Skip to content

Posts from the ‘Eire/N. Ireland’ Category

Landscape of Abandoned Dreams


In our wanderings through the landscapes of the Marble Arch Caves Geopark, we came across many incredible decaying homesteads, architectural remnants of abandoned dreams left to be reclaimed by plants, land, water and weather.


This “forgotten dreams” phenomenon seems more evident here
than any other place that either of us have been before.
The land seems saturated with it.


Abandoned farm equipment, the most modern and desirable in its day,
rusts in its final resting place, chumming up with the local flora.


It is as if abandoned architecture and belongings continue
to poignantly describe the cycles of history:
“better days” along with famine, economic hardship, immigration and
the forgotten dreams of this place.

Advertisements

About peat, turf and bog

swallower of memories

preserver of peace

bringer of luck

bog pantry

enemy of speed

ice-age daughter

black soap

famine food

giver of light

fuel of home fires

inland sea

body warmer

cure for weepiness

preserver of memories

moth repellent

friend of farts

adds spring to your step

a growing medium

birthplace of bogeyman

dark snow

lazy bed maker

baffler

mossy grave

placid muffler

mother of bogs

Radio dreams – coming true!

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.

Dreaming Yews

We climbed in the wide branches of two famous, ancient, entwined male and female Yew trees on the Crom estate. They are reputedly the oldest Yew trees in Ireland and possibly in all of Europe. According to the National Trust website, the trees were planted in the 17th Century, but other websites proclaim the trees to be much older – as many as 800 years.


The Yew Tree is now a rarity in Ireland, but the tree still has a mythic cultural prominence. Rich in mythology, symbolism and historic and prehistoric cultural uses, Yew trees are shrouded with mystery and power. The large, majestic trees have a commanding presence, not least because all parts of the Yew tree contain poisonous alkaloids, except for the bright red arils encasing its seeds.

As we climbed, swung and perched in the grand branches of the trees,  we mused about the dreams shared and the hundreds of years of history witnessed by the arboreal pair. What do Yew trees dream of? How many dreamers have taken refuge in the protection of these trees and which of their dreams were caught in the great web of their branches?


We are sure that dreams and yew trees are tied up together somehow and here is a bit of proof. Read about a Yew dream from the 1600’s “Somnium ex Eubernea porta” from Mrs. Cl., of S. here.

For more information about Yew trees visit the Ancient Yew Group at  www.ancient-yew.org.

What is your dream egg? *audio*

Dream Egg and Nest created by Rae Dunn

In some ways, dreams are like eggs. After they are “laid”, given time, the right conditions, care, attention and incubation, they may hatch! The New Year is an apropos time to identify and reflect on one’s Dream Egg(s). We’d love to hear about them! (Dream Eggs can be shared in the comments field below.)

During our traveling residency in the MAC Geopark we embarked upon a dream “egg hunt”, a detective game of sorts to find dreams hiding in unexpected places.

Margaret Gallagher shared this beauty of a dream with us over a lovely breakfast at her thatched cottage.

Listen below to hear about her “dream egg” close at hand:

Beleek, Belcoo, Burren…

Beleek,

Belcoo, Boho,

Burren, Butlers bridge, Blacklion,

Ballin Tempo, Belturbet, Boa Island,

Cavan, Cliffs of Magho, Crom, Cuilcach Mountain,

Dowra, Derryvore, Derrygonnelly,

Galloon , Gortatole, Glangevlin

Killykeegen, Knockninny,

Letterbreen, Monae,

Swanlinbar,

Aisling

A girl with hooped earrings, a building, a close or a house. Aisling (pronounced ashling) is a beautiful name for all these.  We asked people of Marble Arch Caves Geopark what Aisling means to them…

This description by Burren expert Seamus O’ hUltacháin,  particularly describes the Irish language word Aisling.

What does Aisling mean to you?

The power of blogs

We never expected off-grid blogging to be easy, but it turned out to be the single most challenging aspect of our trip.

Little lakes inside our tents, patchy mobile connection, no running water, no loo, rampant jet lag, hip injury, but electric plugs – oh please….

Our hungry laptops had us struggling to provide. Without power we feared they would become weak and easily die.

We had pondered the off-grid dilemma long and hard. Claire lives off-grid year round at her home in New Mexico; so surely it isn’t such a big deal. She and Chris collect energy from the sun and store it in underfloor batteries for use as electricity around the home.  Wi-fi  and the sun allow Claire and I to work together, despite her off-grid-ness  and our many degrees of separation. These technological advances help us keep our collaboration alive.

Soft folding dashboard solar panels might keep our laptops charged, but would they work in such a resolutely unsunny climate ? And what of bike power…. it works for making smoothies and projections so might pedal power keep our cameras, laptops and blogging practice alive?

In the end we opted to plug-in at Marble Arch Caves Geopark HQ, council offices, campsites and country hotels and used a wee dashboard plug (little inverter in the cigarette lighter) for on-the-go top-ups between charging locations.

Blogs are an ideal way to record, share and reflect on project adventures. And we shared DREAMING PLACE with family, friends and a world wide audience….. veraciously!

Keeping the hardware topped up became a matter of supreme importance. Should we make supper, sleep, experiment, search for a plug-in or make connections?

We are the first to admit that blogging got a bit out of hand… this time… and we did it in the face of significant adversity – Our dongle rarely worked, so that was a waste of money, we were operating in mobile-coverage shadowlands in the X – border zone, hoteliers were mean to us, the Geopark HQ were kind but couldn’t share their internet and we were miles from the nearest cyber cafe…  yet we blogged and blogged and blogged.

Is pigeon post a viable alternative?

No. 22 Dreaming Place data sheet drawing


Dream food vision (audio)

Food became central to our adventure and led to sometimes profound thoughts – in this case about animals dreaming.

Hazel cultures

A good way to discover more about prehistoric life  in Marble Arch Caves Geopark is to focus in on the edible elements of place. You can learn a lot, from ingesting, observing and dreaming with plants and things. As a Northern European its a fair guess to say that my ancestors learnt a lot from their interactions with the land. I know it’s obvious,  but its easy to forget that plants have actually helped shaped our cultures. Claire’s family is also of European decent, but she was born in New Mexico where prehistoric peoples have also eaten acorns, piñones and hazel nuts. Claire and I look, listen, experiment and dream to find out more about our prehistoric ancestors and their worlds. We kicked off our

collaboration while studying at Dartington with a “Eating Time Taming Food”  a wide ranging adventure into prehistoric Dartmoor Food ecologies. We  gathered, prepared, cooked and shared wild foods. It was really challenging for us as we were trail blazing our a new Arts and Ecology practice… .. but what d’you know while we were out collecting acorns and worms were gathering in our leaching sacks, Ray Mears was doing the self same thing on Telly, imagine that….Out of the BLUE! processing acorns for food after hundreds of years of culinary neglect!

Neither Claire nor I had telly and we didn’t know about Ray Mears ’till friends and neighbours told us. Only difference was we were making ART and gathering audio sounds! We ended our acorn harvest with a grand tea party at The Centre for Contemporary Art and the Natural World in Haldon forest Park, where our guests feasted on acorn and honey cake spread with butter churned using the motion of our gait and other ancestral foods.

In DREAMING PLACE at MAC we crunched  hawthorn leaves at Shannon Pot, made  wild garlic pesto and when Hazel reached out and attracted our attention, we whittled its flexible boughs into knives. Hazel is as full to bursting with dynamic potentials which Claire and I are eager to explore. And Hazel’s story is many patterned, it helped with the invention of tents, looms and snow shoes. The first people’s living in these northern climes after the great ice melt collected its tasty fruits to store for the winter months and Hazel protected and sustained them.

What baskets were woven to carry the canny hazel nut and what futures did it predict?

Listen here to Biodiversity Officer, Rose Cremin enthuse about hazel culture

Sound islands

I’m sure I told you how Claire and I went out onto the blue lough in the yellow smile of a borrowed kayak. We paddled together out to a tiny island where we lay down on the mossy foreshore to dream.

Listen here to a snippet of our chat as it wafted up to mingle with the calls of birds and the lapping of gentle waves outside our sound island.


The kissing tree

Did you ever hear trees kissing?

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..

No 18. DREAMING PLACE data sheet drawing

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..

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

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.

Eels and things…..

I saw EELS in my minds eye while dreaming on the shores of our first campsite on the shores of Lough MacNean. I actually saw EELS and I saw TURTLES and I recorded what I had seen on our Dreaming Place Dream cloud data sheets.

That day I decided we should fish for EELS. I am vegetarian, but I’d like to fish for eels, just to trap’em, look at ’em, say hello and put ’em back. Id’ like to try Humane eel fishing.  Claire was very enthusiastic when I told her, for she has fished for eels in New Zealand and it was fun. New Zealand eels she told me are absolutely enormous. They’re ” As fat as your arm” over there, she said.

To trap EELS like this we’d need a horses head like in ” The Tin Drum” or at least some tuna and a sock. But oh I don’t think that would be fun and a sock with a dead mouse in it is about as far as we’d like to take this… so we went for a cycle ride hoping to find a dead mouse that had died ” a natural death”!

Anyway, the eel fishing stayed as a vision like the one I made in our dream cloud.

I also drew the TURTLES I’d dreamed on another dreaming place data sheet.  Claire has a special relationship with turtles, so I showed her my dreaming place postcard straight away. When we were at college Claire brought a small stone turtle with her to give her inspiration. Claire moves very fast and does a lot, so her turtle inspires her to take life at a slower pace. In her home state of New Mexico there has been a tradition of eating the turtles as they gather in the wetlands.

” TURTLE TIME  / TEA TIME”

Turtles would have been “tea”  over many thousands of years for the “original peoples” of  the MAC Geopark home waters and the other myriad loughs of  counties Cavan and Fermanagh. Turtles might also have provided  a tasty treat for otters, lynx, seals, golden eagles,bears, wolves, fox, fish and badgers.

No 10 DREAMING PLACE data sheet drawing

No 9.DREAMING PLACE data sheet drawing

Dreamers toolkit

Our  evolving Dreaming Place Toolkit – a list in images….
night and day/ collaboration

potions
wild strawberries

dreaming into place

ask for water
inhabit the view
collaborative drawing

cooking
documentation



The land dreams in many tongues


Languages are an important part of the diversity of place.

Climate and conditions naturally affect what languages sound like or how they look.  And so do migration of peoples, cultural expansion, invasion, politics, music and technologies. Sounds made by non-human inhabitants contribute to cultural exchange and communication and so do songs of animals and fungi. Languages are dreams of place!

The people, places and things that inhabit or visit Marble Arch Caves Geopark are very diverse and they have widely different voices. All those tree species, insects, clays and sands, bogs, butterflies and musical instruments – and what about our computers and our cars?…. what a mixture of languages and ways of being. Lots of languages use sound, but lots also are visual, gestural or tactile or a mixture of all of them.

The land dreams in many tongues. Listen here to water re entering the rock at Poll Sumer in the MAC Geopark.

 

N. 8 DREAMING PLACE data sheet drawing

Just a pipedream?

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.

No 7. DREAMING PLACE data sheet drawing

Geology united!

It always strikes me that Geology doesn’t recognise political borders. For this reason I elect Geology for the Nobel peace prize.

Gortmaconnell and Cuilcagh mountain behind

Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark  (click to see  MAC images) is a X= border Global Geopark re-uniting lands, cultures and heritage that have been separated only by human politics and drama. Marble Arch Caves Geopark consists of peaty chunks of Counties Cavan (Éire) and Fermanagh (Northern Ireland) that share a geological heritage (and of course much, much more.)

Exposed Limestone tunnel Claddagh Glen

In Limestone landscapes the bones of the earth are apparent just beneath the surface giving structure and interest. Limestone grasslands clothing this rugged skeleton are home to a vast richness of flora and flora.. A cross-section of the Geopark reveals  a swiss cheese of potholes, caverns and underground streams. Rainwater falling onto boggy slopes and meadows of Geopark uplands filters through the vegetation and leaks into  loughs and rivers carrying wee bits of rock with it as it goes. Rain is weakly acidic and just like coca cola on human teeth it dissolves the limestone as it goes forming pitted and eroded surfaces or Karst landscapes. Calcium carbonate and other minerals it has picked up on its journey form stalagmites and stalactites. (click here for booklet of the Karst of Ireland).

Cuilcagh millstone grit boulder marking

Cuilcagh Mountain rising above the green limestone hills of Marlbank was once part of a much higher sandstone landscape that has all but eroded away. Find out more about Cuilcagh Sandstone here. With its rocky northern slopes and lower slopes muffled in blanket bogs the mountain is home to relict species such as the dwarf willow and starry saxifrage. (link to our blog on starry saxifrage here)

North face of Cuilcagh mountain

Cuilcagh means chalky mountain which the literature might tell you is a misnomer. This is incorrect, tramping on the mountain we did discover pigments or chalks. On the northern slopes of the mountain, where the surface has fallen away in landslips, nuggets of greasy ochres ideal for body painting

red ochre from the flanks of Cuilcagh mountain

can be found. We are sure the ancient inhabitants of these lands were familiar with  these deposits and named the mountain for its “chalks” of many colours. Claire told me that close to home in Questa, (Find out more about geology/history here) Northern New Mexico, a procession of native peoples arrive on horseback to collect pigments from the mountain side each year. We can imagine a similar procession to Cuilcagh Mountain in distant times?

No 6 DREAMING PLACE data sheet

No 5 DREAMING PLACE data sheet

Great Paddler in the Sky myth

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 Dreaming

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.

No.3 Dreaming Place data sheet drawing

Above and Below

From the the beginning, we knew that exploring above and below ground and above and below water would be important themes for DREAMING PLACE. Not only are we personally interested in these themes, the geology and geography of the Marble Arch Caves Geopark demands it!


These themes both directed many of our adventures as well as our philosophy of the project. We wanted to explore “above and below” with the people, places and things of MAC Geopark. What is so important about above and below?

We are accustomed to experiencing the surface of things the “above” version, but delving into both paints another picture of place. “Below” is also very much linked to exploring dreams, because often to understand the meaning of dreams or understand the “dream meaning” of a life experience, one must delve below the surface meaning and explore the many layers.

To be a “Place Dreamer” is to explore the many layers…..

You can read about our first underground experience with Dave Scott here and a little bit about our wild swimming adventures here.

No 2. DREAMING PLACE data sheet

Ideas are burr shaped: biodiversity expert Rose Cremin

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

bur
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.

bur
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.

Let’s Dream Potions?

We know we’re not the first to invent the idea of a dreaming potion……how could we be? Well its hardly an original idea is it? People have been dreaming for donkey’s years, people have been wanting to tamper with dreams since time. There are always going to be those who want to dream differently themselves or affect the dreams of  other Humans, Animals and Things.

dreaming potion postcard

The complete requirement for DREAMING POTIONS through history and prehistory, must have been immense.  Rather than buckets full of potions it is more appropriate to talk of A SEA OF POTIONS.  There have been  just so, so many humans, pre-humans and proto-humans, dreamers all, some of whom at some point will have wanted to change the quality, quantity, content of their own dreams or dreams of others.

That’s so many dreamers wanting a potion to enhance their dreams. – A potion has been sought to DREAM MORE INTENSELY, DREAM BETTER, DREAM CHILDREN, DREAM DIFFERENTLY, DREAM FOR OTHERS, DREAM FATTER, DREAM FASTER, DREAM THE FUTURE, DREAM WILDER, DREAM IN TECHNICOLOUR, DREAM LESS. DREAM SOLUTIONS TO PROBLEMS, DREAM WHERE TO GO NEXT, DREAM BACKWARDS, DREAM THE ANCESTORS, DREAM PLACE, DREAM PROSPERITY, DREAM DREAMS, DREAM WHERE THEY LEFT SOMETHING, DREAM THE NEXT MEAL or maybe just DREAM MORE full stop.

Thats soooo  many off the shelf and bespoke DREAMING POTIONS  for the many varieties and classes of  DREAMERS with their many and distinct DREAM REQUIREMENTS. It seems  impossible to even begin to think about them all. But we can at least begin.

I have heard that marmite is a good dream potentiser and it has worked for me.  A bit of toast and marmite at  bed time.

potions for dreaming

To take a tiny whiff from a small selection of the probable potions is to be assaulted by the heavy stink of crushed, pounded, squeezed melted, seeds, plants juices, minerals, extracts, organisms, fermentations, secretions, oils and incantations. These potential DREAMING POTIONS are so powerful, so intoxicating, so overpowering as to render even a sturdy dreamer completely and utterly DREAMLESS.

We can’t document even a tiny proportion of all potions designed to affect DREAMING. It just can’t be done. Its too tedious, scary, mad….. to do in a lifetime. So though we won’t document Marble Arch Caves Gopeark dream potions we will make a LIST OF SOME DREAM POTION CONSIDERATIONS and we will think about making our own.

If you intend making your own DREAM POTIONS you might like to consider the following.

Ingredients, quantities, smell, taste, consistency, toxicity, addictiveness,storage, availability of ingredients, appearance, know how, price, method of mixing, sell by date, potency, distribution, functionality, container, recipient, exlusivity, time taken to make, legality, time to repose, quantity to take, effectiveness, dilution, mixing bowls, social stigma, side-effects, availability to the consumer, secretivity, desirability……. gloopiness.

How have all the potions that have ever been shaken, stirred, sampled, gifted, smuggled, tasted  within the lands of what is today Marble Arch Caves Geopark changed the pattern, shape and texture and history of the landscape of dreams?

Potholer questionnaire – poem

Are you an adventurer teaser, deep delver, descender, tunneller, get swalloweder, explore underergrounder, catch sighter, day benighter, holey moleyer, badluck frightener?

Are you a squeeze througher, death defyer, dive downer, swim upper, happy go lucka, good time smuggler, listen to the darkness in silencer, truth weazler, get scared by nuffin’ er?

Are you a bravehearter, underworld dreamer, mole tamer, knee crawler, luck bringer, light swallower, gone undergrounder, bearer of prayerser, night reveller, dark hounder, rights of passage saver?

Are you a cavern punter, into the wildernesser, fear fighter, just passing byer, wanna be blinder, vision questioner, fast believer, pitch blacker, potato snuffer, slide by nighter, fear flunker, stagnencey stirrer?

Are you an Alice in wonderer, downderryer, badger terrier, earth enterer, otherworld finder, fast believer, pitch black minder, caver saver, light exterminator, hyena trainer, edge througher, never guess whoer?

Are you an illegal stiller, underworld tiller, albino signer, drop downer, paddler to other worlder, see in the darker, bear scarer, little deather, pure air breather, landmark dealer?

Are you an imagination brewer, leach purveyer, excitement seeker, porqupine squiller, fashion slayer, lifestyle  illuminator, bat trainer, land of deather, light transformer, future healer, cave reader?

Craic between the paving stones?

We spent whole days working on our DREAMING PLACE collaborative drawings. We’re so sad its over… it was really good craic, just the two of us drawing together in the van, propped up on pillows with the rain outside.  We have lots of ideas for how to share the drawings, but should we use our ££$$$$ to get all 22 A3 pages scanned into tiff files by a drum scanner?

While we mull it over again, here is a photo  of just a small section of the sheet  begun at Margaret’s cottage and finished on the ferry back to Wales.

Wildlife: Photographers

A wondrous sunset is spread out over the Cliffs of Magho tickling the surf at Bundoran to the west. We are cooking supper in the higher altitudes of a post glacial landscape. Our eyes blink, drinking in the glorious colours, but inside our rucksacks, our cameras are blind to the glory.

recording the starry saxifrage Like wildlife photographers documenting rare species we can’t resist snapping away at photographers.

Photography is part of the the biodiversity of Marble Arch Caves Geopark. And along with  drawing, writing, data sheets, collecting audio and blogging, photography has an important place in our “Place-Dreamer’s toolkit.”  (We’ll put blogging under the magnifying glass in a separate blog.)

photographing the photographer

We exchanged shots with Trevor Armstrong; photographer from the Impartial Reporter at the river entrance to Marble Arch Caves. The article on us and DREAMING PLACE in early June attracted lots of attention, and his photo of us acted as a kind of spotters guide for local people who learned to recognise us in pubs and nature reserves.

Happenstance brought us together with another photographer on the banks of Lough Erne. We got chatting with him and his wife at Knockninny and we asked him if he’d take some photos of us dreaming on the shore ….. and here he is doing just that.


It’s real fun to turn the tables and take photos of photographers themselves.  And It seems that the more used to being behind the lens as a professional, the more shocked  they are at the proposition of being “captured on film!” One of “our” photographers flatly refused flat to have his photo taken.

DREAMING PLACE Mobile Library

A BIG  THANK YOU to all the contributors to our mobile library!

Welcome to the DREAMING PLACE mobile library. It traveled with us throughout our “traveling residency” at the MAC Geopark snuggled up against the wall of the van and up against our bedrolls at night as we dreamed. If we had continued our fieldwork beyond 40 days and 40 nights, our library would have continued to grow, ever expanding with gifted books, borrowed books, bought books and acquired pamphlets, papers etc. We used our library as a traditional reference source to look up an unknown plant, bird or flower or to explore the source of local place names or meanings of Irish Gallic words. Sometimes we selected books to read from at night or in our camp on sunny days. And who knows, perhaps some of the library books’ contents crept off the pages and into our dreams as we slept next to them in the van…..

Our mobile library really shone when we needed inspiration for our collaborative drawing and it was pouring rain outside – too wet to go to the source out of doors. In these moments we reached for a book and allowed information to filter into us and out through our drawing pens.

***Wondering about the stuffed animal husky? That’s our Dreaming Place mascot, brought from home by Anna to assist her Ice-Age Dreaming.

Find out more about Anna’s Ice Age Dreaming here .

People, places, things: expanding the world of knowledge in an ethical way (+ audio)


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.

ethical interview
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.

interview with an expert
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.

Listen in to our a clip on “Crossing Borders” (Barb and Len are from Canada and were fellow campers at Rushin House Caravan and Camping Park, Belcoo, N.I., MAC Geopark).

interview for blog