Leaning into Nature

I’ve had a thing about war since I was a kid and have vivid memories of a hot Summer night in the early 1960s when I was feverish with chickenpox thinking that there were armoured tanks invading the small town in Co. Monaghan where we were living then.

When the Troubles broke out in Northern Ireland in the late 1960s , we were living just 3 miles from the Border and it was downright scary. For some reason, I seemed to believe that if we could somehow get to the Isle of Man we’d be okay. I think that it was probably because the Isle of Man had the name of having no violence. (Years later, I was fortunate enough to visit it and found it to be a delightful place where peace did reign.)

The rumblings of the last few days about World strife and nuclear attacks have stoked those smouldering embers and today I craved the comfort of nature.

Here’s where those cravings brought me:

 

Rhodos
Under the Rhododendrons

 

Bluebells
On my Knees among the Bluebells

 

Greenery
Luxuriating in Greenery

 

Mare and Foal
Dusking with a Mare and Foal

 

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Waves of Hope

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Turn of the Irish Summer

Lots of things symbolise the turn of the Irish summer from July into August but none more than the blooming of Montbretia in gardens and along lane ways and even by the side of the road.

Montbretia
Montbretia

It’s all about the colour, I suppose ~ the green and orange that are such fundamental parts of our Irish flag.

I’m not so sure that everyone knows that the Irish Tricolour was first flown in Waterford City  for 8 days in 1848  by Thomas Francis Meagher, who was a Young Irelander.

The green in the flag symbolises Irish nationalism: the orange, Irish Protestantism and the white, the hope of lasting peace between these.

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The Irish Tricolour and the Co. Waterford Flag

That white, for peace, is HUGELY important and nature serves up some lovely whites at this time of year. Nothing is more evocative for me than white hydrangeas:

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Peace 

 

 

 

 

 

Mount Congreve ~ Garden of Eden

Yesterday I got to go back to Mount Congreve, which is my Garden of Eden. It’s just a few miles from Tramore and has opened again for this season.

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Overhanging

Mount Congreve is beyond special to me and it has probably inspired more posts on this blog than anywhere else. It’s a place that stretches back to my childhood as we used to visit when I was a kid and then in recent years I’ve been going at least once a week during the season which lasts from now until we get to soak in the Autumn tints.

I die a little each year when Mount Congreve closes for the Winter and from late January onward I can feel a growing sense of anticipation as I look forward to making my grand return.

The weather was perfect yesterday ~ blue skies, warm sun and the peace, calm and tranquility that Mount Congreve always rains down on me. I can honestly say that if I was told I had only a day or two to live that Mount Congreve would be the top inland place that would call me.

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Unfurling

It was so reassuring to reach the lovely wrought iron gate at the end of the woodland garden that has the heart which always warms mine.

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Heartfelt

The splendour of Mount Congreve is almost overwhelming, especially with the blaze of colour it always presents.

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Magnolia Magic

As yet another season begins, I simply have to say a loving ‘Thank You’ to Mr. Ambrose Congreve (1907-2011) for leaving this wonderful Garden to the people of Ireland. What an inheritance!

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Inscription on the Temple

And here’s how the Temple looked yesterday as it gazed  down on the River Suir making its way towards Waterford City.

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Peace

Where is YOUR ‘Garden of Eden?’ 

 

 

Good Friday and Peace

The Good Friday Agreement of 1998 was a fundamental part of the Peace Process in Northern Ireland.

I simply cannot let a Good Friday go by without giving thanks to every single person who was involved in bringing that Agreement about.

There was a time when it seemed like the Island of Ireland  would never see the level of peace that prevails today. It is something that we should never, ever take for granted and it is also something which should be viewed as a beacon of hope by those who are subsumed by pessimism about ongoing violence.

Paths of peace DO exist.

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The Stepping Stones of Peace

 

 

 

Slices of Sunday

Today has been one of those sensual Sundays when you feel that nature is striving to shock, soothe and soul-search all at the same time.

I guess we needed a day like this here in Ireland with all the upheaval going on in the background as the General Election count goes on and on and political uncertainty hangs in the air.

I had lambs on my mind as I drove towards the Copper Coast searching the fields for new arrivals. The sky looked uncertain as I left Tramore and soon a snowy vista opened up in front of me as the Comeragh Mountains, which look down on the sea,  were well powdered:

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Snowy Comeragh Mountains, Co. Waterford

The sea itself was basking under blue, blue skies and the tall cliffs at Benvoy Beach were in deep reflection:

Reflection on the Copper Coast, Co. Waterford
Reflection on the Copper Coast, Co. Waterford

Near Bonmahon, I found the peaceful bleating and gentleness that I had been craving. It swept me out of time and into a warm, woolly world of whispering and playfulness.

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Security

What more could anyone ask for?

 

 

 

When the World Feels All Upside Down …

Today is a day when it feels like the world is caught in a terrible storm of unrest, fear and nightmarish violence.

Maybe it’s not any worse than usual but somehow the dreadful shooting on the beach in Tunisia yesterday seems to underline the fragility of life at the end of a week  which has seen Irish hearts blown open with grief after the tragic deaths of the young students in Berkeley, California.

When I was walking the few hundred yards up to our local shop early this morning, it was so reassuring to meet friendly faces. Everyone had a smile and a warm ‘Good morning.‘ No one was talking about the dark side of life but it felt like each person was reaching just that little bit more to touch the very essence of humanity.

Eyes meeting eyes, hello in harmony, taking the time to stop and have a little chat … these are the tiny things that matter, that matter hugely in restoring faith in humanity.

Yes, there are pathways to peace …..

Stepping Out into Peace

Annestown Beach, Co. Waterford
Annestown Beach, Co. Waterford

Peace is something that I never, ever take for granted ~ either personal peace or public peace.

I was reared by my mother  on the saying, passed to her by her father:

Better a dinner of herbs and peace therewith than roast ox and contention.

and I don’t think I ever prepare a meal of any significance without thinking of this.

At a broader level, I give thanks every single day for the fact that the horrific Troubles in Northern Ireland were brought to an end after endless negotiation. As a child and young teenager, I was absolutely terrified that they would spill drastically into the Republic of Ireland and had all sorts of Plans A, B …Z to try and escape the turmoil.

Talking not fighting is the key!

What sparked these thoughts was stumbling on this poem earlier today:

Peace

At the ship’s bow. It was my eye that drew

the perfect circle of blue meeting blue.

No land was visible. There was no sail,

not cloud to show the mighty world in scale,

so sky and ocean, by my gaze defined,

were drawn within the compass of my mind

under a temperate sun. The engine’s sound

sank to a heartbeat. Stillness all around.

Only the perfect circle and the mast,

The moment that knew no future and no past.

(Amy Whiting 1919-2001)

 

Blogging for Peace

The Metal Man, Tramore, Co. Waterford
The Metal Man, Tramore, Co. Waterford

Listening to the radio and watching the television news today has been almost unbearable because of the extent of the violence and sadness which seems to be unfolding all round the world.

It’s at times like this that I find peace in blogging and have a wild hope that maybe, just maybe, my writing might connect with someone somewhere and bring a moment of peace to them or, better still, light a little flame of creativity.

Tonight I can think of no poem more soothing than this oft quoted one from W.B. Yeats.

THE LAKE ISLE OF INNISFREE

By William Butler Yeats

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean rows will I have there, a hive for the honeybee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a-glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements gray,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.

Sleep tight, dear friends across the world and stay safe.