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Campsite philosophers

We find that campsites cultivate philosophy. Rushin House Caravan Park on the emerald shores of Lough MacNean just outside Belcoo in the Marble Arch Caves Geopark is awash with the stuff. It runs so deep that in times gone by the inhabitants sensibly build their houses on stilts. The shimmering waters of the lough preserve the oak timbers of a bronze age homestead. Perched on its artificial island or crannog its inhabitants were safe from the erratic surges of philosophy that are prone to flood this special landscape.

Listen here to our favourite Campsite philosophers, Barb and Len from Calgary, Canada. .

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What is an Ecosystem?

“An ecosystem is a community of plants, animals and dreams that are closely linked to each other and to their environment.”

(Anna Keleher and Claire Coté ,Marble Arch Caves Geopark 2011).

No 17. DREAMING PLACE data sheet drawing

Talking dreams…. (audio)

Listen to us talk on dreaming …. getting into the flow….. insect hallucinations…. and much much more at MAC Geopark.

No 16.DREAMING PLACE data sheet drawing


Tied to our prehistoric past


One of the ways we  dream ourselves into place is to make string. Yeah it works, twisting natural fibres really does deepen our relationship with our own home place or the home place of another. Here I am at Claddah Glen,  just below the show caves at Marble Arch Caves Geopark in Northern Ireland, collaborating with Iris leaves and sedges to make strong and useful string.

Twining string is truly addictive and provides Claire and I with a quite moment of focus during a busy project. But there’s more…..

We’ve noticed that long leaves seem to WANT to make string, our fingers fiddle and twist  plant fibres into cordage, dextrously, as if it’s the most natural thing in the world! To make twine is to interact with our surroundings in a vital way AND of course we are not alone, twiners come in many shapes and sizes and surprising partnerships give diverse results; wind and dry moorland grass twist together to make a fat loose rope that catches under boulders.

As a species we have grown up with plants, they have shaped our cultures and well,  they make us who we are! What´s more, string is even older than we are…. Who are the “other than human” twisters, loopers, weavers whose cultures has inspired our own?

I’ve made string from bungy old Sphagum moss, Torbay palm leaves, stinking Iris and bluebell leaves and Maram grass, but you can use any plant or other fibre.  Twine is so darn useful, something to sew cultures together.

I think THE most exciting thing we learnt on our DREAMING PLACE adventure was how to spin hay into twine to fasten down hay ‘rucks” keeping them safe from errant winds. The hands of traditional farmer Ignatius Maguire manipulate a home engineered twining crank, an innovation on the implement used by his father, a hooked branch cut from a nearby hedge.Impressed?

No 15. DREAMING PLACE data sheet drawing

Fisherfolk dreaming

The Puzzler (narrow boat) bridge trophy

What do Coots, Herons and other Fisherfolk  of Marble Arch Caves Geopark dream?

Our campspot at Derryvore jetty beside Higher Lough Erne was a treat. We swam and paddled and cast our eyes out over the water.  And as we watched Herons, Coots and other fisherfolk we wondered how they dream.

Its curious how as our gaze deepens so too do our thoughts on “Species dreaming”.

No. 14 DREAMING PLACE data sheet drawing


This place has seen…….

DREAMING PLACE records a series of river bank happenings from below Cuilcagh mountain.  This place has seen…….

…… darkness falling from the sky in a blaze of light.

….. a girl with barefeet who thinks she’s a bee…..

….A tiny man in a waistcoat silouetted against a white horse.

….. an epic game of chess.

…..a safe haven in a hayloft sanctuary.

…. a silver fork dropped on grass. 

…. a plane dropping height and crashing.

…. a tadpole the size of a tennis ball.

….. a halo of flies.

….. a knife blade broken in two.

…… a bride who falls down a well.

……..a boy with a catapault kills a small duck and takes it home for his aunty to pluck.

….. 3 sisters, legs mottled with cold jumping on the spot as their mother spreads a checked table cloth on the bank.

….. a tray of oats warmed in the sun is sprinkled into a hollow.

…. a nuthatch drowns in a puddle.

No 13. DREAMING PLACE data sheet drawing

How wild? – The wild inside.

Our 40 day 40 night adventure in MAC Geopark wasn’t exactly BIBLICAL, but we did have a FLOOD (in one of the tents)+ VISIONS (on our blue DREAMING PLACE groundsheet) + VISITS INTO THE WILDERNESS (above and below at Cuilcagh Mountain).

It wasn’t exactly WILD either. Did we say it would be? But hush, there was definitely WILD in it.

Marble Arch Caves Geopark is not really a very WILD ZONE at all. Its not very wild  ‘cos you’re never  far from a path, a road, a dwelling, a domestic animal, a vehicle, mobile phone coverage, an electrical plug-in, a farm, internet or a pint of Guinness. But when you are close to the wild rivers, bogs, bats, fungi, lichen, mountains the night sky, it does make you feel quite a bit wilder.

It’s all relative huh!?

As a species we aren’t really very wild, but there are lots of bits of wild to us. I’m talking about the wild inside. The Fungi and bacteria and the thoughts and the DREAMS.

And how far does our domestication go? What about the WILD INSIDE?

What about all the creatures that help digest our food for us, and all the other wild things that crawl on our skin and on our eyelashes? The wild inside with its methane production, gaseous exchange and all that. At this point I opened another window and googled THE WILD INSIDE. It has a ring to it doesn’t it? Surely I’m not the first to think those words or to blog them. Click the link below to find out what I found out about THE WILD INSIDE.

http://www.harpercollins.com/browseinside/index.aspx?isbn13=9780061806483

Would the wild stuff inside of us  make such a distinction between wild and domestic?

So what do we MEAN when we say these words? What value have they? And HEY ARE WORDS THEMSELVES wild or domestic?

“WILD DOMESTIC, DOMESTIC WILD ,WILD WILD, DOMESTIC DOMESTIC , WILD WILD DOMESTIC, DOMESTIC DOMESTIC WILD, WILD DOMESTIC WILD, DOMESTIC WILD DOMESTIC, DOMESTIC DOMESTIC DOMESTIC, WILD WILD WILD”

No12. DREAMING PLACE data sheet drawing



Where d´th´’Tamagotchis go?

Do names pop into your head like rabbits when you are in a new and unfamiliar place?

The names of Crom whisper from beneath stable doors, are wagged into shape by willing dogs tails, pour through doors and windows.

The names below are a just some of those stored in a tiny bud of a cottage that grows from the corner of the big mama wall at the Crom Estate vegetable garden, which is now a National Trust allotment..

Tully, Daily, Murtle, Corbyn, Blake,

Gunny, Sacha, Missy, Percival,

Mickey, McManus, Maisy, Baffle, Mac,

Gaby, Mole, Red, Cally, Flight, Tilly, Joker,

May, Murphy, Angel, Cavan Boy,

Marney, Sally, Torma, Boyne,

Frazer, Archie, Blight, Captain,

Jumpy, Tyson, Glory, Baby.

Don’t forget Baby….. !

They reek of saddle oil, tar, baccy and climbing roses. Who gave these names to dogs, under-gardeners, ratters,stable- boys, conserve makers, ghillies?

Contrast these names now with names from the present day Geopark. Names spoken to people and animals we met at Marble Arch Caves Geopark.

Eugene, Bridget, Jo, King, Ruby,

Ignatius, Malachy, Seamus,

Murphey, Séan, Diane, David,

Catriona, Helen, and Mary -Jane

Never forget Mary-Jane……..!

On the subject of names. Doesn’t a blog really qualify for status as a PET and don´t we give pets  names? (where d´th´’Tamagotchi’s go?). You need to feed, talk, walk your blogs so why not name your blog?….. Go ON… give her a name.

No 11 DREAMING PLACE data sheet