Friday, 5 July 2013


Today we were heading for Westport, before we left we saw a few more things in the Sligo area we had not covered as yet.

We drove the Lough tourist route and first stopped at Hazlewood Forest at half Moon Bay on the shores of Lough Gill. The demense is located in an area between Lough Gill and the Garavogue River. The nature trail itself forms a loop of about three kilometres. Hazelwood House was built for Lieutenant General Owen Wynne in 1724 and was designed by the architect Richard Cassels, who was also responsible for buildings such as Leinster House and Powerscourt. Hazelwood House is not open to the public. Lough Gill (the lake of Goddess Gealla) in which the isle of Innesfree is famous by W B Yates poem.

Lake Isle of Innisfree

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean rows will I have there, a hive for the honey bee,
And live alone in the bee loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet's wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart's core.
 W.B. Yeats

Grotto or folly built by the Waynes as part of the general landscaping of the woodlands.

Another view point was over Colgagh Lough
We stopped at Tobernalt Holy Well a place of reflection and nurturing serenity. It predates the advent of Christianity to Ireland in the fifth century. Its importance as a meeting place and a sustainer of life predates our Celtic ancestors. At this time, the pilgrim at Tobernalt shares in the inherited ancestral tradition coming from earliest times, which was christianised by St. Patrick and held steadfastly by faithful generations ever since. It is said that Tobernalt was a sacred place of worship as long ago as 6000 years B.C. and while the rites and rituals associated with Tobernalt are Christian, their roots go back long before the Christian era. Pilgrimages to Tobernalt are made on Garland Sunday, the last Sunday in July. Garland Sunday also marks Lughnasa - the Festival of Lugh, a Celtic God.

A distance look at Knocknarea the mountain we climbed yesterday to the cairn on top
Benbulben is known as County Sligo’s 'Table Mountain' and is part of the Dartry Mountains. Benbulben was formed as a result of the different responses to erosion of the limestone and shale of which the mountain is formed. A hard and resistant limestone forms the upper cliffs and precipices. Benbulben was formed during the Ice age, when large parts of the Earth were under glaciers. It was originally merely a large ridge, however the moving glaciers cut into the earth, leaving a distinct formation, now called Benbulben. The steeper sides of Benbulben are composed of large amounts of Dartry limestone on top of smaller amounts of Glencar limestone. The smoother sides are composed of Benbulben shale. These rocks formed in the area approximately 320 million years ago. Barytes was mined at Glencarbury on the Benbulben range between 1894 and 1979. Benbulben hosts a unique variety of plants, possessing some organisms found nowhere else in Ireland. Many are Artic-Alpine plants, due to the mountain's height, which allows for cooler temperatures than is normal. These plants were deposited when the glaciers that created Benbulben melted. Insects, wild hares, and foxes inhabit Benbulben. 

Benbulben from Rosse's Point

Rosse's Point Lighthouse

Leaving Sligo we came across this front garden that was obviously so loved by those who lived there.
We arrived at our B & B for this evening at Murrisk - Westport and the Croagh Patrick, nicknamed the Reek, a 764 metres mountain an important site of pilgrimage is just beside our B & B. The tradition of pilgrimage to this holy mountain stretches back over 5,000 years from the Stone Age to the present day without interruption. Its religious significance dates back to the time of the pagans, when people are thought to have gathered here to celebrate the beginning of harvest season.

Croagh Patrick

Westport Village 

A lovely thatched pub on the foreshore

A Story Of The Creation Of Ogham - Several diviners from medieval times, through the Celtic romanticism times of the 18th and 19th centuries, and onto the present day , have attempted to align trees to the ancient celtic Ogham symbols. It’s a quest for order that also links together astrology, tree lore and modern herbalism. After John’s workings on Iona Island for 35 yrs and his other works he has created the story. - One thing we can be certain of is that the Ogham alphabet is, and it seems it always was, closely linked with several trees in some way. I first learned a version of "Ogma's Tale Of The Trees" was while working on Iona around 1973. The tale I tell today is of different words to the tale I first told 35 years ago, but the meanings, the connections, the unseen learning and wisdom between the words has never changed. The grounding of my tale considers the original Ogham as 20 symbols, 4 octaves of 5 symbols each (pentatonic) and each symbol sharing a mythology of a tree, shrub or climber to reveal its symbol. The 4 original octaves, I feel, pass like the seasons of a year, the four seasons of our lives, and the cycle of the four quadrants in an astrology chart First Octave travels through the gauntlet of discovering who we are Second Octave, our discovery of what and who we connect with Third Octave, our journey of creativity and unity with others Fourth Octave, defines our service.

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