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Posts from the ‘Marble Arch Caves Geopark’ Category

Out to a land of childhood imagination in a homebuilt Cott

With her brother,  the child Bridget (McGuire) who was born on Galloon Island  rowed to the far distant shores of her imagination, home to pine martens and woodcock. To her this was “The Wildwood”  from Wind in the Willows.

We wanted to visit this magic land and set off in Jonty’s  homemade Cott  to set foot on Bridget’s childhood lands.

Where was your ” Wild wood” of the imagination?


Wild Swimming

I am  so enjoying exploring the underwater domains of loughs and rivers and sea. The sweet peaty orange inland waters  of  higher Loch Erne are really different from the crystal cold waters of the Eire’s Donegal Bay….

And we just can’t wait to get out onto the water for an adventure in the Canadian Canoe that has been offered us by a supporter. Just what we dreamed.

Retreat into Place

retreat into place blog

Things are going really well for us at the mo.

We’re camping for free and it is really liberating. We have everything we need here in these upland camp spots and lakeside marinas. Sometimes it’s quite wild, i.e…. no loo and sometimes no spigot. When we are “tapless” we get to use our posh water filter bottles.

There is always birdsong and tranquility and lots to learn.

As an incubator of ideas, our van has become a Dream Hatchery. Sheltered from the elements we project our visions onto the fuzzy ceiling of the van and chew over our visions of an expanded biodiversity that includes dreams and visions.

Dreams and visions are part of the natural ecology of place.

Like other wild things ideas seem to be fugitive, in stillness they emerge from dappled camouflage into view.

When we are not seeking or searching, or look the other way, people places and things seem to approach us. This is the phenomena we are investigating.

Disrupted landscapes are fertile places

Conservationists often look to stablilize an environment, however sometimes dynamic change is desirable.  An eroding rockface streaming with water below Cuilcagh Mountain summit plateau is home to a very rare  inhabitant.

Saxifraga Stellaris  (Starry Saxifradge) is a tenacious inhabitant of these border  lands. As an arctic relic species it has endured here on the mountain since the end of the last ice age.

This Arctic Alpine plant thrives  in a  narrow horizontal band of cool dampness and beautifully disrupted soils. Small rockfalls and  a light flow of water off the cliffs  provide everything it needs. If its present habitat becomes too warm it will try to go further up the mountain… but further upwards it will be too near the drier summit plateau and would not survive.

How long will it endure?

Site of Special Interest (SSI) at MAC Geopark

Campmaking on the Marlebank scenic loop We slept two nights this week in the van at Killykeegan Nature Reserve carpark. It was very nice and easily our best campspot so far. Along with McGrath cottage next door, it belongs to DOENI (Department of the environment for Northern Ireland). So we give thanks to them for their generosity. We’ve moved on for now and left no trace.  We hope they will let us use the cottage as a venue to trial our emerging soundpiece in situ.

My (Anna) “Killykeegan dreaming” was an amateur painting in oil of Yasser Arrafat! A strange image that provokes a whole steam of thoughts about borderland  zone:

What part did these highlands play during the troubles with their old cottages and limestone hidey-holes?

-Turmoil – thick history – dark land – swaddled –

During an automatic writing session by a stream on the track to Cuilcagh Mountain,
Claire tried to ignore these dark words rising from the peat next to a stream. The border between Northern Ireland and Eire runs along the ridge of Cuilcagh Mountain.

House of the Shannon Group Potholers *audio*

We came across this locked-up house on a walk near Marble Arch Caves. We looked in the window….

Listen to the audio blog for this image below:

“Fast Dream us” into Place

People are taking centre stage in our project at the mo and in the human sphere fortuitous connections are fast dreaming us into place. Invitations and ideas for future adventures are issuing fast from potential hosts.

We undid our high Victorian collars just long enough to down our first pint/half pint of Guiness at Blake’s Hollow, an Irish music pub in Enniskillen. Here we were introduced to friends of Diane Henshaw (Fermanagh Arts Officer), who is a gem.

We sat with Catherine Ward, who leads walks for the Fermanagh Ramblers and Jim Ledwith, for whom  “mumming” as a way of life. We will go with the mummers to Knockrinny summit on Saturday to celebrate midsummer (we may have to dress up in straw!). There is also an offer of a walk to Speaking Horse Hill….

And we plan to meet Patrick Murphy who makes straw suits for “ the straw men”.

Now we are off to the 50th Anniversary party at the local cave rescue hut on a mountainside and there is a new blog on the horizon. Later we have the fleadh (pronounced flah) at  Beleek and a whole new network of contacts and intros might open up.

Will pubs be pivotal in our project?

DREAMING PLACE Article in the Impartial Reporter

Impartial Reporter Article

Click HERE for larger, legible view of the article.

From Cradle to Grave

 Today we tagged along on a kids’ potholing trip led by Dave Scott from Gortatole Activity Centre. Known as “the cradle” this watery cave is part of the Marble Arch Caves system. The entrance to the cave opens out of a large quarry-like hole full of forest, a relic of  ancient woodland.

Dave’s knowledge and skill mean that even in a cave that has claimed lives, the kids are encouraged to lead and make their own discoveries. Above the underground stream, safe on a sandbank, we listened in the pitch blackness to the gurgling voices of the underground river.

Outside the cave on a boulder is a plaque commemorating the lives of the 3 young cavers who lost their lives in Cradle Cave. Dave, our guide, told us he was on the rescue team that pulled out their bodies.

The memories of the land are not always easy to hear.


Getting our ducks in a row…..

To bring this project into being we are extending out our tendrils of curiosity – discovering, making connections and interacting with people, places and things. All this sounds nice and perhaps even easy, but for this to actually happen hours must be spent making contacts, coming to decisions, organising plans, setting dates, finding maps, getting directions and meeting with people.


Can spontaneity and scheduling have productive offspring?

DREAMING PLACE postcard project

Our DREAMING PLACE postcard project has been launched! Throughout our 40-day stay at Marble Arch Caves Geopark we are inviting people to share their Geopark dreams via postcards. People are placing images or words of their Geopark dreams into the “dream cloud” on the front of postcards and then returning them to us to be included in a display at the Marble Arch Caves Geopark visitor center.

People are even joining in the DREAMING PLACE postcard project via cycberspace! Simply download a pdf file of our “dream cloud” template by clicking  here.

Print out the template, draw or write your Geopark dreams on it and then return it to us by email.

To return the postcard to us, take a picture or scan it and attach it to an email message addressed to: We will print it out and include it in the display at the Marble Arch Caves visitor center.

Who will send us their Geopark dreams?

Finding Heroines and Heroes

Once upon a time on the banks of the infant Shannon there was a silver bridge, a peaty pool, a springer spaniel, a wise young couple, a wizard with a gravelly voice and a gift of icecream….

A contemporary fairy tale seems to be emerging.

What is our role here?