Saturday, 18 April 2015

25. Burren pebble

The low, limestone hills of the Burren lie 15 miles south of Brigit's Garden, on the far side of Galway Bay. A closer look reveals an intricate landscape where human and natural history weave together, a place of fertile soils and stunning flowers dotted with sacred sites from megalithic dolmens to Christian churches. It was a source of inspiration for Brigit's Garden and today I re-visited some of my favourite places.

At the foot of Abbey Hill lies Corcomroe Abbey, a small monastic settlement from the 12th century. It is a beautiful and peaceful place. The ruins seems to be part of the landscape itself, as if the local rocks had gathered together and re-arranged themselves into walls, archways and gables. It speaks of a spirituality rooted in simplicity and nature.

On the other side of the hill is a holy well, and next to the well is a rag tree - a hawthorn in a sacred spot on which people have hung prayers and intentions for generations. It is still used, adorned with ribbons, personal mementos, and even the plastic lids of coffee cups carefully hung from the branches. My friend suggested making Brigit's crosses, so in the absence of rushes we made them out of montbretia leaves and hung them in the tree. It was a simple act, and a reminder of the connection with nature that is at the heart of the Brigit tradition and the Garden.

Later, I picked up a sea pebble from the Flaggy Shore, looking north across the bay to Connemara and the Garden. The pebble is like the Burren in miniature - rounded and made of limestone, the pale lines of fossilised sea creatures like the horizontal contours of the hills. I held it in my hand and felt grateful for this beautiful and special place.

Water in the holy well reflects a blue sky

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