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.<

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.

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

— MAXINE HONG KINGSTON

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.

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.

Mabon Moon

Much of the day has been spent in the garden, working, head down, cutting back and meditating as I chop and drop. It’s been a long day and tiredness has forced me indoors. This is the first day of a seven day Juice Fast and, as always, my energy levels are high. Working hard enables me to sleep deeply and restoratively.

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There is something incredibly magical about working in the garden during Autumn. It is the scents arising from the earth that trigger memories and feelings. Then the hot tea, so well earned after hours of work.

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There is also the light that seeps into the trees and plants during Autumn. I stood outside last night and watched the full moon shine like a bright lamp onto the trees. This was a Mabon Moon, special, magical, conjuring otherworldliness among the woods that now surround the cottage.

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And the colours…oh, the colours!

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The Stone Circle seemed a fitting place to sit and drink my tea…there is an enchantment within…

 

…and without.

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Indoors there are some of the most magical photographs I have ever seen, framed and ready to hang on the walls. I am pondering the best way to exhibit them. This is all the work of Beth Trepper. I made a video of her work at the Clifden Arts Festival…you may have seen it on the Bealtaine Cottage YouTube channel…

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Calendars continue to be available…the link is at the top of this page.

Blessings to all XXX

Colette

Equinox Return

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I have returned home from my friends Terri and Lol in Clifden, Connemara. The Arts Festival was in full swing in the town, with a real buzz in the air! Staying with my friends whose house is outside of the town near the ocean was a calm and reviving experience. This is one of their beautiful cats in the garden.

IMG_8544Driving home through the landscape of this beautiful part of Ireland was a holiday in itself. The road from Clifden to Westport is the stuff made of legends, with mountains that rear up in front of one and water reflecting the ever-changing sky.

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This is Kylemore Abbey, where I stopped for tea and a welcome rest…it’s a long drive, over three hours in total!

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If you look closely you can see the mountains behind the tree…

Then I arrived home…

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Three days away makes a big difference as I walked the woodland gardens admiring the rapidly developing colours of Autumn. Today is the Equinox and midway between Lughnasadh and Samhain, so the Autumn is really colouring the land.

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Jack was delighted to have me home…well the feeling was mutual, as I was over-joyed to see him!

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Lots of work to get done now that I am feeling invigorated with new thoughts and ideas, especially here in the Lughnasadh Garden…masses of bindweed to remove as well!

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It is pure joy to be able to be outdoors at this time of year…ah…if only there were more hours in the day!

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Thanks to all of you who have ordered a calendar…I shall be posting calendars and books in the morning! Lots of calendars left…the link is at the top of the page!

 

Shape-shifting in Ireland

IMG_7239The stories of shape-shifting can be found in many cultures throughout the world, but none so prominently as that found in Celtic culture.

images (4)Within the near area of Bealtaine Cottage can be found a wealth of ancient history many thousands of years old.

IMG_7240The Tuatha Dé Danann, the people of the Goddess Danu, were one of the great ancient tribes of Ireland.

DSC00561These people who appeared to “land on top of a mountain”, Sliabh an Iarainn, a great brooding mass of sandstone rock and thin soil, visible from Bealtaine Cottage.

IMG_7188 The ancient manuscript ‘The Annals of the Four Masters’, records that the Tuatha Dé Danann ruled Ireland from 1897 B.C. to 1700 B.C.

images (3)The Tuatha Dé Danann were eventually consigned to mythology, disappearing from the face of the Earth, but going underground, emerging later as ‘Aes sidhe’ (the people of the mound – fairy mounds)., now referred to simply as the Sidhe.

IMG_7120The people are known as “The Sidhe” or people of the mounds, or “The Lordly Ones” or “The Good People”.

poster fairy woodOnce consigned to the underworld the Tuatha Dé Danann engaged their powers of shape-shifting, emerging in many forms, even that of apparent human form.

IMG_7125In Irish mythology, we come across a number of stories about shape-shifting beings.

544131_1412925595612240_770913028_nThese shape-shifters are often goddesses, gods, magicians, witches, fairies and other supernatural creatures.

DSC00672Shape-shifting is an important aspect of understanding the complexities of the influence of the Sidhe in contemporary Ireland, as it is believed this magic is employed to allow the Otherworld to communicate with humans.

DSC00424A poem in the Lebor Gabála Érenn says of the arrival of the Tuatha Dé Danann:

DSC01039“the truth was not known beneath the sky of stars,
whether they were of heaven or of earth.”

IMG_7229 (2)Colette O’Neill is a writer and photographer living at Bealtaine Cottage in the west of Ireland.

Colette follows the Path of the Goddess at Bealtaine Cottage and is the innovator of Goddess Permaculture, which holds Mother Earth and all Her life to be sacred.

Colette O'Neill

This is a special offer on my first book, usually 27.50 now 22.50 but only until 7th July!

“A Cottage and Three Acres,” by Colette O’Neill

Please email Colette if you would like a particular inscription in your book. From a desolate cottage set in 3 acres of monoculture sadness, to a vibrant, thriving food forest of life…the journey back to Eden over 13 years… Bealtaine Books and Maps are printed in Ireland and posted from Ireland to support the people of Ireland.

€27.00

 

Midsummer and the Earth is Singing

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The back door of the cottage lies open.

IMG_2240Outside the birdsong carries vibrant energy over the land.

IMG_2233On this, the longest day of the year, the Earth in the northern hemisphere basks in the glow of seemingly eternal light.

IMG_2221The shades of green seem endless, a patchwork of effervescence with splashes of outrageous colour.

 

Ox-Eye Daisy and Feverfew compete in the borders of the Lughnasadh Garden.

IMG_2225As fast as flowers open they turn to seed and the future summers to come.

 

Bees are everywhere, feasting and dancing through their very own garden of abundance and delight.

IMG_2220The hard work of the winter, creating the Lughnasadh Garden, has paid such rewards as could only have been imagined.

IMG_2215Midsummer marks the year in glorious technicolour and song, as befits Mother Earth. It’s like a birthday for her!

IMG_2187I have run out of space on this land…there is little room for more…yet more grows and arrives as gifts.

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I will be hosting another workshop on July 1st.

IMG_2208The workshop on July 1st covers aspects of co-creating a garden with Mother Earth, creating micro-climates, incorporating fruit and vegetables and the no-dig method of establishing, building and maintaining a regenerative Eden.

IMG_2205 Aspects of seed saving will be part of the day.
IMG_2171A full walk and talk of the gardens will also be included.
IMG_2203You are welcome to take photographs and ask all the questions you may want.
IMG_2200Please allow for the weather in your outdoor clothing considerations…and footwear.
IMG_2199The day begins at 11am and finishes at 5pm.
IMG_2191Morning and afternoon tea and vegan cakes are included.
IMG_2196A vegan lunch, also included, is served at 1.30pm.
Spring water is provided.
The cost is 75 euros.

Please email Colette to check availability as two places are already taken.

IMG_2185As of this posting there are two spaces left.

I will update when all places are filled.

This is the button to use for payment once your place is confirmed.

 

 

If you would like to support the work of Bealtaine Cottage, there are two ways you can do just that…

Here is the link to my new Patreon page
https://www.patreon.com/user?u=6605173

Here is where you can send a donation via PayPal:
https://www.paypal.com
coletteoneill2010@hotmail.com

 

 

 

Evening in an Irish Cottage…

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The sun has set into the west, far out on the Atlantic Ocean and the night draws in.

DSC09709The candle is lit in the kitchen window, a soft light to welcome the night, while on the far side of the room a small lamp illuminates the dark. 

DSC09712“I love to watch the fine mist of the night come on,
The windows and the stars illumined, one by one,
The rivers of dark smoke pour upward lazily,
And the moon rise and turn them silver. I shall see
The springs, the summers, and the autumns slowly pass;
And when old Winter puts his blank face to the glass,
I shall close all my shutters, pull the curtains tight,
And build me stately palaces by candlelight.”
Charles Baudelaire, Les Fleurs du Mal 

DSC09711The Blackbird has sung out the day and in the night, as it flies around it’s territory, marking out it’s boundary in song.

DSC09708“Inhale and hold the evening in your lungs.”
Sebastian Faulks, Engleby 

DSC09717“Now stir the fire, and close the shutters fast,
Let fall the curtains, wheel the sofa round,
And, while the bubbling and loud hissing urn
Throws up a steamy column and the cups
That cheer but not inebriate, wait on each,
So let us welcome peaceful ev’ning in.”
William Cowper, The Complete Poetical Works of William Cowper 

DSC09713The time between blue and black is quiet, almost timeless.

DSC09715There is an ethereal glow that conjures night.

DSC09716And slowly, slowly, the hush becomes night.

DSC09714Goodnight from Bealtaine Cottage…goodnight.

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As Evening Descends…

Towards the end of a perfect day at Bealtaine Cottage. The gardens are looking well tended as the evening descends. Strawberries have been potted up in hanging baskets and seedlings rescued from the gravel around the cottage and potted up. These will make fine plants for the Summer ahead! And…all the while…the birds sing!

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