As part of our visit to beautiful Dunlewey Church we went on the hunt for the famous Poisoned Glen, it didn’t disappoint.
Now we all know that Ireland is full to overflowing with legends, and needless to say anywhere with a name like ‘The Poisoned Glen’ is going to have a legend attached, I suppose it is also inevitable that there are various accounts as to how it got it’s name.
Two involve the one eyed giant King Balor. The first version of the story is that Balor’s exiled grandson Lughaidh (do the best you can pronouncing that one, I am struggling with the guttural sounds of Gaelic!) met with his grandfather at the opening of the glen to fight, and duly killed him. As he fell Balor’s one eye bled into the glen, poisoning it as it did so. Legend has it that if you look at the mountains behind the bridge you can see the face of the fallen giant..
The other account is that Balor had a beautiful daughter who he kept locked away and hidden from mankind (of course he did, misogyny is rife in fairytales!) Despite all his efforts word got out about her beauty and she was duly kidnapped. Balor went after the kidnapper and cut him off at this very bridge killing him and retrieving his daughter. As the kidnapper died under the bridge the glen was forever poisoned.
The less interesting truth is that the people of Dunlewy were inspired to name it An Gleann Neamhe (The Heavenly Glen), but when the English mapped the area they carelessly marked it as ‘An Gleann Neimhe – The Poisoned Glen! And so it’s name was born! As we know, we can always rely on the English!
This place has inspired many, it’s not hard to understand why, and Clannad, who hail from Donegal, included a track titled ‘Poisoned Glen’ on their album ‘Anam’.
For me the best thing was watching Harley pup in the healing waters of the glen, his adventure with them continues, and it is truly heavenly to behold.
I hope you’re all inspired to visit this beautiful place if you can..
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We have promised ourselves that this time we will visit places in Ireland. In France money was always so tight we didn’t visit as many places as we would have liked. This time it will be different, and I plan on sharing the fabulous places with you……
So a few weeks ago we kitted up the puppies, made up a little simple picnic of sandwiches and extremely fattening pork pie and Scotch eggs (we’re just about to calm that down now, all the lovely fattening stuff!) and some cokes as beverage, and off we went on a charabang outing in my new little car to Dunlewey Church, nestled at the foot of Mount Errigal.
As you can see from these pictures this stunning, atmospheric place didn’t disappoint, with Dunlewy Lough in the background, and the mountains all around. Classic Ireland with the heather and the bracken, overcast skies and the sun breaking through. It is a truly breathtaking place.
The church was built in the 1800’s by Jane Russell in homage to her love for her late husband James. It is such an atmospheric beautiful place it is known as the Taj Mahal of Ireland.
Born in England the couple married in 1825, and James went on to make his fortune as a hop merchant. They had five daughters and moved to Donegal after purchasing the Dunlewey Estate. Sadly in 1848 James died, and the heartbroken Jane built this beautiful church as a place to lay her husband to rest. He is buried in the vault beneath the floor of the church. I can understand why, she chose such a beautiful spot, a place where he could look out at the lough, hear the Poisoned Glen and be protected by the beautiful Errigal.
The estate was eventually managed by a new landlord, Richard Lewis Crankshaw and when he died in 1929 he was buried in the grounds of the church. But his widow, Nellie, was a Roman Catholic (no surprises there we are in Ireland!) and because the church was not a Catholic church she would not be buried with her husband. So she was buried in the Catholic church that was immediately across the lough from Dunlewey church. To ensure that she was still close with her husband her gravestone was turned towards the old Dunlewey Church, so that they could look across the lough to each other. It’s clear this beautiful place inspires romance just as the moors did for Cathy and Heathcliffe. In fact many couples choose to marry here, despite the weather, despite the lack of roof, because the sadness, and the happiness, and all in between can be felt in this place, like a vibration.
Sadly as more and more people emigrated from Ireland the church was no longer used and fell into disrepair, with the roof being removed in 1955, as a safety measure and the fixtures and fittings distributed to other churches, including the bell which is now in place at the Cashel Church of Ireland near Doe Castle. But in 1987 the local community restored the floor of the church and in 2005 restoration work was undertaken to ensure that this beautiful place was preserved, as it should be.
It was a fabulous day out, and we will be returning, we didn’t even get to walk around the lough, because we then found the Poisoned Glen…..
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We thought we had it all set up, we thought we had it all arranged: we would move into our house on the Saturday and the man was coming to sort the Internet on Monday. We can do that we thought, we can cope in this 4G black hole for two days. But things never work out like that do they?
On said Monday along came the ‘Internet Man’, as we unofficially entitled him. In he came with just a clipboard and happily informed us the we could not have wire from the pole across the road coming across said road to our bungalow because our bungalow was too low!? Personally I thought that was de-rigueur (see I did learn some French on my French adventure) for bungalows, but who was I to argue. I could however see his point that if a large tractor trundled past it would take our internet cable off down the road to the cows, who would have no use for it at all.
We did suggest that he take it to the Chimney, but it appears you cannot attach things to the chimney now, because the men are not allowed to work at height! It appears that telegraph poles are not high, but chimneys on bungalows are. Is it me?
Then he looked across our paddock, which is virtually inaccessible at the moment, the cats are loving their freedom from the Welshies as they are the only ones able to make their way through it, much to the distress of the local mice.
After studying the pole he decided that RD would have to climb the trees and trim them before he could put a wire from that to our said bungalow. Now there lay a problem, as I have mentioned in previous blogs we have none of our stuff from France, by that I mean no ladders, no saws, no tools, so cutting down branches from that height was going to prove a problem. At that point The Internet Man took pity, and promptly ordered us our very own pole, which is now safely planted in our garden, see my first picture.
So it’s been difficult. Although I tried to blog we are in a 4G black hole, and it proved impossible. I think it’s something to do with the beautiful hills and mountains in which we are settled!
I have to say that they were amazingly quick and two weeks later normal service was resumed, pole and all! A big difference to France, where we had to wait seven weeks until they fixed our line when our internet was blown out in winter storms.
So I’m back now, and my urge to write is in fact overwhelming. I have missed it, but we have been busy, and I have lots to share.
In the meantime I think Wiglet is happy.
Moisy (also known as Rosie)
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As I started to write this post the realisation came to me that I will actually see all the seasons in Ireland for the first time this year. It just seemed like a revelation, because we only visited in the summer when I was a child, therefore I never saw Ireland in any other guise.
I learned to really respect the seasons during my time in France. I wrote often of them, especially Spring and Autumn, with both seasons representing change: one welcomes life, one tries to teach us to understand death, and letting go. Life’s ever evolving pattern.
I am looking forward to what the seasons in Ireland will bring, having already experienced the Winter with it’s hooleys and snowy mountains! So many Irish people said how we needed to wrap up warm because of the cold winds, but we were used to them from living on our little house on the hill in Northern France for six years, the winter did not phase us, but the scenery blew us away…
Earrach means Spring in Gaelic, and there are three days considered to be the first day of Spring in Ireland, but in Ireland the one most consider the first day of Spring is the 1st of February. It’s known as Imbolc ( which means ‘in the belly’ referring to the pregnant ewes) in line with Gaelic tradition, and was a day to celebrate the end of a harsh winter and the coming of warmer weather, being the midway point between the Winter and Spring equinox, it was also the opportunity to rebuild stocks, and for milk to be available. It’s also known as St Brigid’s Day.
Now there are two schools of thought on this: Brigid was a pagan goddess whose pagan ceremony was held on the 1st of February, as she was also considered the patroness of early Spring. Then suddenly in medieval times, and quite fortuitously, a nun by the same name came along with all the same attributes of the goddess Brigid, how weird! And guess what? She was made a Saint, whose celebratory day was also the 1st of February. I don’t know, it seems to happen so often, how these Christian holidays and Saints day tie in with pagan ones. Must just be coincidence! Poor old pagan Goddess Brigid was elbowed out of the way and her day was given to a prioress who supposedly helped the poor. That’s not to diss St Brigid, she is now considered a patron saint of Ireland, and probably liked to have a good old knees up and a drink with St Patrick!
But that’s not the end of it, all is not lost the Irish still have a soft spot for Brigid the pagan goddess, and still make the pagan crosses to hang on their doors to welcome The goddess who would visit them on the first day of Spring.
Now, believing what you will, Spring in Ireland traditionally starts on the 1st of February for logical reasons: the days get longer, the weather starts to warm up (although when hail was sheeting down on us last week you wouldn’t have thought so!) and the flowers start to break through. In fact last week we watched in wonder, with tears in our eyes from laughter as the crofter tried to put two lambs in the field behind his house, he picked one up and carried it to the field, then he went back for the second as the first followed him back bleating it’s head off, bless him he must have done it at least five times until he got someone else to help him. If I can I am going to ask if I can see them, taking the chance that I may never eat lamb again if I do.
Over the last two weeks we have had hail, snow, rain (of course it’s Ireland!) and beautiful warm sunshine. They do say that March comes in like a lion and out like a lamb! With all this weather we have had some fabulous cloud phenomena over the mountains, it’s like seeing an ever changing painting, and we are loving it.
There is nothing like warm Spring sunshine to give you hope, and despite all the madness in the world today nature goes on her way, doing what she needs to do, no lockdowns for her!
In Donegal where we are putting down roots the Gaelic language is still the main language, although all those we have met have kindly spoken English to us. Most signs in our area are in Gaelic, and I plan to learn some as the years go on.
I believe it’s important to embrace the culture of where you live, even more so when it’s your heritage. It should help that I learned quite a bit of French because I notice how a lot of Gaelic words are very close to some French words. Although the French are mainly considered Gauls, many people in Brittany consider themselves Celts, and so the link continues.
I am lost on the pronunciation however, although I am getting my head around some of it involving dropping the syllables, for example Donegal … Dún na nGall, when you say it quickly it sounds the same but has a gutteral intonation.
My actual name is Moira, I use Rosie as a pseudonym because of my book, but at times it pisses me off that I lose my own identity due to that. Given that Moira is an Irish Gaelic name, derived from Celtic, I think it’s important now I live in Ireland to own it and embrace the Gaelic language.
Moira comes from the name Máire which means bitter, beloved, drop of the sea. How apt then that I have chosen to live in a place surrounded by the sea. It’s good to see that my name is right up there with Boudicca, it explains my strength, being able to fight my own corner and my hate of injustice since as long as I can remember.
I have always felt closer to my Irish roots than my English. I am proud of England for many things, mainly their stoic approach to the second world war; for whilst I am not someone who condones war I understand that from all wars that war was probably the one most necessary. Britain was up against it where that war was concerned, and they stood their ground, eventually convincing others of its need; but I think it’s important to also remember that WWI was a pre-cursor to it’s cause.
I don’t buy into the crap of ‘let’s make Britain great again’, or watching the 1966 World Cup Final over and over again. It was 55 years ago, lets move on FFS!
I have never felt a sense of English pride, not when I look back through our history and listened to my dad’s experience where Ireland was concerned. Sadly, including my time in France, there have been many times when I have been ashamed of my English heritage, including that sense of entitlement and grabbiness that I have found on my travels, perhaps that comes from all those times in our history that we have just ‘taken’ other’s countries! Then there is football hooliganism: Jack Charlton was so ashamed he gave up the Irish Football Managers job because of it. Or when I holidayed in Turkey and the other English guests ran down to put their Union Jack towels on their sun-beds, there was no other person from any other country (mostly from Germany) who did. Where did that myth about the germans putting their towels on the sunbeds come from? I know some people will read this and say ‘well other nations do that too!’ But I am half English, I’m not speaking for ‘other nations’.
Let us not forget all the times my relatives would call my dad the ‘thick Paddy’, when he was the cleverest of them all. So clever he never felt the need to put them straight, he knew he had the last laugh when he left them to drown in their own ignorance and ego.
Perhaps my Irish ancestry is coming through. I know that’s why I have been thinking about my dad more than ever and finally understanding him, more than ever. We learn and evolve, if we want to.
Where Gaelic is concerned some of the words are familiar to me and I understand them, it may be that my Irish DNA is coming through and my ancestors memories are finally starting to show themselves.
I do feel as if I am finally home.
Deireadh seachtaine maith a bheith agat
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I don’t do being ill well! I have always been of the ilk that I just get on with it whenever I can. Staying in bed when I am ill just makes me feel worse, and whenever possible I have got up and got dressed. But…..
Way back in 2014 I was walking on our decking, which was about three feet off the ground, a plank gave way and my right leg went through it. I cannot begin to tell you how much that hurt. On inspection RD could see how the plank had worn and got out his trusty tools to fix it, and I left him to it. That evening, as the World Cup Opening Ceremony was under way and RD was ensconced on the sofa with a beer in hand, I went back out onto the decking to check my baby cucumbers and went through the exact same piece of decking again! By now the pain was excruciating and when I then saw RD’s trusty tools still there on the decking I cannot begin to tell you what I called him, or should I say screamed at him but I am pretty sure that it had the word ‘fucking’ in it! I refer to this incident as the ‘the time RD tried to kill me.’
Over the course of that year I went to the Doctor at least five times and each time I explained (given that I am a qualified aerobic teacher, although looking at the size of my arse you would never believe that now!) that I thought that the injury was muscular and not joint related. But I was ignored and sent for many x-rays on my knee. In the end I gave up and put up with the niggling pain and intermittent swelling of my leg. That was until Christmas of that year when I danced a little jig and found myself in so much pain that I had to crawl up the stairs to bed that night. It was enough to drive me back to the doctors where a newly qualified doctor actually listened and referred me to a physio, hurrah!
The physio was great, pronounced that I had basically squashed my psoas muscle, pushing it up my leg and he gave me a set of exercises which I promptly did. He was brilliant and also gave a fab arse massage, much to RD’s distress who asked my friend Mary if he did the same to her when she visited him, and when she said ‘no’ RD looked at me as if to say ‘see he doesn’t massage her arse!’ It might have had something to do with the fact that she had a shoulder injury. 😂
Alas I had to leave physio after only three months because we moved to France to our beautiful but wibbly wobbly garden on a hill. The unevenness of the garden combined with lifting heavy loads then proceeded to aggravate my leg more and more as each year went by. I found I couldn’t walk down the stairs unless it was sideways like a crab, but I put up with it and just sucked it up, trying to ignore that it seemed to be getting worse and worse.
Eventually I looked up why I had such a pain in my butt every time I walked down the stairs or stood up, and found that it was highly likely that I had not only damaged my psoas but also my piriformis, one of the smallest muscles in the body and one of the most painful if it is damaged. The good old piriformis runs across the sciatic nerve, or sometimes the sciatic nerve runs through the piriformis, but needless to say when the muscle swells the pain is excruciating. Carrying things aggravates the piriformis, heels aggravate the piriformis, uneven ground aggravates it, in fact sitting aggravates it, walking aggravates it, basically if you have piriformis syndrome (and all my symptoms pretty much tick all the boxes) your well and truly up shit creek without a paddle.
Like I said I don’t ‘do ill’ well, so I just got on with it, looking up stretches which helped and just soldiering on. But then the move from France to Ireland was basically a game changer what with lifting heavy items, and going and up and down stairs with them; add that I then I decided to get fit when I arrived in Ireland: walking at least a mile and a half a day (who wouldn’t with the fabulous views around us?) I basically pushed the injury too far.
I was losing this fight, but still I carried on: I bought a hiking stick to try and help when we had to just step onto the beach, because I couldn’t even step on the beach! Something that RD found so hilarious he took photos of my trying to climb up onto the dunes.
A few weeks after these photos were taken I actually bought myself a walking stick in Lidl because I couldn’t walk around the shop I was in so much pain, and I’m not going to lie at that point it started to get to me.
That’s why I haven’t been blogging or writing in any way, because in the end the pain was constant no matter what I was doing I couldn’t actually think straight. I couldn’t even walk my beloved puppies around the garden. Add to this RD got a short term job and wasn’t here so I persevered hoping to God that the dogs didn’t pull me because they would simply pull me over! Poor RD he was working all day, driving a long drive to and from work, doing all the shopping and then walking the dogs.
For me the biggest thing was how much chronic,constant pain begins to affect you mentally. You literally cannot focus, terrified to move but still in pain anyway and I began to feel old, and trapped, despite the excitement of our new adventure. Out here on a peninsular with no car, not even being able to walk outside my own front door, was awful and I thought of a lovely lady I used to care for who was in a wheelchair and I understood how important her daily trips were to her more than ever. It was an eye opener for me, of how people live with this all their lives, and I was grateful for my strength and counted my blessings that I would fight this.
Ever proactive (I won’t be beaten, although there have been times over the last four weeks when I thought I was) I looked up more stretches and exercises, and despite the pain I was in I made myself do them three or four times a day. I sat on a hot water bottle, religiously, and I booked an appointment with a chiropractic, who although she was incredibly rude and a bit dodgy she massaged exactly where the pain was radiating from and over the following few days the pain began to subside. I took note, and now I get RD to do massage the same place, now his job has ended, and he realises that the physio was doing exactly what he was meant to do.
I am now eighty per cent better. The pain is not constant, but I persevere with all the exercises and stretches and know that this is what I will have to do from here on in, as well as attend a chiropractic probably once a month, or at the least a masseuse ‘. I still cannot lift anything even remotely heavy, or walk my beloved puppies, because it may well aggravate the muscle again, and my hamstrings and knee ligaments are sore from the pain that had been radiating down the back of my leg for let’s be honest at least the last three months.
I am going to try as of today to walk with the dogs whilst RD holds the strong little buggers, wish me luck.
More to come now I can think straight
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