Posted in News, Planet earth, sustainability, Thoughts

The Greatest Peace Initiative of Our Time

DSC00242This notion that man can, and should, have absolute dominion over the “chaotic” powers of nature and woman…is what ultimately lies behind man’s famous “conquest of nature” – a conquest that is today puncturing holes in the earth’s ozone layer, destroying our forests, polluting our air and water, and increasingly threatening the welfare, and even survival, of thousands of living species, including our own.

Riane Eisler
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I was aware from an early age, through extensive reading and observation, that women have long been associated with Nature.
DSC00173Even the metaphor we use for our planet, ‘Mother Earth’, for instance…our nurturing Earth!
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The language we have become over familiar with says it all.. a ‘virgin’ forest is one awaiting exploitation, as yet untouched by man.
DSC00176I have lived through the greatest exploitation and destruction of ‘virgin forests’, ever seen.
DSC00175It is something I would love to be able to wish away and part of the reason I have grown and planted over one thousand trees to co-create Bealtaine Cottage, with, Mother Earth.
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Working with the land, in much of the world, is women’s work.
DSC00178Apart from the violence of war and the destruction of the planet, women have been associated with the physical side of life.
DSC00182Even in biblical terms, women are ‘closer to nature’, and so to be kept controlled.
There is a real fear of Nature and all that She imbibes.
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Of course, when one takes a long look at how mankind has viewed Nature down through the past several thousand years, it becomes apparent that fear is the driving force.
DSC00185Nature is more powerful than human life.
DSC00186The control over Nature allows a fleeting feeling of control and empowerment…but, never for long, as we all know.
DSC00188So, in my own small way, recognising these truths, I embarked on a journey of making peace…with Her.
DSC00190The ultimate and final Peace Initiative.
DSC00192I come from one of the most devastated towns in Northern Ireland…Omagh.
DSC00193A town that endured such violence and suffering in the worst bombing witnessed on a quiet day in August of 1998.
DSC00198DSC00199DSC00200I mention this as it helps to contextualize my own life and motives for what I do…a complex study in itself!
DSC00202The only end to violence comes when people make peace with each other, or a situation.
DSC00205DSC00206DSC00207Peace and happiness is never birthed from subjugation and control.
DSC00208As a society that has both witnessed and endured these past two world wars, we should be in full receipt of that information!
DSC00213For twelve years now I have striven to make peace with Mother Earth. DSC00215The results are here for all to see.
DSC00216She is not to be feared.
DSC00222DSC00221She is not to be controlled.
(Can you see the little bird in flight from the box?)
DSC00217She is who we live WITH!
DSC00218I learned, to my shock, the other day, that Ireland relied heavily on the importation of Chemical Fertilizer from America during the years of World war Two!
DSC00219That was over sixty years ago, so one must assume that grass has only grown green from chemicals ever since!
DSC00220One must further conclude that alongside this continued abomination has come the loss of topsoil, for one goes hand-in-hand with the other!
DSC00223The ultimate Peace Initiative is working with Mother Earth to create topsoil, as evidenced here.
DSC00224Peace is to be nurtured and worked through.
DSC00237Peace comes with levels of compromise and sacrifice.
DSC00238Peace in our own life comes with persistence and negotiation and keeping the vision with us.
DSC00231Peace comes from the refusal to abuse, the refusal to not live ON Her, but WITH Her!
DSC00236The greatest war of all time is being fought in every garden, allotment, field, woodland, forest, river, ocean and all that makes up Mother Earth.
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The future of our children’s children lies within the reflection of our love for Mother Earth today.
We either make peace with Her or forfeit the lives of those whose faces we will never see!

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Posted in Books, Celts, Cottage, Country Living, Inspiration, Ireland, Uncategorized

Obsession

bealtainecottage.com permaculture (14)

Morning light floods the kitchen.

The sky opens early revealing a mist over the valley.

It’s been very dry here in the west of Ireland, so morning mist adds a little dew to the plants and is very welcome.

bealtainecottage.com permaculture (15)I am busy writing my book, all about Bealtaine Cottage and how it grew from barren monoculture into Eden, with some permaculture magic!

As I write, I compare this ten year journey to that of my great grandmother, Mary Ann, who felt compelled to leave the comforts of a small town and re-invent her life, on a small farm, in the countryside around Omagh.

bealtainecottage.com permaculture (16)At the age of fifty four, during the great depression of the 1930’s, Mary Ann Baxter strode into a property auction being held in the town hall and bought, for cash, a small farm.

This swallowed up her entire life savings!

bealtainecottage.com permaculture (18)My great grandmother was a remarkable woman, for in the 1930’s, a woman in her fifties was considered old and good for little!

Not alone that, women did not do anything as bold and individual as buying property, on their own, at an auction!

bealtainecottage.com permaculture (19)The farm became her life and she slept for the next twenty years in a big brass bed in the barn…never in the little cottage which she kept pristine!

Her story is simply enchanting and I promised my father to write it…and I will!

bealtainecottage.com permaculture (20)In the meantime the story of this obsessive desire to live close to Mother Earth continues to be written.

The first four chapters are posted on this website and I would be happy to receive any comments you may care to leave…

bealtainecottage.com permaculture (21)Talking of which…I know there are many, many subscribers to this blog, running into the thousands and often wonder why so few use the “Like” button at the end of the blog.

bealtainecottage.com permaculture (17)It does my heart good to see that what I write is appreciated 🙂 and maintaining a spirit of generosity in photographing and posting regularly is helped by appreciation, so please take the few seconds to like.  

Posted in Celtic Mythology, Celts, History, Inspiration, Ireland, photography, Spring

The Enchantment of Belcoo

www.bealtainecottage.com 003It’s late as I write this blog…I really should be in bed, but the beauty of the day has filled me with enthusiasm to share it with you!

I made a journey to Omagh this morning to visit my mother.

The day was bright and the sky clear as I set off on the journey North.

I drove up around Lough Allen, across the border at Belcoo, through Enniskillen and onto Omagh.

www.bealtainecottage.com 005On the way I stopped by Lough McNean at Belcoo.

www.bealtainecottage.com 014 Legend has it that this was the scene of an ancient massacre.

www.bealtainecottage.com 006It’s a strange place, resonating some kind of ancient energy.

www.bealtainecottage.com 012The mountains around the Lough stand guard over deep, dark waters that mark the borderlands

www.bealtainecottage.com 022The landscape pulls one in as if by magic, forcing the eye to examine the shadows in search of something…something…some memory of being here before…

Many thanks for the continuing support for the work of this Bealtaine Cottage  website.

Blessings

Posted in Autumn, Buddha, Childhood, Family, Inspiration, Ireland, Life, Organic Garden, Permaculture, Spirituality

A Sacred Space for the Mind

Cobwebs on Fuschia

The morning was misty, with an autumnal feel in the air…cool and damp with dew. hanging webCobwebs hung on trees and bushes, sometimes stretching for metres in the air.

misty morning at Bealtaine CottageIt felt so liberating to just amble around with tea in one hand, camera in the other and not be oppressed with heat.

The misty hill of BallyfermoyleI don’t tolerate heat too well and look forward to autumn, it being my favourite season of all. Buddha at BealtaineThe early morning sun began to evaporate the mist, bringing to mind the day ahead and all that needed to be done. 

Dew catcherI love the time in the morning before any other creature has stirred…it’s magical and charged with a wonderful energy.

secret pathI was born and grew up in a tiny two bedroom house in Omagh, shared with parents and 8 siblings, so have come to appreciate the calm, before the day begins in earnest.

Sitting room windowQuiet, early mornings, hold a sacred space for the mind.

Buddleia on the gravel driveEarly morning, as the sun rises, is an almost different world…a world apart from the mundane and expected.

A world filled with possibilities, hopes and plans.

setting sunAnd the setting sun carries away the hot day, into the embrace of another cool, welcome night.

Posted in Bealtaine Cottage, biodiversity, Birds, Childhood, Earth, Fairies, Garden, Gardens, Inspiration, Ireland, Organic Garden, Permaculture, Seeds, Uncategorized, Woodland

The Woman Who Planted Trees

Trees at Bealtaine Cottage

Many people ask if they can visit Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture Gardens and I always try to oblige if it’s at all possible!

Young Apple tree at Bealtaine Cottage permaculture gardensSome advance notice is welcome, as life on 3 acres on one’s own can get pretty full on at times.

Front garden at Bealtaine CottageLast evening I was called by a friend, who wanted to know if she could bring a neighbour of hers to visit Bealtaine.

Deep in the permaculture gardens at Bealtaine CottageHer neighbour referred to me as “the woman who plants the trees!”

(By the way, it’s a beautiful morning as you can see from the pics!)

Trees in the pond garden at Bealtaine CottageIt’s an odd thing to do really, plant trees…so far over 900 planted!

Stream in the bog garden at Bealtaine CottageOdd, in so far as so few people get this obsessed! Trees change every aspect of one’s life.

Some of the trees planted at Bealtaine CottageAs I sit here typing this blog, the birdsong is magical and very loud!

A Cherry seed grows by an Oak tree at Bealtaine CottageMy childhood was impoverished as far as trees were concerned.

Cherry seedling and Oak sapling at Bealtaine CottageI grew up in a tiny terraced house with no garden, just row upon row of slate roofs and grey walls.

Young Chestnut tree at Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture GardensMy first encounter with trees was at school.

Bealtaine Cottage IrelandEntering the gates of the Convent school grounds, greenery enveloped me.

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture GardensMy childhood was transformed by the gardens of Loreto Convent.

Permaculture Paradise at Bealtaine CottageI recently returned and collected seed from the convent grounds in Omagh, to grow on here at Bealtaine Cottage.

Chestnut and Sycamore saplings at bealtaine Cottage Permaculture GardensVisitors bring me trees.

Willow arch into the Fairy woodland at Bealtaine CottageSubscribers to this blog send me tree seeds, from all over the world.

Blossom on a Rowan tree planted in the Fairy Wood at Bealtaine CottageI dream about trees.

A Copper Beech and wild rose at Bealtaine CottageI have left instructions to be buried in a woodland…let a tree rise from me!

Posted in Cats, celebrations, Celtic Mythology, Childhood, Climate, Current Affairs, Ecology, Food, History, Ireland, Life, Permaculture, Uncategorized, Wildlife

The Circle of Greed, The Spiral of Life and The Tipping Point

Bealtaine Cottage in April 2011 025The tipping point has been reached.

Reading this report from yesterday quantifies everything that is wrong with our approach to food.

You see, Salmon, used to be a seasonal food.

Bealtaine Cottage Gardens  in April 2011 001Much like other seasonal foods, it was enjoyed as a celebration of a particular time of year.

I remember this time as a child.

Fairy Dell at  Bealtaine Cottage011The salmon would return to Ireland to spawn…swimming furiously up the rivers to lay their eggs in dark, sometimes shallow, pools of freshwater, having survived a momentous journey across the Atlantic Ocean and into the fast, freshwater rivers of the west of Ireland.

April 2011 Bealtaine Cottage Laurel arch023It was easy enough to catch them, though not always legal, but then people rarely took more than they could eat or share.

Irusan at Bealtaine Cottage Fairy DellWe had no fridge in our tiny house and no freezer.

Barely standing room for parents and eleven children!

Inside Bealtaine Cottage 001The salmon was a great supplement to a frugal diet and the men seemed to understand the value of the sacred fish, for they were regarded as such in the old ways.

The Salmon of Wisdom.

The Salmon of Knowledge.

Pond in the Bog Garden at  Bealtaine Cottage There was a sense of compassion by the banks of the River Strule in Omagh.

An empathy even with this most magical of all fish… Fish Farms put an end to all this, injecting a venom of disconnect into the veins of human beings.

Mirror in the garden at  Bealtaine Cottage Greed over-ruled millennia of links between human and salmon.

This is what I have just read from yesterday’s paper…

The number of salmon killed by diseases at Scottish fish farms rose to more than 8.5 million last year.

New figures released by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) reveal losses from all salmon farms have reached nearly 10% of production.

The main problem has been the spread of amoebic gill disease, blamed by some on the warmer seas caused by climate pollution.

In 2012, 13,627 tonnes of dead fish had to be disposed of by 230 fish farms along the west coast and on the islands, compared with 9717 tonnes in 2011 and 7159 tonnes in 2010.

This has raised questions about how such large amounts of diseased waste are safely disposed of, and how the process is regulated. Sepa and local authorities both say it is not their responsibility.

Anglers and environmentalists pin the blame on production methods and are demanding a halt to any expansion plans.

“It is clear from these massive mortality figures there are major problems,” said Hugh Campbell Adamson, the chairman of the Salmon and Trout Association in Scotland. “When a large number of fish are closely confined, the likelihood of endemic disease is greatly increased.”

Fish farmer Grieg Seafood declined to comment.

HeraldScotland

http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/home-news/disease-deaths-on-salmon-farms-soar.20177714

Posted in Bealtaine Cottage, Cottage, Country Living, Eco-Living, Inspiration, Ireland, Life, Lifestyle, Thoughts, Uncategorized

Frank Lloyd Wright was Right

I have had a love affair with the Irish Cottage for most of my life.

The image in my head of a typical cottage is one of nurture and contentment.

A place that nestles into the landscape…

This was the cottage of my great grandmother, Mary Anne Higgins-Baxter, in Omagh, on the Derry Road.

The gable end faced the road as was the custom.

I carry with me lovely, soft, memories of her beautiful home.

She died before I could get to know her, but her cottage was just filled with her incredible energy and spirit!

This cottage, where birds and bees feel just as at home as humans…there are always lots of small gaps around the roof and walls where insects, bats and birds can over-winter.

Such imperfection is perfect for life…

Surrounded by Nature, freshened by gentle breezes and beckoning one to venture in…

Frank Lloyd Wright once said that, “The good building is not one that hurts the landscape, but one which makes the landscape more beautiful than it was before the building was built.”

Frank Lloyd Wright was right!

Posted in Birds, Books, Buddha, Childhood, Family, History, Inspiration, Poetry

Bringing Light into your Life

Irish cottages are fairly dark houses, designed to be snug and keep in the heat, working well it has to be said…but I love the light, so have judiciously placed mirrors, here, there and everywhere!

This is one near the north window, reflecting light from the west window.

roses at Bealtaine Cottage

A well placed mirror can act like another window in terms of light.

www.bealtainecottage.com

I never turn down the offer of a mirror, even a broken one and have even used bits of mirror in the garden to reflect light onto plants.

Contentment is often found to be lacking in the world today.

So many people want more and more and, as they acquire material goods, become weighted down with the accumulation of such.

Materialism is like the albatross in the poem, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.”

When the mariner finally looked down upon the creatures in the sea around him and recognized their divinity, the dead Albatross finally fell from his neck…he became one with all life…contentment descended upon him.

To free oneself, it becomes imperative to examine the inner self and one’s values and beliefs.

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There is an old saying, a proverb if you like, that I often heard as a young woman growing up in my home town of Omagh.

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Of all we know life to be, three aspects of it will guide your journey: truth, nature and knowledge.

These three things will light the life path and bring you forward, safely and in contentment.

My paternal grandmother had little in terms of money or property, but was immensely wealthy of spirit and generous with all.

Bealtaine Cottage 009

Her own mother was an equally remarkable woman and incredibly attuned to the natural world around her.

She loved the world outside of her little lime-washed cottage and slept in a big, brass bed in the barn, all year round, waking with the birdsong and living a long, contented life.

Happiness, contentment and the recognition of Divinity in all life, were never strangers on her journey.

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Posted in Bealtaine Cottage, Bloom, Country Living, Gardening, Growing Food, Inspiration, Nature, Organic Garden, Permaculture, Roscommon, Self-Sufficiency, Uncategorized, Wild Flowers, Wine

The Rain-Sodden Lushness of Midsummer in Ireland

Harvests are looking good despite the lack of sunshine.

Today, Sunday, is overcast and still.

If the weather is fine tomorrow I shall begin to harvest the Blackcurrants.

It looks to be a mighty harvest…certainly in excess of last year, when over 100lbs were picked…and the birds had their feast along the way!

Redcurrants are cropping well also and most of these will go in the freezer, as I enjoy fruit yoghurts throughout the winter.

The Redcurrants give the impression of jewels hanging on bushes.

I often wonder why more of these delightful and easy to grow fruit bushes are not planted in borders in the garden.

The leaves are a lovely vivid green and look really attractive!

I bought this lovely lamp in a Charity shop in Enniskillen, on my way to Omagh, my home town.

 I was up visiting my Mum on her 82nd birthday last Friday!

She is in great form and looking fantastic!

I must post a pic of her soon!

Happy Birthday Mum! (I’m saying this because she has recently started looking on the net and perusing the Bealtaine Cottage blogs!)

I notice that the flowers are all in bloom on the St John’s Wort bush…they are all open despite the lack of sun!

The Bealtaine Angel silently surveys the Valerian…

I have been gathering big bouquets of Yellow Loosestrife to fill vases in the cottage.

Everywhere the lushness of midsummer continues to hold sway…

Posted in Country Living, Food, Garden, Inspiration, Self-Sufficiency, Uncategorized

How a Disaster was turned into a Triumph!

Disaster!
Today was going to be about planting potatoes…

It started off with digging the chosen patch in preparation for the sowing of the seed potatoes.

Towards the end of the dig, the spade hit something rather tough…

It turned out to be the water pipe which leads from the spring well on the hill above the cottage, down across my land towards the back of Bealtaine.

Oh dear!

(The Rhubarb this morning.)

An emergency trip was made to Ballyfarnon, a village about three miles away, where there is a local hardware store.
The connector was bought to mend the pipe.

At this point, a brainwave had caught up with the disaster…why not use this opportunity to connect a tap to the tunnel?

Why, every summer the carrying of buckets of water to the tunnel from the cottage was time-consuming to say the least! This was a golden opportunity, as the broken pipe was just a couple of metres away from the tunnel…so, the necessary components were duly purchased!

One of my five brothers, Hugh, was visiting from Omagh, so the expertise was there and willing to help!

Hugh and I returned with the gear and set about the task…
A channel was dug to release the water, which by this time had the potato patch looking more like a rice-paddy field!

After almost eight years of carrying water to the tunnel, I am delighted with my inside tap!

As you can see the Rhubarb is coming up really fast and will be ready for harvesting in the next 10 days or so. One of the joyous tastes of Spring…a Rhubarb Crumble and egg custard!

Although this morning is dull and grey, the garden is illuminated with colour…blossom, buds and leaves, like this Photinia near the apple trees closest to the cottage. Good shelter and colour!

Posted in Bealtaine Cottage, Books, Culture, Inspiration, Ireland, Life, Permaculture, photography, Uncategorized

Imagine Peace…John and Yoko and Ireland! Notes from a Cottage.

Spent the day in Omagh visiting my mother. She’s well and hearty and looking good!  On the way back I stopped outside Blacklion by the lough and spotted this beautiful stone sculpture. It is in the spirit of John and Yoko, which is very appropriate as they visited Ireland and even had tea in the old Mulranny Hotel near Achill Island where I once lived. Imagine was the first album I bought when I went to London and it really is timeless, perhaps even more relevant today than ever…actually, definitely more relevant today! John was a soul of immense wisdom and integrity, which is so lacking today in our leaders!

A plain and simple message…

And there’s the island when you peep through the hole…the size of the world if looking from space. There’s a series of standing stones, so the alignment is important, as in all stone circles…

Home…it’s always good to return! The blackbird was singing the last song of the day. Valerian was almost in bloom along the walls of the cottage and bluebells had opened under the kitchen window.

Home. Tea. Book. Bed…

Posted in Climate, Current Affairs, Ecology, Folklore, Gaia, History, Ireland, Leitrim, News, Permaculture, Personal, Poetry, Politics, Roscommon, Sligo, Smallholding, Thoughts, Uncategorized

Osama Bin-Laden and the Day that’s in it…The Sun Sets on Permaculture Ireland

The sun sets into the west and the day is nearly over. Rain is promised for the night ahead and tomorrow. All is quiet and calm and dry at Bealtaine. The well has stopped feeding the cottage with its sweet water.

The shadows cast by the setting sun illuminate the curtained cupboard…”I am half-sick of shadows, said the Lady of Shallot…” Listening to the incessant reporting on the death of Osama Bin Laden, I am half-sick of news…! Is this all that is news worthy? Will we ever be told the truth by the popular media? I grew up in Omagh, a town dominated by institutional sectarianism and was aware from an early age that the BBC rarely reported what I experienced…there were two different realities, the one I lived and the one on the screen!

The sun continues its descent into the west.

There is one certainty in all of this mayhem that is civilisation…that the beauty that is Gaia will be here long after we have passed…Perhaps the words of an unknown Irish Bard can best capture the moment that’s in it-      “The world has laid low, and the wind blows away like ashes Alexander, Caesar, and all who were in their trust; grass-grown is Tara, and see Troy now how it is – and the Irish themselves, perhaps they too will pass!”   Irish; author unknown; 17th-18thcentury.