Erin go Blog

“Erin go Bragh (pron.: /ˌɛrɪn ɡə ˈbrɑː/), sometimes Erin go Braugh, is the anglicisation of an Irish phrase, Éirinn go Brách, and is used to express allegiance to Ireland. It is most often translated as “Ireland Forever.” — Wikipedia

We’ve had a very eventful six days in Ballyvaughan so far! I’ll leave the details, photos, and creative writing to the Orchard House gals, and catch up with a log of our itinerary.

Tuesday morning we had class in the beautiful studio area at the Burren College, discussing the purposes of myth and strong female figures from Irish lore, from pre-Celtic goddesses to pirate queen Grace O’Malley. The volatile weather patterns of County Clare kept it cold and very rainy through the morning and lunch hour, but in the afternoon we checked out “Bells Across the Burren,” a musical installation on the mountainside behind the college. After that, we went up to visit the ruins of an abandoned village. I had been there two years ago when archaeologists were excavating the site, and told everyone they couldn’t possibly miss it. After more than a half hour of clambering around in soggy woods unable to find the place, we suddenly discovered that we were right in the middle of it: the excavation work stopped, the moss and vegetation grew in densely, and even I didn’t recognize the place I had seen in 2011! It’s a haunting spot, though, and testifies to the ruggedness of human life in the Burren throughout history.

The great drama of Tuesday afternoon was the loss of Bruce! While searching for the ruins of the village, we kept calling out to one another through the forest. Apparently, one of Bruce’s shouts was to tell us that his knee was hurting and he’d meet us back at the castle, but none of the rest of us caught what he said. After exploring the foundations of houses and farm buildings, we emerged from the woods thinking that Bruce was lost up on the mountain. After more searching, hollering, and phoning down to the college, we got everything sorted out, and we all met later at Logue’s Lodge to celebrate that all’s well that ends well.

Wednesday we covered a tremendous amount of ground. In the morning we hiked to the ruins of Glenaragah Church, which was in use until the mid-19th century, and explored the lovely faerie fort behind it. The ring was pocked with many brocachs, or badger dens, and there was ample evidence of recent home improvements around their openings. We hiked back to the Burren College in the rain, stopping often to photograph the lovely newborn calves in the fields. This group seems to operate by some important unwritten rules: every dog we meet must get lavishly petted; every horse we meet must get an apple; every cow we meet must get photographed. You could do a lot worse.

After lunch we headed out to the famine graveyard around the ruins of Rathboney Church. The church sits alone on a windswept hill, and the graves that can be accounted for range from the early 19th century to the present, with a great big gap through the middle decades of the 19th century. The hummocky land is a mix of grass and moss growing over broken stones and sinking graves. Another beautiful and haunting place. A boisterous pot-luck dinner ended the day.

I’ve got the best excuse in the world to cut this account short right now: Eddie Lenihan, a great traditional storyteller, will be visiting Orchard House in just a few minutes. More on all of our adventures tomorrow!