All good things go in three

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Wild

Usually some days before (exceptions excluded), a paper is laid down on the table in the portal, accompanied by a pen. Only the image already brings back memories from years ago. It feels good. It means there is a garland, growing longer and longer with the years passing and every bit out of it has brought its own story. Every year anew we celebrate the same festivals mostly at the same time but time and again in a slightly different way. Of course speaking about ‘exceptions excluded’, for example; this year the clause is to be honoured for the third time already due to the unsettled weather.

unsettledUnsettled

Well, as it was planned in the third or was the fourth or even the fifth schedule to happen, three festivals would be combined into Mass of Céadaoin na Luaithre, or Ash Wednesday.

between the stormsBetween the storms

The day was already a celebration in herself: the sun was out and since months there was not any sigh of wind I felt. Feeling embraced by sunbeams people came from all directions to meet in the church to attend Mass.

the sun is returningThe sun is returning

With ash from the palm blessed the preceding year for Passion Sunday, a cross was made by the priest on the forehead of those who wished to receive the blessing that we all come out of ash and we will return into ash. Then there was the blessing of the candles or Lá fhéile Muire na gCoinneal , the actual reason for to lay down a piece of paper if you would like to have some candles for use at home. With this festival the closing of the time of Christmas is celebrated.

The third celebrated festival is dedicated to Naomh Blaise. The saint who was called Blaise Sebaste probably because he was bishop of this town in Armenia. He is the patron who wards off illness of the throat.
After all these three combined events delivered a good thing to start the period of Lent.

cleansingCleansing

Slán go fóill,
Elisabeth from Inis Meáin

Source:: aranisland.info

Celebrations

Although apparently the weather hesitates in showing her happiness about the completion of winter season, I feel, smell and I can even see spring is there. Albeit the day appears to be dull there is always a glint of sun emerging unexpectedly. Sometimes I feel her nourishing warmth already, coming from above as at others the shine of the sun seems to permeate from deep down. After a time of withdrawal the earth has started to exhale again. As on the side of the road greens are sprouting as a heartily welcome to spring.

Between winter and spring

Among many other things the people of Inis Meáin are good at celebrating festivals. Well, with the arrival of spring, the month of February is an exquisite opportunity to share with us the coming festivities. They all have to do with a purge, a cleaning of body and soul and are celebrated on three days in a row.

purgePurge

The night’s turn into spring the girls of the primary school will go along the houses with ‘Bridóg’ or little Bride, in their midst. Bridóg is a nicely dressed doll out of straw made by the girls themselves. While the children do a dance, they sing a song in which we are advised to give something in change for a seven times better sleep, starting tonight, a whole year long. The following morning there will be Mass usually in which the self brought Bridget cross, symbol for warding off sickness from human beings and animals are blessed.
The day after is dedicated to Muire na gCoinneal or Candlemas in which everyone receives blessings for the coming year for renewal and healthiness. The third and the last day of festivities, is dedicated to Naomh Blaise, the patron who wards off illness of the throat.

With these celebrations the time of Christmas has been closed. Another year full of new possibilities lies ahead of us!

revealing new possibilitiesRevealing new possibilities

Slán go fóill,

Elisabeth from Inis Meáin

Source:: aranisland.info

Purification

Purification

Like a snugly coiled cat behind the stove, just awaking from a deep and comfortable sleep. Drowsily she blinks with her eyes as if to consider whether it is worthwhile to enervate further action while she is still in a trance of slumber. Lingering she comes up from her cozy position, stretching her paws, two by two. However, after a turn of washing herself and a few extensive yaws, she is all prepared.

limestoneLimestone

This is how I, watching from a higher terrace, looked upon the process happening on the by stonewalls be fringed fields out of limestone, this morning. Huge chunks, varying in size, form and state of metamorphosis. Most of them have deep cuttings whereby once grykes could originate, due to the sheltered situation, a suitable place for subtropical plants to grow.

awakingAwaking

The fields are still immersed in a haze, covering their own shade of “liath”, a green -greyish colour. Until the sun awakens them. I see her touching them tenderly, one after another. Little by little the slabs emerge from under their cover, taking up their original colour enriched however by the subtle glow of the sun.

fieldsFields

Apparently in an instant the scene of daily life has differed. From the intimacy of scarce daylight only some days ago, now light has returned. In a continuous movement she increases by the day. And with the growth of the light the overall energy increases in exploring new opportunities.

magicMagic

Off and on I see the tractors on the road. Sometimes with a loader in front, stowed with hay or seaweed brought by the sea. At other moments there is a back loader with the working dog having a rest or another Islander getting a lift.

It is lovely to observe the drivers, sitting high on their royal seat with a straightened back. There is no doubt about where they are heading for.

dramaticDramatic

Slán go fóill,

Elisabeth from Inis Meáin

Source:: aranisland.info

Spring is on the way

Early in the morning it is when I step outside. With the darkness the quality of the night is still around me; it feels comfortable. Like a woolen blanket wrapped around me. There is no wind and the sky is clear. No clouds are to be seen. Venus, one of the planets, is brightly shining and so is Jupiter, another one.

dawn

Then all of a sudden there is that sound, airy and determined. It is coming from far way back so it seems. Nevertheless the sound links seamless with the mysterious atmosphere of the moment.

moon in the early morningMoon in the morning

From his sheltered spot on a nearby ash tree branch he is singing. Long thrillers are interchanged with a variety in modes of whistling. Sometimes the phrases are long; at other instances they are short which smoothly switch to more complicated ones as well. One after another he narrates of many stories he arrogated from other species.

mid winterMidwinter

festive seasonFestive season

It is still dark, not only this early morning though. On these days of midwinter when daylight is scarce while I have a longing for it, it is lovely to pick the right moment to experience it and to be in this very moment of clarity. This is what happened to me when the throstle sang. Through his voice the worlds of light and darkness combined and inner freedom was born.

first primrose of pre-springFirst primrose of pre-spring

Spring is on the way.

Slán go fóill,

Elisabeth from Inis Meáin

Source:: aranisland.info

Insight into a wintry day

It will pass as it always did and it always will be. The only thing is that one can never be sure about the moment “when”. Of course with the up to date technology a lot of movements is possible to check beforehand but still.

A wintry day

Since last night there is no ferry and no plane. This does not only mean that travelling is not possible but also that there is no post and either goods or provisions can be delivered. The shop runs therefore empty.

In the early morning I spotted a tractor coming along but for the rest of daylight I did not see a soul. The road was and is still quiet. This in contrast with the ongoing tumult of noise, caused by the storms competing with one another about the championship.

Something like this

Sometimes the sound is nearby, pushing and pulling on everything she is trying to get hold of. Other times it sounds like yelling and screaming. In a situation like this when the wind has a superior role in the overall scene the question pops up what the wind does when she doesn’t blow. I find it hard to exclude myself from it all the more because there is an ongoing stream of rain lashing against the window too which adds to the various sounds.

Up till later in the day there is not any need or urge to go outside but when I actually did go out to close the church it was hard to keep standing on both my feet as the wind tried to blow me away.

The colour of the sea and the sky now is alike: grey. Not as dark though as the stonewalls which have the look of shining bronze, at this moment, but compared with the impelled waves getting a bright white colouring, it looks grey.

shining bronzeShining bronze

The only thing I know for sure is that rain will cease and storms will ease.

after the stormAfter the storm

Slán go fóill,

Elisabeth from Inis Meáin

Source:: aranisland.info

Courageous

Wished I could frame them in. . .

Sun of October

On the wire that early morning not just one but, if I counted well, seventy or even more of them were there. Side by side, completely immersed in toileting themselves for the day to come. Then, all of a sudden, breaking through the serenity of the moment, there was the sound of rustling and swishing and off they went to far horizons, scooping down and up again as one long and broad garland driven by a whirl of wind.

Toileting

Since the stranger birds left for warmer regions to hibernate, the domestic ones apparently took over their position. Now it is them to be the bean an tí (landlady) and with the temporarily change they look more valiant than ever before. Like the other day when I saw six of the slightly bigger ones on top of the church.

usual imageUsual image

My conviction that the seagulls had a booked place over there was negated by what I noticed now: on both crosses of the nave of the church the stayers retreated. Not as I was used to in watching the seagulls: just one on the top.

high above enthronedHigh above enthroned

What I noticed was that each of the three ends of the two ornaments was occupied by them. Well, I am not sure whether the birds seemed completely at ease but still, in any case they were courageous.

Island of rosesIsland of roses

Slán go fóill,

Elisabeth from Inis Meáin

Source:: aranisland.info

Home coming

Inis Meáin

Inis Meáin

Puffing hole

In fact it was only just a tiny little scrap out of your entire life time on the island that I got to know you. For it was here on Inis Meáin that you were born and bred. Amongst your family, your brothers and sisters and all those living around you grew up.

windingWinding

With a good lot of them you walked for many a year the tiny and sheltered roads for going to school. With them too you probably played on the slabs of limestone, looking out for the little ferns growing in the narrow grykes.

slabs of limestoneSlabs of limestone

In your garraí (potato field) it was I first met you when you were preparing the wide ridges and deep ditches. You generously allowed me using a strip of them for growing some vegetables. Sometime later you showed me how you restored the gate of a stonewall. It was thrilling to see how deeply you were connected to the stones; out of the heap you just knew and blindly you picked the one you needed.

gate of a stone walllGate of a stone wall

Not long before you left the island you gave me your last advice for which I am still up to this day very grateful to you; “Tigh Cháit will be a lovely place for you to give out cups of tea”, you said.

While standing at your grave I even sensed your smile, fully content you seemed. And you were so right, I think. Really everything was prepared for you so well. On the soil freed from the acquired hole various spades had been laid down. At both sides of the dug grave the grass was neatly cut on three sides which was nicely wrapped up in a roll afterwards. After the coffin was lowered into the hole and the first padríní (prayers) had been spoken the priest spread the first heap of soil over the grave. Your family and friends took a spade then and filled up the left space with care. Whereupon the carefully laid aside wrapped rolls of grass were put back on top.

I will miss you but I am sure for you this is home coming.

home comingHome coming

Slán go fóill,

Elisabeth from Inis Meáin

Source:: aranisland.info

Best place to be

golden path

Sure he must have felt his reasons why he slipped in. Was it perhaps the light which shone so brightly from the inside or maybe the heavenly sounds elicited from the harp? Anyway both of them had the quality to prepare him a warm welcome. Actually thinking back, I suppose the main reason for him to come was that he wanted to be assured of the best place he could ever get for the following morning which was now still available. And the music and the light would have strengthened his desire to do what he did…

Golden path

It was quiet that same evening when I went over for closing. The sun had already set. Nice colours marked the sky and there was no wind of any importance. The birds had probably found their shelter for the night yet at least I did not hear any tone of them. The only animal I did see was the cow near Dún Chonchúir, she looked at me without actually looking. I suppose I distracted her out of her atmosphere of the night.

Dún Chonchúir

As I used to do when I enter in the evening, I first had a look inside if someone was still in. Then I blocked the door and went through.

in front of the altar

In front of the altar

Only a few candles were still lightened but those gave everything around the altar an intensified and intimate glance. I saw lovely bunches of flowers everywhere around as well as on a small table in the front on which a lovely embroidered cloth was laid. In addition there was a booklet called An Chéad Chomaoineach (the First Communion) with a picture of the children attending the school, the receiving child to be, inclusive. Between the first benches there was the covered harp and the music. Everything looked tenderly looked after. I extinguished the candles and left.

When I returned the following morning and lit the candles again I heard an ongoing chirping. It was only when I unlocked the door that the bird which seemed to be so eager to be in the oncoming festivity, emerged.

agus as go brách leisAgus as go brách leis (and off he went)

Slán go fóill,

Elisabeth from Inis Meáin

Source:: aranisland.info

The Aran Islands are  located in the center of the Wild Atlantic Way. It is Accessible from Rossavel (Connemara & Galway). The Aran Islands are also accessible from Doolin which is close to the Cliffs of Moher in County Clare.

Learn More about The Wild Atlantic Way