and pagan, this is a sacred mountain. Set at the western edge of Europe
and standing above Clew Bay, it dominates the landscape and the sea scape.
Its spine is franked with a gray path, traced out by pilgrim feet, for
pilgrims have made their way to the summit of this majestic mountain for
many thousands of years.
is the quartz core of a much larger mountain, but time, and weather has
worn it down and polished it into a pyramid. At its northern base, scree,
lies about it, a testimony to the wear and tear upon ancient things. Each
day of year some pilgrim makes his her way to the sacred summit. Sometimes
only a few pilgrims are strung out on the mountain path but during the
great festivals, it becomes a living path. Day and night they come and go
along the tortuous path, each linked together by some sacred purpose. On
the important nights it is a river of living light. This has gone on for
two millennia, perhaps three and it will continue while the mountain holds
and that will take it to the rim of forever.
on this high and remote place one is close to the gate of heaven, close to
the early Christian spirit and perhaps close to ones best aspirations. It
is a singular place, set in a primitive landscape, lonely and challenging,
like the sharp pinnacles of Schelig Mhicil in Kerry or Mont San Michel of
the coast of France The mystical and the pilgrim parts of our nature are
attracted to such places. It is as natural as the air we breathe. In fact
the first poem in Irish literature, written by Amergin has the following
strange lines. It was composed well over two thousand years ago and
possesses a haunting, magical quality. The poet stands at a point where he
is in a thin place and passing towards some magical or spiritual
am the god who creates in the head of man the fire of thought.
Who is it who throws light into the meeting on the mountain?
lines have the ring of spirituality. They represent something profound and
when Saint Patrick arrived in Ireland on his mission he knew something of
the ancient rituals and the mind set of the druids and the kings. He was
Roman and Celt and this gave him a singular advantage in his missionary
work. He imposed a new spirituality on and old spirituality and there is a
continuum in the thought patterns between the pagan and the Christian
mind. On many of the pagan symbols he and his followers cut the firm cross
of Christ. Perhaps we could say that the ancient Irish possessed minds
that were naturally Christian.
recent years, through archaeology and historical research, our fragments
of knowledge concerning this singular mountain are taking a more definite
shape. The mountain is being restored to its important place in our
archaeology, history, spirituality and culture.
mountain is singular in its presence, not unlike the great central arch of
a gothic cathedral, supported by two lesser arches. It is clean cut
against the sky and arrests the eye. No other mountain creates such an
impression except perhaps Knocknarea in County Sligo, with its great
cairn of stones. Knocknarea is set above Sligo bay and has a seminal
influence on the poet W. B. Yeats. What Jacqueline O Brien and Peter
Harbison say of Knocknarea in their book Ancient Ireland is applicable to
religious beliefs and social circumstances must have motivated the
creation of the eleven meter high megalithic monument on top of Knocnarea
in County Sligo- and undertaking as difficult to achieve as trying to work
out how many Stone Age man hours went into its undertaking."
gives us a method of reading the sacred history of Croagh Patrick, for as
I said it has always been sacred. It gives us also a method of reading
ancient and Celtic spirituality, for the Irish Church was different to the
Roman Church and this created much controversy at the time; many
assemblies, many arguments and defeat in the end for the Irish. It came to
a head at the Whiteby.
must place the Mountain in its archaeological context for it is part of
the archaeological remains which stand on the mountain side and lie about
the base and stretch far into the surrounding country. Man and women has
left their mark upon the landscape from the very beginning. The date of
the arrival of the first settlers in Mayo cannot be ascertained
definitely, but we can say with some certainly that the arrived some seven
and a half thousand years ago. They were Stone Age people and they were a
highly organized and religious people. We know this from the excavations
at the Céide fields in North Mayo. Here Doctor Seamus Caulfield
discovered a civilization beneath a vast blanket bog. It is all quite
exciting how this discovery was made. For many years turf cutters had
encountered wall places beneath the bogs. This argued that prior to the
growth of the bog cover a system of fields had been built. Though
archaeological excavations it was discovered that an extensive filed
pattern covering some thousand acres lay beneath the blanket of bog. So a
highly organized society lived here many thousands of years ago. It is the
beginning of archaeology. Linked to these fields were huge burial tombs,
with their great orthostats, their stone caps and their orientation
towards the east, the source of light. We can argue from the presence of
these Iron age monuments that these first settlers followed rituals that
we no longer understand, but
they were the rituals of life and death; rituals that must have been
related to the seasons and the harvests. They were a reasonable and
intelligent people and the great and mysterious monument, Newgrange was
built a thousand years before the pyramids. It remains a mathematical and
mysterious puzzle. The markings the tomb have never been deciphered, but
the building is linked to the movements of the sun and the stars.
this is central to the importance of Croagh Patrick.
If ritual was part of the old world then there is no doubt that
ritual was central to their great quartzite mountain. The path which the
pilgrims take is very ancient and stretches far back into history and
right to the centre of Ireland. The ancient route from Cruachan, to the
summit of Croagh Patrick, is now call Tóchar Phádraig, which in
translation means Patrick's Causeway. It led, we believe along a road
which stretches from Roscommon to Mayo. Today this route is marked out by
ruined churches, abbeys and settlements. Thus, we establish the first
tentative link with the sacred mountain on the very edge of the Atlantic.
We are more definite when we take up the pilgrim route at Ballintubber
Abbey. A pilgrim can now take the route from the famous Abbey and travel
through Aghagower on the way to Croagh Patrick. One is almost certain that
this was Saint Patrick's route to the sacred mountain.
is only now that we are coming to understand the great monuments of the
ancient world; the pyramids of Egypt, Stonehenge, the Mexican temples,
Newgrange, the ziggurats of Mesopotamia and many others. The were more
than massive monuments, requiring great engineering skills. They were
solar temples, celestial observation points, centers were the rhythm of
the seasons and the passage of stars across the heavens were computed.
Croagh Patrick seems to be locked into some understanding of the movements
of the sun. There is a remarkable rock outcrop decorated with Prehistoric
one studies the movement of the sun On 18th of April and 24 August the
setting sun rests on the summit of the mountain and then slides down the
northern flank. So perhaps the mountain marked the movement of the sun
across the heavens. How many other markings lie about the county aligned
with this sacred mountain? To ascribe a low intelligence to our ancestors
a lack of a deep religious instinct to diminish both them and us. The
story of Saint Patrick has been well and often told. It is pivotal to the
story of the Mountain. The outline of the story is familiar. As Daphne C.
Pochin Mould says in her books The Irish Saints.
apostle of Ireland, head of the belief of the Gaels, as he is styled in
the Martyrology of Gormon, is a person of whom we know, as it were,
everything and nothing."
is the author to two works -his Confessions and Letter to the Soldiers of
Coroticus. The Lorica of Breastplate of Saint Patrick , once attributed to
him, is believed to be of later provenance. But let us see what is firmly
established about the man.
cannot give a date for his birth but it is believed that he died in 493
and is buried in Armagh. He was born near the west coast of Roman Britain
and was given the name Succat. His people were Christian and his father an
official of some importance. He was taken captive by Irish raiders and
brought to Ireland where he was sold to a pig farmer. Many associate him
with Co. Antrim but there is equally strong evidence that he served out
his time in County Mayo, perhaps in North Mayo. He spent six years herding
swine on a mountain. In fact he must have been attracted to the loneliness
of mountains. While herding swine he became prayerful.
he became familiar with the solitude of the Irish hillsides and the Irish
woods. He learned the Irish tongue and through his master Milchu, he
became familiar with the rituals of Druidism. One the mountain of Slemish
he was visited by visions and in one he was instructed to escape. There is
a tradition that made his way to Mayo and sailed out of Clew Bay. He was
taken aboard a the ship which carried Irish wolfhounds. If he did then one
of the last things he saw as the coast receded was the great mountain of
quartzite. His journey was eventful. They were shipwrecked and traveled
through a strange and desolate landscape.
gives us the following tentative information concerning his life.
am Patrick, a sinner, most unlearned, the least of all the faithful, and
utterly despised by many. My father was Calpornius, a deacon, son of
Potitus, of the village of Bannaven Tuburniae; he had a country seat
nearby and there I was taken captive. I was then about sixteen years of
age. I did not know the true God. I was taken into captivity to Ireland
with many thousands of people..
I used to get up for prayer before daylight, through snow, through frost,
through rain, and I felt no harm, and there was no sloth in me-as I now
see, because the spirit within me was then fervent."
he reached home and would have stayed contentedly with his own people but
he head the voice of the Irish, close to the Wood of Voclut near the
Western Sea, which called him to come and walk with them. Had he been more
accurate and was he familiar with modern autobiography we would have a
much clearer knowledge of his life. Wishing to become a priest he went
Saint martin's monastery at Tours, and again to the island sanctuary of Léirns.
It is obvious from the life of Saint Germain that Patrick was a capable
and suitable candidate to send to Ireland to convert the Irish. Others had
failed. He arrived with a retinue of people knew exactly what he was
about. He must have been familiar with the landscape of Ireland and the
centre of power and culture. Contrary to the law of the high king he lit a
Pascal fire on Slane hill, a hill within view of Tara. With that gesture
he challenged the druidical power. The following words are ascribed to
them although there is no historical proof for this event as the Pascal
fire goes back to the 8th century.
King live for ever; this fire, which has been lighted in defiance of the
royal edict, will blaze for ever in this land unless it be this very night
he took on their power of fire with the Pascal fire. It was a symbol of
what was to come. With fire he dealt with fire. This was an affirmation
and a moment which marks the firm beginning of conversion.
His life as a missionary was not an easy one. In fact it was
dangerous. He writes of "twelve dangers in which my life was at
stake-not to mention numerous plots." This phrase alone opens up a
whole field of speculation. What
were the dangers and who were his enemies? No doubt he was engaged in a
power struggle with kings and druids. He lived dangerously and his mind
was singularly determined.
all his travels and visitations he came to Croagh Patrick. He travelled to
Aughagower in 440. He would have journey along the ancient path from
Cruchan. Aughagower was an important location and the seat of a chieftain.
When Patrick arrived he came with his house hold. We have a list in the
life of Saint Patrick written in the seventh century by Tírechán. He
arrived with his bishop, his priest, his judge, his chaplain, his
psalmist, his chamberlain, his bell-ringer, his cook, his brewer, his
charioteer, his masons, his woodsman, his cowherd and many others. In
other words he was equal to any chieftain. He was also well organized.
Most likely he built a church there and set about appointing bishops. As
he looked west he would note the high, quartzite cone of Mount Eagle as it
was then known. He would have been curious about the mountain and known
its importance to the ancient Irish. Here too he would leave the Christian
mark, as he had left it on standing stones and in other places sacred to
so he set out to climb Mons Aigli, the Mountain of the eagle, as it was
then called.. He passed along the path, worn by other visitors. As he
mounted the minor flanks he would observe the breathtaking scenery about
him; towards the south the Sheffery hills running directly towards Killery
harbour; to the north, the lone shape of Neiphin Mountain and the
mountains of Mayo. As he reached the base of the central cone, the myriad
islands in Clew bay, with their humped backs would become more distinct.
Now the path rises steeply, and small, flinty rocks, sharp and jagged
would have slipped beneath his feet as he arched forward and clung to the
steep mountain. Finally he reached the summit, with its slight, platform.
Now he could see the bulk of Clare island, stout and firm at the opening
to the bay. Beyond that lay an unknown world, which Saint Brendan would
later navigate. He would have looked all around him and observed every
interesting, outcrop of rock and mountain. He stood above his kingdom.
Indeed this moment was a watershed for the Celtic Church.
is said that he remained on the mountain for forty days. He would have no
doubt remembered the visit of Moses to Mount Sinai. It was on such a high
pinnacle that Moses received and formulated the ten commandments He could
also have been preparing for Easter and the Resurrection. But it was a
remote time for him, a time for prayer and reflection and Saint Patrick
and a period when he could be removed from the sea of trouble which washed
around the base of the mountain. It was this time period which gives the
mountain its vast spiritual significance and it is here that the old ends
and the new begins. The pagan pilgrimage path would become a Christian
pilgrimage path and the stone buildings on the mountain be supplanted by
an oratory. Recently excavations have discovered an oratory, not unlike
the stone oratory at Gallaraus, which was made of dry stone, and shaped
like the centre of an upturned boat.
This is the moment of silence and reflection and since then every
pilgrim has been drawn to the mountain by the same spiritual instinct.
They say that he banished the snakes, but there never were snakes in
Ireland. That he banished demons in another thing; the demons were the
demons of paganism. In the Tripartite Life of Saint Patrick the following
strange image occurs.
at the end of those forty days and forty nights the mountain was filled
with black birds, so that he knew not heaven nor earth. He strikes his
bell at them, so that the men of Ireland heard its voice and he flung it
at them, so that its gap broke out of it…..no demon came to the land of
Erin after that." A
precipice to the south side of the mountain is known as the Hollow of the
makes Croagh Patrick relevant on many levels and it is the core reason why
pilgrims have been drawn to the summit for seventeen hundred years. On
this arid summit, where the winds blow hard, where no root takes hold,
where distance seems infinite and heaven close, the spirit is tested and
replenished, for the pilgrim had reached a thin place, where one steps
into the highest dimension of one's existence. The deserts of Egypt drew
the early fathers to is dry expanses. The summit of the mountain is a hard
desert where only the spirit can flourish, where the ground is covered
with sharp rocks, where the back drops to ordinary life are removed.. It
is here that the human spirit passes from the comfortable world into a
spiritual world. That is why it is a significant place. On this singular
mountain, forty days before Easter, where Patrick faced came face to face
with himself, perhaps where he was tested by temptation and visited with
visions. It is from these forty days, or period of silence, prayer and
penitence that Mount Aglie derives part of its intense spiritual energy
and which set standards for the early Celtic Church. It became a symbol of
Ireland's enduring faith.
finished this, the most intense spiritual period of his life, Patrick
descended along the pilgrim path, energized and refreshed. He walked to
Aghagower to his friend, Senach the bishop and Mathone the Nun and
celebrated the Easter festival with them. This was a decisive moment for
Saint Patrick and the early Christian church. It happened in the year 441.
Patrick had twenty more years of missionary activity. He developed a
native clergy, fostered the growth of monasticism, established diocese,
and held church councils. He was a man of action who lived a vigorous
life, who intellectual ability and honesty had been questioned, whose
suitability to the priesthood had been challenged and who had lead a life
of hardship and danger. When he died his body was interred in Armagh.
Patrick is a singular mountain. Above all it is a spiritual place. Set
about it are the remains of the Celtic Church. On Inisboffin to the
south-west lies the remains on a small monastery. The window frames the
great mountain. It was here that Bishop Colman of Lindisfarne came after
the his defeat at the Synod of Whitby. He brought with him Irish and
English monks. There was a dispute between the two groups, so he left the
island with the English group and set up Mayo Abbey. Recent archaeological
surveys indicate that Mayo Abbey was as important in its time as
Clonmacnoise and that Saxon students were drawn to this place of learning.
At the very base of the mountain lies the small church of …. Then there
is Saint Marcans Church at Rossclave inlet, near Newport. On all the
lonely islands beaten by the Atlantic storms, and harassed by tempestuous
seas lie the remains of Early Christian sites. Even today they are
difficult to access. The are found on Duvillaun More, Inishkea South and
Inishkea North. They all testify to a vigorous and religious life, lived
on the remote edge of the world. But most sacred of all is Caher Island
close to the greater islands of Inishturk and Clareisland.
One summer's day I sailed
to this island. The waves were calm and a curious seal, well moustached,
peered out at us from the tranquil water. We approached the island from
the west for there is a small anchorage there, and the small hermitage,
with its sacred slabs and crosses, is well protected from the south
is well called Cathair na Naomh or the enclosure of the saints. Many of
the earliest Celtic ornaments are engraved on the slabs standing about the
enclosure , particularly the Dolphin slab, which date it to the sixth and
early part of the seventh century. Of these decorated stones Professor
appears that the hermitages, both on the islands and the desert places of
the mainland opposite, are foundations of the earliest centuries of
Christianity, a fact demonstrated by the early dates of the cross-slabs.
Further, many of these slabs demonstrate surprisingly direct contacts with
centers of innovation in Ireland and the continent. Through them we can
dimly perceive the presence in the west of early illuminated manuscripts
and metalwork crosses which may have served to transmit some of the
designs of the cross-carved slabs."
Patrick's influence was firm and vital. All about the sacred mountain lie
early churches, early symbols and early crosses.
How can we catch the Celtic voice of that times. The most immediate
voice is that of Saint Patrick's breastplate or Lorcia, which although not
written by Saint Patrick catches the mind set of the time. It is a long
poem and it is obvious that it is chanted like some incantation against
evil. I quote and unfamiliar passage
invoke to-day all these virtues
every hostile merciless power
may assail my body and my soul,
the incantations of false prophets,
the black laws of heathenism,
the false laws of heresy,
the deceits of idolatry,
the spells of women, and smiths, and druids,
every knowledge that binds the soul of man.
possesses immediately spiritual strength and is the voice of the early
church. Croagh Patrick, in a physical manner, dominated the Celtic Church.
It possessed a simplicity and an intensity which a more formal church
lacks. It possessed a joy and an awakening to a fresh and spiritual view
of the world. It is a pastoral world, surrounded by the beauties of
nature, where the saints can pray and meditate. It is a world where the
natural is so close to the supernatural that the mind moves easily from
one to the other. Saint Columcille writes.
happy the son is of Dima! No sorrow
him is designed,
is having, this hour, round his own cell in Durrow
wish of his mind:
sound of the wind in the elms, like the strings of
harp being played,
note of the blackbird that claps with the wings of
in the glade.
him in Rosgrencha the cattle are lowing
the brink of the summer the pigeons are cooing
doves on his lawn."
the early Irish church was filled with poetry and music, a delicate
delight in nature, a direct relationship with God, unburden by complicated
theology. After the death of Saint Patrick, the church flourished. Ireland
did become the Island of Saints and scholars, and the three great
monuments to this golden period are The Book of Kells; the Ardagh Chalice
and Muiredach's Cross at Monasterboice. Thus the great period is marked in
vellum, silver and stone, each a masterpiece and each carrying the
mystical circles of an earlier age.
Patrick then is the sacred mountain, perhaps as sacred now as it was in
the early Christian Church. As the twentieth century, reels from
materialism and all the wars which have ravaged the century, the Holocaust
and the local wars and the soul looks for some definition, it will find it
in high and thin places, remote and awesome. That is why pilgrims,
sometimes in bare feet, make their way along the path worn out by the
footsteps of their ancestors.
great mountain has dominated my life. I know it in all its moods. On a
summer day it stands sharp and pristine against a blue sky. It shimmers
like some Greek mountain upon which the gods take residence. It dominates
the landscape with its imposing presence and the eye is drawn towards its
and the mind is called towards its summit. In autumn, as the strength of
the sun wanes, it carries deeper colors. In winter, it is the first
mountain to bear a cap of snow and then it is almost inaccessible and
private. Springs brings a renewal and the beginning of pilgrimage.
is a mountain of many moods. On wet and on windy days is becomes opaque.
When the mists roll in from the sea it is shrouded and inaccessible and
dangerous to attempt the summit. It becomes a private and introspective
place. When luminous clouds pass above it, it carries their shapes across
its surface. When the sun shines firmly on its surfaces, it is light
purple and in the hollows dark purple. It fits all our human moods the
variety of our spiritual desires.
grey path, etched by pilgrim feet draw the pilgrim towards the summit.
night ,as a young man, July I set off for the summit with the pilgrims. I
joined the human chain which stretched from the base at Murrisk to the top
of the mountain. The pilgrims were funneled on to the path at Own
Campbell's pub and we began the arduous ascent. At this level some small
bushes and shrubs gains sustenance from the boggy soil, but soon the trace
of vegetation, falls away. Moss and rough grass is barely sustained on the
lower limits. The path is tortuous and uneven. Rough stones break the
surface and pilgrims sometimes balance precariously on the rocks. The
accents are familiar and they mingle together. Small groups call out the
rosary as they move up the slope. Others, with pilgrim staffs, search for
purchase. Some walk on bare feet. The young push optimistically up the
slope, those who are older plod onwards. The level land has fallen away
and small lights on the flatlands mark individual habitations, clusters of
lights mark the towns and the light house at the eastern end of the bay,
flashes out its warning beam.
Now I join a human river of feeling. A sense of individuality
falls away and I become part of a spiritual process, part of something
which has gone on for a long time. There are no words to define the change
within or the link I feel with all those bound to the surface of the
mountain and to all the pilgrims who have taken this track for more years
than the archaeologists can ascertain.
On the lower summit, it grows lonely and the pilgrims bend their
backs towards the slope . There is greater silence now. On the hip of the
mountain there is a small respite. The path runs level. It is time to
prepare for the final ascent. The
winds curve up the mountain from the south. Even on a summer night their
is wind on the mountain. It grows colder and the mind grows bleak.
There is no icon or image to sustain one on the final push. At this
point the mountain slope
rises sharply. It is covered by shards of rock, which run beneath the
pilgrims feet. One bends forward and clings to the mountain. Nothing is
easy now and the darkness does not reveal the summit. Those returning call
out words of encouragement. Finally there is a small tilt and the going
gets easy. A few more meters brings the pilgrim to the summit.
I had reached the highest level. A great circle of people bound
closely together in a human wheel moved about the church calling out the
pilgrims prayers, their voices raised in petition. I join the pilgrims,
had reached the platform on the mountain. Here Patrick had lived and slept
for forty days. On this spot he has tussled with demons and deepened his
spirituality. In this bleak place he could come to terms with himself and
his mission. No one is unmoved on this platform on the very edge of Europe
and while the comfort is cold, the weather variable and the body weary the
spirit takes heart. One looks evenly on life and eternity, at the
ephemeral and that which is profound and fecund. The better part of ones
nature is freed for a time and from time, soars for a shot time on the
back of an eagle's wings. You come face to face with your better nature
and that is a frightening thing. Who wishes to look into the clear face of
God particularly a sin sodden soul like myself. But these are moments or
epiphanies when light flashes within the mind, when the spirits is
illuminated and charged. It happened to Paul in a dramatic fashion on the
way to Damascus and quietly to Augustine at Ostia, and surprisingly to
Aquinas at the very end of his days, when the most rational of men had a
mystical vision. I had none of these experiences on Croagh Patrick, but I
did climb up out of a normal habitat and a normal world until I could
climb no further. I stood close to a thin place, a place of white light
before it is fragmented into weaker color. There is no need for voice or
complexity on this platform, for that splinters vision.
was a long time ago and I need to return to this place again. I need to
climb out of existence, its speed, its vast communication network, its
cynical propaganda, its Babel of voices and particularly the Babel of
philosophers who eschew wisdom which is damn tiresome and a thin pabulum
for my soul. I will never cross over to the other side as the mystics have
done for like Sancha Panza I ride upon a mule and I never had the idealism
to tilt at a windmill.
I recall the first experience, I remember how the dawn broke uncertainly
in the east, then how the sky was suffused with light, how the landscape
and seascape took dark form and then final form. The great bay lay beneath
me, the drumlin islands, en échelon, as the geologists say. They set the
direction from which the great glaciers came and point in the direction
towards which they departed. A cairn of rounded stones lie about
each island base. They say that there is an island in the bay for every
year, but I have never counted them and I do not know if it is true.#To
the north lay the mountains of Mayo, to the south the Skeffrey hills and
in a line west Ahagower where Saint Patrick celebrated Easter.
descent from the mountain was rapid. The scree ran before us and soon we
were on the saddle, then we took the broader path towards Murrisk. I was
secure on the flat lands, safe in its intimate beauty. Every pilgrim had
been moved in some way by the mountain. The physical challenge alone has
its own value, the spiritual challenge is profound and not easily
described. But it is deeply felt and sets deep roots. I have traveled in
many places since then. I have stood on the plateau of
Massada and looked across the Dead Sea towards Moab, walked across
Red Square and looked at the waxen face of Lenin, lay upon my back and
studied the Sistine chapel, visited Tsarkoe Selo and prayed in the small
chapel frequented by the Romanov family, before they were transported to
Siberia and execution. I witnessed the White nights of Saint Petersburg
and sailed upon the Sea of Galilee. I prayed at the Wailing Wall in
Jerusalem and took a bus to Bethlehem. But I have never been in a thin
place comparable to Croagh Patrick, where there was no image and no icon,
little comfort and dawn a toss away. What happened there was profound and
silent and I could never catch it in the net of words.
you cross the road at Owen Campbell's pub and continue the path to the sea
you will come upon one of my favorite places, Murrisk Abbey. I will
neither describe its architecture, its history or its topography. It was
founded in 1457 and its function failed somewhere at the beginning of the
nineteenth century. In 1730 Father William Bourke was transferred from the
abbey and sent inland. He expresses the sadness of departure in this Irish
poem which I translate freely.
well to you Murrisk,
most pleasant , most joyful place.
to the to the honey bearing mountains,
of the Reek.
glorious to me
the oyster catcher wading on the sea margin
glorious than the fairy music of the world.
the fairy music of the world.
when I rise in the morning
see in the distance the Reek,
heart within is in frenzy
my mind burdened.
am not accustomed to these inland people
are not pleasant and lack joy.
are images cut from a green oak
I can endure this place
the cuckoo speaks
will then return home
visit my favored place.
it not for the submission and respect
always have held for the order,
would never have abandoned Murrisk
the beauty of its harbors.
is little more to say. The rest is monastic silence.
2001 by Michael Mullen. All Rights reserved. Use only with