra. Planting a tree is a beautiful tribute.
    Only subscribing today, I am so inspired and impressed with all you have accomplished. You are so inspiring. I am 66 and I dream of being able to find a place to live in a self sustainable manner.
    I also am inspired by your ability to live a vegan lifestyle . Is there any resources you would recommend to get started.
    kindest regards, from Maryland USA

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I recommend the YouTube “Brenda Davis – Becoming Vegan”. It is a long watch, but she has studied for years all the ins and out of vegan nutrition and shares so much valuable information. Namaste

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Such a meaningful blog Colette , thank you for sharing , so sad , but a beautiful thought to plant a tree for Lyra. Blessings to you and Jack ( I guess he’s not with you tonight but I cannot leave him out of my thoughts ) xxxx

    Liked by 1 person

  8. What a shame. I did not realize there was still such trouble in Northern Ireland. She was obviously brilliant and talented…… and so young. Yes, planting a new tree seems fitting.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thank you for honoring Lyra. Here in the States, we heard nothing about this. I’m so sorry for your and all of Ireland’s loss, and am humbled by the beautiful blog you wrote about your home and your young life. This is the first email I’ve received from your site. I think you live in the garden of Eden; and it’s such a healing space. I think of your photos when I am restless during the night. Thank you, Collette. Nancy Dart


    Liked by 1 person

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