Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Artist Residency Ireland-Newgrange and Lough Crew

Before I came to the artist residency at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, I stayed with my friend Mary in Dublin whose passion is visiting the sacred sites across this country.  She took Rebecca Crowell and me out to Loughcrew, Slieve na Calliagh, the hill of the witch or hag's mountain.  Read Rebecca's blog posts of this residency too.

The remains at Loughcrew are passage tombs, a particular style of neolithic architecture.  They have a passage, ordinarily long and narrow, which opens into a domed chamber.  We first went to Carnbane East.  It was a long, rainy and wildly windy walk to the top of the hill to Cairn T (sometimes called the Hag's Cairn).  We had collected the key for the passage tomb at the Loughcrew Historic Gardens Coffee Shop.  Imagine that we were able to go into this cairn and sit inside, in the dark, beside these incredible stones! Cairn T is oriented to the autumn equinox, which happens within the next three days.  At the autumn equinox, the rising sun shines into the back of this chamber, lighting up the carvings in a sequence as the shaft of sunlight makes it's way across the chamber wall.  The two photos below were shot with only with the available light that was shining into the tomb on September 10th.

After taking our fill of photos, we sat quietly for a while. in the dark of the chamber, amazed and grateful to be here. Afterward, Mary, Rebecca and I had a picnic lunch and hot tea in the shelter of the rocks just outside the door of Cairn T.

We hiked over to another hill, Carnbane West on this windy day that was sometimes sunny, sometimes pouring with rain.  We couldn't get into the chamber there, but climbed around the stones and took photos of the carvings and lichen on the megaliths.

Last Friday, three of us from the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, hired a cab and drove to Newgrange, a world heritage site in County Meath.  Estimated to be 5000 years old, it is  the largest and one of the most important prehistoric megalithic sites in EuropeIt was a whole different experience than Loughcrew, but also one not to be missed.  The area is called the Boyne Valley complex, which consists of three sites: Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth.  We went only to Newgrange.  I came to this site in 1998 when I did a workshop at Dunderry, here in Ireland.  We had the tremendous privilege then of going into the chamber in a small group, before the general public came in and chanting for 1/2 hour.  It was an incredible experience. On this trip, we went with a group and a guide and stayed for probably 10 minutes in the chamber.  All is carefully orchestrated.  No sitting on the floor of the chamber in the dark, leaning against the stones, as we had done at Loughcrew.

Approaching Newgrange in the rain.

Waiting to go into the chamber.  Pouring outside.

One of the kerbstones along the outside at the back.


  1. Amazing ancient sites, and wonderful symbols - that must be very inspiring for you...

  2. Thanks Sue. Ancient sites and symbols and huge creative energy here at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre with all of the talented and incredible musicians and writers and poets here.

  3. Oh isn't Ireland just a delight. We visited some burial sites last Sept. and I see the occasional rain does fall this year also. Just looking at your pictures makes me want to go back again soon.

  4. Hi Karin Lynn, Mostly the weather has been terrific..today seems the longest and most substantial rain. There's always sun here too! I've still got a couple of weeks left..one more only in this residency, then traveling for another week with an Irish friend...maybe over to the Aran Islands. I already have a plan to come back next year!