Saturday, October 1, 2011

A day of being

Today has been sunless, still, overcast and wet but I have enjoyed my day immensely.  This morning I spent writing in the cottage.  This afternoon I donned the hat and calf-length raincoat I bought yesterday at Ennis and went out into the mist and rain in search of the remains of an early Christian church I understood to be somewhere across the fields from the cottage.  As seems to be the case with a great deal of the Irish countryside, this area is littered with built evidence of human occupation and use and continuity of ideas since at least neolithic times.  The most recent of these, satisfying a human need of an explanation for being, for some kind of god, is the seamless transition from Pagan to Christian.

Adjacent to the church is a stone shrine believed to be older than the church and to mark the grave of St Cronan
Despite the remoteness of both the cottage and the church the stroll to it is remarkably well way-marked; first along tarmacked country lanes and then through fields divided by stone walls well provided with ancient-looking, lichen-covered stone stiles. The ruins of the small now roofless but well maintained church, dedicated to St Cronan of Roscrea, or Tuamgraney, possibly date from the 12th Century.  A number of interesting romanesque carved heads have been built into the walls of the church. Adjacent to the church is a stone shrine believed to be older than the church and to mark the grave of St Cronan.  As may be but, in common with so many ‘sacred’ places, the paddock containing the church and shrine did, for me, exude a powerful ‘atmosphere’ of peace and well-being.  Today this feeling was somewhat enhanced by my believing, not without some concern, that I could hear there, or  above the song of a Robin and the alarm call of a frightened Wren, almost hear snatches of ethereal sounding music.

I wandered along what passed as a path for a short distance beyond the church and stumbled upon a spring and a wishing well, concreted and obviously, judging by the healthy layer of coins at its bottom, very much in current use. Beside the ‘well’ was an earthen mound topped with a broken standing stone.

Returning to the cottage, I lingered at the roadside to gather rain-washed blackberries and while doing so was relieved to hear, loud now, the source of the ‘ethereal music’ I had imagined I had heard earlier; from a nearby cowshed I could clearly hear far from ethereal sounding pop music being blasted out from a radio within.

Hurrying back to the cottage under a lowering cloud base with rain falling with increasing determination I stopped briefly to photograph one of my hardier neighbours (Top photo).  As I did so a flock of Curlew appeared from out of the mist behind me, wheeled above, piping mournfully, then flew low over a stone field wall to fade back into the rain-mist from whence they had come.  This timeless awareness of the continuity of existence of all things, both animate and apparently inanimate, is something of a reality I think I may have been drawn here to find.


Anonymous said...
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Andrew said...

I wish my occasional pondering of the ethereal were not always so similarly brought back down to the everyday earth, although perhaps due to my lack of comprehension rather than a nearby radio. I think you have made me resolve to visit Ireland, which I have not yet done.