Creative ideas can be illusive. If you approach them too quickly or too directly, they may turn tail and be lost. But like wild creatures they can be lured from their hideouts if conditions are favorable, perhaps at a particular time of day by a special treat. A ritual pot of tea, a piece of music, the sound of a waterfall or a beautiful pattern.
It may be enough to go outdoors and sit on a tree stump to allow the ideas to flow. It’s exciting to consider some of the forms and patterns we observe outdoors have companion patterns inside our bodies;, the swirl on our finger tips, the filigree of veins and in the very patterns of our lives and relationships.
So enjoy your shower or walk the edge of the lough and let the bubbles rise.
These Dreaming Place audio footprints were recorded at the watery edge of Lough McNean, Marble Arch Caves Geopark.
Claire has a moment of revelation beside the waters of Poll Sumera, a magical place on the lower slopes of Cuilcagh Mountain. It is here that the waters that gather in the folds of the mountain’s flanks disappear into a labrynthine network of underground rivers to re-emerge sometime later at the fabled birthplace of the famous River Shannon; Shannon Pot.
Our dream of making some of the audio footage we recorded during our travels through the Marble Arch Caves Geopark into a 30-minute radio feature is becoming reality….We are hard at work on our radio show, Anna in Devon and Claire in New Mexico, listening to footage, comparing notes, editing and stringing sounds together. The show is forming roots, taking shape and growing and changing in the process, much like potatos growing underground.
Listen below to a description of ideas for DREAMING PLACE radio, as described to Ignatius Maguire during our tour of his traditional farm, his potato fields and the special pot designated for potato washing:
Since this was recorded, we have had oodles of ideas and time in front of the computer editing. We are very excited to share the results with you. We plan to post “preview” segments of the upcoming radio show here on the blog and we would love your feedback. Tell us what you think!
When the first DREAMING PLACE radio show is finished we will of course let you know when and where it will be aired so that you can tune in on your radio or via live streaming online.
This blog has been a long time in a comin´ and that’s because I grew it.
To grow my potato blog I followed some basic steps. the rest down to luck, weather and patience. It’s taken quite a while to get to this point , mainly ‘cos of all that hard work and the waiting. I had to……..
7. earth up
A long time ago a Slovenian man called Franci, a student of Mark’s suggested I apply my novel research techniques to”the potato”. It is still really important to Eastern European cultures and I am a researcher of the agency of things. Let me explain a bit more about how that might work.
The humble potato is a masterful at affecting human behaviours; it gathers culture around itself in a big way, as does say “alcohol” or “the sea”. The potato is the perfect thing he said to study. So far I have not done more than to scrub a potato, cut it up to boil or bake it. I love to eat it whole or mashed with olive oil and black pepper. But who knows. In Ireland as everyone knows the potato is very important and no-one on the island can ever forget the terrible consequences of the potato blight.
In Ireland we ferried potatoes around in the car back and forth over the border and dipped our fingers into glasses of poitín, the infamous Irish hooch. I feel a new blog coming on…. but I’ll leave it for another day.
As Claire approached an overgrown hedge in the Killykeegan Nature reserve a strange sound wrapped around her ears. She called me over and we listened as two Hawthorn branches kissed. Listen here to the sounds we heard..
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..
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.
There are reputed to be a hundred names for snow, so why not a 100 names for rain.
Drizzle, slush, fine mist, cats and dogs, golden rain, relentless drizzle, hard rain, pissing it down rain, lashing it down, splashy rain, fine rain, drenching rain, just a shower, slashing it down rain, driving rain, artificial rain, acid rain, wet dog rain, prayed for rain, gurgling into gutters rain, on and on and on rain, cowardly rain, emotional rain, childhood rain, steam up ya specs rain, bleary rain, frozen rain, dreary rain, drumming rain, sprightly rain, nifty rain, curious rain, whiplash rain, wet laundry rain, welcome rain, refreshing rain, summer rain, coming down in buckets rain, bank holiday rain,dream rain, mean rain, drenched to the skin rain, clear the air rain, sluice rain, dishwater rain, rivulets of rain, radio rain, damp rain, spotting, rain over the sea, bountiful rain, put the sandbanks out rain, raining somewhere else, beach holiday rain, distant rain, sun and rain, turning to ice rain, turn your back to the rain rain, mythical rain, crystal rain, can’t find the keys rain, make lakes inside the tent rain, fun rain, run for cover rain, battery damper rain, splashing rain, filthy rain, fat drops of rain, surging rain, filtered rain, vertical rain, be-jewelled rain, sou’ester and oilskin rain, sprinkling rain, storybook rain, boot filling rain, beating rain, timely rain, cancelling rain, statistical rain, micro rain, miraculous rain, sploshing rain, pear drop shaped rain, slanting rain, beautiful rain, staining rain, thirsty rain, sprinkler saver rain, bucketing down, pouring and pouring rain, more rain, costly rain, swimming pool filling rain, shelter under a bush rain, water off a ducks back rain, thirst quenching rain, polluted rain darling rain, best rain, lip and run rain, break the drought rain, biblical rain, Irish rain, soaking rain, wash out, darts, weekend rain, fairy rain, good for the land rain, pitter -patter, flood rain, bullets, rain coat rain, hill top rain, fill bucket quickly rain, fat rain, wet rain, cold rain, nasty rain, wide-brimmed hat rain, frightening rain, sizzling rain, stinging rain, hot rain, under canvas rain, God given rain, bouncing rain, patient rain, giant’s rain, wants to go back home rain, delirium inducing rain, mega rain, freezing rain, timid rain, glorious rain, drought breaking rain, special rain, horrific rain, blinding rain, don’t go outdoors rain, horizontal rain, fickle rain, timid rain, burning rain, southwesterly rain, milky rain, rained like this yesterday too rain, yellow rain, sleepy rain, seeping rain, excuse of a rain, call off a BBQ rain, light rain, shower of rain, Wimbledon rain, tea-break rain, narrow rain, drip into your eyes rain, stormy rain, instant noodles rain, melted snow rain, rain around a speck of dust rain, co2 rain, sulphurus rain, nice rain, settle in the seedlings rain, blank rain, car roof rain, kind rain, fresh morning rain, Monday morning rain, sick note rain, trench coat rain, slippery rain, dreary rain, stick your hair to your forehead rain, baby rain, feisty rain, come and go rain, dream rain, rice grain rain, Spanish rain, planters rain, thirsty rain, full rain, black rain, tropical rain, steamy rain, drenched to the skin rain, cruel rain, drought breaking rain, pouring rain.
Phew… how many RAINS is that?
What does gaelic rain sound like? ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
DREAMING PLACE dreams of becoming a bilingual project. But is this just a pipedream? Could it become a reality? We’d need a lot of help and support but it’s something to aspire to. Certainly DREAMING PLACE is interested in bilingualism so that is a good place to start. (See below for details of our trilingual cultures). We have an acute interest in Irish Gaelic and the place names have been a great intro.
Each of us, DREAMING PLACE artists belong to not Bilingual but Trilingual cultures, so we are appreciative of the richness a melange of language brings to cultures. We know that the meanings of a place are closely bound to its languages, so that if a language ceases to be spoken a culture is impoverished. More than that a part of the soul of the land dies. We are interested in language as artists and as people, we are interested to hear what language says about place.
During our project at Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark as visitors, we listened to and recorded some of the diversity of voices spoken in the Geopark. The voices of people who live, work or play in the Geopark give us a clue to the voices or languages of the past. They are part of its diversity and for us its beauty. We listen with our parabolic outsider ears!
Listen here to Tommy speak Ulster Scotts. .
The accents, cadence and dialects of English spoken here hold within them the memory of languages that have sadly been lost from right here in the Geoopark. In this category is of course is the Irish Language itself. I am not sure if I should really say that this language is lost as it is still widely spoken as a second language and Irish Gaelic is experiencing a mighty comeback. When you tune into the radio anywhere on the island it is most often this language that is heard. This is comforting so it was surprising when we discovered that Irish it is not spoken as a mother tongue or first language here in the Geopark at all and indeed there are few people who call Gaelic their first language anywhere. But there are still people living in outlying areas of Ireland who speak Gaelic. / Gaelilge Naturally those of you who live in Northern Ireland and Éire know lots more about the languages spoken in Ireland than we do and I am sure passions run high on the subject, but there is much confusion by outsiders like us who live in England or America so I am trying to clarify it a bit via this blog. Please do post your comments here….. languages other than English welcomed.
For us and also for many local people The Marble Arch Caves Geopark place names are a door into the Irish Language and into the heritage and culture of this outstandingly beautiful place. The old names still hold the meanings given to the land by the people for whom these lands have been home. The townlands are a very special part of Irish/ Northern Irish heritage that we admire greatly and we want the world to know about. You can learn more about townlands in a separate blog.
Anna and Claire Language history:
Anna has spent most of her adult life in a Valenciano (Catalan) speaking region of Spain. Anna is bilingual Castellano (Spanish) and English and communicates in Valenciano with her Catalan nationalist friends. She now lives in the county of Devon. Devon is situated in England’s “West Country” bordering Cornwall. People in Devon may speak English with an accent or use a dialect that is a relic of the ancient languages spoken here.The Cornish language or Cornish is on the United Nations list of “critically endangered” languages and is now only spoken as a second language.
In the part of New Mexico where Claire lives three main languages are spoken. As a minority white American family living in Northern New Mexico, Claire speaks American English. Many people in her region are of Hispanic descent and speak English and Spanish. She lives close to the village of Questa. Questa is a bilingual Hispanic community. But that is not the whole story. These Northern New Mexico lands are of course home to the original peoples of the area, the Native American Pueblo peoples who speak Tiwa, giving Claire’s community a very rich cultural heritage of which she is justifiably proud.
The photo is from a little booklet called Name your place (Logainmneacha Cuid Dár nOídhreacht) produced in 1965 which is intended for those wanting to name their place with an Irish language name.
Out paddling with Claire, in Lower Lough Erne, I dreamed the story of the Great Paddler in the Sky. It felt momentous, but it happened easily as I listened to the sound of my paddle stirring the starry waters of the lough, over and over over and over….I watched as my paddle spun the sky into a silken thread over and over, over and over.
The Great Paddler, spinner of galaxies, tornadoes, whirlwinds, whirlpools. The Great Paddler who taught the lake people how to travel, how to spin, how to dream. The Great Paddler who propels us into the future.
Listen below to paddling at Lough Oughter (Sounds recorded from the top of the blue plastic drum in the image above. You may need headphones or ear buds to catch the subtleties).
Bees are a kind of ancient technology, nature’s tireless messengers between worlds. They gather cultures around them and help propagate crops and ideas. Texting and twittering are the great-grandchildren of bees.
The future of our species is inextricably linked to that of bees, so if they don’t survive, even our phones will cease to buzz. (Interestingly, our “buzzing” mobile phones is stressing out hives – learn more here.)
Listen below to bumble bees living in the doorway of Alan’s cottage:
In the Marble Arch Caves Geopark bees continue to ply defunct smugglers routes with bags of valuable honey, even now that the borders between “north” and “south” are open. Honey is a rich prize guarded fiercely by the bees, but even now there are people who happily risk their wrath once or twice a year to steal it from them. Farmer, Ignatius McGuire, shares his family townlands with wild bees and in summer the temptation is sometimes just too great.
Listen to Ignatius McGuire describe the delights of honey from the field here:
Or ponder the importance of bees dreaming with Kaylynn TwoTrees in her article, “Nature’s Dreaming”………..
“Regeneration comes from dreams, where the energy from a sense of possibility is stronger than the fear of the unknown. So even today, as the bees are struggling for survival and hives are collapsing, a taste of honey or the hum of bees in my garden re-enlivens my belief that the sound of nature’s dreaming is the hum of bees and the audible activity of the hive…..”
Looking for the beesong audio to share with you I discovered this file of Susi playing her violin while we washed up. Lucky us…. So here it is. Click here and you will understand why it belongs to this post:
Bees are also extraordinary architects, the makers of honeycomb, which forms their hive. Honeycomb is a product of the living system of the beehive, a collection of hexagonal wax cells built collaboratively by honeybees in their nests or hives to cradle their young and store honey and pollen for winter. We are intrigued and inspired by the geometry of the bees and often spot honeycomb hexagons along our journey. This game of “Honeycomb I-Spy” actually began several years ago on another journey…..to hear and see more click here.
A great technique to Fast Dream ourselves into place is to meet with Experts in the field. We like to visit them in their natural habitat and in this case Biodiversity officer Rose Cremin chose to share her expertise with us in the education room at Marble Arch Caves Visitor Centre.
As well as finding out about butterfly transects and red squirrel ” hotspots” within Marble Arch Caves Geopark, we hope to learn how a biodiversity officer like Rose operates. What science does she do, what are her concerns, which creatures does she work with?
Our first encounter with her is a delight . She’s so nice and she shares her really posh hand cream with us before we switch on the recorder
When we meet with the experts we are naturally keen to learn about their specialty, but as artists we are helplessly curious about all sorts of other things. So Rose herself quickly became the object of study; an interesting specimen that given close attention we might learn from. We are intrigued as to how different experts gather their data, what specialist kit do they carry to help them in their work and what they wear into the field. And how does their specialist apparel compare with our own. What can we learn from them that will be of value to our own DREAMING PLACE field work?
Kit is something that we obsess about a teeny bit and this is because kits feature strongly in our practice. Click here to find out more about our Exchange Kit. One of the things we are doing in our research is to put together a DREAMING PLACE toolkit for people wishing to delve deeper into place.
Like the gait (or jiss) of a butterfly our Dreamers‘ attention wanders all over the place, we need to be experts to anticipate it. The gait of our attention is erratic and today it has alighted on Roses’ cream waistcoat, which is lightly fuzzy. The textured material is ideal for attracting ideas and we hypothesize that ideas might be burr-shaped. “Does she wear a furry “burry” waistcoat for collecting specimens we wonder?” At the close of the session with Rose we retreat to the car to scratch away with pens at our sketchbooks to release our ideas.
Rose proves to be an inspiration to us and we decide to visit her again, this time in her own environment at the Town Hall, where we ask to see the equipment she needs for her work with butterflies. Here she is demonstrating usage of some of her specialist biodiversity toolkit.
A novel technique for “fast dreaming into place” is to interview people, places and things.
We record these exchanges with hand-held digital audio recorders; we edit the interviews on our trusty Macs and curated outcomes meet audiences in a number of ways: via audio blog, exhibition or radio broadcast.
Dreaming Place Interviews are a way of gathering valuable “data”. How we treat this data is very important to us. An interview is both a resource and a powerful tool that demands rigorousness and respect. Outcomes both directly influence the progression of individual projects and the general direction of our collaborative practice.
Over the winter months we will make careful transcriptions of our Dreaming Place interviews. We archive the recordings to keep them safe and warm inside our hard drives. The data we have gathered at Marble Arch Caves Geopark is gold dust to us and and choc full of potential.
However editing is a risky business and dangers lurk in every corner. When using our data we must make careful choices, so that we can expand the world of knowledge and perception in an ethical way.
To help us discover more about Wildness we posed the question, “What is wild?” to Martina Magee, Geopark Development Officer and Education Director for Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark.
Listen to Martina’s response here:
On the theme of WILD….During an interview with cave geologist Les Brown he spoke about WILD CAVES…..which intrigued us. He explained that Show caves such as Marble Arch Caves (Marble Arch Caves Geopark) and Kents Cavern (English Riviera Geopark) have been altered to accommodate visitors, yet wild caves remain unmodified by humans and retain their essential wild nature. Find our recent post with Les Brown here.
Anna and I with Seamus and the two of Johnny McKeagney’s sons
I expect some of you will have heard about the Cathal Bui festival in Blacklion, (Eire) and about Johnny MeKeagney, author and illustrator of In the Ould Ago? A shop keeper by trade, Johnny McKeagney had a passion for people, places and things and spent many years of his life literally “drawing out the past”.
We’d just begun our own collaborative Geopark drawing, when we first spied Johnny’s book “In the Ould Ago” in Enniskillen castle museum bookshop. The detailed pen and ink drawings and large format of this incredible book SPOKE OUT LOUD TO US. And now we badly needed a copy to help “fast dream us into place.” Most urgently of all, we wanted to meet Johnny, naturally. Sadly, Johnny is no longer with us, but happily, we can all know him through his work. We had the good fortune to meet his sons, pictured above at the Johnny McKeagney tribute evening.
Our collaboration with Marble Arch Caves Geopark comes with lots of perks, and the best thing is they actually SUPPLY US BOOKS…..!!! We love them for that…. and we know that this will make you all a little envious. You see, a collaborative project like ours works as a kind of exchange. We are fond of Exchanges as you know. Our project is funded by National Lottery through Arts Council England which means MAC Geopark gets us and Dreaming Place for free. In return they provide us with contacts, experts, books, lifts, maps, free entry into show caves, amazing PR and stuff like that.
This appealing and informative book is choc full of detailed observations of Marble Arch Caves Geopark heritage… and even some dreams. Our admiration for this man has grown as we too have been invited into strangers homes for tea and chat and have drawn our vision or Aisling.
Johnny’s book shows him to be full of curiosity, love and respect for his homelands, its people, places and things. A tireless documenter, he forayed out into the twin counties of Fermanagh (Northern Ireland) and Cavan (Eire) gathering heritage “data”, even as he grew sick. Like us, he was uncertain at first how to share this “data” with others. Eventually plumping for a hand illustrated book. Much of his work was achieved from his own Dreaming Place: his bed.
As heartfelt descriptions of Johnny McKeagney’s work by Séamas MacAnnaidh and others filled the tribute evening, we began to better understand the breadth and depth of his fieldwork, drawings and the process of presenting it all to a wider audience. We related in particular to the reflections on the challenge of presentation, as we face a similar conundrum with our own drawings and fieldwork.
Listen to an audio clip from Séamas MacAnnaidh’s tribute below:
We recommend In the Ould Ago to anyone and everyone interested in Irish culture, oral history and the creative presentation of a place, its people and their material culture.
Making and sharing tea is an important tradition in many parts of the world. And Tea culture is very much alive both at Marble Arch Caves Geopark and in our own arts practice. Tea has even taken protagonism in our Exchange project. And hey wasn’t Asterix’s magic potion TEA?
Teapots are still ubiquitous inhabitants of cottages, palaces, boats and other homes around the world. Tea is an offering of hospitality and good cheer. It is fit for the gods.
Tea leaves are also used as an oracle; to tell the future. On the Crom estate in Marble Arch Caves Geopark there lives an old lady who practices the art of reading tea leaves.
Listen here about this 90 year old fortune teller.
In own projects tea is always drunk a lot (redbush mostly). Likewise in the territories of Marble Arch Caves Geopark tea is drunk heartily on both sides of the now invisible border. What stories does our lovely second hand shop Teapot have to tell?
And the potency of Tea? We think some of the potency resides in the water used to make tea. This golden water from a spring already looks like tea. Water straight from the earth is called “Slap Water” in Northern Ireland, used to wash dirt-covered potatoes just harvested on the way in to the house (described to us in a conversation with a local farmer).
And of course TEA is a strongly uniting factor. Many activities in Eire and Northern Ireland happen around mugs of steaming tea. Forget Irish Whisky and Guinness! Tea gives rise to good chat and hell, it gives rise to some proper good craic.
This magic frog prince tea cup came from Germany. It changed raspberries into tea when ordinary tea was accidentally left behind on our Exchange project field visit.
Out in the wild kettles can always be filled from waterfalls, so long as the water is boiled for 3 minutes.
Being an artist is thirsty work sand there is nothing like a cuppa to turn a new campsite into home. We usually fill our thermos with hotwater for later a comforting cuppa in the day. Our essential tea kit as illustrated below consists of:- bikes for fetching water, table for brewing, kettle, soya milk, insulated cup, camping stove. How much regalia. And a bowl for washing teacups.
We were invited into this narrow boat for tea at Derryvore jetty near Belturbet, Eire. Find out more about this craft, its people and animals via The puzzler blog.
Oh and this is the kettle that lives in MacGrath’s Cottage, at Killykeegan nature reserve, on Marlbank Scenic loop close to Marble Arch Caves. It is a small visitor centre with a hearth and a turf fire. Bit dusty but sure it will still make a good cuppa And in the rain there is nothing so good as a cuppa tea.
Dave Scott is a bit of a gem – I met him on a hill top on my “go see” visit to Marble Arch Caves Geopark last year. During DREAMING PLACE, he invited us to dinner with his wife and son and gave us a precious set of maps. He also invited us to accompany him and a group of kids from the Gortatole Activity Centre to Innishee, an island inhabited by crows on Lough MacNean. Listen here
Before swimming back to the boat Dave invited us all to look for chert tools on the foreshore. We squatted down and soon tools were popping out of the gravel like smarties. Claire and I dream of spending time with the the mesolithic people for whom the area was home some 7-8,000 BP. It is believed that Ireland was not inhabited by humans ’till the end of the last ice-age. So the chert tools probably belonged to these original inhabitants. We left our finds with the collection belonging to Gortatole Activity Centre.
Later on in our travels in the Geopark, on the shores of Higher Lough Erne, next to a Jetty at Crom we found even more prehistoric flints including a blade-like tool. I carried the blade in my pocket until I gave it to a young farmer from Galoon island who admired it. All his life on Galloon island and he never found such a thing. The blade is safe in his pocket, close to home.
As a child Margaret Gallagher was ” lazy”, or so she tells us. She didn’t want to do ANYTHING and that’s kind of lucky because she is still here in her family’s thatched, whitewashed cottage near Boho (pronounced Bow) in the Marble Arch Caves Geopark to invite strangers to breakfast and well….. to live out the dreams of others.
Her cottage is just too perfect to be true, but stop before you get all teary-eyed and nostalgic. Living totally off grid in the footsteps of her ancestors is really tough. A round trip for water is 25 minutes, which keeps Margaret fit but has been hard on her hips and shoulders. The fire must be kept burning or the house will literally fall down. The 2,000 year old bog oak timbers will buck off the thatch if the humidity levels rise so the fire has been burning for over 100 years, so there’s an awful lot of sawing, stacking, carrying and raking.
Some details of cottage life surprise us. The door is left ajar inviting light, air and company all year round…..a robin hops in the door during our visit to see what’s going on. She closed her door twice last year when the temperature outside dropped to -20 Centigrade. But most unexpected of all is that there is no loo. No quaint views from the open loo door under a blue moon then…. perhaps there is a (natural) bog out the back.
Her family kept a a laying hen, a “clockan”(?) in the bottom of the dresser and this was normal practice. This fact inspires us to settle down to do some drawing. We have been working on a collaborative DREAMING PLACE drawing and the cottage provides some major indoor input. Claire draws the dresser, I shade it in a bit and draw a hen in the left hand cupboard of the dresser and a mountain landscape in the other.
Margaret really is the most hospitable person and though she lives off-grid her cottage is literally on the map, meaning she receives visitors from all over the world. Her favourite visitors she tells us, are without a shadow of a doubt Japanese guests.
When we arrive at a little after 9am the table is laid with a feast fit for kings. This is one place Tesco actually has not conquered so the Mediterranean bread was hand baked in a cast iron pot above the fire with coal. Claire knows about this as she and Chris have a “dutch oven” at their place in Sunshine Valley (Northern New Mexico). It’s a really good scheme….
You put coals on the lid and the heat spreads evenly around the iron. As a counterpoint we learn how to make perfect white sliced toast on toasting forks over the hot coals and these are spread with the best of homemade black current jams.
This feels like a really really posh hotel!! I’m hoping that is a compliment.
Hot and thirsty from our bike ride between Dowra and Blacklion, we happened upon the most hospitable old lady. She scuttled around the back of her cottage when she saw us; we were worried we had frightened her.
But in a moment the front door swung open and we became her privileged guests. We stepped over the threshold into her world of radio, scrubbed flagstones and a dresser packed with tea things and Easter cards.
Would we like biscuits, sandwiches, fairy cakes? Listen to our adventure by clicking play below for tea with an old lady. For us this was a fairy story….of hospitality to strangers.
Aisling, Irish for “dream or vision” is a central focus for our project. For these 40 days and 40 nights, we are keeping our eyes peeled for Aislings in all forms, as we sleep by night and exercise our imaginations, explore places, and interact with people and things by day. We’ve learned that as well as a vision or dream, Aisling is a girl’s name and pops up on signs, on the sides of boats and in songs!
Check out the Christy Moore video below to join us in our “Quest for Aisling”.
We are scheduled to meet Bridget McGuire on the Bridge to Galloon Island. It is an appropriate place to meet her, as she is to become our bridge to another time and our guide to her childhood home place, the figure-eight-shaped Galloon Island.
We all three load into the front seat of the van together and begin driving down the road, literally down memory lane. We’ve not gone far before Bridget asks us to stop in front of a gate which leads to the old home of her childhood school teacher. It is a traditional wattle and mud Irish cottage, now partially caved in and overgrown with ivy and fruit trees and inhabited by a herd of cows and a surly bull with a ring in his nose. “Someone must have let the fire go out” Bridget observes and we learn from her why keeping a fire burning in these traditional houses is so essential in this wet climate: the warmth from the fire prevents the walls from absorbing the damp and collapsing. Her eloquent descriptions and the nuances of her voice describing her sensorially rich memories of this place transport us to a different time.
She recounts the satisfaction of successfully stealing apples in the fall from her teacher (who at times asked her pupils to cut their own whipping switch from a tree outside the school house). And she describes a poignant moment with her father while passing the house during a visit to the island. Press the play button below to hear her story.
Through Bridget’s map of childhood memories and stories, we begin to discover a now somewhat invisible network of people, places and things on Galloon island infused with a potent sense of home. From the local roadside well, their family’s source of drinking water now buried unseen in a roadside hedge, to the “Secret Place” known only to her and her brother, Bridget’s tour of the island reminds us that where ever we go, there are many layers of memories, experiences, hopes and dreams all contained subtly in the place.
As we drive by a hedge we wonder, what secrets does it hold, what dreams of the past?
musician and artist, Susan Hughes, plays "Wren's Nest" Atop Knockninny Hill
The Wren has become a protagonist in the DREAMING PLACE project and we are eager to learn more about it. If you know anything about the wren in general or in folklore, please post in the comment section below. More on the wren in upcoming posts.
In the meantime, enjoy this audio blog of an impromptu performance by Susan Hughes of “The Wren’s Nest”, a contemporary Irish folk tune.
We are drawn to The Black Cat pub by lively traditional tunes drifting over the road. We are met by a wonderful community scene of a lively yet relaxed bit of craic* outside the pub revolving around a group of young players (approx 8-12 yrs old) playing their hearts out with their instrument cases strewn about their feet between outdoor tables and benches.
DREAMING PLACE is an experimental project by Anna Keleher (Devon) and Claire Coté (New Mexico), investigating dúlra – ecosystem; dúchas– heritage; aisling – dream. Based on an ancient Celtic tradition in which the land remembers everything, the project explores “dreams of place” and how lands speak through dreamers.
I believe the work you do really helps people to value what is important about their place in space – keep it up.
-Dave Scott, Gortatole Activity Centre Facilitator, N. Ireland
I'm loving the sounds, smells, textures, and virtual visuals of Radio Dreaming! It's a 'mini-vacation'!!
-Gale Picard Dorion, NM
A wonderful project, reconnecting to and listening to inner/outer Nature is crucial in this time of ecological and ethical crisis.
-Colin Donoghue, NY
I just listened to Radio Dreaming and I enjoyed it so much. It was really beautiful and soothing to listen to because I could sense how "in the moment" you guys were through your voices. I need more stuff like that in my life; Inspiring and interesting and a bit higher up on the cultural ladder that my usual forms of entertainment.
-Jessica Scott, OR