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.
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 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 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.
Slán go fóill,
Elisabeth from Inis Meáin
All of last week’s Nationwide programmes broadcast on RTÉ 1 were recorded on the three Aran Islands. In case you missed any of them please see links below for all 3 programmes in the following order: Inis Mór, Inis Meáin, Inis Oírr. Patrick McGurn, AranLIFE project manager features in the Inis Oírr programme, where he discusses the project and related ongoing works with Mary Kennedy. Taifeadadh cláracha Nationwide uilig a craoladh ar RTÉ1 an tseachtain seo caite ar an dtrí Oileán Árann. Ar
Source:: Aran LIFE
Over 25 years ago, the Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies asked me to document the spoken Irish of Inis Mór in the Aran Islands. No serious study of Inis Mór Irish had been done there since the Danish scholar Holger Pedersen and the German scholar Franz Nikolaus Finck had investigated the dialect in the years 1894-1895, nearly 100 years before. Since my father’s parents both came from Inis Mór, I was a logical choice for the work.
In a way, though, I was an odd choice. I was a Californian whose previous field experience in linguistics was a sociolinguistic study of the spread of the Swahili language in western Kenya.
When I began my work, I knew that the dialect of Irish on Inis Mór and on Inis Meáin was very similar to the dialect of Irish spoken in the Cois Fharraige area on the Connemara mainland. I also knew that the Irish spoken on Inis Oírr was quite different, with traits that tied the dialect to the Irish spoken in eastern mainland areas – in the Burren and even in distant Kinvara.
I thought that my work would be simple, that I might discover a half-dozen differences in speech that might distinguish the Irish of the west end of Inis Mór from the Irish of the east end. Then I would discover a few more speech differences that would distinguish the Irish of Inis Meáin and of Inis Oírr.
I soon discovered, however, that on Inis Mór itself, the speech differences were far complex than I would ever have believed. Even little groups of townlands on Inis Mór could be distinguished from each other by their speech. The island could be divided into three or four subdialect areas separating the townlands on an island hardly 9 miles long!
And of course there were other speech differences separating the other two islands from one another.
Still, I thought that I could sort out all these complex differences with three or four years of hard work. As it turned out, the work occupied 25 years of my life!
The result is a 1,000 page research work on the speech differences in the Irish of all three islands, with special attention given to Inis Mór. A PDF of this work can be downloaded at no charge from the website http://aranirish.nuigalway.ie/en/.
In addition to the downloadable PDF, you will find three pages with links at the website which will summarize the most important points about this research work. Accompanying this website is the Facebook page www.facebook.com/aranislandsirish/. And for yet more information relating to the rich history and culture of the Aran Islands, be sure to visit the bilingual website www.aransongs.blogspot.ie.
Séamas Ó Direáin / James Duran, Ph.D.
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.
The only thing I know for sure is that rain will cease and storms will ease.
After the storm
Slán go fóill,
Elisabeth from Inis Meáin
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.
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.
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 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 roses
Slán go fóill,
Elisabeth from Inis Meáin
Between night and dawn
Another day, another pair. Even another colour. The same size though. Nearly every morning around the same time I lay down a different pair on the brown polished shelf. Pure pleasure it is for me to give them their nicely tugged in place. It is between the small but sturdy wooden tractor for the small children to play with and the freshly spun wool with its’ specific smell of lanoline from the sheep of Inis Meáin.
In full brightness they shine towards me. Their lively and bright colour attract straight away of course but there is more. Is it perhaps the material itself with her touch of softness; is it the way it is made? What is it?
Nicely tugged in
It was during the summer, not long after the cuckoo had left the island, that she was sitting on the stone wall in front of her house. Obviously she was waiting for me to pass for when we greeted one another and had enjoyed a little chat she asked me whether I would like to present them to the visitors. “Of course, I said, I feel it as an honour if I can do you this favour”. And so we decided. The next day a coloured bag was already waiting for me.
From that day on I actually have become friends with the dog because of my regular visits to the house. And yes, almost every night I go up and tell her where they went today. Then her lovely face on which there is always a smile, shines from one ear towards the other. Before leaving she reaches for her basket to present me with another pair and off she starts with her needles again…
It is the sharing of a vital part of how she has spent all her life up till the present day. Although the colours might have been changed in the cause of the years the reason “why” will not have been changed. It is her generousness in full brightness which shines towards us.
Slán go fóill,
Elisabeth from Inis Meáin
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.
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 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 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.
Slán go fóill,
Elisabeth from Inis Meáin
I called up to a friend of mine, called Niall some time ago and I could only say that Niall really is a man of Aran — he is a first class fisherman, a champion oarsman, a builder of walls or indeed anything, he is a tremendous father and husband and I know he’d agree with me when I say that one of his best ever decisions was in marrying the lovely Genie, who could only be described as ; as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside.
Over the last 15 or 16 years since I’ve been separated, for one reason or another, I haven’t been able to make a “go” of any relationship.
I have received, (mostly from my friend’s wives and partners) — kindly words, support and even
understanding. Partly due to the fact that I am not a bullish fellow, am probably a romantic and am happy to admit that I am in love with the notion of being in love —
Anyway, I have had many the supportive conversation whereby it’s been pointed out that I just haven’t met the “one” yet and one of these days, she’ll step off the boat and ill know when I know.
So, I sat up in Niall and Genie’s house overlooking kileaney bay, was spreading real butter on the currently bread made by Genie’s fair hand and I was reasonably expecting her to tell me warm and kind things like —
What’s meant for you, won’t pass you by or some such thing.
Well she smiled, looked at me straight in to my two eyes and said
” did you ever think that you might just be a selfish bastard ”
Well, I burst out laughing and in fairness, as her declaration is possibly for others to judge but once again I found myself feeling blessed to be living in a small community with real friends who will call it as they see it.
I left their house , no wiser but alot happier after the candor and a good belly laugh.
These things only ever seem to happen to me on my beloved Island.
At the very heart of this unique and beautiful island is community and the essence of community, is family.
If Aran was a man ……
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…
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.
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
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 leis (and off he went)
Slán go fóill,
Elisabeth from Inis Meáin
Scientists have uncovered the mystery of the moving rocks on the rugged shoreline of the Aran Islands
.Photo by: Tourism Ireland
A mystery on the Aran Islands off the Irish West Coast has finally been solved by one of the world’s top geologists.
Something had picked up massive boulders off a beach and propelled them over high cliffs to a flat landscape beyond. The largest of these boulders weighed about 78 tons, and they now lie some 40 feet above the Atlantic Ocean. Smaller boulders, weighing about 4 tons each, lie more than 820 feet inland.
“The local people say that these rocks are moving,” said geologist Ronadh Cox, a professor of geosciences and chairwoman of the maritime studies program at Williams College in Massachusetts.
The mystery of how they got there has finally been solved.
The most likely culprit, a tsunami hasn’t hit Ireland since 1755, when a magnitude 8.7 earthquake in Portugal sent tidal waves across the ocean to Ireland.
By dating the rocks they proved that some arrived on land thrown up from the ocean 2,000 years ago, but others arrived less than 50 years ago,a key piece of evidence that leaves powerful storm waves holding the smoking gun, Cox said.
A local man provided much needed evidence when he recalled a ferocious storm in 1991 that deposited massive boulders from the sea bed up a cliff and hundreds of feet away
Cox hunted through Irish government data and found that in the winter of 1991,a particularly ferocious storm did indeed hit the area. ”
She said the mystery was solved and the ocean’s power is truly astonishing “The waves can just climb these cliffs in amazing ways,” she said.
Original Article Source (Irish Central.com): http://www.irishcentral.com/news/mystery-of-the-moving-rocks-off-irish-island-solved-133521838-237739871.html
A delighted Eoin Mullen has added his first international sprint victory to the bronze medal he took in the European Championships during the summer, once again underlining his progress towards the top against the biggest and most powerful men of the bike game.
Eoin Mullen has taken his first international win on the track, storming to victory in the sprint at the Three Days of Aigle meeting in Switzerland at the weekend.
Firstly, for the last few busy weeks of this summer season the rhythm of my island life consisted of; work, eat, sleep – on a loop!!!
I found myself unable to access the real rhythm of this stunning island, even knowing it’s powerful impact on my life, views and feelings – it seemed a world away.
While I was sitting having my breakfast today I heard on the radio that there were to be a number of ceremonies, masses etc for the Irish people who participated in all the wars around the world. Closer to home there is to be a mass at 12 noon on the pier in Kilronan for the fisherman of this Island.
Tourism season in full flow now as hundreds from all over world flock to us daily at Dún Aonghasa. Cliffs look magnificent in this great weather.
Did you know that the Aran Islands are planning to augment their clean-green image in the next ten years by getting rid of the use of fossil fuels altogether from the islands. At the moment, it is not possible to buy petrol legally on Inis Mor. This is because the health and safety regulations and the insurance costs associated with its transport and storage make it uneconomical for anyone to import it legally. However, instead of trying to get it back, we are going the opposite direction and planning to get rid of diesel and kerosene as well!
Tuesday, March 25, 2014
From the solitude of Inis Mór, the largest of the three Aran Islands off the Galway coast, to the UCI’s World Cycling Centre in Aigle, Switzerland, 20-year-old Eoin Mullen could be forgiven for thinking this is all just a dream.
TOUGH ROAD: “I realise every tenth-of-a-second from now comes from months of intense training and from sticking with the programme and lifestyle,” says Eoin Mullen. Picture: Andrew Downes (more…)