A Glimpse into Ancient Celtic Ireland

old medieval ruins of dunluce castle on ocean coast in northern ireland famous place in uk

Ruins of Dunluce Castle in Northern Ireland.

Dunluce Castle is a now-ruined medieval site in Northern Ireland, the seat of Clan McDonnell.  This is also a place where an early Irish fort once stood.

The first historical recording of the people called the Celts was in Ancient Greece around 700 BC.

dsc09711Moving from East and Central Europe, the Celts first arrived in Ireland about 500 BC.

dsc07886The story of their arrival is intermingled with that of the coming of the Tuatha de Danaan, a mythical tribe of the Goddess Danu.

dsc02192With the arrival of Christianity in the fifth century AD, written records then observe that the Celtic language was being spoken all over the island of Ireland.

fullsizeoutput_10ffHowever, the Celtic Ogham script was used in Ireland from the fourth century AD to the eighth century AD.

DSC02683The script consisted of strokes or notches cut along the edge of a standing stone. DSC02695Therefore, Ogham is seen as being the first written records of life in Ancient Ireland.

ueK2sRvBQviqybeGN4wQYQ_thumb_2019The written word was not, however, much required in Celtic life, as the hierarchy placed the storyteller high in importance within the tribe.

1wRqeJZ5TweBo3g+436eiw_thumb_202cWithin this is also placed the Druid, whose powers of recall, knowledge and tribal history, as well as poetry and lore, was central to the wellbeing and social standing of the tribe or clan.

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In this, the Celts loved storytelling. Before they learned to write, the Celts passed on their stories from one generation to another. Here is my grandfather, Hugh O’Neill of Tyrone, who was both a wonderfully gifted storyteller and musician. My elder brothers, Phelim and Sean are with him by the fireside in Omagh, County Tyrone.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_1d79The Celts built large earthen banks or stone walls around their farms to protect themselves and their animals.

DSC02574These walls were called raths or duns.

IMG_8878Many place names in Ireland include the word rath or dun.

fullsizeoutput_111cExamples such as Rathcormac and Dunloe come to mind…try looking at a map of Ireland and see how many you can pick out!

fullsizeoutput_1126Many of the fortified homes were enlarged to become know as Hillforts, offering more protection and domination of the landscape. Oftentimes these sites were used later to build castles and larger settlements.

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Ireland is covered with the memories of our ancient tribes and people.<

The Evolution of Bealtaine Cottage…a Fifteen Year Odyssey

This is year fifteen of the Bealtaine Project…where has the time gone? Much has happened here on the land and in the cottage since May 2004. However, the real change has happened in the outside world, beyond the boundary hedges of Bealtaine Cottage.

I shall begin with Bealtaine Cottage… The plan in the beginning was to create a garden with hundreds of trees interspersed with paths that would become a symbol of regeneration and hope in a landscape that represented one of the poorest and therefore cheapest places to create. North-facing, thin, poor soil- my first book, ‘A Cottage and Three Acres,’ details the story well.

(And, by the way, the tunnel is fifteen years old with the original plastic covering…nothing special, 6mm and middle price range in case you are interested!)

The plan evolved into a full Permaculture design in the first year, with swales and ponds, drainage and raised beds, fruit and vegetable gardens and so on. Then, as the years progressed and trees began to grow, the energy changed. It became evident to me and those who were following my journey, (online since around 2010), that Bealtaine Cottage and the Project was heading in a different direction, fuelled by a potent and powerful energy!

Permaculture alone seemed complete and static as the trees began to develop and dominate the landscape. I had to give in to the force that was awakening in the Earth below my feet and so, Goddess Permaculture was birthed!

I explain this by way of the word, “innovate.” The tremendous force of energy that was growing around me innovated Goddess Permaculture.

Innovate: To give new form of that which exists.

This force of Nature was a Divine Feminine force of such tremendous power, that it was impossible to resist. Those who have visited Bealtaine Cottage will bear witness to this energy!

I felt drawn towards the story of the Goddess and began to explore the relationship my ancestors had with this powerful Creatrix. Academics like Maria Gimbutas, opened doors into the world of the Goddess and slowly, slowly, the dire situation developing in the outside world began to make sense! We had abandoned our relationship with the Great Goddess, Mother Earth, fuelled by a belief system that was inherently patriarchal and dominating of Mother Earth.

We had developed a totally extractive way of living with Earth…out for all we could extract from Her…greed has overwhelmed everything!

The overwhelming sense of loss began to be replaced with a powerful sense of regeneration and re-birth. My second book, “In Search of the Goddess Rising,” heralded the beginning of my understanding of the Great Awakening!

Yesterday I felt compelled to write a note on social media, expressing something of the dilemma many people feel and are unable or even fearful to articulate…

As we enter the #SixthMassExtinction,

remember this…

We sacrificed our divinity to sky gods, religions, a promised afterlife,

ignoring the sacredness of #MotherEarth

the abundance She creates in joy for us all!

We were taught dominion over Her.

We became #abusers

And so it is.

In order to move forward and embrace great change, it is imperative we accept what we have done. We are all included here…

Arrogance, hubris and ego will be our downfall if we fail to make the radical changes needed to live in peace with Mother Earth!

There is so much more to say, but I am both mentally and physically exhausted at present and am embracing a regeneration for my own health, in the form of a Juice Fast for the next few weeks.

Blessings to you all XXX Colette and Jack

PS: I noticed that my address on the website had been changed…and have no idea why or how this happened! The past two weeks have been rather strange in that I have not received any mail, which led me to check the address!…please check the website as I have corrected the address. please understand that I don’t have the time to respond to personal emails or letters, though read all.

A Home for the Jackdaws

The Jackdaws have up residence in the unused chimney.

A beautiful pair of Jackdaws…here is the male keeping watch, waiting for the female to put the twig, carefully carried to the cave, into place in the nest. He will alert her to my presence!

He’s just spotted me! Now there followed a flapping of wings as both took off together into the cold, clear morning sky. I don’t object to their presence…let all life find sanctuary here at Bealtaine Cottage.
Yes indeed, it is very cold, with a deep cap of snow on Slieve Anierin to prove it.

Blossom on the Blackthorn is abundant this year…the Wild Bees are in their nectar Heaven, with a promise of Sloes to follow in Autumn.
The tunnel is evolving as my own sanctuary, where I can sit and observe the burgeoning life all around me. A place of silent retreat and mindfulness.
The days of clearing up the compost and pots area are almost at an end. The new compost area is now where the hundreds of pots used to be. The compost to the left will be distributed around the gardens where it is needed.
I intend planting out the old compost area with shrubs, to provide both protection from the east winds and colour to lighten the heart!

There remains much work to be done here in the gardens over the coming days and weeks. It is essential I get on with it! I shall leave you with the rest of the photographs I took this morning as I walked around the gardens.

Apple blossom ready to break out.
Blackcurrant blossom near to opening.

Heart Awakening…

Heart Awakening at Equinox 2019

Spring is here…once the Ribes are in full bloom around the cottage, the Bees are ready to make an appearance.

“Once the soul awakens, the search begins and you can never go back. From then on, you are inflamed with a special longing that will never again let you linger in the lowlands of complacency and partial fulfillment. The eternal makes you urgent. You are loath to let compromise or the threat of danger hold you back from striving toward the summit of fulfillment.” 
― John O’Donohue

from: A Little Book of Celtic Wisdom

Heart Awakening Podcast (audio)


Heart-Awakening…recorded in November 2016 at Bealtaine Cottage.

We approach the Equinox and the promise of longer days and shorter nights…the dark days are over.

The Bealtaine Cottage Press supports The Bealtaine Project, advertisement-free and open source on all social media platforms. Books and printed material are available below.


See more from Bealtaine Cottage Press: https://bealtainecottage.com/bealtaine-cottage-publications-books-and-maps/

An Irish Cottage Garden and Homestead in Spring

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The promise of peaches growing outdoors in the west of Ireland, another Bealtaine Cottage first! Blossom on these home grown trees, grown from seed, is looking good. So far, with only the first month behind us, this has been a remarkable Spring!

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New Bird Boxes have been added to the rich habitat, now in its fifteenth year on these three acres.

IMG_1967The interior of the tunnel has been remodelled  to create a sanctuary in which to enjoy being in the garden, even in very wet weather!

IMG_1678Sanctuaries are much needed in today’s world!

IMG_1965The plastic has been washed inside and out, ready for its fourteenth year!

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IMG_1963The area around the tunnel, which includes compost heaps and potting corner, is now tidy.

IMG_1961Crocosmia is growing into fine clumps of lime green foliage.

IMG_1959Rhubarb doesn’t need forcing in the mild climate enjoyed here in the west of Ireland. IMG_1960Beds have been well mulched and Rhubarb banked up with enriched compost.

IMG_1954Work in the garden never stops, because Mother Earth never sleeps.

Sweet Peas have successfully germinated outdoors in plastic buckets. Many of you have been following this experiment.

IMG_1953IMG_1952There are lots more seeds germinating in this way and I expect them to be stronger and hardier for their experience being outdoors, even through the recent snow!

IMG_1949In between the outdoors work, clothes are hand-washed and hung out to dry in the wind and sporadic sunshine.

IMG_1948IMG_1947Potatoes are arranged to chit, as pots are brought together and prepared for potato planting.

IMG_1955In a home without television, reading is the great entertainment…my book of the moment is all about the incredible life of Vita Sackville-West…a rollicking good read in the form of a wonderful biography by Victoria Glendinning.

IMG_1940And, as always, whenever the weather allows, the back door is thrown open to welcome in the day that’s in it!

Books, Map, Calendar and Bumper Sticker selection…

Bealtaine Cottage Press: 

https://bealtainecottage.com/bealtaine-cottage-publications-books-and-maps/

February in the Goddess Permaculture Gardens of Bealtaine Cottage, Ireland.

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Work has continued unabated all this week. I managed to get a load of cardboard to begin mulching the problem bed over by the Lughnasadh Garden.

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Here I have laid the aboard and mulched with chipping from the garden shredder and laid another layer of cardboard.

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The progress is fairly rapid, with the exception that all the chipping come from the gardens, so pruning and shredding has to happen in conjunction with the mulching…and that takes quite some time!

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These are the magnificent red dogwoods that I am pruning at the moment…providing lots of mulch.

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The shredder is electric, second hand and the cheapest one on the market. It serves me well, but capacity is limited!

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The Robin keeps me and Jack company as I work.

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All the Laurel pruned last week is now laid as weed-suppressant mulch, as well as small mammal habitat. Goddess permaculture is about ALL LIFE!

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This week has been both cold and wet, so the occasional sunshine is worth photographing…I keep my camera with me as much as possible.

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The days are getting longer, with dark drawing down around 5.30pm.

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The sap is rising in the plants, developing a depth of lovely colour!

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Work in the tunnel continues, as I move from task to task in order to remain enthused with energy…small results are energising!

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I walked down through the gardens this morning and took these photographs.

IMG_1541It was delightful to see the first catkins on the willow.

IMG_1547IMG_1552Heavy rain fell last night, so the pond was gushing!

IMG_1554IMG_1556IMG_1557Back up to the cottage to write this blog and upload some of the photographs. I have heaps more that I may put on a slideshow on YouTube.

Thank you for your continuing support…I will continue to happily share freely.

Blessings X Colette

Christmas Eve in the West of Ireland

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There was  a full moon on the Winter Solstice, an unusual event and not occurring in my lifetime again, so, very special to me.

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As my ancestors before me, I celebrate the Solstice, marking the longest night of the year and with the promise of all that lies ahead…

The ritual of fire and feast, music and drink, gathering of family and friends are all important aspects of the Winter Solstice.

faa095f3-3444-4ff8-85d7-2ed42b2e309cThe youngest member of my little tribe was here, forming a focal point for us all as we gathered to celebrate.

8d34b1d6-9432-4e19-8499-c3160d377e92She is displaying a love for the natural world in her wish to be carried around outside and shown the many aspects of the woodland sanctuary, engaging with me as I show her the trees and birds.

Then, in the blink of an eye, the gathering disappears off to their own homes and further adventures of Yule and I am, once more, alone with Jack, birdsong and the increasing energy of the Otherworld all in and around the cottage.

kClN706URJ+1eNruuPNAmAI venture out to collect a few necessities from town and on my way home am enchanted to pull over the car and embrace the quickening evening.

NHNCj+B7T7Se8fht8X3sBQ93tItTHpRliAEKBZcXUm3gtQpjx2JDRxaCSAQzgCpXcQHMUg9TYOktiVFSwN

Dragon’s Breath as is known, moves silently over the fields.

The evening before Christmas Eve is preparing for a quiet slumber in the way in which only happens at this time of year.

A+%uXWYfRx6NgK5Y3AJXhgMist is rolling in across the lough.

t4c5%4z2Sx60AC3mj67xXgIn the rush that is corporate Christmas, most people have not the time to stop and take in this ethereal beauty…I find myself alone in the blue twilight of an Irish evening in late December.

pPzX8S4KGmhOc53T+CgnUKlVuoXR0eLf0ZPbPZayAThe days that follow a gathering are eerily silent.

The sheer contrast of it all!

mhJKVbkqToSCHLxMv9FUXgI am reminded of my solitude.

E3Od4xkFSJqXBfm6a+gdBAThis is a physical solitude, I remind myself, for I am immersed in many lives at Bealtaine Cottage.

uZAezoSuQJq%s3yu72byHALike the time of year, a reminder that days of quickening light lie ahead, when the light and sounds of Spring will make the quiet evenings something to look forward to.

HMUg9TYOktiVFSwNAnd so I make my way home, immersed in the silence of the land itself, at one with this ancient land, my home.

******

Enchantment on the Last Day of November

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There was always understood to be a contract between the people and the land. 

IMG_0810This reminder formed the words as I walked the woodland sanctuary, on this last day of November.

IMG_0813The leaf-covered earth I walked upon reminded me of that sacred contract, one long since forgotten by humankind.

IMG_0814From the sacred well flows the life-giving force of the Otherworld.

IMG_0817All the ancient races of the Earth understood this.

IMG_0821The contract was broken by those who nurtured a greed for more and more wealth.

IMG_0824This continues today and is the reason why Mother Earth has been brought to the edge of destruction all across Her land and seas.

IMG_0826The native pre-Christian mythology of Celtic Ireland is highly Goddess-centered.

IMG_0806This is in recognition of the understanding that the Earth is female and the force is that of the Creatrix.

IMG_0804Irish mythology, in particular, is filled with stories of powerful women.

IMG_0795These women, often revered and greatly honoured, were seen as incarnations of the ‘Sovereignty’ goddess.

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On these mornings near Midwinter, the moon continues to move across the sky as the sun rises.

IMG_0716The land speaks.

The Goddess is imbued in the chalice and has become the sacred quest of folklore, that of the Holy Grail.

Here at Bealtaine Cottage she is the land Herself.

IMG_0724It is a most blessed time of the day, when the energy is rising.

IMG_0723My morning ritual is the same…I walk the land and listen, not just with my ears but with my whole being.

IMG_0720The energy of the Goddess flows out from the spring well and across the woodland…I listen.

IMG_0682I walk always in awareness of the Otherworld  which influences my own.

IMG_0686I walk in service to the land.

IMG_0684This Goddess-centred land feels a part of me and I a part of Her.

IMG_0690The Otherworld is inextricably linked to the land I walk.

IMG_0783The Otherworld is not about the dead.

IMG_0727The Otherworld is referred to as the ‘land of the living’ in ancient lore.

IMG_0746The Goddess has a great propensity for shape-shifting…so as I walk the land it is oftentimes I am followed by birds.

IMG_0816Tomorrow marks the first day of December and the descent towards the Midwinter Solstice.

IMG_0679This will herald the return of the rise of the light, as we move towards Imbolc.

IMG_0764Yule begins on the Midwinter Solstice and continues until the first day of January.

IMG_0772The sacred walks of Winter continue…

 

Thanksgiving Blessings from Ireland

IMG_0557Fourteen years ago at the beginning of the Bealtaine Project, I had no contact with anyone in the US.

IMG_0559My perception of American people was very much decided by all things Hollywood and the news broadcasts that informed me of all that was negative.

It’s shocking how our view of the world lies in the power of so few!

IMG_0561As the years here at Bealtaine Cottage have passed and the great work of planting so many hundreds of trees has changed the land and fortified the future, I have blogged and vlogged the journey to anyone who was interested.

In this way, through interaction with so many subscribers, friendships have formed and many have made the journey to Bealtaine Cottage to visit for themselves…in fact many summers have been filled with regular visitors from all over the world!

IMG_0564It is difficult to keep up at times!

The kindness of strangers has overwhelmed me on countless occasions, as I received gifts…some arriving on the darkest of days for me!

(Living alone can have its downside now and then).

IMG_0568I have come to value the sincerity and genuine kindness of people, many of whom live in the United States.

IMG_0569I am amazed at the spirit of the real American women I have got to know, so hardworking and stoic, so resilient and kind…a force to be admired!

IMG_0570This morning I have stepped out to take these photographs for you as a sharing gift on your Thanksgiving Day.

IMG_0571The men of America who have found their way to Bealtaine Cottage proved surprisingly wonderful too…unlike the Hollywood macho nonsense so often portrayed as representative and so, so wrong!

IMG_0575From my perspective it takes a fully formed human being to show kindness, compassion and respect…qualities displayed again and again in those men who have made the journey.

IMG_0572I’m rambling, I know, but this little blog is simply to say, “I feel honoured to have met so many of you here and on YouTube, for you have opened my world and my mind!”

IMG_0574Blessings to each one of you for your love and support.

IMG_0576May your Thanksgiving be filled with love and laughter.

IMG_0577May the days to follow be filled with hope, for your optimism in the face of hardship is the true Spirit of America!

IMG_0578Blessings to you all XXX

IMG_0591Colette and Jack and all the life-force that is Bealtaine Cottage XXXIMG_0556

Enjoy the rest of this morning’s photos…

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(Bealtaine Cottage books, map and 2019 calendar are available using the link at the top of this page).