Sunday, 30 June 2013

Lullymore Heritage & Discovery Park

Today we drove to Lullymore Heritage and Discovery Park set on 60 acres on the edge of the Bog of Allen, Ireland's largest Peatland. The park was opened in 1993 with biodiversity boardwalks meandering through grassy lakes and rejuvenating peatland of birch, heathers and bog cotton.

In the 5th Century Saint Erc a bishop and member of the council of St Patrick set up a monastic settlement in Lullymore. It was an ideal location with fertile farmland, seclusion and protected from attack by the encircling wetlands.

The 1798 Rebellion is also an important part of Lullymores history. The life story of Captain John Doorly a native of Lullymore who was executed for his role in the uprising trying to obtain freedom for Catholics to be able to vote, own land, own a horse and be educated is also told.

Fulacht Fiadh - cooking place in the wild. Timbers were placed in a pyramid shape with stones inside them. The timbers were then set on fire and the stones were heated. Cooking took place in the central trough, the heated stones from the nearby fire were then placed in the pit where the water soon reached boiling point. The meat, usually wrapped in straw was then placed into the water.

The Lone Bush or Hawthorn has long been associated with the fairies in Ireland. So much so that even today it is quite common to see them in the middle of fields. They are left untouched because of the belief that its unlucky to damage or cut down the trees as the fairies will curse the proprietor. Long considered a sacred and healing tree in Ireland, normally they can live up to 400 years but the oldest recorded were over 700 years old. It is said the fairies and spirits have their meeting places under these special Hawthorn trees. The Irish word for fairy is SIOG a diminutive of the "Shee" in banshee. Some say they are fallen angels who are not good enough to be saved nor bad enough to be lost. The book of Armagh says they are spirits of the Earth. Most popular is the belief they are the "Tuatha de Dannan" who when they were no longer worshiped and fed, shrank and went underground.

The Fairy Bower
 As we are talking about the myth of the fairy tree I thought I would share with you another myth from which Navan the town we are staying in got it's name.

The myth and legend of The Milesians. According to Irish Mythology a man by the name of Mil Espaine is the common ancestor of all of the Irish. The story goes that there was a tribe in the north of Spain known as the Milesians, or the Sons of Mil. They invaded Ireland, dispossessing the Tuatha De Danann, and divided Ireland into provinces: Ulster in the North, Munster in the south, Connacht in the West and Leinster in the east and at the centre Tara. According to tradition, Eremon Mac Miled was the first Milesian King of all Ireland, and a contempory of King David (biblical King of Israel, who ruled c. 1000 BC). He is the ancestor of the Ui Neill and the rulers of Leinster, Connacht and Airgiallia.

While in Spain Eremon (Son of Mil Espaine) married Odhbha, who bore him three sons. After a time he abandoned her in favour of another woman (Tea, who would later give her name to Tara). When Eremon invaded Ireland, Odhbha followed him but died of grief soon after arriving on account of her husband's rejection. Her three children raised a mound in which to bury her. It is thought that Navan may take its name from the Irish world for cave (An Uaimh) the cave within the mound in which Odhbha's remains have rested for the past three thousand years.

The Famine Cottage

The Soup Kitchen

Peat piled for drying to harden and become ready for burning

We will be leaving Navan and the Boyne Valley tomorrow to continue our journey of Ireland, it has been a wonderful time in the valley so full of history, magnificent monuments and the most famous for it's fantastic myths.

The River Boyne derives its name from the legendary Celtic goddess Boann (or Boand). The story goes that there was once a magical well, the well of wisdom (Tobar Segais in Irish) which belonged to Nechtain, King of Leinster and husband to the goddess Boann. Nechtain was very protective of his magical well and no one but he and his three cup bearers were permitted to visit it. One day Boann decided to visit the well and see for herself its wonders. Some say she walked around the well three times counter sun-wise, others say she merely peered into its magical depths. Whatever the case, the waters of the well rose up blinding, mutilating and drowning the goddess, and then rushed seawards turning into a river. Though nothing remains of the mythical well, its waters remain in the form of the River Boyne, named after the drowned goddess Boann.

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