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Is it Alive?

river that flows from rock Boho caves

We’ve introduced Dr. Les Brown of Fermanagh to you in previous posts. Perhaps you remember him and a discussion about caves and a porcupine (among other things) here or here? Or perhaps you remember hearing his voice on one of our Radio Dreaming Episodes here. While we were revisiting our DREAMING PLACE journey recently for a new (top secret) project that is underway, we came across this again and it struck a chord. What do you think? Let us know in the comment section below.

Les Brown: Normally the cave is sitting there and its bone dry and when you get a flood pulse coming through it, it seems like it’s alive, because it’s become part of the active dynamic river systems that dominate the part of Fermanagh.

Anna: So you sound quite sure it’s not alive. Could you envision a world where it is alive, or a situation where you’d actually feel it was alive?

Les: Well it depends on what you mean by being alive, I suppose really. The vegetation and the plants around the entrance are definitely alive. The cave system itself it’s always changing. Over time it’ll always be changing so in that sense of the word, Yes it is alive, because it is changing with the environment. But is it a living thing? No it’s not. But it is always changing.

Anna: It has a cycle, it has a birth.

Les: It has an origin.

Anna: And it has a death.

Les: It has death like the un-roofed cave we saw this afternoon. That’s a cave that’s dying. It will not be there in a few thousand years. So there is definitely a life cycle to a cave. They form from water moving through their conduits and they get large and eventually they die, yeah.

Anna: Kind of like us.

Les: Everything is linked up!

Transcription of Interview with Speleo-geologist and Adventurer Dr. Les Brown, Back bar McKenzie’s, Boho, Fermanagh, Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark, 2011.

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Anna Featured as “Wilderness Thinker in Residence” this week!

annakeleherfeature3 “As a wilderness thinker I’m turning my gaze upon the world of the very small and towards the possibility of a wilderness even inside my own insides! Is there a wilderness inside of you too?” asks Anna in her essay for the Thinking Wilderness project. Check out her featured work “The Wilderness Inside” at the Thinking Wilderness website HERE. It will set you thinking!

Anna was invited to participate as a “Wilderness Thinker in Residence” in the Thinking Wilderness project, a one-year series marking the 50th Anniversary of the USA Wilderness Act. Anna’s piece,”The Wilderness Inside” which she created specifically for “Thinking Wilderness” explores many themes that have cropped up in our own Dreaming Place project and even showcases one of the postcard drawings that Anna created on our “Irish journey” (see above!).

What are your thoughts on “The Wilderness Inside?” Please let us know what you think in the comments section below.

Pilgrim Tales: The Brazilians and Kelly

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“Belleza!!”

Our eyes open to four pairs of walking boots, eight pairs of black thermal legs topped by shorts.

“Erphff”

Too many people, too close, too early. Windmills  thrum in my head. I plunk my face back down into dew.

” It’s the B..r…a…Z….i….l…l…e….ñ…o…..s ” says Mark.

I raise my upper body inside my sleeping bag and waterproof layer, cobra like. Four Brazillians beam down at us like grinning gods.

“Bellezzzza” say the Gods.

We smile as widely as we are able at 6 am and utter the magic words”Buen Camino” and the Brazilians tramp off into the rising mist.

“Lets get up quick, before the next wave”says Mark.

And so it is that as a new pilgrim enters our domain we are up and dressed and eating a fine breakfast of cereal bars and figs.

“Oh man. This IS BEAUTIFUL” exclaims an American male. “NATUR- RAL PEEPO” he coos.

“Hellllll ooooooo!!!”

The pilgrim moves off the track and onto our campspot.

“I’m Kelly….. It’s good to meeeet yoouuuu…. what’s yoourrr naaaame”? he extends his hand towards me.

“Anna” I say.

” I looooove you uuu….Aaanna” he purrs.

“Oh God!” I think “he’s going to hug me”. And he does. Oh NO!!  It’s Mark ‘s turn to get hugged. Not sure he’s into stranger hugs.

“What’s youuurrrrr naaaaame?” asks Kelly

“Mark” says Mark.

“I looooove yoouuu Maaaarrrrrkk !”

” I love youuu Kelly!” says Mark.

Kelly gestures towards our camping gear laid out by the wayside.

“I looooove yourrrrrr Caaaamino sssstyyyyle” he says “Yoouuuur such beeeeeauuuutifullllll peeeeeoople.”

The windmills whir and slim, tanned, clean cut Kelly tells us he is from Hawaii and began his Camino in Saint Tropez, France. He tells us how he has ditched most of his gear including his music, tent and other essentials. How he is travelling light, sleeping out under the stars wrapped in a shower curtain.

“What d’you do back home” we ask, intrigued.

” I do this for a living?” he says “Don’t we have a choice”?

And off Kelly trots into his neat little future.

“Preacher man” says Mark

“Millionaire?” says me.

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At lunchtime we see Kelly sitting yogi like before a statue of The Virgin, his world laid out in the sunshine to dry on a stone bench.

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In the old world Camino town of Santo Domingo de la Calzada we wash a bag of cherries in a cool  “fuente” and just around the corner we spot Kelly on the terrace of a busy pilgrim bar.

Kelly opens his arms wide “Helooooo Natuuuuural peeeeople” he says standing to hug us in turn.

“How are you doing”? says Mark.

“Oh I’m resting today” says Kelly” I’m gonna hangout in this cafe’s all day with PILGRIMS”

” You okay Kelly?  I ask.

“Everything! hurts ” says Kelly his eyes swivelling towards buttocks, thighs, calves, ankles, feet.

” Yeah best to rest up here then ” we say “Hasta luego Kelly, have fun”

“Buen Camino Natural people” says Kelly.

(This is a one of series of pilgrim stories by Anna about her experiences with Mark on the Camino de Santiago Pilgrim Trail in Northern Spain).

Pilgrim Tales : Serge, Jonno and Charlie

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANear Logroño the silouette of a knight pokes the air with his sword. He carries an old frame style backpack and is bent to one-side by the pendulous weight of a black plastic sack. As we approach the knight’s sword arm flies as his sword pecks up a tissue, a crisp packet, a water bottle and drop them into the bag.

“Buen Camino” says the knight.

“Buen Camino ” we reply and “Will you be dumping that outside the townhall ?” I point a finger at the litter filled black sack. “No” says the man through bushy hair and beard . “When I get to  town,  I’ll put it in a the first BIN  I see¨ he says.

This pilgrim has a pure heart.

We have been genuinely impressed by the cleanliness of the Camino since our start point in the squeaky clean northern city of Pamplona. So pilgrims doooo drop litter  after all. We are scarred but we need not worry for this pilgrim is a saint and he picks up what others have dropped.

“A clean camino is a wonderful thing.” We say! “Where are you from ?” I ask.

” I’m Serge and I’m French” says the pilgrim.

We ask as politely as its possible to ask a really nosey question ¨Are you on the Camino because you’re homeless”?

 “I have a home” says Serge, but after my first “Camino” I went back there to France and It didn’t feel right, it wasn’t for me any longer, so I came back here and made the Camino my home. I had found my MISSION !”

Holy smoke a holy litter-picking knight!! Stories travel the Camino as pilgrim currency and Serge has entered into Camino legend.

Further along the trail as we pass through a field gate near the village of Tosantos, we meet  a couple of young Laurie Lees in revolutionary beards and khaki shorts. They carry half drunk bottles of red wine and walk with sticks cut from the hedge; good companions who have met along the way and will continue together to Santiago. Jonno says he’s from Sydney  though he sounds English and Charlie says he’s a Scot though he too sounds English.

“I’m mixed up” he says.”

You must have been to boarding school then!” I say.

“No,” says Charlie,” I was brought up in Cyprus, but my parents split up and we came home”.

Charlie tells us how he has grown up with his dad’s stories of the romance of the Camino. My dad came here himself as a young man, way back in the eighties. It was different times then, fewer pilgrims, it wasn’t a tourist destination.”

He tells us how his dad and a friend had been working on a building site when over their sandwiches at lunch one day they decided it would be fun to go to the Pyrenees. They’d get there by hitching rides. Charlie’s dad had a lot of luck and arrived in just two days, but his friend wasn’t so fortunate and took ten whole days, by which time they were both out of money. The story goes that they walked up the mountain and became lost in a storm, coming down on the wrong side of the mountain into Spain.

“Are you doing the Camino?” people would ask.

There were few pilgrims back then and Charlie’s dad and his friend had such high novelty value they were Invited into the homes of old ladies to eat. And won over by the lure of hot dinners and the kindness of locals they became pilgrims and walked all the way to Santiago de Compostella. It was an experience that changed Charlie’s dad’s view of the world.

Such is the Lure of “The Camino” that when Charlie’s dad became a father he wanted to come back with his son. Now Charlie, has got the bug and tells us he is quitting his temporary job in Scotland to finish the Camino with his new friend Jonno. Before we leave these Camino adventurers we share Camino stories about the way this ancient pilgrim track lures travellers back, sometimes time and time again.  Jonno tells us he’d met a French guy who has done the Camino Pilgrim Trail twenty seven times.

So that would be Serge the litter-picker,  the frenchman with a mission!

This blogstory is one of several by Anna is writing about her experiences with Mark on the Camino de Santiago Pilgrim Trail in Northern Spain.

Pilgrim Tales: Paul Murphy MEP and dreaming place

“It’s 35 degrees Centigrade and the sky is black with thunder as we exit a bar in Villa Franca de Oca. We carry fresh “bocadillos” in our packs and hot mint tea and we’ll walk ’till dusk.

“I think we’re in for our first storm” I say.

” Maybe….” says Mark

Last night we had a wilderness experience off the beaten track; two sleepy  sillouettes on a starry hilltop  with a happy soundtrack of cowbells and frogs. And tonight we’ll sleep under a natural canopy in the Forest of “Oca” (Goose in Spanish).

” D’ya think we’re MAD? ” I say as we head off together, up a steep and stony path.

“Probably…” says Mark.

When we reach an interpretation panel by the wayside, we stop to have a look.

“Look” I say “There are Brown bears and ….. ”  my eyes open wide and my eyebrows shoot up.

“and… Wolves….!!!!”

“Mmmm… ”  says Mark

Back home in Devon my mum emailed me to say “Be careful of wolves on the forest tracks”

“What makes you think there are WOLVES? on the Camino? ” I tell her.

An almighty crack shatters the peace and tranquility of the Camino and the sky splinters into shards.

” A proper attack of aniseed balls” I say while the weather pummels our heads and necks as we run for the woods.

We cosy up under the tarp next to one massive deciduous oak.

“It’s almost fun” I say daring the storm.

We follow the trail upward and just as rain begins to fall, a perfect shelter pops up magically from the track. At the back of this welcome rain-shade is a lone pilgrim.

“I hope he doesn’t mind” says Mark as we head into dry-space.

“I’d do the Camino just for the VIEWS ?” says the sitting man bewitched by the panorama.

“I started out with my girlfriend” he tells us “but the Camino’s not for her”.

” Oh?” says Mark.

“Her pack was too heavy and she wasn’t enjoying it. She had to go back to work”

Our shelter companion for the duration of the rain is Paul Murphy.

” I’m an MEP” says Paul ,”for the Irish Socialist Party”.  ” I’ve just  lost my seat in Brussels so I’m out of a job in a week.”

We find we know nothing about members of the European parliament so Paul fills us in. “MEPs earn 90.000 Euro a year. ” he says.  Now that’s a big incentive .

“As MEP’s we get 300 Euros per day every day we attend Parliament. Just for turning up”

” hmmm” says Mark.”Seems a lot”.

” But…..” says Paul “As a member of the Irish Socialist Party we pay ourselves the average national youth wage for Ireland.”

“The youth wage?  I ask ” The YOUTH wage says Mark.

It’s still raining so Paul chats on. He’s signed in at a hostel for the night and has come out without his rain jacket . Luckily he has a lot of stories and is happy to share them with us. He is a persona non-grata in a couple of states. He was part of the flotilla taking supplies into Gaza, he was captured at gun point and ended up an Israeli jail, so he’s not very popular there.

“What was it liiiiike in Prison?” I ask my eyes popping.

“Oh” he says ” It was muuch better  than the yacht.” ” I was so seasick, it was really horrible.”

We couldn’t have dreamed up a more humble and engaging pilgrim to be holed up with in the rain. And he has more stories.

“I helped broker a deal for striking miners in Kazakstahn” he tells us.

“You’re an activist” then?”

“Yes” says Paul “My party brokered an agreement between the government and the striking miners”

We smile expectant.

“But as soon as we left the country the miners were shot!”

We digest the news as rain drums on the roof above.

And before the rain ceases there is time to tell Paul about Claire and me about DREAMING PLACE and how we took Radio Dreaming back to play to Mary-Jane and other participants in Ireland in our Place-dreamer Pod and what a lot of effort went into the Kickstarter campaign.

” And did Mary-Jane get to hear Radio Dreaming at her homestead” says Paul.

” Yes she did!” in his mind’s eye an old lady is a-listening in the Pod, her eyes alight with dreams.

Our rainy meeting in the pop-up shelter on The Camino has conjoured up diverse visons. And now it’s time for Paul to head back down to his hostel for the night.

“What time are you up in the morning” he asks us as he gets up to go.

“Oh about 7.30 or  8.00 a.m”

Though the storm has moved away we decide to stay the night in the shelter. Its just too good to miss. So we eat our bocadillos, drink the lovely hot tea and lay our bags out for the night in this Camino dreaming place.

“D’you think the bins’ll lure in hungry wolves “I say.

“Yup says Mark.

Now he puts on his wooly hat.

“Buenas Noches” he says and he’s asleep.

In the morning we set off along a steaming trail into the big woods.

“Red riding hood would have been safe here ” I say, for the mystery of the wood is lost on the grit causeway the Camino has become.We gravitate to a pilgrim friendly ditch by the side of the Super-Camino where we walk in single file.

“I passed by for you  at seven thirty ” says a voice from trail “but you’d already gone!”

“We had the Mother of  all Storms in the night.” calls up Mark cheerily from inside the ditch.

This blogstory is one of several by Anna is writing about her journey with Mark on the Camino de Santiago Pilgrim Trail in Northern Spain.

Paul Murphy is AAA (Anti- Austerity – Alliance) Member of Parliament for Dublin South West.  Paul’s website.

Find out about Paul’s popular AAA campaign to scrap water charges in Ireland .

Shampoo, a shrine and a pop-up shelter

P6090036 What to pack in your rucksack and what to leave out  is the all time Big  Camino Question. I wanted to enjoy walking  but not to suffer too much discomfort and I knew that getting it right might make or break our trip so it was essential to pack well. Choices re pack size and content should depend on accommodation not strength. This might be in hostels, pensions or Paradors, the luxury Spanish hotels. We chose to sleep by the wayside under the stars oblivious to the large wolf packs that still roam Northern Spain.  The guide book suggests a medium size rucksack, if you use a large pack it warns, you’ll be tempted to fill it up!Most of those carrying big rucksacks on this trail are men and this observation made me feel a bit smug at times as  I had ditched  my ipad, phone, camera reading glasses, shampoo, conditioner and face cream during the packing process at home.

Camping gas turned out to be a burdensome luxury, so after a few days Mark gifted it, unopened, to the owner of a hostel whose “Camino ” stamp was a red beating heart. Though we survived without hot food, we still had to carry the small aluminium pan and stove top as they were expensive and we’d be needing them back home. Mark made a shrine to the Camino from a pair of boots he decided he didn’t need. He continued along the way in sandals!

boots Sleeping well  is important, so the majority of space inside my pack was dedicated to the art of sleep. My luxury bedding choice consisted of a very tiny, very posh, very orange super – lightweight, self inflating sleeping mat and my beloved down sleeping bag, which folds down to almost nothing. Next a khaki coloured bivvy bag to protect from rain and dew and a cheap and cheerful rolly mat for insulation, geat also for yoga, siestas and a picnic. My first aid kit is disproportionally large, complete with essential oils to heal wounds and keep bugs and bigger things at bay, arnica gel for aches and pains, homeopathic remedies for toothache, the shits, injuries and rescue remedy for and just about anything else. I packed my black rain jacket that has a dodgy zip, but left my rain trousers at home. I’d wear my skirt in the rain and dry it once the sun came out.

Actually we were lucky and only got wet once.  Pumelled by giant hailstones Mark and I cosied under the good old DREAMING PLACE mat,  beneath the mightiest oak in the forest. Though lightning streaked down on all sides the oak didn’t get hit. Later a man made shelter popped  up magically out of the forest by the trail side, as the thunder rolled and the rain re-commenced.  It had a bench, a waste bin and a sitting man called Paul Murphy; an activitst and MEP for the Irish socialist party  We couldn’t have packed a more interesting and entertaining companion for a rainy afternoon in the wilds.

This blogstory is one of several by Anna is writing about her journey with Mark on the Camino de Santiago Pilgrim Trail in Northern Spain.

Inhabiting the dream: postcard 15

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The romance of the road – life in a home-built wagon: a place dreamer pod interview

What is it like to travel  the length and breadth of Ireland in a home-built wagon?

Listen here to find out! (Note: headphones or earbuds are best for online audio!):

Lynne Maguire lives in County Leitrim and works as a cook at the Organic Centre in Rossinver.

DREAMING PLACE technology collaborative drawing 14 by Claire and Anna

DREAMINGPLACE technology collaborative drawing 2 by Claire and Anna

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 16.DREAMING PLACE data sheet drawing


No 15. DREAMING PLACE data sheet drawing

No 13. DREAMING PLACE data sheet drawing

100 names for Rain

There are reputed to be a hundred names for snow, so why not a 100 names for rain.

Commence 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? ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

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.

 

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.

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 .

Water gathers cultures *Audio*

Listen to Claire on the Celtic water symbology . (As with all our audio snippets, we recommend headphones or earbuds). https://dreamingplaceproject.files.wordpress.com/2011/07/water-gathers-cultures-blog.mp3

water everywhere
Spectacular rainbow over Lough MacNean from Rushin House Caravan and Camping Park, Belcoo, MAC Geopark had us reaching for our cameras.

water gathers culture
Listen to the lake speak here.  (use earbuds for the full experience).

A cave, a porcupine and a collaborative drawing

river that flows from rock Boho caves

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…!

The Exchange: Marble Arch Caves Geopark


The Exchange has found a new home.

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.

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?

We’ve got a new latitude

New LatitudeHere in Northern Ireland, the summer days are lengthy. Dawn and dusk last a long time leaving less dark time for sleeping. The result for us is a misperception of time and a “natural rhythm” of going to bed late and waking up early. However we are finding that this “natural rhythm” creates an unnatural and sometimes cumulative fatigue that crops up at the most inopportune times. While we constantly invite the sun out from behind the rain clouds during the day, we hide from its seasonal luminosity by night behind thin, permeable tent walls in an ongoing effort to go to bed at a reasonable time.

We are staying for 40 days and 40 nights, but days are really long and our nights are really short. How were traditions and beliefs of the past shaped by latitude?

To see exactly where we are on googlemaps, click here.