Rothar Routes

Cycle routes & pilgrim journeys in Ireland and Europe …..

Posts from the ‘Traditions’ category

Sligo

So much to see in Sligo, so little time to do it! I had but a fleeting visit and I took in a couple of beautiful enchanting sights – I have to get back and do a cycling tour of this underrated county. So much beauty, history and folklore.

Carrowkeel Passage Tombs above Lough Arrow

The first destination was the Passage Tombs at Carrowkeel in the Bricklieve Hills. Its’ a grand easy 3kms walk in along a well defined path with breathtaking views. The approach is along a narrow gap with towering cliff edges on both sides. This is along the popular Miners Trail Walking route. The hill tops around here are adorned with cairns and mounds, all impressive sights and they mark megalithic burial chambers. No wonder WB Yeats was so influenced by mythology, legend and fairies – it was everywhere around him here in Sligo.

There are 14 passage tombs dotted around Carrowkeel and nearby are the Caves of Kesh which I visited on my Coast to Coast cycle during the summer. The passage tombs are linked to the legendary Moytura, battleground of the Tuatha Dé Danann, the ancient Gods and the Fomorians and their leader Balor of the Evil Eye! I still have Lady Gregory’s ‘Gods and Fighting Men’ on my book shelf so it was great to do this little hike and feel the ancient lore of this inspiring landscape..

A short hike takes you up to the passage tombs at Carrowkeel with stunning views across Sligo and Leitrim..
The walk in towards Carrowkeel
Bricklieve Hills, the passage tombs are on top
Entrance to Passage Tomb
Carrowkeel view
Taken using a selfie stick – I didn’t access the tombs

The next destination on this all too brief visit was Glencar. As you leave Sligo with Benbulben in front of you, take the Manorhamilton Road down through glacial Valley that cuts into Dartry Mountain Range with Benbulben on one end and Glencar at the other end. What a beautiful valley – it’s outstanding! Glencar Lake comes into view and it isn’t long until you reach Glencar Waterfall.

Glencar

Glencar Waterfall is part of the inspiration for the Yeats poem ‘The Stolen Child’.

I think we all yearn for a return to innocence, especially in today’s world! T

he landscape here is still much as it was in Yeat’s time and its easy drift back to when he wrote these words..

Where the wandering water gushes

From the hills above Glen-Car,

In pools among the rushes

That scare could bathe a star,

We seek for slumbering trout

And whispering in their ears

Give them unquiet dreams;

Leaning softly out

From ferns that drop their tears

Over the young streams.

Come away, o human child!

To the waters and the wild

With a faery, hand in hand,

For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.

WB Yeats
Glencar Waterfall
The Devil’s Chimney – Ireland’s highest waterfall.
Glencar Lake looking back towards Ben Bulben
Yeats was enchanted by the fairy woods…

May Bush

With county wide travel allowed in recent weeks, it was nice to be able to visit beautiful South Carlow and enjoy cycling routes along the Barrow and under the Blackstairs.

I noticed a revival of an old tradition with the decoration of the May Bush. It seems to have been revived in County Wexford in recent times and is now catching on in the south of the County. Below are a few of the examples I came across in the past few days.

As with much of our traditions, it appears to have its origins in Pagan rituals as much as Christian traditions and some suggest they are to provide sacred protection against the fairies who are very active around May Day! Another theory associated it with the start of summer and in more recent times are linked to honour the Virgin Mary.

Here is a great post about the traditions on The Fading Year blog which I just came across: https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/101579329/posts/5845

Near St Mullins
Balinagrane
near Drummond
%d bloggers like this: