I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree.
And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow.

From The Lake Isle of Ininisfree by W.B. Yeats

There is a longing. It lives in all of us, this call of the soul. Perhaps strong and loud. Perhaps gentle like a whisper on the wind. Those who join me in Ireland have heard it and heeded it. They hold a deep knowing that this is the right time to step away from the hectic rhythmns of life and step into a rhythm that imagefeeds the spirit. To step into another world where they will encounter themselves in new ways.

They come on pilgrimage with a longing and with important life questions. The sweet irony is that they also come on pilgrimage with the answers. Answers that may be found while here, but not found here. The stones in the circles, the sanctuary of the cairns, the landscape, and even the chance encounter with an Irish story teller will offer wisdom and insight. But answers are not etched in the stones, they are etched in our soul if we take the time to listen. And this is one of the lovely knowings to be gained for people who approach the megalithic sites with a wondering if this is the place that will reveal the secrets they seek. It may indeed be the place but the revelation comes from within. Sparked by the arising. Sparked by nurturing the soul.

I will arise now and fly to my MossTerra home and my beloved. My soul is nurtured and I carry many answers that will unfold in the coming weeks and months.

Judith –

Goodbye Old Friend

A final reflection from the Field Names book.

Field Rezoned

Goodbye field, I have known you for a life
And now your days are ended with a knife
Of a bulldozer blade ripping apart
Structure, roots, insects and your very heart.

My foot walked every inch of your clay
In rain, sun, wind on a foggy day,
And knew the sunken shallow water spring
And when plough shares and rock would ring.

You were contrary, awkward shaped cuss
Yet we could work together, two of us
To grow a malt barley fit for brewers
All captured now for domestic sewers.

The straying sod and the gravelly rocks,
The fling remains, seashells and old red crocks
Would tell stories whenever we would meet,
No more! Alas! But buried in concrete.


Goodbye field, we have shared precious time
At least you are remembered in a rhyme.
I wonder will the new people feel your heart
As Stephen Coyle did with a horse and cart?

John McCullen, Beamore


Judith –

Field Reflections

The Third Field
The child who walks me to the third field
takes me on pilgrimage into limbo and liberation.
I don’t want the site mown or tidied up or made respectable.
I don’t want the wild flowers sprayed with poison,
the humps and hollows levelled and the hedges cut back.
The third field where the dead sleep is full
of peace and richness and tranquility.
Within it life and death embrace and rise up as wild flowers.
Michael Coady


A Love Affair

Through a mix up in lodging at Castlepollard Hotel the owner, Russell, gifted us a book. At 400 pages it’s hefty in both size and content. The Field Names of County Meath was published in 2013 by the Meath Field Names Project. Through essays, poetry, stories, and photos it documents a love affair with the land where, as the book title suggests, every field has a name.image

Most common names include House Field, Hill Field, Bottoms, Well Field. There are even fifteen triangular fields named Smoothing Iron Field, reflecting the shape of old irons heated on the stove.

And many more are unique. Candle Hill Field, “Folklore tells us that the residents gave candles to the local clergy instead of money offerings.” Dye House Field, “It is said that a person lived here who dyed or coloured buttons for clothing. There are remnants of a building at the north end of the field.” Knitter’s Corner, “A lady who knitted for people lived there.” Lousy Lea, “Legend has it that some of Cromwell’s troops camped here in 1649, when they woke up in the morning they were covered in lice.”

Their are fields named for the stones, waterfalls, and bogs. There are fields named for resident badger, fox, and plover. There are fields named for the thornbush, ferns, and oaks. Naming. It’s something we do for what we love.

A Love for the Land

I love this place that now is ours
This farm that has been handed on
From father to daughter, to son to son,
Everywhere remainders of those who are gone.

The names of fields meant something once,
Those who had named them would say so,
But the reasons were lost in the passing of time,
And it’s unlikely now that we’ll ever know,

The ‘Bottoms’ lie in the middle part,
The ‘Division’ is the largest field.
The ‘High Meadow’ is in a hollow,
And how many tractors would ‘Car Hill’ yield?

No matter now, the names that were strange,
Memories cling to everything here,
The love and the toil of a farming people
Make this place to me so very dear.

Anne Jane Holton, Enfield

Judith –

A Massive Tribute

Now I wouldn’t say there is a house in Connemara, including the islands, that won’t be represented here today.

My friend Maureen offered this comment as we drove over the last bridge to the island that is the most western point in all of Ireland where they joke you can hear American dogs barking. We were driving to a wake. Having not met the man in life it seemed an intrusion to greet him in death. So I opted to stay in the car and watch others arrive. I stopped counting cars at one hundred, each filled with people. Some dressed as for church others in jeans, t-shirts, imageand sandals – paying tribute trumping attire. And they just kept coming. We arrived at 2:00. Maureen said it would be going on like this until 10:00 tonight. Clearly by the end of the day there would be thousands. It was easy to believe Maureen’s suggestion that the whole Connemara community would be here at some point. Tommorrow is the removal of the body and mass. There isn’t a church large enough to hold the projected crowd.

Jojo was an icon in this vast and far-flung landscape. Although he was an undertaker, having inherited the business from his father who started the enterprise with a horse and cart, he was much more to this community. He was both undertaker and caretaker. Visiting people in hospital and supporting families in need. And I understand he was something of a football star in earlier years. Everyone knew him. His influence was massive. And so was the tribute I had the honor to witness today.

Judith –

Sour Cream

Least anyone think I place all Irish people on a pedestal of gracious hospitality and congeniality I offer the following story. And, by way of background, it seems on every journey to Ireland we wander into the subject of happy cows imageas those we encounter in the stone walled grassy fields appear so very content, peaceful, and friendly. Our cow conversations generally include speculation that the happy cows are responsible for the delicious cheese and butter over here. But I digress.

Saint Féchín wandered Ireland in the early 7th century establishing several churches and monasteries here. His name is pronounced feh-kin. However it wasn’t the saint being invoked by the angry farmer we encountered on our visit to Heapstown Cairn, a national monument and cairn of unique character. Most megalithic sites are on farmlands where access is graciously allowed – just make sure you close the gates so the cows don’t wander off. Not in this case.

The farmer had placed his own padlock on the public access turnstile so we just wandered through the open gate and into the field. As the small herd of cows seemed uncharacteristically skittish we approached with care. It was then we saw the farmer racing across the field in a small red car. The cows immediately took off for the shelter of a nearby stand of trees leaving us to fend for ourselves. Window rolled down, the farmer’s yelling was barely discernible beyond the fecking punctuation. But his message was clear and we left with a clear understanding of why these cows were skittish and not at all happy. It was a moving experience but not a Féchín one. I wonder if his cows are the source of sour cream.

Judith –

Too Full. No Foolin.

The pub was packed. Standing room only. Yet we hardly took notice as the music was mesmerizing. The best trad (traditional) music imageI’ve heard here. Foolin In Doolin has been around for years but tonight Blackie (pictured here with his pipes) and Cyril were playing with a new fiddle player and it was pure magic.

We had arrived early enough to get a small table next to the band and right next to the shelf where bands display cds they have available for sale. Just a small shelf and a modest display. If you like the music you can purchase a cd between sets. No signs, no advertising, no big deal.

We shared our table with a young woman from California. A marketing executive who had just left her job and boyfriend and was traveling several weeks in Europe. This was her first time in Ireland. She was delightful and, I suppose, she just couldn’t help herself. It was after the first set that she created and stepped into the role of band manager. Her purpose: selling cds. At first the band played with her and her role a bit. They were gracious about her suggestions that they should get a website and at the very least an email list to promote their music. Her telling the band to mention the cds between sets was one thing, but when she started interrupting the sets and, with the emboldening influence of a few pints, telling them to mention the cds between songs that was quite another. It was then that Cyril leaned over and quietly told her that really isn’t how they do things in Ireland.

When we come to Ireland, or any place really, filled with our sense of self and culture we have no capacity to take in anything new. No capacity to receive the gifts of another place and culture. We are too full to be filled with a different beauty and magic. No foolin.

Judith –

It’s Ireland. We Speak Irish. Get Over It.

I drove my beloved Anam Cara, soul friend, to the airport this morning and am now breathing into some time alone to visit with friends, explore opportunities that are unfolding, and catch up on writing. So many insights and stories collected in these past weeks. Now time to write.

On my way to Spiddal for time with dear friends I stopped off at the Craft Center where Flor, another friend who is a much sought after artist and sign painter, was atop a ladder applying finishing touches to a mural. At his suggestion I wandered into the t-shirt shop. While I’ve visited other shops in the Craft Center many times I’ve never been called to this one. As I scanned the shirts with Irish writing, I stopped at one that said, It’s Ireland. We speak Irish. Get over it. A perfect, if pointed, sentiment that has been dancing at the edge of my consciousness these past few weeks.

imageIt’s Ireland. There is a rhythm and texture of life here, especially in the west, that eschews much of the frenetic consumer culture we live in the US. While they admire much that is American they don’t apsire to be American. They are, in fact, quite happy to be Irish – to live their culture that has evolved through thousands of years. It is perhaps easy to encounter this rhythm, pace, and perspective and consider it less than what it could be or should be when viewed through the lens of our culture. This arrogance can be stunning.

It’s Ireland. There is much to learn from this place and these people. If we can get over ourselves.

Judith –


Stranger Than Fiction

A quick side note from this pilgrimage journey…..

Car Talk fans will know well the firm of Dewey, Cheatem & Howe. But as I was driving the rabbit warren of one way streets that is Sligo Town, Jack pointed up a side street to the location of Argue & Fibbs, a firm of soliciters, lawyers, still operating in Sligo.

Judith –

Jeremiah Was A Bullfrog

Standing in the entrance to the magnificent main cairn at Loughcrew looking at the carvings on the stones of this ancient megalith dated to 3500 BC. The guide was pointing out some of the carvings and noted that on one of the stones was a graphic depiction of Jeremiah’s journey.

Jeremiah, also known as the weeping prophet, was born in 655 BC. Just a few years after this site was created. The guide didn’t have an answer to this discrepancy of dates…just saying that visitors had told her as much.

And this actually gets to the heart of a pilgrimage to these places, or indeed a journey through life. I witness people encountering the mystery of these megaliths, for indeed there is much mystery and more questions than answers, and rush to interpretation based on their own and very limited understanding. It seems we need answers and are ready to create them out of thin air if necessary. Opening to the mystery can be daunting for those who prefer absolutes. Yet opening to the mystery is where the magic imagehappens. In Ireland and in life.

I witness some who journey with me search desperately for absolutes. Much like the early Christians they need a story that fits their world view. For me the carvings at Loughcrew hold the mystery. For me Jeremiah will remain a bullfrog.

Judith –