Monday, December 30, 2019

Ella Young in the Brugh of Angus ~ commonly known as Newgrange

Irish poet, mystic and folklorist, Ella Young (1867 – 1956) wrote in her memoirs Flowering Dusk... (1945) about an experience she had, on her own, inside what she names as "the Brugh of Angus" and what is commonly called Newgrange in County Meath.  The date of this visit is not given but Ella left Ireland, never to return, in 1925.
Image by Denise Sallee, ©2009

In her chapter entitled "Cave of the Red Steeds" she recounts her lengthy stay in a farmhouse near Cong, County Mayo, and entering a natural cave with many chambers where she remained for some time. 

"My thoughts went back to another silence—silence and darkness in the Brugh of Angus, the artificial chambered mound at Newgrange by the Boyne. I sat alone in the Central Chamber of the Brugh (having bribed the custodian to absent herself and her candles). The roof arched above me in blackness and there was great silence about me, penetrated by the chill joyousness of the Brugh. Suddenly, I became aware that the Chamber was filling with pale light that surged like water through the narrow tortuous entrance passage. Like water, it seemed to have weight and substance. Washed by this pale liquid slow-moving light the pillar-stone of the Brugh suddenly flamed silver, shot up like a column of moon-fire. The Sun, journeying westward, had touched it with an out-stretched finger.

Ella Young goes on to compare the cave in Cong and the Brugh in Meath—noting that "the Brugh of Angus had been carefully fashioned. The Ultonian* kings paid honour to it, and at the Samhain Festival processions wound among the standing stones that still, in broken formation, circle the mound. Fire leaped on the summit. Five great roads converged on it."
* A native or inhabitant of Ulster

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

My Lady of Dreams

A moment's pause in an ever darkening world...

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Lughnassa ~ The Marriage Feast of Lugh

Detail Setanta Wall (Dublin, 1974) by Desmond Kinney: Photo by  Bob Phillips
The Marriage Feast of Lugh celebrated each August in Ireland is mentioned several times by Ella Young in her memoir Flowering Dusk: Things Remembered Accurately and Inaccurately (1945).

She begins by recalling events involving the nationalist political group in which she was active -  The Daughters of Ireland (Inghinidhe na h√Čireann) 

"That night the little room in a back street of Dublin city - where the Daughters of Ireland were celebrating the Lughnassa, the Marriage Feast of Lugh the Sun God to the Royal Sovereignty of Ireland..."  Earlier that day, Ella was climbing Slieve Gullion with her friend Phyllis MacMurdo who Ella greatly admired. They discussed the old tales and the old gods and Phyllis declared "Let us gather heather, white and red, and go tonight to the play that the Daughters of Ireland are putting on  (Red Hugh's Captivity by Alice Mulligan...)."

Another reference to the Marriage Feast of Lugh in Ella Young's memoir is also when she writes about the activities of the Daughters of Ireland:  "Since we are reviving everything at once, we pay attention to the ancient Festivals. There are four which divide the year into periods of three months: the Festival of Brigit, the Pure Perpetual Ashless Flalme, in February; the Festival of Beltane, the coming of the young Gods who succor the Earth, in May; the Marriage-Feastival of Lugh, the Sun, who weds the Sovereignty of Erin in August; the Festival of Samhain, that opens the Inner World, in November."

In a section Ella titles "The Royal Sovereignty of Ireland, 1922"
From: Irish Civil War – essential facts
she writes about the beginning of the civil war. It is June 28 and she is in Dublin where the "guns boomed day and night" and she looked toward the Four Courts and spoke about the men there as the smoke rose and the "ground muttered and shook... a hundred good fighting men...were prisoners in Mountjoy [prison]...They held out for five days, and surrendered only when the walls fell in and flame licked about their feet...Like fire the civil war spurts and rages from town to town, from countryside to countryside. The Feast of the Lughnassa draws on. Fires were lit on the sacred hills of Ireland at this Festival in token that Lugh the Sun-God was wedded to the Royal Sovereignty of Ireland. Those were joy-fires: our fires hiss and flicker with blood."

Lugh was associated with sovereignty because he represented sacred kingship. The marriage feast  - or Great Rite - is the act of the named king asking of the land he is to reign, permission to rule. The land is represented by the goddess, who through sexual union with the king, gifts him with this sovereignty. This is such a powerful act and such a powerful image. Ella Young and her many comrades fought for this sovereignty - for the land, for ancient and sacred Ireland to regain what had been lost. There is no doubt that the English crown was never given sovereignty by the land - by the goddess who embodies all of Ireland and her people.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Life in Death

Image by Denise Sallee, All Rights Reserved, 2019.

This is my second year to harvest the Cornish poppy seed pods that began life on my patio as seeds sent to me from England.

This year, while I enjoyed the all-too brief red blossoms of the poppy, I find myself drawn more to the seed pods.

After the last poppy petals fall, the plant begins to die back. The leaves lose their color and droop - the entire plant looks worn out. Spent.

And now the seed pods join me inside. Their precious cargo can be heard rattling inside the pods as they dry and turn from pale green to a very light, sandy brown.

Even in death there is life. The spiral of life - so powerful - so wise - so wonderful.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Tawnylust Lodge & the North Leitrim Adventures

Several years ago,  I was fortunate to find myself living for a year in the wild and woolly hills of North Leitrim, Ireland.  This month I returned there, taking my daughter and her husband.  We stayed at Nuala McNulty's self-catering apartment Tawnylust Lodge - the exact spot where I lived for the first four months of my year-long residency.  I could not have chosen a better spot to nest and to fall in love with the best-kept secret in all of Ireland!

No matter which direction you look from Tawnylust Lodge the view is spectacular ~ 

The apartment has a patio and a large picture window - the perfect vista for daydreaming.
You are surrounded by green pasture land, and stunning hills.  The sky provides an endless and changing panorama.  Truly, a feast for the eyes and solace for the busy mind.

There is so much to explore in this area and Tawnylust Lodge is the perfect home base!

Fowley's Falls near Rossinver is a lovely walk through the woods.  The nearby Organic Centre is the perfect stop for tea or lunch and a look around. Pick up some healthy food and fix a meal in your self-catering apartment at Tawnylust Lodge. 

Everywhere - under the trees, behind an ancient rock, - nature reminds us all of what is truly important in life and allows us the chance to reconnect and nourish our heart and our soul. 

The nearby town of Manorhamilton, with its impressive castle, great pubs and a cafe is well worth a look. Just outside the town is a wonderful forest area, Milltown Woods, with a picnic area and easily accessible walks along the Bonet River.

Sligo, located not far from Manorhamilton, is a bustling and fun town.  The Garavogue River is the heart of this town which reaches toward the Atlantic Ocean.  It was also a favorite haunt of W.B. Yeats who gained much of his inspiration in and around this area.

Surf's up!  Just outside of Sligo is Strandhill which offers an open vista of the Atlantic and the surrounding hills.  And, yes, you can surf from here. For a more relaxing time, soak yourself in a warm seaweed bath while you listen to the waves and unwind at VOYA Seaweed Baths.  I've soaked there three times and brought a few visiting friends. It is a wonderful healing experience.

One of my very favorite spots near Sligo is Carrowmore ~ "home to the largest and oldest collection of stone circles and dolmens known from neolithic Ireland."  The perfect blend of our very earliest history and our mythology. 

At the end of a day's adventures Tawnylust Lodge is the ideal home to return to!
Photograph copyright Nuala McNulty

NOTE:  Unless otherwise noted, all images are by Denise Sallee, All Rights Reserved, 2019.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

National Print Museum of Ireland

An unexpected discovery near my hotel is the National Print Museum of Ireland. It is located in the renovated Beggars Bush Barracks which "In 1827...was established as a British Army military barracks" and the museum is in the Garrison Chapel building. The Irish "Free State forces were based here during the Civil War" which was in reaction to the Anglo-Irish Treaty with the United Kingdom that resulted in the division of  Ireland and established what we now know of as Northern Ireland.  It was this treaty in the early 1920's that forced Ella Young to leave her beloved Ireland and relocate to California.

The museum has many treasures of early printing in Ireland and it also is home to the original of the Proclamation of the Republic that was read by Patrick Pearse at the General Post Office and kicked off the 1916 Easter Rising and yet another war for Irish independence. It was very moving for me to read the proclamation again knowing that this time I was reading the original.

I also viewed an exhibit of print work on the moon landing of 1969 that "explores Ireland’s response to the man landing of the moon through print. Given the historical significance of the events of July 20th, 1969, a range of coverage was evident across the island." Here is the front page of The Irish Times:

Since I'm always willing to subvert the modern paradigm I really enjoyed this artist's work on the potential reality that the landing was just a hoax - but then I've been questioning the US government since 1967:
I ended my day's journey back in the Dock area shooting with my film camera. Met another serious photographer there who was quite taken by my unusual camera. He and I had a lovely chat together. The film photos will have to wait until my return and the film is processed. Here are two iPhone snaps from the Dock - it was a sunny late afternoon and everyone around me was enjoying the moment at day's end.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Dublin - Grand Canal Dock

Twilight walk  in the area around my hotel.  "Grand Canal Dock is an area in Ringsend near Dublin city centre, surrounding the Grand Canal Docks, an enclosed harbour or docking area between the River Liffey and the Grand Canal. Since 2000 the area has undergone significant redevelopment as part of the Dublin Docklands area redevelopment project."

My son-in-law works at the nearby international headquarters for Facebook and I've never explored this area of Dublin.  I am still feeling unreal about the fact that I am back in Ireland after nine years. I have a bit over 3 weeks to reconnect, nourish my heart and my soul. At this moment the birds are singing down the day - a chorus of welcome for which I am deeply grateful. 

Grand Canal Dock:

The Dock area continues to build. Below is  Boland's Mill, an important historical structure that is  being carefully restored while allowing for modern growth:

Along the Grand Canal Quay,  people walked home for work and went out for evening activities. Lining the canal are Edwardian brick townhouses. As I strolled along I thought about Yeats, Ella Young and AE - perhaps also they strolled along here deep in esoteric thoughts and reflecting upon Ireland and magic - and, no doubt, the British.  

From Carmel Valley to Dublin in one very long day. I'm here now and tomorrow when I awake I will know I am home.