Magical Woodland by an Irish Castle

www.bealtainecottage.com

Stepping into a magical woodland can be one of the most healing and re-energizing acts of care for oneself.

www.bealtainecottage.comThis morning I ventured into the woods around Kilronan Castle and the mystical Lough Meelagh, a short distance from Bealtaine Cottage.

www.bealtainecottage.com I’m glad to have brought my little camera, as am now able to share this enchantment with you.

www.bealtainecottage.comThis sacred place nestles into the valley that sweeps off towards Sligo and the Atlantic Ocean.

www.bealtainecottage.comThe Lough is dotted with Crannogs…ancient dwelling places constructed by ancestral forces on the Lough itself. You can just see this Crannog in the distance.

www.bealtainecottage.comThese were places of safety in times of a forested land where wild animals posed a threat and tribal invasions were part of life.

www.bealtainecottage.comThe Lough has risen high along the gentle shoreline, where moss and lichen hold sway.

www.bealtainecottage.comTree roots have loosened in the storm ridden rain and some have given way into the dark, watery depths.

www.bealtainecottage.comBirds sing out merry above me as I walk and trees groan in the windy heights… the wind has washed the sky a summer blue.

www.bealtainecottage.comIt is here that I remember my mother and her gentle passing…her energy has joined the forces sweeping in Spring.

www.bealtainecottage.com If it were just possible for a moment in time to lift the veil and peer inside, for it seems that this woodland hides many secrets.

www.bealtainecottage.comAnd so the path bears me forward on this fine day…

www.bealtainecottage.comAs the blue sky deepens and colours…

www.bealtainecottage.comLittle wonder our ancestors regarded these places as sacred…

www.bealtainecottage.comFor they are!

www.bealtainecottage.comThe path diverges as in the Robert Frost poem, though choice is not difficult, for the path loops round and brings one back.

www.bealtainecottage.comBy this time my spirit has been lifted high into the trees, my mind calm and serene and energy charged.

www.bealtainecottage.comAll is well.

The magic flows within.

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“…the care of the earth is our most ancient and most worthy and, after all, our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it, and to foster its renewal, is our only legitimate hope.”
Wendell Berry

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Lughnasa Gardens and Weddings

cow parsley at Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture GardensAs early Lughnasa transforms the permaculture gardens of Bealtaine Cottage into a colourful abundance and the harvest continues, the early days of an Irish autumn unfold.

Berries on the HawthornThe berries on the Hawthorn are turning colour and the magic of a warm autumn fills the air!

Mushrooms at Bealtaine gardensThese mushrooms are growing today near a clump of Birch trees in the woodland gardens further down from the front of the cottage.

willow archway in the permaculture gardensThe willow archway here has closed in on either side as the summer growth has cast even more shade in the new woodland. early autumn in the permaculture gardens of Bealtaine CottageBamboo and Dogwood have almost merged to close this path. As you can see, the leaves are beginning to drop.

entrance to the Fairy WoodThe entrance to the Fairy Wood is closing too…there is a lot of work ahead this Autumn as the cutback begins!

New beds by the front door of the cottageHere are the new beds by the front door of the cottage. They are filled with home-made compost and planted with Birch and Cotoneaster, both grown from seed.

New bed by the entrance to Bealtaine CottageI love the simplicity of creating gardens around an old cottage…fuss-free and free!

Bench by entrance porchOne of the evergreen trees originally by the front door has been planted in the corner. It had grown far too big for the terracotta pot.

sitting room at Bealtaine CottageI love the way the silvery autumn light changes the way the sitting room of the cottage looks. This is my best-loved season!

With my beautiful grandsonsI have just returned from the wedding of my son, held over three days at Markree Castle in Sligo. My beautiful grandsons are here with me in the picture. weddingThe flowers were grown here at Bealtaine Cottage and all the guests were gifted with bags of seeds.

It was a lovely, lovely wedding!

Dylan and Michellw wedding 031Here I am with my eldest daughter, Cara.

wedding cakeAnd yes…the bride wore yellow wellies!

The Romance of Gardening…falling for Gaia

A love story in pictures…

The misty hill of Ballyfermoyle***

Petunias in pot on veranda table***

Entrance to the Fairy Wood***

The Lodge at Bealtaine Cottage***

Roses on veranda at bealtaine cottage today***

Angel on Midsummer morning***

Bealtaine Cottage sign***

driveway at bealtaine Cottage***Sunset through the trees at Bealtaine Cottage***

veranda at bealtaine cottage***

pealtaine Cottage permaculture gardens***

Pond in May at Bealtaine Cottage***

Pond in the Bog Garden at Bealtaine Cottage 015

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Bee on Lunaria flower at Bealtaine Cottage***

Angel at Bealtaine Cottage***

Buddha under the Laurel arch at Bealtaine Cottage permaculture gardens***

Mist and trees in the permaculture gardens at Bealtaine Cottage***

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture***

Bealtaine Cottage 011***

Midwinter mist at Bealtaine Cottage***

bealtaine Cottage in the snow***

Angel in the snow at Bealtaine Cottage

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Transition Town Sligo, Monsanto and No 2 GM

March against Monsanto, Sligo

On Saturday, as part of the “March Against Monsanto,” campaign held worldwide, I attended a public meeting to raise awareness about Monsanto,and the many issues surrounding GM foods.

march against Monsanto, IrelandJohn Brennan,a long time anti-GM campaigner,and a member of NO 2 GM,an anti GM organisation, http://www.no2gm.com, was the speaker at this event.

As Monsanto, the giant biotech U.S. company is becoming more and more determined to impose it’s GM foods on the populations of the world, people are equally becoming more and more determined to resist this pressure.

Sligo has just entered the Transition Towns Movement and has already established a Community Garden, where great, organic food is grown and people come together to make the transition from a world of peak oil to a more localized environment, where food and fuel do not have to be transported great distances.

It was a great day and an opportunity to power up with information, as well as meet new people involved in improving the world we live in!

Euphorbia in the front gardenBack home, in the gardens here at Bealtaine Cottage, the sun shines between heavy rain…ideal growing conditions!

Roses on the veranda at Bealtaine CottageThe roses on the veranda have opened their scented blooms, as the bees dart in and out to avoid the heavy rain.

Sweet Peas in a hanging basketSweet Peas have been planted in hanging baskets to avoid the slugs and…

Kanzan Cherry tree in flower at Bealtaine CottageThe blossom now covers the Kanzan Cherry Tree…a long wait, but worth it!

You can see the blue sky, but don’t be fooled as almost an inch of rain fell last night and continues, intermittently today!

Bird bath in tree at Bealtaine CottageThis is a brass dish I found at the second-hand market on Sunday.

It was 25cents!

Doesn’t it make a great bird bath set into the branches of this tree and filled with rainwater?

As the tree grows this summer, the branches will grow into the plate, holding it securely in place!

Courtyard garden at Bealtaine CottageEverything is making good progress as the weather improves.

permaculture gardens of Bealtaine CottageThe gardens are just drooping with abundance.

Celtic Cross at Bealtaine CottageBees and insects are in heaven!

And as you can see from today’s video…

“A Bee Healthy Permaculture Garden”

The High Cross of Saint Colmcille under Ben Bulben.

A day away from my permaculture smallholding, to visit the beach of Streedagh, in Sligo.

On the journey to the ocean, I stopped off at Drumcliffe to visit the grave of William Butler Yeats.

Yeats lies in the little churchyard beside the church where his grandfather was once a clergyman.

This was once an early Christian site of
major significance.

It founded by St. Colmcille in A.D. 575 – the round tower and high cross, as you can see above, still remain.

Saint Colmcille is remembered  for his part in the ‘ Battle of the Books’.

Colmcille copied a book while a guest
of St. Finian’s.

Finian claimed the copy as well as the book, but Colmcille refused.

Here you can see the beach of Streedagh and the mountain of Ben Bulben in the background.

Yeats lies in the churchyard at the foot of this great mountain.

Anyway, on with the story…The dispute was brought
to the High King of Ireland whose edict was: ‘To every cow its calf and to every book its copy’.

In consequence, in 561 AD, the High King and Colmcille engaged in battle on the slopes of Benbulben.

Aided by an angel, Colmcille won.

Thousands of men were slain and the King forced to concede the copy of the
psalter to Colmcille.

Stricken by remorse after the Battle of the Books,  Colmcille confessed and
was banished to Iona, Scotland, in 563 AD.

His penance was to convert more people to Christ than had
fallen at Culdreimhne.

Here is the poem by Yeats, “Under Ben Bulben.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EXoM0Ze-9xE

Permaculture Cottage in the Midst of a Storm, Hugh’s Pews and Shabby Chic!

Missy sits it out…the best a cat can do in the midst of a storm that has raged around the cottage for hours now!

 There is somethinginfinitely healing in the repeated refrains
of nature – the assurance that dawn comes after night,and
spring after the winter.
                                                                                – Rachel Carson
The Sense of Wonder

Yesterday, on my way back from the North, I stopped at a Charity Shop and bought this lovely throw for a few euros.

It now covers a multitude of sins on the old sofa and Missy certainly approves of the recycling effort here!

Making use of the wind and all that drying energy means getting a wash or two out on the line!

Try to keep to sheltered areas in a strong wind though!

The wind is pulling the fire in the stove up the chimney really fast and providing a very hot oven for bread baking. It’s handy to have the fuel at the back door.

My brother Hugh made the lovely bench from old Georgian doors, 150 years old! Hugh makes a lot of these and calls them, “Hugh’s Pews!”

This one is ‘Shabby Chic.’

Bealtaine Cottage Jan 2011 011

Haws and Ivy.Some of nature’s mostexquisite handiwork is on a miniature
scale, as anyone knows who has applied a magnifyingglass
to  a snowflake.
                                                                                   – Rachel Carson
..food for the birds!

No need for peanuts if you ‘plant ahead!’

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Permaculture Cottage ~ Not enough food in Ireland…

Tea after Enniskillen and a shopping expedition for another camera.

Recycled of course!

A great book shop up there also and by the looks of the cars in the car park, most of the population of North Roscommon and Leitrim were shopping there too!

What a relief! It rained yesterday and rained really heavily overnight. All the water butts are spilling over and the tunnel has had an early morning drink…6am! I love the way that the rainwater is held in jewel-like drops on the Ladys Mantle!

A tiny Oak seedling being nurtured in the tunnel. This will be ready to plant out next year. It will be potted on once more before then.

Pumpkins continue to set in the tunnel and around the garden.

These have been late this year, but hopefully there will be an Indian summer and easy ripening.

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture PumpkinsPumpkins I grew last year stored really well and I was able to use them right up until just recently!

Another bumper harvest at Bealtaine Cottage, Ballyfermoyle!

Successive harvests this year have been excellent!

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture RhubarbEarlier there was a great crop of Blackcurrants and before that, Rhubarb, as well as the other crops in between.

It’s a shame that so very few people in North West Ireland bother to grow food.

Bealtaine Cottage permaculture hensMuch of the complaint is that the land is not good enough for that purpose…well, it would appear to be far from that, don’t you think?

It is a fact that if the supermarkets closed their doors tomorrow, people living in the countryside in Ireland, would be very hungry indeed, so little food is grown here!

eggs and pumpkins at bealtaine CottageEggs, jams, chutneys, potatoes, fruit, vegetables and all other home grown and home made produce has given way to poor quality supermarket food.

Country gardens in this area and beyond consist mainly of suburban type lawns, prolific use of weed-killer and a few chosen plants.

This is normally put into place, at huge expense, by the local garden centre.

November 2011 312The disconnect with the land is a sad reflection of today’s society.

Permaculture Cottage ~ Abundance…

Harvests continue to develop and flowers bloom at Bealtaine Smallholding. Flowers like these Sedums require little or no attention and soon fill out a space.

White Buddleia in full bloom, though there are few butterflies around at the moment. This tree, well, bush really, serves as an air island for the birds nesting in the box nearby.

Pots of Curly Kale, Chard and Pumpkins, some of which will be moved across to the new beds in the Vegetable Garden. All these have been planted in pots filled with home made compost.

The grapevine, grown from a cutting about four years ago, has produced well this season. This was pruned hard at the end of the winter and then lightly at the end of spring. Well developed bunches of grapes have set and continue to thrive.

Another good year for the apple harvest. This part of Ireland is great for growing fruit, as rhubarb, blackcurrants, redcurrant, plums, apples et al appear to thrive!

Procul omen abesto! Ovid and the Days to Come…

Far be that fate from us…said Ovid over 2,000 years ago…

The Nursery at Bealtaine Cottage

It got me thinking of all I thought would not happen when I first took up growing…

Potting up in the polytunnel

We would not destroy our lifeline, the soil, for all that is necessary for life lies within…

And yet this is happening all over the developed world, and, everywhere else too!

Did you see the gigantically terrifying Dust-cloud that enveloped Phoenix, Arizona?

Reminiscent of the Dust-Bowl catastrophes of the hungry thirties…

In Permaculture we mulch…and mulch and…mulch! Building up layers of soil and goodness.

dealing with slugs, the seaweed methodThere is little need to dig, disturbing the ecological balance of the soil.

weed suppressing with cardboard

The fate that awaits us all is a depleted soil and thence a depleted Earth and this is happening every day in corporate controlled Agriculture…and there is a Land-Grab going on, have no doubt about that!

The Corporate monsters are on the march!

We must all take our positions in making a stand against this and we can!

As consumers we are powerful, very powerful indeed!

Potager bed at Bealtaine Cottage

I was reminded on Twitter this morning of this when reading some of the tweets accumulated overnight and one of them was about buying local, another about imported foods from parts of Africa where hunger is now ravaging the people…think on…

Hazelnuts beginning to ripen here at Bealtaine…this is a food to forage as well as grow and forms a good source of protein for the vegan or vegetarian.

These store well and can be ground or minced and added to burgers!

And a few more words from Ovid…”Video meliora, proboque; Deteriora sequor,” which translated means, simply…”I see the better way, and approve it; I follow the worse.”

We have choices.

We have the power.

Roses at Bealtaine Cottage

We can be the change we want to see…