The Bridge Builder
By Will Allen Dromgoole
An old man going a lone highway,
Came, at the evening cold and gray,
To a Valley vast and deep and wide.
Through which was flowing a sullen stream
The old man crossed in the twilight dim,
The sullen stream had no fear for him;
But he turned when safe on the other side
And built a bridge to span the tide.
“Old man,” said a fellow pilgrim near,
“You are wasting your strength with building here;
Your journey will end with the ending day,
You never again will pass this way;
You’ve crossed the chasm, deep and wide,
Why build this bridge at evening tide?”
The builder lifted his old gray head;
“Good friend, in the path I have come,” he said,
“There followed after me to-day
A person whose feet must pass this way.
This chasm that has been as naught to me
To that fair-haired person may a pitfall be;
They, too, must cross in the twilight dim;
Good friend, I am building this bridge for him!”
National Botanic Gardens – Dublin
The images here were taken during a visit to the Botanic Gardens Dublin.
These Gardens are one of the best in the country and a wonderful location for flower and nature photography during the summer months.
The following web page is the official site and is a great source for all activities and descriptions of the history and purpose of these internationally respected gardens.
The images I posted here are from a days visit , late summer 2013. There are many great things to see and places to eat here so you can spend a full day just browsing and learning.
Pagan ring forts and passage tombs , From Kerry to kilkenny
During July last year 2013, I visited two ring forts near Cahersiveen, County Kerry and posted on them as below :
Cahergall ring fort is a massive stone construction, built between 400BC and 500AD, It can be found close to Cahersiveen, County Kerry. Leacanabuaile feels very much more like a dwelling place for people to both live and keep themselves safe from the surrounding Environment. This included raiders and wild animals stealing cattle.
Sitting on a hill side near Cahersiveen in County Kerry is Leacanabuaile Stone Fort, it is considered one of the best examples of an Irish ring fort.
The name translates to ‘Hillside of the Summer Pasturage’.
The visit to both these locations was one of the most interesting history trips I have ever done and left me with a great sense of the History of Europe and of the people who lived here before Christian times.
On returning to county Kilkenny I fell like I was living in a place with a much more limited sense of history, Tipperary and Kilkenny feel much less remote than the coast line and mountains of county Kerry and their history seems to be much more modern.
Well it has taken me almost a year since the visit to Cahergall and Leacanabuaile to realise that this impression of my local area is far from true. Apart from the location of Knockroe (Post here), I have started to visit and find more and more local remains of Ireland’s past and it clearly goes way beyond the days of St Patrick and the early church.
The images below are satellite images of many passage tombs and ring forts, within 10km of our home :
Finding these locations was a real eye opener and showed to me that these forts and passage tombs must have been located through out the country.
The forts in Kerry have been restored over the last 5 years and may well have been in the same poor condition as the local ones here.
It is more than likely that the stone from these locations has been used in more modern times to build local Churches, Farms and stone walls on farm land, Yesterday I posted on the high cross at Kilkamerry and talked about this re-use of Pagan sites to build Christian locations.
It is very likely then that current church yards and grave yards have also been constructed on more of these sites, many more circular features exist on the local landscape and are possibly also ring forts but for these ones time has made things a little less clear.
What does becomes clear from looking deeper is that the pagan history of Ireland was extensive and that the pre-Christian population of this Island was as big as any other location on the European continent.
The images here are of the tomb or ring fort on Ballinlinagh hill, county Kilkenny and of the passage tomb of Knockroe :
Killamery High Cross
Located in an old grave yard very near the county Kilkenny and Tipperary border, is one of the most impressive of the Irish High crosses. There was a unique early Medieval tradition in Ireland and Britain of raising large sculpted stone crosses, usually outdoors.
These probably developed from earlier traditions using wood, perhaps with metalwork attachments, and earlier pagan Celtic memorial stones; the Pictish stones of Scotland may also have influenced the form.
The earliest surviving examples seem to come from the territory of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Northumbria, which had been converted to Christianity by Irish missionaries; it remains unclear whether the form first developed in Ireland or Britain.
The Killamery High Cross, is one of the western Ossory group of crosses. The cross stands at 3.65 metres high and the west face of the cross bears most of the figure sculpture. The east face pictured right, is decorated with three marigolds on the shaft and has a boss in the centre of the head surrounded by intertwining serpents with an open mouthed dragon above the boss.
The cross is known as the Snake-Dragon cross and has a gabled cap-stone and the narrow sides have double mouldings. At the end of the southern arm of the cross there is a panel depicting Noah in the Ark and the end of the northern arm features four scenes centered around John the Baptist. There is also a worn inscription on the base of the western side of the cross which is said to read as ‘OR DO MAELSECHNAILL’ a prayer for Maelsechnaill. Maelsechnaill was the High King of Ireland from 846 to 862.
The western face has a Sun Swastika at the centre and has figure sculpture around the whorl, to the left is a hunting scene and to the right a chariot scene above the whorl is scene showing a figure holding a Baby with another figure to the right of them, below the sun disc is a crucifixion scene. The shaft of this face bears two ornate panels. The top one is a fret pattern and the lower panel is a key pattern.
County kilkenny has five such high crosses, most a likely still in their original setting but being over a thousand years old must of their location will have changed.
Some people have a theory that these high crosses were originally larger standing stones used in pagan stones circles or passage tombs, the form of the cross being sculpted into them during the times of the pagan’s conversion to Christianity. In Ireland this would have been during the time of Saint Patrick.
It was felt much more effective when converting people to Christianity to convert original locations for the use of the early church, including fresh water springs.
In Ireland most springs would have been the location of worship to river or fresh water gods or goddess, in post pagan times many of these locations became holy wells dedicated to a Christian saint. Most even the forgotten spring above still have the original pagan standing stone in place , used to help find and mark the location of the spring and to leave offerings to the gods and goddesses ( Well dressing ).
Rhododendron laden hillsides
Comes ’round again,
Bringing life back to flow’rs.
Roses shall start to bloom once more,
And mighty White Oaks shall be green with leaves.
Rhododendron laden hillsides
And Lady Slippers nod:
Rhododendron hills , Image Gallery
Robert Frost (1915)
I dwell in a lonely house I know
That vanished many a summer ago,
And left no trace but the cellar walls,
And a cellar in which the daylight falls,
And the purple-stemmed wild raspberries grow.
O’er ruined fences the grape-vines shield
The woods come back to the mowing field;
The orchard tree has grown one copse
Of new wood and old where the woodpecker chops;
The footpath down to the well is healed.
I dwell with a strangely aching heart
In that vanished abode there far apart
On that disused and forgotten road
That has no dust-bath now for the toad.
Night comes; the black bats tumble and dart;
The whippoorwill is coming to shout
And hush and cluck and flutter about:
I hear him begin far enough away
Full many a time to say his say
Before he arrives to say it out.
It is under the small, dim, summer star.
I know not who these mute folk are
Who share the unlit place with me—
Those stones out under the low-limbed tree
Doubtless bear names that the mosses mar.
They are tireless folk, but slow and sad,
Though two, close-keeping, are lass and lad,—
With none among them that ever sings,
And yet, in view of how many things,
As sweet companions as might be had.
Evening walks near the mountain of Slievenamon, county Tipperary can bring some great evening views, the sun sets right over the top on the mountain where there is a cairn, a burial place of a king dating back over six thousand year.
On one of these walks I was lucky enough to get these sunset images and I put some words to them in this poem:
Star break, a Poem
Behind the High cloud the sun is coiling and uncoiling
a dragon wrapped around itself spitting fire behind the mountain top
For a moment as I think of older days it is eclipsed entirely
aith a hidden God in the ground where six thousand years ago
A star fell from nowhere and lit up this very mountain’s top
turning westward by day, into oblivion leaving its mark.
A king wise in these things called this a “star break”
and of no danger to the integrity of his vision
Star, soon the mountain will shrug you off you will drop below
the ragged edge line into tomorrow while I take the only path.
I came to find what I left, now ahead of me and waiting behind
a light of dawn, time of ages drifting through the night.
The changing light as the river flows
Walking along the river Suir on a springtime evening with the sun about to set, is a wonderful experience by itself but one of the things I love the most is the changing light. The light changes almost moment by moment and the reflections of the sun from the water is just amazing as you walk past some of the many bridges.
One of the best things about photography however is the ability to capture just how much this light does change, I recently put together this small collection of images and I think they show the way the light changes as the sun sets.
The entire landscape changes from yellows and and olive greens to deep blues and blue – greens.
I personally feel that the type of sun light and the different colours it brings is one of the most powerful tools in the art of photography and taking a little time to record your most loved locations at different times of day and weather conditions is a powerful learning tool for getting strong images and for you to have fun with and enjoy yourself.
The changing light as the river flows, Gallery
Located on the west slopes of Slievenamon , County Tipperary, is a small yet wonderful little field .
To reach it you have to walk some thirty minutes through wood-lands and up a mountain track, finally reaching a gate. The site that welcomes you in May is that of a field full of blue bells and an old derelict farm cottage. This cottage would be able to tell some amazing stories and if it only could!
Above the field are the mountain slopes that I am much more use to seeing, with mountain heather and scrub lands, streams and baths.
I have visited this field many times, its a great location during the summer and a wonderful escape and resting place after a walk to the top of the mountain.
I just wanted to share one of my most loved local locations here and also one of my most loved Poems by R. S. Thomas, which I feel is perfect for this post ….
The Bright Field
by R. S. Thomas
I have seen the sun break through
to illuminate a small field
for a while, and gone my way
and forgotten it. But that was the
pearl of great price, the one field that had
treasure in it. I realise now
that I must give all that I have
to possess it. Life is not hurrying
on to a receding future, nor hankering after
an imagined past. It is the turning
aside like Moses to the miracle
of the lit bush, to a brightness
that seemed as transitory as your youth
once, but is the eternity that awaits you.
The field a Gallery
Kilkenny, Ireland 500 Million years ago
During the week I posted an article about the area around the mountain of Slievenamon, County Kilkenny.
I hope over the summer to post many times about this area and show many of the foot hills along with the main mountain itself. A fellow blogger margaret, suggested that the formation of the mountain and the oval shape of the extending foot hills could be volcanic in their origins, I do think at some point in the long distant past this could be true.
I found the following summary of the geological history of county Kilkenny so I am going to share it here as I found it fascinating to think of some 500 million years of history of Ireland and its Geology.
Also a Gallery of images that show some of the amazing ice age rocks and landscape formations that can be found through out this great little part of the world.
Geologic History of Kilkenny
500 Million years ago – Sedimentary rock formed under parts of eastern Kilkenny, which was
under the sea.
400 Million years ago – the two parts of Ireland, the island, were fused together under the ocean.
400 Million years ago – the mountains at Brandon and the uplands at Tullogher were formed, again
under the sea.
350 Million years ago – Kilkenny was at a dry land stage with plant life that fossilized into the
yellow sandstones of Kiltorcan.
345 Million years ago – Kilkenny was submerged for about 20 Million years under a tropical shallow
ocean. Lime deposits from this era eventually became the limestone found commonly in
Kilkenny and Ireland. The polished limestone provides the famous Kilkenny marble.
320 million years ago – Kilkenny covered by a muddy delta and swamps, with deposits eventually
forming todays sandstones and coal.
250 Million years ago – a mountain building era resulting in the east-west mountains of Munster,
and the Walsh Mountain area between Millinavat and Slievenamon.
2 Million years ago – Ice age glacial periods intermixed with cold and warm periods begin.
500,000 years ago – A warm period known as the Gortian. Kilkenny is covered by forest of birch,
oak, pine, leder, fir, holly, yew, heather and grass.
200,000 years ago – A cold period lasting 70,000 years called the Munsterian. All of Kilkenny (and
Ireland) is covered by a sea of ice. Movement of Glaciers helped form the soil of today.
130,000 years ago – A warm period known as the Glenavian lasting about 60,000 years with climate
much like today.
70,000 years ago – A cold phase lasting about 60,000 years known as the Midlandian stage. Ice
sheets covered the northern half of Kilkenny, from Callan to Goresbridge. The southern have
would have included tundra grasslands and some woodland. Animal life is noted during this
time, including wooly mammoths, wolf, arctic fox, brown bear, the giant Irish Elk, reindeer
10,000 years ago – The ice begins to melt, sea levels begin to rise and plants begin to reappear
in all of Kilkenny.
9,000 years ago – A birch dominated forest covers much of Kilkenny.
8,000 years ago – Hazel and pine become part of the forest population.
Landscape and Geological Gallery