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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?
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”.
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.
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.
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? ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
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.
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.
It always strikes me that Geology doesn’t recognise political borders. For this reason I elect Geology for the Nobel peace prize.
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.)
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 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)
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
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?
Imagine a wonderful cacophany of sound stretching far back beyond prehistory through Geologic time. The sounds you hear today are still connected by a thread to all the sounds that have reverberated across the planet including those of our ancestors . They are also linked to the sounds that are waiting to happen. So be quiet a while and listen….
And what does the soundtrack of the zone now inhabited by today’s Marble Arch Caves Geopark sound like? I mean what are the sounds of this place’s past present and future? What sounds are made or witnessed in the Geopark?
There so much potential for creating new sound ecologies. AND so we’ve taken audio recordings of Marble Arch Caves Geopark, here there and everywhere during our travels…… of the birds, the bees and rivers as well as the human voices and technologies. We are going to make a DREAMING PLACE audio journey for you (listen to How Far From Home Are we?) and we’ll ask local, national and international radio stations to broadcast our journeys. You’ll also be able to listen via live streaming and our blogs.
We’ll tell you more about that later on. Once autumn kicks in we’ll be doing some serious collaborative sound editing. We will have to use skype, google docs and wetransfer to help us as we are now physically far far apart, working on opposite sides of the world. And its going to be fun.
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).
Bridget Maguire shared with us the Galloon of her childhood and inspired our boat trips there. After many emails, we met up with her on Galloon Island just over the water from the beautiful Crom Estate (National Trust), where we were staying in Upper Lough Erne. We so enjoyed reading her emails that we have asked her permission to share some extracts. The following are from some of our many communications with Bridget. She writes:
“I’m sure you like Crom! and I’m sure you have noticed the little Tower out on the Lough – Crichton Tower……….when I was growing up this tower was broken at the top, and stones sometimes falling down in winds. It was a favourite picnic place for my brother and sister and me to stop and have a picnic….while we were out rowing in search of adventures!!!
Today everything is prettified, but then everything had a sort of long-lost, neglected look, and hardly anybody came around, apart from the local people. Inisfendra had feral goats, and a rather primeval sort of forest, which filled us with awe.
At the other end of the island, were the remains of the Lanesborough Estate – the house had been burned down in 1922 in the fight for our (ahem) freedom, and subsequently the roofless house was left to nature, with ash trees growing through it, and elegant window frames looked strangely out of place.
And our great prize, as children, was the wonderful apple orchard which continued to produce wonderful – if small – apples that were no longer known on the market, probably still rare. We brought boatloads of these home to Mother, who used them well, storing them, making apple pies, etc. In the hungry 50s , these apples were a great luxury.
I’ll ask my brother if I can stay over on Monday night and will get back to you. As things stand, Mon/Tues should be great.
I am pleased that you are enjoying yourselves here.
Extract from our DREAMINGPLACE email correspondence by kind permission of Bridget Maguire.
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.
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.
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.
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?
This is Number One of our DREAMING PLACE data sheet images. I know you are going to like them, so we’ll put them inbetween our regular blogs.
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?
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.
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.
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.)
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.
Many years ago in Spain I had a dream. The image I saw in it was so powerful and so surprising that in the morning I took up my colours straight away and tried to paint it. I painted a lucid yellow coat with patterns of people and things spilling across it. I called it “My dream coat”. I can still see “my dream coat” in my minds eye.
I’ll try to find that picture with its clear yellows and oranges so you can share my dream. I wish Claire and I could wear such a coat for to dream in. Everyone knows about Joseph and the amazing technicoloured dreamcoat. But if you don’t click here. but this would be our special Dreaming coat.
Or do you think P.J’s are fine?
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.
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).
Talismans are an important part of our DREAMING PLACE toolkit. Talismans are objects of power with the capacity to change our perspectives. So we like to give talismans of found or modified natural materials to our participants to act as guides. The talismans act to influence or transform their experience. With a pony hair bracelet or a piece of string fashioned out of soft rushes as guide to an experience, the world becomes new.
Something curious happened to us at Crom Estate. Cradled in the mossy lap of an ancient oak tree close to the Crom Estate church we literally became “human talismans”. A happy shift in scale and perspective….
Are dreams wild?
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?
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.
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.
Life without tea would be faster, but it would stop being extraordinary.
While inhabiting the MAC Geopark, we’ve chosen to keep our accommodations simple. However, cooking on a camp stove and eating out of storage bags and boxes has not cramped our culinary style. Good food (especially good veg) is one of the luxuries that we have chosen to sustain during the project. (Some of you who’ve been following our blog closely may have already surmised this!) In fact, we believe that culinary choices deeply affect our experience of place on several levels: 1) the physiological affects of different foods on the body; 2) the experience of place while cooking and eating out of doors instead of inside a house or restaurant; 3) the experience of eating food grown or produced in the local proximity……and there are many other levels I’m sure.
How does food affect, create, or influence your experience of place?
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.
The cave systems at Marble Arch Caves are infamous among potholers for their fickle ways. They can be dry one minute and very very wet the next; wet and of course highly dangerous.
Boho (pronounced Boh) caves were very very wet on the day we were invited to descend them. Even our guide, Les Brown, who is chair of the Irish Cave Rescue Organisation that operates from Marble Arch Caves Geopark, was astonished by the quantity of water roaring from its mouth. He was quite impressed.
From this photo I’m not sure if you can really appreciate that there is a whole river coming out of the rock, a whole river running right over what would normally be dry land. It can take as little as 10 minutes and up to 24 hours for rain to flood these caves. Conditions in these caves are dramatic!
You see, these limestone lands are literally full of holes and rain running off from mountains and out of bogs can literally pour back underground through numerous sink holes the moment it leaves the skies. Naturally the Marble Arch show caves are very closely monitored, water flows are measured around the clock and dangerous areas roped off. In “wild caves” where there is no monitoring equipment it is much more dangerous and caution and familiarity with the caves are key to safety.
Sadly because of the big river coming out of this Cave we didn’t get to explore Boho caves. Instead we contented ourselves with interviewing Les at the back bar (a carefully created cave-like room) of MacKenzies in the potholers bar.
A hydrogeologist and adventurer, Dr. Les Brown is chair of the Irish Cave Rescue Organisation and afficionado of potholing. In one of his stories he was buried alive in Ethiopia and in another came across porcupine quills in a cave. This is where drawing overlaps with dreaming. We drew a porcupine in a cave in our collaborative drawing the day before we met up with Les.
Strange to be sure…!
It’s true that Elderflowers make wonderful fritters.
We made these for breakfast during our stay at Helen’s National Trust cottage on the Crom Estate, Marble Arch Caves Geopark. Our very special batter from chickpea flour was fermented overnight with Kefir, (our kefir is fed with soya milk) which is a bit unusual and means it is suitable for vegans. It is also wheatfree. Fried in red palm oil, our fritters have a light dusting of icing sugar. The plate is Helen’s.
Click here for recipes for Elderflower fritters.
The Limestone uplands of Marble Arch Caves Geopark are home to many rare plants, insects and bird species. They thrive in the special habitats this rock has helped to create. Find out more about MAC’s limestone habitats here.
In fact there are so many common spotted orchids dotted around the place, it’s hard to find a place to dream without squashing them. But though this orchid is seemingly common here, in other locations they really are rare because modern agricultural practices threaten their native grassland habitats.
Through conservation schemes, some farmers in the MAC geopark have agreed to take special measures to protect and nurture this native grassland and it is a wonderful thing to see. Much of this agricultural land is farmed organically like this plot belonging to Ignatius.
The hay from these special meadows smells like heaven. And I’m going to rustle up a little audio piece we recorded at the farm of Ignatius McGuire so that even if you cannot smell heaven you can hear about it. Listen to Ignatius on mowing here.
Ignatius himself is a rare breed. He farms his ancestral homelands in the way of his forebears. He is bursting with energy and scything really is a joy to him. His enthusiasm is contagious and he soon has Claire and I swinging the scythe.
It goes without saying we are very impressed. Even more impressed because this man’s vision is ecological in a big way. We can imagine 10 men (that is the traditional number to work a field) out there mowing and competing with each other for speed and skill. He is really chuffed that we are keen on learning his skill and invites us back in August to help him.
A prehistoric roundhouse nestled behind the Geopark’s GortaMcConnell view point near Marble Arch Caves hosted our first Cross border Exchange.
We invited local artists from Visual Arts Fermanagh to bring an object or idea from their lives or cultures to share with the original inhabitants of a prehistoric roundhouse in the limestone hills close to the Eire/N.Ireland border.
Five artists trekked to the site carrying a gurgling baby plus their chosen objects: a brass key to bleed radiators, a mug with a frog on it and a red enameled teapot. A blue tin kettle, an antique china teapot and a beautiful retro enamel red teapot attended our tea party but embarrassingly we were missing the TEA. Both of us had forgotten to pack it! How did this happen?
We have done The Exchange many times but never never with lightening, midges, a baby, and a real campfire. The novelty hopefully made up for the lack of real tea and a the campfire lit to keep the midges away felt kind of homely.
We discussed the importance of tea and hospitality over a delicious tea substitute, an infusion of fresh raspberries. If the custom of offering tea disappears could a whole culture collapse?
Find out more about The Exchange project here.
Our Dreaming Place Field work is complete but we still have much to report and thoughts and ideas to share via our blog. Our MAC adventures are set to continue with more audio, story and image uploads (From Tuesday pm) so you can catch up on what happened.
All species dream….. but do you need to sleep to dream?
This blog is a short one as WiFi is free here at the very charming Knockninny Country House and Marina, but plugins to the grid are very costly. Ideally we need 4 plugs for a couple of hours to recharge equipment, which works out £20 plus our drinks so I’m going to need your support to complete this blog.
To help us discover what dreaming IS, how it manifests, please use the comments facility on this blog. We welcome your contributions to our list of kinds of dreaming….
How do we dream? ie. Daydreaming, planning, drawing
What phrases do we associate with dreaming? ie. “in your dreams” or “away with the fairies”
Many thanks in advance!
Anna and Claire xx
Through the generosity of people here our dreams of experiencing slow travel within Marble Arch Caves Geopark are becoming reality. We have rowed a Cott (a traditional boat of the area) and a rowing boat, walked the lanes, hills and footpaths, paddled a Canadian canoe, gone swimming, and of course ridden our bikes. It often seems quicker to swim or take a boat from one island to the next rather than driving long way round on roads. Some local people still use the waterways for local travel including trips to the pub. But most islands are now linked by bridges.
Today we are visiting some beautiful Irish horses and hoping for a ride out in the sunshine close to the peaceful Crom Estate. Horses are still very much a part of Irish culture in both the North and the South – something we really want to connect with.
We had tea on a narrow boat during our sojourn at Derryvore Jetty, just across the water from Crom Estate, where we have been dog-sitting. “The Puzzler” is a very fine contemporary narrow boat painted in traditional colors and fully kitted out. She runs on “red diesel” and her appliances are solar powered. In the winter her little stove burns wood gathered from local woodlands. Her owners, Andrew and Sally Rawnsley use their bikes to travel into towns and villages to buy fuel and provisions and they run a blog of their own. Visit their blog here.
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”.
Drawing has a special place near the top of our now bulging dreamers toolkit! It’s fun and useful and a methodology that travels well.
Collaborative drawing is a way people can dream together. It’s also a valuable way to explore experiences, connections and ideas.
As our drawing grows our adventures deepen. Like the ancient fossilized coral reefs under our feet here at Marble Arch Caves Geopark, the nooks and cranniess created by our pens are home to interesting and unusual inhabitants. For the time we are here the rich biodiversity of our imaginations and dreams forms part of the wider Geopark ecology.
Dreams, thoughts and imaginings of people, places and things are part of the distinct ecologies of the planet.
The whole world is a drawing.