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2 October 2013

Across The North

Lots of travel with a few stops today across the Northern Ireland counties of Fermanagh, Tyrone and Armagh.


Before any of that, a short pharmacy supplies stop in Ballyshannon, of course the birthplace of RGallagher, which the town is very proud of.

 

Into Fermanagh and onto Boa Island our first 'sacred site' stop of the day was here ...

 

where the Janus Figure boldly sits

 

 

 

It is speculation and personal interpretation that defines this double faced mysterious figure.

Assumed to be a 'she' it is linked to several local traditions, Sheela na gig traditions, light and dark goddess, fertility, male meeting female, and many more.

Related to her are the old Ulster flag, the Jolie Rouge navigation flag of the Templars, the Jolly Rodger flag, the battle of Dreacon and Grainne later told as the Dragon and George and she is an image often engraved on 15th and 16th century gravestones around Lough Erne.

 

Some folks claim this is the image of Emain Macha, the twins of the Goddess Macha.

 

Next to the Janus Figure is the more familiar Sheela na gig from the shore of nearby Lusty Beg island

 

A lovely old spread out Hawthorn Tree here too.

 

Some miles further on and into Tyrone county and the Sperrins, its time for the popular bathroom and coffee stop

 

An Creagan is actually very, very good :)

They have a very extensive menu here and good prices, and is a very pleasant place to rest, on the Omagh to Cookstown road, about 12 km before Cookstown.

There is also a gift shop, visitor's centre, education amenities and accommodation here.

The only set back with the cafe is that it is only open from noon until 3 pm on most days, hence why I have missed it before.

A few minutes after leaving this cafe and centre were at the awesome Beaghmore stone circles.

 

 

This completes the story of the holed stones, as there were probably one on each mound between these double circles, plus this explains more behind the design of my tree labyrinth.

 

I was a bit surprised that the girls were not so awed about this as myself as other groups I have brought here have raved about here as being a favourite place. Today, it was a couple of quick pics, then off we go again.

I was told the mist and some drizzle put them off. For some reason this has always been the weather when I have visited here except one warm sunny day when I just could not get the people away.

Well, I got some more pics before we left

 

 

 

 

This spikey stone circle is a mystery though. What was it for? Was it where competitive suitors for one woman sort of fought it out here?

 

Off we trundle through more of Northern Ireland out of The Sperrins and Tyrone and into Armagh.

I had intended to do a stop at the Emain Macha, Navan Fort, visitor's centre and maybe even climb to the Emain Macha mound. I thought this would give some continuity to the Janus Figure, but the girls seemed restless about being in The North, and the view would have been poor in the mist.

Out of Armagh, past Newry and into Co. Louth we were into the Irish Republic again, and some relief was expressed by all.

At Louth the intent was to visit the said birthplace of St. Brighid of Kildare, Faughart.

First we visited some of the Brighid Shrine area, such as these two fountain areas

 

 

 

As we left here the mist and fog was getting thicker and daylight was finishing. I just wanted to show the girls the old original Brighid Well of Faughart, looking like it dates 9th or 10th century ... But for awhile in the bad visibility I could not find it.

Last time I was here, some years ago, I only came to this well and not to The Shrine, both in very different places. Hidden behind some trees at the rear of an old and small cemetery, there is the well. It's a hard well to get photos of, plus I was losing light fast.

 

 

 

There is a cone cairn above the well and the steps carry on down into the cone towards the water. I took the cup with the long handle at the entrance, scooped some water and passed it up to the others.

Only 2 of the girls joined me to seek this unique Brighid's well, but I believe they loved being there.

 

 

I will add a map to this post soon to show the different locations of the old original Brighid's well and the more recent created shrine.

I am now finding it remarkable that original old sites are being encouraged to be forgotten with attention being guided to newer and somewhat more patriarchal sites. On this pilgrimage we have now seen this at Faughart and at Kildare, I.e. Wayside Well vs the modernist Tully Well.

As we left Faughart, the last of the light was gone and the mist became heavy rain. In an hour or so we were pulling into our guesthouse of the next two nights, Highfield House.

This is a remarkable house of decor, comfort and charm. The owners are very passionate about their house, a former maternity hospital. It reminds me of the fabulous guest houses of New Orleans.

The beds in the bedrooms are all elegant with the most comfortable of mattresses. Jo even had a four poster bed. I had a very old world but extremely comfortable metal bedstead bed.

 

Off for a very cozy night's sleep for all after a long drive and very adventurous day, really.