And priests in black gowns were walking their rounds,
And binding with
briars my joys and desires.
The same theme appearing in the myth of the Piper’s Stones: piper and dancers lithified for having
defiled the Sabbath; it refers to the change in culture on the arrival of catholicism in Ireland. A number of neolithic stone circles inside and outside Ireland
are referred to as the Piper’s Stones.
from ‘Above Ground Below Ground’
In those days the piper played the music of streams:
fast flowing runs, sprays that erupted in feet,
blood hitting high C, dancers whirling dizzy with life.
Then a new order.
That day on Brewel Hill, piper and dancers broke the
angered a god, who having decreed that music-making was
Every year hundreds of thousands of tourists travel from Dublin
to Galway, a distance of 208km (130 miles). They come for a taste of Ireland:
atmosphere, heritage, scenery and fun. Often with the hope of connecting with
the authentic Irish experience, they cross from one nest of customized attractions
to another. The journey takes two hours and fifteen minutes.
In doing so, they pass
some of the most unspoiled, most interesting, less crowded and most authentic Irish
experiences they could hope to find. Archaeological sites, ruined monasteries, castles,
heritage centres, stately houses, grand gardens, not to mention tranquil
lakes, winding rivers and panoramic views
across the central plain.
On these two maps I have pin-pointed about 60 attractions
across a particular, and less visited swathe of the country (not nearly the
full list). All of these places would appeal greatly to me, all are worth the
detour and most require no payment. This is not an attempt to provide informed
itineraries for visitors to Ireland, but to make the point out that it will pay the traveller to explore more
deeply between the tourism capitals of Ireland.
Sites include Russborough House, Castletown House, Trim Castle, Fore Abbey, Loughcrew, Belvedere House, Leap Castle, Corlea Trackway, Strokestown House, Boyle Abbey, Arigna Minning Experience, Clonalis House, Athlone Castle, Hill of Uisneach, Rath Cruachan, Roscommon Castle, Athenry castle, Carrowmore Archaeological Complex and many more; check them out, it's a wonderful list.
Even by Game of
Thrones standards, Rubens depiction of Saturn devouring his son is
grotesque. There is a matter of factness in the way Saturn is going about his business
that is chilling. Ramsay Bolton would be reminding us of his jaw-dropping
barbarity, but this guy is just doing it. And he has reason, knowing that among
the deities, sons usurp their fathers. Then there’s the ripping of the flesh off
the chest; it’s not the usual “off with his head” approach, but more the way
one might eat chicken (without cutlery, I mean ). Saturn with an old man’s dishevelled
grey hair, bushy eye-brows, loss of body-tone so wonderfully achieved; it’s a
realistic impression, and it’s an impression that stresses that all is being
done with the utmost (albeit depraved) sanity.
Goya’s Saturn , on the other hand is comic-book; he looks
completely ‘out of his tree’; whichever
end of the carcass was topmost would, of
course, be the end that got chewed off first. And since the headless body seems
to be of adult proportions, this Saturn is a giant. As regards which Saturn I’d
prefer to bump into, I suppose I’d take my chances with the first; on the other
hand, since he looks like any old man, I might well run him and not recognise anything different in him; and
that’s serious menace.
It helps me to use images like these to spur ideas in my own
writing. The various different interpretations of Goya’s painting (time
devouring the young, Spanish war efforts devouring its youth, deaths of Goya’s
own children, relations with his son) are
prime fodder for poetry and the images can prepare the stage. But isn’t it intriguing how completely different the poem would end
up if based on one or the other of these two images?
I was listening to the radio today, to an item about the
proliferation in the use of steroids by young men and the harmful side-effects
they cause. The issue of people’s dissatisfaction with what is normal and natural
again; how long has the discussion on the links between the role-models in fashion
and eating disorders in young women been going on? Surely it is time to demand
greater responsibility from the image-makers.
The poem prompts a second thought. A time of wall to wall,
‘crash bang wallop’ entertainments is unlikely to be the time of greatest
happiness: every aspect of normal life diminished in scale by digital/celluloid
constructs. I wonder to what extent we have lost the ability to recognize the
quieter, more subtle beauties nature puts in our way.
It may be couched in
old-fashioned terms, but Ben Jonson’s poem seems as relevant as ever.
It’ll be my third year in the chair. An outstanding line-up
of speakers will address the conference on the theme ‘Telling Tales of
Revolution’. But it’s ‘tales’ in a very broad sense. Robert Ballagh will talk on
the story-telling in his paintings; Derek Warfield, founder of the Wolfe Tones,
on his experience from a lifetime
singing rebel songs; Alan Titley on the references to revolution in Gaelic
literature prior to 1916. Frank Allen will tell the story of ‘Twelve Days In
May’, a film on James Connolly, which is now in production under the direction
of Danny Boyle and is due for international release in the autumn. Gerald Dawe,
Luke Gibbons, Vincent Pierse, Niamh Parsons, Liz Gillis and Kevin Hora on a
diverse range of topics; the conference takes place in Ballagderreen, Co
Roscommon on July 21st.
Information at http://www.roscommoncoco.ie/en/Services/Community/Arts_Office/the-douglas-hyde-conference.html