Slippage of Time

Slippage of time

Paths less traveled

Stick out your thumb in your travels

Rough countries

Time travel not according to a system

Territory that is unmapped or unmappable

Escape from yourself

Have forgotten myself

On a path that is unknown

Unaware of the history, present, or future

Name lost

As well as identity

Free of me and everyone else

Secret geography

Secret everyone else

Lost by incomprehensible knowing

Slippage of time

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!

Tree, Vine, Living Line

Tree, Vine
Living Line
You spread and reach
Fingers, Limbs, for
Rain, Soil, Blue Sky

But, Never
Against Together
You lift and Pull
Bark fiber Up
Standing on Shoulders, Repeat


Man’s Line
Can Define
Your Path and Growth
If You allow.
Over-evolved, Anti-Symbiotic.

Judith’s first blog post!!

We’re off to a wonderful start with a wonderful group. Here’s a quick accounting of our adventures so far:

Saturday morning, we managed to assemble in Shannon airport. The flights were pretty much on time, which gave the early arrivers (Judith, Bruce, Emily, Meg, Quinn) a chance to have a quick snooze on the benches before the last plane came in. Then we picked up Kaitlyn and Erin at the West County Hotel and enjoyed a spectacular drive through the Burren to Ballyvaughan.

Bruce’s famed cure for jet-lag is daylight and exercise, so after just enough time for a rest we took off for a hike. We checked out the Burren College Campus, then trekked the long way down to the waterfront. Along the way, a beautiful little sheepdog mix adopted our group, training her puppy-eyes especially on Bruce (today a whole herd of cows followed him down the road — who knew he was such an animal whisperer?). Our group named the dog “Hike,” and she cheered us through a pelting rainstorm as we walked. We ended up at Monk’s, where the staff thoughtfully brought in space heaters and closed off the back room to warm us up (or were they perhaps keeping us out of sight?) for our first shared dinner of the trip. Afterwards, tired as we all were, we met at my house and performed Gaelic language skits. I was so impressed by everyone’s efforts!

Sunday was a marathon tour of the Burren. Mike and Stephen, our driver and guide respectively, took us to Caher Mor, Poulnabrone Dolmen, Leminagh Castle, and Kilfenora Cathedral before much-needed stops in Ennistimon for groceries and in Lahinch for l-ah-unch. (Michelle S and Chloe bravely tasted periwinkles from a sea-front vendor.)The afternoon saw us whizzing through Liscanor to see St. Brigid’s Well and O’Brien’s monument, buffeted by winds at the Cliffs of Moher, photographing gentians at Fanore, then taking the coast road back past the Pinnacle Well to Ballyvaughan. (Hey, gals — please post pictures and your own highlights from that day — If I had a nickel for each time one of you said, “Let’s come back to this spot….” I could singlehandedly prop up Ireland’s sagging economy).

Today, Monday, was actually our first day of “classes.” It started with tea/coffee and cookies, and a welcome from Mary Hawkes-Green. Robert Ellis took us on a tour of the college and everyone picked out their studio spaces. After lunch in the BCA Cafe (thank goodness Anne and Martina are still cooking!), we convened in the tower to talk about mythology in front of a peat fire. (Thank you, Kaitlyn, Meg, and Erin!)

The weather had turned lovely, so we hiked out to the ring fort near Ailwee Caves…. where the weather turned un-lovely again, just as we arrived to do some writing. If you don’t like change and surprises, don’t visit Ireland. Despite the wind, some of us remained to write in the ring, while the rest hiked back to write where the pages of their notebooks weren’t whipping out of their hands with every word. We finished the day (and the writing exercise) back at the studios.

That’s all just a quick overview of our itinerary for the past 48 hours. We’re windblown, footsore, and a little bit damp, but I am so impressed by the spirit and good nature of this group. And our adventures are just beginning!

Landscape, Memory and Imagination

For nearly 10,000 years, human settlement and patterns of migration have shaped the landscape of Ireland, just as Ireland’s rugged terrain has played a key role in shaping the island’s human culture. In this program, based at the Burren College of Art in County Clare, students will be immersed in artistic, literary, environmental and historical examinations of the ways that landscape, memory, and human creativity intersect. Both academic and studio work will be supported by field trips and guest speakers to steep students in the rich environmental and human history of Ireland, the turbulent waves of invasion and emigration, the traditions of Irish literature and art, and the lives and works of contemporary Irish artists and writers. Course materials and activities will examine and encourage the ways in which human experiences of place and history translate into creative interpretations of landscape in art and writing.

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