Friday, July 19, 2013

The 2013 Spirit of Ireland Tour: Ruins, Runes and Tunes

Four four years I have taken a small group of people to my Ireland, my ancestral homeland. Ireland is magical place; wonderful countryside, fantastic people who genuinely love Americans, phenomenal music, great food (really), incredible photo ops, wonderful sacred sites, and much, much more. This year's tour was unsurpassed in the level of enchantment. What makes these tours so special are the people who come on them, who participate in a chance to help, in our own humble way, heal the sacred lines of energy of the planetary grid structure, and make the world a better place. Most people who go to Ireland, take photos and drink Guinness. We do that too, but we give something back... through the healing intention of love and compassion, and this makes for a most magical enchanting tour. The follow photos are just a small selection of moments of our trip...and images can only begin to explain the essence.... the real magic is in the experience.... enjoy....

Spirit of Ireland Tour Orientation Meeting... Let the Tour Begin

We begin each tour with a short orientation, things to expect and some common rules to make the whole experience better for everyone (like the buddy system... so no one gets lost... we even have a secret buddy system)... Here we are in a park in Limerick..... and Stoney, our wonderful tour guide, highlights some important aspects of making a tour like this so successful. Thanks, Stoney.

The Round Tower of Glendalough

The Round Tower of Glendalough.... a very special place and one of many sacred sites in Ireland, about 90 mins outside of Dublin and a great place to begin our Spirit of Ireland Tour.

Our first sacred ceremony of the trip at Glendalough

I invited Adam (fiddle) and John (guitar) to play a few tunes after I closed with a poem by John O'Donohue and Paddy recited the Lord's Prayer in Gaelic (you can see the labyrinth off to the left hand side as well. The magic begins....on our trip.

Adam & Jon enchant the spirits at Glendalough

After playing a few songs to begin our sacred ceremony at the ancient monastery known as Glendalough (with two round towers), these guys just kept on playing..... Jon and Adam both live in Colorado, and are friends of mine. I invited them on this tour, as well as two other musicians (Dan and Ann) so we could have some great music at our beck and call. Boy ... were we spoiled.... Not only did Jon and Adam enchant the spirits, they enchanted us as well.

Welcome to the Clontarf Castle Hotel, Dublin Ireland

This was our home in Dublin for the first three nights... simply stunning...

Inside the Lobby of the Clontarff Castle Hotel

This is the original wall of the famous Clontarf Castle, some say over 1,000 years old. It's well preserved and makes for a great sight in the hotel lobby. The banners hanging here reveal a hsitory of the castle with various hallmarks along the 1,000 years of history. Very cool.

Our first Traditional Irish Music session.....Adam smoking on the fiddle

After our first group dinner in the castle, we had a night of incredible traditional Irish music with our group musicians....Adam and Ann on fiddle, Jon on Banjo  (Dan on Guitar on far left) and everyone's feet tapping ...all night long... WOW! (even the waiters were impressed.)

First Jam session after our dinner celebration at the Clontarf Castle Hotel

Paddy one Bodhran, Ann and Adam on Fiddles and Jon on guitar. Welcome to Ireland!

A Photo Op with the Molly Malone Statue

On our second day, we ventured into the heart of Dublin. Who could resist a photo op with the famous Molly Malone statue... even while a busker plays banjo...Welcome to Dublin!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Library at Trinity College; A MUST SEE while in Dublin

This place alone, is worth the price of admission. No photos are allowed to be taken of the Book of Kells, in an adjacent room, but you can photograph this room all you wish... and for good reason... it's stunning.

Display of artist colors in Trinity College's area near the book of Kells.

If you have ever wondered how these illustrators get the colors they do to illustrate these magnificent drawings, look no further than this display....

Brian Boru's Harp (maybe)

Inside the Trinity College Library you will find the famous symbol of Ireland, the harp. It is said to have belonged to the the Iconic Celtic Leader, Brian Boru, but most likely not. But if makes for a great story.....


A day in Downtown Dublin

Our first full day in Dublin was wonderful. This photo was taken just off of Grafton Street, where one could get one's fill of street theater and buskers galore.

A visit to the oldest pub in Dublin

On our second night in Dublin, we went to the Brazen Head Pub, the oldest pub in Dublin, for a night of story telling; Stories of the seen and the unseen world.

Ann Plays Irish Fiddle at the Fairy Tree on the Hill of Tara

The weather was amazing this day; rain showers, lots of wind. Blue skies. The works. Thanks Ann, for some great music.... so much appreciated. Quite the magical day.

Adam plays Irish fiddle around the sacred well at the Hill of Tara

Ireland had over 300 wells (perhaps several hundred more). Water is considered a symbol of the divine and many sacred sites are often found near these wells. Many wells are associated with St. Brigid, a Pagan Goddess adopted into the Catholic Church as a Saint. This photo was taken by our guide, Michael Fox.

Sacred Well at the Hill of Tara

We had a special tour guide on this day where we went to the Hill of Tara, the sacred spot of the High Kings of Ireland.

Traditional Thatched Roof Cottage in Ireland

Despite the fact that quite quaint, thatched roof cottages have become a thing of the past. if you are lucky, like we were, you can find a few in the country side.... like this one.... in great shape.

Adam Checks out a Sheela Na Ghee stone carving

Sheela Na Ghee (sp) is a representation of a fertility Godess. While most have been destroyed by the Catholic church, this one, hidden for centuries in a stone wall and now made accessible is in great condition.

Entering the Sacred Chamber of the Portal Tomb of Four Knockcs

Group photo inside Portal Tomb at Four Knocks

A magical place indeed.

Jon and Adam Welcome us to the Portal Tomb of Four Knocks

This incredibly well preserved portal tomb is a hidden gem. Found on private property, our tour guide has special access to it which made for an incredible sacred healing ceremony. What looks rather small outside, is actually quite large inside.

Ancient Neolithic Artwork inside the Portal Tomb of Four Knocks

Inside a sacred portal tomb (only open to the public recently) the incredibly well preserved artwork in unbelievable. This piece is about 6-8 feet long and 2-3 feet wide, and over 6,000 years old.

Atop the Portal Tomb of Four Knocks, Ireland

Dan stands atop the portal tomb which is far more impressive inside than outside, but pretty cool outside as well.

The Bar band Puca live in Dublin's Arlington Hotel

These guys were GREAT. No other way to say it. From the classic bar songs (No, Neh, Never and Molly Malone, even new classics like Steve Earl's Galway Girl) to the Bodhran solo's these guys rocked the house and was surely a highlight of the trip.

A Night of Traditional Irish Music In Dublin

One of the highlights of our tour was spending a night at the Arlington Hotel to hear some great music and see some incredible traditional Irish dancing. It was River dance live and every bit as good.

The Hill of Tara arial view

An arial view of the Hill of Tara, circles within circles at sunrise. A place of power and a very powerful place, indeed. I took this photo from a photo display at the entrance of the site. If you look carefully, you can see the Stone of Destiny in the middle of the top circle.

Stone of Destiny at the Hill of Tara

This is the spot, the stone of Destiny, where the High King of Ireland (during Celtic times) was crowned. They say that on a good day, you can see one-fifth of Ireland from this spot.

Fairy Tree at the Hill of Tara

Bev can be seen here meditating under the fairy tree. Note the strong wind.....

A rare sight... a meditating leprechaun under a fairy tree

Here I am taking some time to meditate under the Fairy Tree at the Hill of Tara.... There was a strong wind that day which made the whole experience even more magical..... Sweet!

Welcome to the Lough Eske Castle Hotel

This was our home for three nights... and we would gladly do it again.....simply excellent!

Ann and Adam fiddle the night away to our delight in County Donegal

Ann and Adam playing some great traditional Irish music..... Lovely!

Blues.... Irish style

Stoney, our beloved tour guide, sings the blues, accompanied by Dan, who can belt out a few himself...

Post dinner music session with our incredible pool of talent

Paddy on bodhran (drum) Ann on fiddle, Adam on fiddle, John on guitar, Diane on bodhran, Stoney on vocals and Dan on guitar... .. what a great night of music at Lough Eske

Betane Stone Circle Statue, County Donegal

What was supposed to be a quick bathroom stop turned into a big delight as we discovered a statue in honor of the Beltane Stone Circle, which made for a perfect setting for a group photo. Those in our group who do healing touch recognized one of the healing symbols in the hands of the statue.

Some music and prayers at the Beltane Stone Circle

Dan plays/sings a few songs inside the stone circle, as did Adam, Jon and Ann, for was nothing less than a wonderful healing ceremony to this sacred site. I read a a poem by John O'Donohue and Paddy recited the Lord's Prayer in Irish/Gailic...It was a magical day, indeed.

Healing Touch at the Beltane Stone Circlce

After a little music, prayers, poems and meditation,  the group fanned out to do some healing work with the stones. Here Bev is doing some healing touch with one stone in the stone circle. Each stone not only has a vibration but when placed in proximity, the entire circle of stones hums with a unified vibration.

The Beltane Stone Circle....

The Beltane Stone Circle is an ancient neolithic site, the biggest stone circle in all of Ireland, that honors the cross quarter day of Beltane... May 1st, or May day.   This photo was taken quite a way's from the actual circle, with a wide angle lens to capture the whole thing...

A little Guiness with Dinner, please

The food at Smuggler's Creek was excellent but I am told that the beer was great too. Dawn, Andie and Sue make a toast to a great day in County Donegal.

A stunning suset in County Donegal

Diane stops for a moment to drink in the beautiful sunset, only to find out that it was going to get better.... and better... and better.

A session of Traditional Irish Music at Smuggler's Creek, County Donegal

The food was excellent (perhaps the best I have ever had in Ireland), the view of the beach (and forthcoming sunset was unbelievable) but what this night most magical was the music. With a critical mass of musicians, phone calls were made and more people kept showing up. At one point, I think I counted at least five fiddles. Everyone agreed it was the best night of the trip...

Stunning sunset at Rossanlagh Beach, County Donegal

After some down time at the Castle after a visit to the Beltane Stone Circle, we headed to a place for dinner called Smuggler's Creek which offers an amazing view of the beach and the bay to Killybegs.
I met a gentleman, a local from the area who told me that there are about four great sunsets per year at Rossanlaugh Beach per summer... and we caught one of them.. The luck of the Irish.

Soon to be a beautiful sweater at a store near you!

Ireland is known for its beautiful wool sweaters ( I have bought several) and where you have sweaters, you have sheep. This young fella was enjoying the ocean view at Slieve League, like the rest of us. As they say in Ireland, no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing... Exactly!

A impromtu group photo with Adam playing the Fiddle at the Cliffs of Slieve League

County Donegal is famous for these beautiful cliffs called Slieve Leauge, reported to be some of the highest sea cliffs in all of Europe. Some our our group hiked a path toward the top, others simply enjoyed the quite time to reflect and meditate.... all in all quite magical.

A tour of the Folk Park museum in Glencolmcill

Our tour guide in the folk park described to use the different styles of homes in the 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. Many houses (600-900 square feet, perhaps) would have as many as 8-12 people living in them...Our tour guide explained that this was the kind of house he grew up in in Glencolmcill.

Ann plays a beautiful Irish lament aire at the Standing Stones of Glencolmcill

Ann pulled out her fiddle and bow and gave us goosebumps with a wonderful rendition of an old Irish tune. Music really adds to our experience at these sacred sites as they no doubt add a whole new dimension to the healing energies we impart to Mother Earth here.

Dan Sebranek at the Pilgram Stone of Glencolmcill

Dan sang a lovely song at the first stone as we walk along the road where four stones are spaced in the course of about 1-2 miles. This particular standing stone has carvings on both front and back...carved and placed here before the seeds of Christianity were sown. Now these stones are forgotten by many, yet still people come from far and wide to make the pilgrimage of the 13+ standing stones on a path of about 10 miles or so.

Healing Ceremony at the Pilgrim Stones of Glencolmcill

At the last stone pillar on this pilgrim walk, we again included some prayers, lots of healing energy, and of course some great music, as played by Adam in this photo... The Glencolmcill valley is simply magical.... a must see for all people headed to County Donegal.

A private house concert with Chris Cassidy and his friend Ann on Fiddle

 We pride our Spirit of Ireland tours with several private house concerts of traditional Irish music, here featuring Chris Cassidy and his musical partner Ann on fiddle. An excellent night of wonderful music. Each region of Ireland is known for it's own style of music.  As I often say, if you don't hear the music, you don't see Ireland... It's true.