When I think about my travels in Ireland, stone comes to mind. We often think of green fields rolling down to the sea, and there are many places of lush green, misty forests, and soft fields with grazing sheep. By far and away, stone shapes this place. From rugged coastlines to ancient standing stones carved with a language we no longer can understand, people have lived with the stone and shaped it into shelter, art, fences, and steps. Some of the places carved out of stone, like Skellig Micheal, are beyond belief. Reading Sun Dancing by Geoffrey Morehouse brought the lives of the monks there to life, and the carving of over 700 steps to reach their small settlement as close to heaven as possible. I like to include the Skelligs on our tours- there is no place on Earth quite like them. It takes effort to reach them, effort to climb to the top, effort to understand what they were up to. One must travel by boat over an hour, and often it is impossible to do so. The steps are dangerous and tricky, and the higher one goes, the more one can feel what made this place special. So many mysteries remain about this place, but a sense of the inhabitants becomes real as you sit in a former cell, with only a small opening facing east, or gaze at the garden plots they used, carved from stony cliffs, and enriched with seaweed to build the soil. The difficult problem of gathering drinking water alone can amaze and confound! Yet they did, they managed, and they sought out a refuge in the ocean far from others to achieve their quest.I look forward to returning to Skellig Michael, and hope to share this place with others who wonder as I do.
The ancient stones from prehistory also intrigue me. For years I have studied Irish art history, and am especially drawn to the standing stones with intricate designs, motifs and symbolism. For this reason I love to show these to people in hidden glans and on hilltops, as well as more famous carved stones such at those at Bru na Boinne, also known as Newgrange. Come along on one of our tours and let your imagination be ignited by the stones!
Stone carving at Newgrange..ciirca 5,000 BC