Today we finally began our exploration into the lore and sites of ancient Ireland – shifting our focus beyond Galway. Up to now my exploration has been only in stories and books – not really experiencing a place where time has passed in centuries, far outpacing the youth of America. It has been incredible to visit places that were inhabited long before our country was even discovered by what we would consider the modern world; to stand in churches and buildings where ancient history comes to life in the names on the walls or in the headstones of adjacent cemeteries.
Today our journey carried us to Brigit’s Garden; dedicated to St. Brigit (A.D. 451) an early Christian Saint and Celtic goddess. She is claimed as the patron saint of babies, blacksmiths, mariners, and farmers. The beautiful gardens have been built around the calendar year surrounding our well-known seasonal cycle of spring, summer, autumn and winter marked by the solstices and equinoxes; overlain with the celtic festivals Imbolc on February 1 celebrating the rebirth of the earth, Bealtain on May 1 celebrating growth and life, Lughnasa on August 1 celebrating the harvest; and finally Samhain on November 1 marking the time of death with hope for rebirth in the cycle.
The gardens were spectacular and the ancient rocks left over from glacial deposits were spectacular – can’t wait to share photos when I return. But the really fascinating part of this journey was the insight brought by our small group of pilgrims regarding the overlap with our own celebrations such as Groundhog day, May-day, and Halloween. Not to mention the similarities between our own native american people and the celtic culture when it comes to a deep reverence with the natural world. I recall several years ago when we traveled to Australia I noted this same reverence in the aboriginal culture of that land. Have we as a part of modern civilization forgotten so much regarding our deep connection to nature? Perhaps all of the technology we live with everyday prevents us from reconnecting with the real world – but then could I even share these thoughts without it? I am guessing part of my reason for setting out on this pilgrimage is to answer some of those questions for my own life.
Well enough introspection. we ended our day returning to Galway for another wonderful meal and a view of the sunset over the Burren across Galway Bay where we will be visiting tomorrow. Until my next post, have a great day and safe travels.