Images from Outside and Inside of St Davids Cathedral, St Davids, Pembrokeshire, Wales.
The Light from a Golden Dawn ……..
Kells Priory (Irish: Prióireacht Cheanannais) is one of the largest and most impressive medieval monuments in Ireland.
The Augustine priory at Kells, county Kilkenny is situated alongside King’s River beside the village of Kells, about 15 km south of the medieval city of Kilkenny. The priory is a National Monument and is in the guardianship of the (OPW)Office of Public Works. One of its most striking feature is a collection of medieval tower houses spaced at intervals along and within walls which enclose a site of just over 3 acres (12,000 m2). These give the priory the appearance more of a fortress than of a place of worship and from them comes its local name of “Seven Castles”.
4 km southeast of the priory on the R697 regional road is Kilree round tower and 9th century High Cross, said to be the burial place of Niall Caille Niall mac Áeda (died 917) who was a High King of Ireland.
The Priory has been undergoing a ten year long renovation project that is approaching its completion, the priory is looking amazing and has been secured for many years to come.
Here I post some new images taken during a very enjoyable visit last Sunday afternoon.
A History of Kells Priory
Kells Priory, Gallery
Today’s post is about as far away from wild Landscapes and attractive views as you could wish for 🙂 , I can fully understand if this post is not for everyone but I hope at least you find it an interesting reflection of social beliefs and traditions from our some what dark European past ….
Earlier this month (May 2017) while visiting the great English seaside town of Whitby, with it great Museum, I came across an item that I had never heard of or seen before. Sitting in a glass cabinet in the beliefs and local traditions area was the very old and grey hand, from a long dead man, a man who would have lived locally in the town but at some point in his life come across the misfortune of being found guilty of a crime for which he would have been hanged.
The hand was described as “The hand of Glory” and in the early 19th century it would have been very much a price possession as it was believed that it offered great power, when using it according to old European beliefs along with a candle made of the fat from a malefactor who died on the gallows, lighted, and placed (as if in a candlestick) in the Hand of Glory, which comes from the same man as the fat in the candle, it then would render motionless all persons to whom it was presented.
The second of the Ingoldsby Legends (a collection of myths, legends, ghost stories and poetry written supposedly by Thomas Ingoldsby of Tappington Manor), “The Hand of Glory, or, The Nurse’s Story”, describes the making and use of a Hand of Glory. The first lines are:
Now open, lock!
To the Dead Man’s knock!
Fly, bolt, and bar, and band!
Nor move, nor swerve,
Joint, muscle, or nerve,
At the spell of the Dead Man’s hand!
Sleep, all who sleep! — Wake, all who wake!
But be as the dead for the Dead Man’s sake!
Like many people, I fine absolutely fascinating these old and somewhat dark traditions, here is a full description of this ones history and its reported uses ….
The Hand of Glory – History of the term
Etymologist Walter Skeat reports that, while folklore has long attributed mystical powers to a dead man’s hand, the specific phrase “Hand of Glory” is in fact a folk etymology: it derives from the French main de gloire, a corruption of mandragore, which is to say mandrake.Skeat writes, “The identification of the hand of glory with the mandrake is clinched by the statement in Cockayne’s Leechdoms, i. 245, that the mandrake “shineth by night altogether like a lamp”. Cockayne in turn is quoting Pseudo-Apuleius, in a translation of a Saxon manuscript of his Herbarium.
According to old European beliefs, a candle made of the fat from a malefactor who died on the gallows, lighted, and placed (as if in a candlestick) in the Hand of Glory, which comes from the same man as the fat in the candle, this would render motionless all persons to whom it was presented. The method for holding the candle is sketched in Petit Albert. The candle could be put out only with milk. In another version, the hair of the dead man is used as a wick, and the candle would give light only to the holder. The Hand of Glory also purportedly had the power to unlock any door it came across. The method of making a Hand of Glory is described in Petit Albert, and in the Compendium Maleficarum.
The 1722 Petit Albert describes in detail how to make a Hand of Glory, as cited from him by Grillot De Givry:
Take the right or left hand of a felon who is hanging from a gibbet beside a highway; wrap it in part of a funeral pall and so wrapped squeeze it well. Then put it into an earthenware vessel with zimat, nitre, salt and long peppers, the whole well powdered. Leave it in this vessel for a fortnight, then take it out and expose it to full sunlight during the dog-days until it becomes quite dry. If the sun is not strong enough put it in an oven with fern and vervain. Next make a kind of candle from the fat of a gibbeted felon, virgin wax, sesame, and ponie, and use the Hand of Glory as a candlestick to hold this candle when lighted, and then those in every place into which you go with this baneful instrument shall remain motionless
De Givry points out the difficulties with the meaning of the words zimat and ponie, saying it is likely “ponie” means horse-dung. De Givry is expressly using the 1722 edition, where the phrase is, according to John Livingston Lowes “du Sisame et de la Ponie” and de Givry notes that the meaning of “ponie” as “horse dung” is entirely unknown “to us”, but that in local Lower Normandy dialect, it has that meaning. His reason for regarding this interpretation as “more than probable” is that horse-dung is “very combustible, when dry”.
In the French 1752 edition (called Nouvelle Édition, corrigée & augmentée., i.e., “New Edition, corrected and augmented”), however, this reads as “..du sisame de Laponie..”, that is, in Francis Grose’s translation from 1787, “sisame of Lapland”, or Lapland sesame. This interpretation can be found many places on the Internet, and even in books published at university presses. Two books, one by Cora Daniels, another by Montague Summers, perpetuate the Lapland sesame myth, while being uncertain whether zimat should mean verdigris or the Arabian sulphate of iron.
The Petit Albert also provides a way to shield a house from the effects of the Hand of Glory:
The Hand of Glory would become ineffective, and thieves would not be able to utilize it, if you were to rub the threshold or other parts of the house by which they may enter with an unguent composed of the gall of a black cat, the fat of a white hen, and the blood of the screech-owl; this substance must be compounded during the dog-days
The hand of glory on display at Whitby Museum
An actual Hand of Glory is kept at the Whitby Museum in North Yorkshire, England, together with a text published in a book from 1823. In this manuscript text, the way to make the Hand of Glory is as follows:
It must be cut from the body of a criminal on the gibbet; pickled in salt, and the urine of man, woman, dog, horse and mare; smoked with herbs and hay for a month; hung on an oak tree for three nights running, then laid at a crossroads, then hung on a church door for one night while the maker keeps watch in the porch-“and if it be that no fear hath driven you forth from the porch…then the hand be true won, and it be yours”
I was only back in-front my laptop for the first time yesterday evening, uploading some of the images I captured over the Easter Holidays.
It was a great break, this year we stayed in Ireland but chose to visit many of the great locations the south east and west of the country has to offer.
The Irish National Heritage Park, was just one of these places, the Park gives you an historic journey that takes you deep into Ireland’s past, Through 9000 years of Irish History. It is a very special place where Ireland’s heritage comes alive with sights and sounds that shaped a country and helped to shape the bigger world.
Located on the banks of the picturesque River Slaney, The Irish National Heritage Park truly is the cornerstone of Ireland’s Ancient East.
With an outdoor museum depicting 9000 years of re-created Irish History situated within natural forestry & wet woodlands.
The following images are just some from the many I took on the day we visited ….
Landscape painting and photography
Painting as an art form for myself feels very much like a natural progression from the art of landscape photography which is the act of recording a representation of the view you find yourself located in.
I often find myself asking what it was about an image I capture with my camera or in a sketch / painting that I liked so much that I went to the effort of working with that location in different forms and media.
This is a quote from one of my favourite landscape painters Fred Cuming, Talking about his paintings Cuming says: ‘I am not interested in pure representation. My work is about responses to the moods and atmospheres generated by landscape’
Although there are many forms of landscape art all as valid as each other, Contemporary landscape painting tends to fall into the areas of semi abstracted to completely abstract, in that each work is making an effort to extract from the selected landscape location a sense of atmosphere or a mood. This mood and atmosphere can involve colour or light or texture, or all of these things and more.
This artistic process, from pure representation or abstraction can in a completely valid way start with photography and in fact many current artists have replaced the sketch book with the film/digital camera. The question as to if this is the best thing or not will continue for a long time, some feeling that a photo simply cannot capture a good enough sense of the location or at least not in the same way as spending time in that location with a sketch book can.
Personally I feel photographs are a very important tool and can in a very valid way capture the mood and sense of a place. However I feel that you need to spend a good amount of time with your camera exploring as much as you can while your on site, walking around and finding all the different views and angles along with all the small details you can find. The aim is to return home with as complete a memory of your landscape as you can.
Here are some details of Fred Cuming as an artist along with some more of his painting…..
Artist: Fred Cuming
Fred Cuming is a painter of International standing. Born in 1930 he studied Art at Sidcup School of Art from 1945 to 1949. After completing his National Service he studied at the Royal College of Art from 1951 to 1955 where he gained a Rome Scholarship and an Abbey Minor Scholarship.
Fred was elected a Royal Academician in 1974. He has also been a member of the New English Art Club since 1960 and is the recipient of many art awards including: the Grand Prix Fine Art (1977); the Royal Academy’s House & Garden Award and the Sir Brinsley Ford Prize (New English Art Club, 1986).
Fred Cuming has exhibited his contemporary paintings world wide. His paintings feature in many private and public modern art collections. These include: Montecarlo Museum; Royal Academy of Arts; and the Guinness Collection.
Fred Cuming paintings offer a moment for reflection. Cuming creates a relationship with nature and light – inducing observers to appreciate the calming atmosphere and realisation of the beauty around us. Many of his paintings feature the counties of Kent and Sussex where the Fred Cuming artist studio is located.
Talking about his paintings Cuming says: ‘I am not interested in pure representation. My work is about responses to the moods and atmospheres generated by landscape, still life or interior. My philosophy is that the more I work the more I discover. Drawing is essential as a tool of discovery; skill and mastery of technique are also essential, but only as a vocabulary and a means towards an idea. I struggle to keep an open mind.’
Fred Cuming has exhibited at other leading British Art Galleries. In 2001 Cuming was the featured artist at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition with an entire gallery dedicated to his art work.In 2004 he was awarded an honourary doctorate from the University of Kent.Like all Red Rag British art and Contemporary art Fred Cuming purchases can be shipped worldwide.
Irish Standing stones : Carrigeen,
Carrigeen standing stone is among the best located stones in Ireland. It stands in a superb location at the top of the picturesque Nire valley from where there is magnificent panoramic views of the surrounding mountainous region. On the day this image was taken it was -2 degrees and the mountains had a thick covering of mist.
The stone stands some height, an impressive 2.5 meters and tapering to a sharp point. It stands solidly upright and is oriented in a WNW-ESE direction.
An interesting observation here, was when looking westwards, that the jagged crest of the stone seemed to align somewhat with the distant profile of the mountain ridge to the west. (see photo below). This may be just coincidental or was it of significance and could this jagged profile of the stone have survived through thousands of years?
Apart from this speculation, Carrigeen standing stone and its surroundings is a ‘must see’.
Tomorrow marks 100 years since the start of the battle of the Somme.
I am sure many will know a great deal about this shocking first world war battle, however if you would like to know more or read about it for the first time, this is a great link !
As you can see here, like so many I have linked the poppy to the Somme and the first world war, how and why this link came about is detailed below …..
What do the red poppies signify?
The association between commemorating war dead and poppies arises from the famous opening lines of Canadian army officer John McCrae’s poem In Flanders Field, which begins: ” In Flanders fields the poppies blow; Between the crosses, row on row”.
McCrae wrote the poem during the Second Battle of Ypres, the day after he helped to bury a close friend. He had noticed the way poppies bloomed around the graves and included the observation in his poem, which was written from the viewpoint of the dead soldiers.
McCrae was promoted to Acting Colonel and moved to a position behind the lines, but died of meningitis in a military hospital on 28 January 1918. His poetry, however, lived on. Published in December 1915, In Flanders Field quickly became known as one of the defining poems of the First World War.
American humanitarian worker Moina Michael was one of the millions touched by the imagery of poppies growing on the battlefield. To raise money for her work helping disabled servicemen, she came up with the idea of selling silk poppies to be worn as a tribute to the fallen.
By 1921, her efforts had led to the poppy being adopted as the official emblem of remembrance by both the American Legion and Royal British Legion, with poppy sellers an established fixture in both nations.
Gallery and Poem (John McCrae’s poem In Flanders Field)
John McCrae, May 1915
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
Another great link about the Somme is here : The Battle of the Somme: 141 days of horror