Apr 30, 2010

Apr 28, 2010

Lady Gregory

public domain
Born Isabella Augusta Persse, March 5, 1852, Roxborough, County Galway, Ireland—died May 22, 1932, Coole Park, County Galway. She married Sir W. H. Gregory, a widower several decades older than she. After his death, she turned her attention to writing and preserving Irish culture for the stage.

Those who love the old Irish stories and tales owe much to Lady Gregory. An Irish proponent of national culture, she wrote 40 plays and many poems and essays. With William Butler Yeats, she founded The Irish National Theater Society in the early 1900's--a time of cultural revival in Ireland.

She rewrote ancient Irish legends and folktales. If you'd like to learn more about Lady Gregory, here's a good place to start.

Mankind as a whole had a like dream once;
everybody and nobody built up the dream bit by bit, and the ancient
story-tellers are there to make us remember what mankind would have been
like, had not fear and the failing will and the laws of nature tripped
up its heels. ~Lady Gregory, from Gods and Fighting Men

Apr 26, 2010

The Secret of Kells

Saw the movie yesterday. It was very creative with amazing artwork (which a movie about the Book of Kells would have to have!)

It was a little surprising that the book in the movie was so small. Obviously the real thing is much larger, unless the characters were giants. Well, actually the abbot of Kells did look pretty tall!

Of course the depictions were symbolic. The abbot was in charge, and the hero, Brendan, was only 12, so of course the adults loomed large. I loved the imagery of the boy overcoming his fears. When he did, he was actually able to use them to add depth and beauty to his artwork. I also loved the fairy girl, Aisling (a name that means dream). Was she real? Did she turn into a white wolf? Was she the spiritual help the boy needed in a form he could accept?

The Vikings (called Northerners) who reeked havoc on the abbey, were black blocks with only eyes, carrying swords and flaming arrows--the image of a nightmare, which I'm sure pretty sure described how the Irish monks saw them.

The film has been nominated for an Oscar. Read an interview with the filmaker here. If the movie is not playing near you, it should be out on DVD soon.

I blogged earlier about The Book of Kells. You can read the first part here.

Watch the movie trailor here:

Apr 23, 2010

Celtic Podcasts

photo via creative commons by SummerRain812
Here are a few I listen to. Feel free to share more in the comments section.

Celtic Roots Radio, broadcasting from Belfast. Besides playing artists you might not hear elsewhere, you'll get tips on Northern Ireland slang.

Irish Roots Cafe. If you search on iTunes, you'll find several podcasts. I especially like the Irish Hedgerow History Lessons where you are taught Irish history by two scholars.

NPR: Thistlepod with Fiona Ritchie. I never seem to catch this live on air, so having this archive on a podcast is great.

Celtic Folk Podcast (search on iTunes). More great Celtic music.

Sometimes I just search for "Celtic" or "Celtic Christianity" and found some interesting lectures. I'd love it if you would share what you listen to!

Have a great weekend!

Apr 21, 2010

Celtic Blessing

photo via creative commons by Jason Novacek
I borrowed this blessing from this site.

May the blessing of light be on you - light without and light within. May the blessed sunlight shine on you like a great peat fire, so that stranger and friend may come and warm himself at it. And may light shine out of the two eyes of you, like a candle set in the window of a house, bidding the wanderer come in out of the storm. And may the blessing of the rain be on you, may it beat upon your Spirit and wash it fair and clean, and leave there a shining pool where the blue of Heaven shines, and sometimes a star. And may the blessing of the earth be on you, soft under your feet as you pass along the roads, soft under you as you lie out on it, tired at the end of day; and may it rest easy over you when, at last, you lie out under it. May it rest so lightly over you that your soul may be out from under it quickly; up and off and on its way to God. And now may the Lord bless you, and bless you kindly. Amen.
—Scottish Blessing

Apr 19, 2010

Celtic Prayer

Sometimes the shortest prayers are the most profound.

Dwight L. Moody said:
My experience is that those who pray most in their closets generally make short prayers in public. Long prayers are too often not prayers at all, and they weary the people.
  • How short the publican's prayer was: “God be merciful to me a sinner!”
  • The Syrophoenician woman's was shorter still: “Lord help me!” She went right to the mark, and she got what she wanted.
  • The prayer of the thief on the cross was a short one: “Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy Kingdom!”
  • Peter's prayer was, “Lord, save me, or I perish!”

Here's a short Celtic prayer:
The Breton Fisherman's Prayer
Dear God, be good to me. The sea is so wide, and my boat is so small.

photo via creative commons by dwan


Apr 16, 2010


©Cindy Thomson
Another of my favorites:

To A Child Dancing in the Wind
by WB Yeats

Dance there upon the shore;
What need have you to care
©Cindy Thomson
For wind or water's roar?
And tumble out your hair
That the salt drops have wet;
Being young you have not known
The fool's triumph, nor yet
Love lost as soon as won,
Nor the best labourer dead
And all the sheaves to bind.
What need have you to dread
The monstrous crying of wind?
These are my own photos. Please link to my blog if you use them. Thanks!

Apr 14, 2010

The Lake Isle of Innisfree

photo via creative commons by Pam Corey
I'm not an avid lover of poetry and certainly don't write it. But there are a few poets I enjoy.
The word pictures they paint are vivid in my mind. Yeats is one of those poets. 

The Lake Isle of Innisfree
by W.B. 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 honey-bee;
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 grey,
I hear it in the deep heart's core.

Apr 12, 2010


©Cindy Thomson
Today a pilgrimage is a physical journey to a place of spiritual significance, like a journey to Israel or Mecca. But for the ancient Celts, the pilgrimage was the journey itself, the process, the learning, the growing. That is why the actual place one journeyed to was not all that important. What was important was to go with Christ.

A popular ancient Irish saying, translated by Kuno Meyer says it well:

To go to Rome
Is much of trouble, little of profit:
The King whom thou seekest here,
Unless thou bring Him with thee, thou wilt not find.

From my book, Celtic Wisdom:

I wish, O Son of the living God, O ancient, eternal King,
For a hidden little hut in the wilderness that it may be my dwelling,
An all-grey lithe little lark to be by its side,
A clear pool to wash away sins through the grace of the Holy Spirit.
Quite near, a beautiful wood around it on every side,
To nurse many-voiced birds, hiding it with its shelter.

Apr 9, 2010

Irish Storytelling

On YouTube I watched a sort of documentary on the loss of traditional Irish storytelling. I saw an 89 year old man from Connemara, who spoke only Gaelic, who had learned the old stories from his father. He had no children of his own. He said in the old days, the young people would listen to the storyteller and learn the stories and retell them, but nowadays, the young people don't care to do that. The interviewer asked him if that made him sad, and he said it made him very sad.

Well, then I found this video. I think you'll enjoy it!

Apr 7, 2010

Irish Blessings

"Ireland is rich in literature
that understands a soul's yearnings,
and dancing that understands a happy heart."
~Margaret Jackson

I love looking up Irish blessings. I guess that's why I have so many in my novel, Brigid of Ireland. The Irish have a wonderful wit. Stories are important, fun is paramount, and learning is held in high esteem.

Here are a few for your reading pleasure. Feel free to share some more in the comments section.

May the Lord keep you in His hand
and never close His fist too tight.

May your neighbors respect you,
Trouble neglect you, The angels protect you,
And heaven accept you.

May green be the grass you walk on,
May blue be the skies above you,
May pure be the joys that surround you,
May true be the hearts that love you.

May the Irish hills caress you.
May her lakes and rivers bless you.
May the luck of the Irish enfold you.
May the blessings of Saint Patrick behold you.

Always remember to forget
The troubles that passed away.
But never forget to remember
The blessings that come each day.

Apr 5, 2010

A Prayer for Spring

©Cindy Thomson
The day after Easter seems like a good time to reflect on the renewal that we see in nature. We can see Him in this renewal, if we will just look.

From Celtic Benediction, "Saturday Morning Prayer of Thanksgiving" by J. Philip Newell

For the night followed by the day
for the idle winter ground
followed by the energy of spring
for the infolding of the earth
followed by bursts of unfolding
thanks be to you, O God.

Apr 4, 2010

I Am With You Always

photo via creative commons by elaine faith

Lent is traditionally a time of denial and sacrifice. Easter marks the end of Lent, a feast day, a great celebration. Even the ancient Celtic monks, who denied themselves meat and ale for most all of the year, celebrated on this day because Easter means that there is hope--hope for Heaven, hope for a better life, and forgiveness of sins.

Matthew 28 (NIV)

The Resurrection
1After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.
2There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.
5The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7Then go quickly and tell his disciples: 'He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.' Now I have told you."
8So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9Suddenly Jesus met them. "Greetings," he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me."
...skipping to verse 16:
16Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

Apr 1, 2010

Holy Week

photo via creative commons by Stanley Zimny (Thank You for 22 Million views)
I couldn't very well ignore that it's Holy Week. Today, Maundy Thursday, is the remembrance of the Last Supper, the meal Jesus shared with his disciples the night before he was crucified. Tomorrow, of course, is Good Friday, and then Easter.

Here is a blessing from Irish Culture and Customs:

A Blessing for Holy Week
From Palm Sunday to Holy Saturday,
may God in His infinite mercy
grant you and yours a journey
of renewal and hope;
a time of prayer and reflection;
And joyful anticipation
of our Lord’s resurrection.