Jul 29, 2011

Star of the County Down by Orthodox Celts

This should wake you up! TGIF!
(The lyrics follow the video.)

Near Banbridge town, in the County Down
One morning in July
Down a boreen green came a sweet colleen
And she smiled as she passed me by.
She looked so sweet from her two white feet
To the sheen of her nut-brown hair
Such a coaxing elf, I'd to shake myself
To make sure I was standing there.
From Bantry Bay up to Derry Quay
And from Galway to Dublin town
No maid I've seen like the sweet colleen
That I met in the County Down.

As she onward sped I shook my head
And I gazed with a feeling rare
And I said, says I, to a passerby
"Who's the maid with the nut-brown hair?"
He smiled at me, and with pride says he,
"That's the gem of Ireland's crown.
She's young Rosie McCann from the banks of the Bann
She's the star of the County Down."


I've travelled a bit, but never was hit
Since my roving career began
But fair and square I surrendered there
To the charms of young Rose McCann.
I'd a heart to let and no tenant yet
Did I meet with in shawl or gown
But in she went and I asked no rent
From the star of the County Down.


At the crossroads fair I'll be surely there
And I'll dress in my Sunday clothes
And I'll try sheep's eyes, and deludhering lies
On the heart of the nut-brown rose.
No pipe I'll smoke, no horse I'll yoke
Though with rust my plow turns brown
Till a smiling bride by my own fireside
Sits the star of the County Down.


Jul 27, 2011

The Fair

The Irish Band
Photo by Shari Chankhamma
Fairs in the Middle Ages were essential to a population's economy and so it was with the ancient Irish monasteries. Their yearly gatherings countered the pagan fairs, which involved worshipping gods. The monks declared their fairs to be much more appropriate for Christians, but still included feasting, trading and selling, and even sports and games.

The fairs usually occurred on the feast day of the monastery's patron saint. The monks promoted their event, making great claims. One manuscript proclaimed that seven trips to Glendalough's fair was equivalent to a pilgrimage to Rome. Spending freely at the fair would bring blessings. Sound like fun? Fair goers were not permitted to get rowdy, however. Fighting and theft were said to shorten one's life and bring eternal damnation. (See that fellow on the far left of the photo above?) He better not start anything!)

Jul 25, 2011

St. Abban

Window in a church in Los Angeles.
There are numerous Irish saints that we know little about, just that they are mentioned in old manuscripts. The Lives of these saints were often written several hundred years after they supposedly lived. One of these is St. Abban. Abingdon near Oxford, England, may have been named for him, or as some suggest, may have named in an attempt to shed Norman Britain in a better light with the Irish. I don't know. I don't spend time trying to prove these obscure Irish histories.

But, I do love the stories and legends associated with the saints. Here is one about St. Abban.

 Photo by Arrr! Steve Gregory

He was tending the cows belonging to his foster family when he was but a lad. A wolf approached. Abban communicated with the animal and learned that he was starving. He allowed him to eat one of the calves. Later, the family was distraught over this. Abban told them that if God could create the calf, when one did not exist before, He could surely make another calf out of nothing now. And miraculously the calf was restored. Amazed, the family took Abban to the King, saying that they were agreed that Abban should worship the God who did this thing for him. So when Abban was twelve years old he went to live with his mother's brother, Bishop Iubar, and thus began his religious training. He seemed to understand the nature of God while those around him were astonished by it. Of course they were amazed by the miracle, but to this young boy, it was nothing to marvel at. Of course God could do that. He's God!!

Killabban (literally the church of Abban) in County Laois, is supposedly where St. Abban is buried. But he is associated with many places in Ireland, so who can know? Abban lived in the 5th century, or maybe the 6th century, or maybe he lived to be 300. All that is said about him.

Jul 22, 2011

Sharing the Love

Wow, has it been a busy summer, or what? I was hoping to have something posted today that was truly inspiring, but I think my brain is fried. (And not just from the heat either.)

I would like to encourage anyone reading this blog to sign up for my newsletter. It's usually monthly and we have a trivia contest every month with free prizes! (Yeah, what kind of prize is not free? Told you my brain is fried.) BUT, one reason you might want to do that NOW is that I'm going to share something with my newsletter subscribers before the general public hears it. Curious? Hop over to my web site: www.cindyswriting.com and click the link to subscribe.

And just so I don't leave you empty-handed....

For your browsing pleasure:
50 Best Blogs for Celtic Culture & History
(Mine's not listed, but maybe someday!)
See you next week!

Jul 20, 2011

County Down

I mentioned before that County Down, Northern Ireland, is where my ancestors came from (some of them, anyway.) Next time I go I hope to do some hiking. This video is very inspiring! What do you think?

Jul 18, 2011

The Mountains of Mourne

So I'll wait for the wild rose that's waitin' for me
In the place where the dark Mourne sweeps down to the sea.

You can look at Irish song lyrics and even listen on this web site. Tom took this photo while our Irish friend stood by and quoted this song.

Jul 15, 2011

What Celtic Christians Believe

CCS- a discussion group for modern Celtic Christians and those seeking the Celtic Way of Spirituality for their personal lives. A way to make what was old, new again in your own life!

Below is a statement of beliefs from the Celtic Christian Spirituality Group. The site can be found here and you should drop by and drop in on the conversations. Sharing is encouraged, preaching is not. This is a loving group of people that I enjoy hanging out with (virtually) from time to time.

We believe:

· in one God who is Creator of all things. He is infinitely perfect and eternally existing in three Persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Triune God.
· That Jesus, His Son, came to earth to offer Himself as a sacrifice so that we may have access to His Father.
· That the Holy Spirit is present throughout all Creation and that He indwells and empowers those who seek to live by His power
· That He reveals Himself in His creation, both mankind and the natural world and that He has given us stewardship and responsibility for both.
· That Scripture is God’s revealed Holy Word and by it we may be guided in matters of faith and conduct and we must study it to show ourselves approved.
· That the power of His Holy Spirit extends beyond the natural realm. That power is available to those He chooses to use for His purposes.
· That He loves us and desires that we live in harmony with Him, each other and all of His creation.
· That, while our humanity is bent toward selfishness, God created our natures to be good. Sin is a choice we make that takes us away from fellowship with God.
· That God’s love for us provides us with sufficient grace to restore ourselves back into harmony with Him.
· That, while ritual can be used to establish a relationship with God, it should never replace that relationship.
· That God is genderless yet He created us male and female for His own purposes. He delights equally in His creations and appreciates the ministry of both. 
· That it is our responsibility to spend time with Him in fellowship and worship. As such we are to seek out quiet times and places in order to accomplish this.
· That His church is ‘without walls’ and worship should be performed there as often as is possible.
· That it is God’s desire to counsel us through His Spirit but that He will also provide an Anam Chara, in whom we may confide, as part of that fellowship.
· That it is God’s design that we live simply so that we may focus on Him and the work He has given us to do.
· That, while He loves us dearly for our own sake, He desires us to bring the message of His love to all who draw breath in this world. He would not suffer any of His creation not to have the opportunity to come into harmony with Him.

Jul 13, 2011

Celtic Prayer

Photo by Fergal Claddagh
For over a year now I've been part of a small prayer group at my church. It's been an awesome experience, according to everyone who attends. Why more people don't come, I don't know. What we do is fairly simple. We usually read scripture, recite a prayer of confession, discuss prayer in general and how to pray, sometimes read a creed, collect prayer requests, pray aloud as we are led, and end with the Lord's Prayer.

I say "usually" because we open to whatever we feel compelled to discuss and pray about each week. Sometimes we send out cards to let people know we are praying for them.

Often I'm reminded of the Celtic monks who were devoted to prayer, and to the hermits whose sole purpose was to pray continually in the place of others who were occupied with day to day chores and responsibilities. I think that's an incredible sacrifice for the love of others and of God.

I have also begun to read a book that I long ago put down, Philip Yancey's Prayer, Does it Make Any Difference. Yancey says he is a pilgrim, and he's trying to discover what prayer is all about right along with the rest of us.

I recently became aware of IHOP (not the pancake house, but the International House of Prayer.) Have you heard of it? You might have because it's, like so many other spiritual undertakings, become controversial. I don't know if the leader is a "false prophet" or if the followers are "being brainwashed." I truly don't know enough about that group or that pastor to say. But when I read that this type of continual prayer (the house is open 24/7) is seldom seen in the modern age, I thought that was probably true. I wonder if this could be a modern interpretation of what the Celtic monks did in ancient times.

I'm listening to the podcast right now as I write this. Like the Celts, I don't believe you have to be in a church to pray. I think there are many ways to pray, and I believe God hears our prayers. And that lives are changed because of our prayers. So, I have a hard time condemning the effort of encouraging prayer.

In Celtic Wisdom I wrote a chapter on Celtic Prayer. I'm going to revisit that on this blog in my next post. Would love to hear what you think about prayer.

Jul 11, 2011

Irish Authors

From County Sligo comes a site you'll want to check out. I was delighted to hear from Jho Harris at www.podcasts.ie who introduced me to some Irish authors. At the site you can listen to some podcast interviews.

You can find the writers here: http://www.podcasts.ie/featured-writers/

Later in August I'll be featuring one of the authors on my historical fiction blog, Favorite PASTimes. I'm currently reading Kate Kerrigan's Ellis Island, and loving it.

But there are many other pages to check out as well, such as Musicians. (You can even listen to Tommy Sands sing here.)

Myths and Legends can be heard here.

There is much, much, more. Be prepared to spend a lot of time and really enjoy the podcasts. Let me know what you find there!

Jul 8, 2011

The Irish Bed and Breakfast Experience with Technology

Travelers are depending more and more on technology as they plan their trips. If you're going to Ireland and planning on staying at a B&B, here are some things you might want to check out. Again, I'm letting Joy Harron tell you about it.

B&B Ireland iPhone App

With over 40 years experience in the accommodation sector in Ireland, B&B Ireland (Bed & Breakfast Homes Of Ireland) are Ireland's premier online booking provider for B&B/Inn accommodation. Use this App to find and even book that perfect Bed & Breakfast in Ireland right from your iOS device. With over 1,100 fully Irish Tourist Board approved Bed & Breakfast properties in town, city, farm and country locations to choose from, we are certain that the app will have something to meet your accommodation needs. The app makes the perfect companion to assist you in planning your trip to Ireland. If you live within Ireland this app gives you access to 1,100 quality B&B's right in your pocket no matter where you are on your travels! Download the B&B Ireland iPhone App for free today!
The app features the following:

Ability to search B&B Ireland's extensive database of 1,100 B&B's showing live up to the minute availability and prices throughout Ireland.
Ability to book a B&B there and then, directly through the app.
You can simply telephone properties on your iOS device directly from the app if you prefer.
Email our B&B's directly from the app, or visit the B&B's website if you need more information.
View interior and exterior images, descriptions, facilities, GPS (sat nav) locations, customer submitted reviews and Irish Tourist Board approved star ratings for each B&B (approved, 3, 4, or 5 star)
Search by map - allows you to find a B&B by location on the map. The app can show you all B&B's within a radius of 25km, 50km, 75km or 100km of your current location. Or simply browse around the map to find your perfect B&B Accommodation
Browse accommodation by county/state and town on our B&B listings section
Filter and sort B&B's in your searches
Add a B&B to your favourites within the app to allow you to quickly retrieve your favourite at a later stage.
The app provides useful information on Festivals and other events that are happening all over the country.
Full help section on the app to guide you through the entire process, making it easy to find and book your bed and breakfast

If you're not into phone apps, and even if you are, you might want to check out this Facebook page and this Twitter profile.

If you go to Ireland, please let me know about it!! :-)

Jul 6, 2011

Irish B&Bs

I love Bed & Breakfast lodgings. Tom and I have stayed in them from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, to Sacramento, California. They are more comfortable than many hotels and since breakfast is important to us, how could we choose anything else when given the option? Getting a local recommendation on restaurants and sites to see is a big plus.

So when we went to Ireland of course we opted for B&Bs. We only stayed in one hotel in Dublin (and it was very nice, btw.)

Joy Harron from BandBIreland.com would like to introduce the readers of ~~~~~Celtic Voices to the Irish B&B experience. I'll let Joy take it away now:

So what is an Irish B&B Experience all about?

Most importantly - You are staying in an Irish family home where you will:

  • Experience the warm & friendly welcome of the Irish people
  • Draw on the local knowledge of your host and their family  
  • Enjoy the unique one to one experience, where more time is spent with you the visitor
  • Learn more about local Irish traditions and culture
  • Benefit from the convenient locations in towns, cities and the countryside across the island
  • Get real value for money
Bedroom Picture 04
Make the most of the Bed & Breakfast Experience in Ireland and visit B&B Ireland’s website to plan for a relaxing and fun-filled break. Get out there and enjoy the wild beauty of the Irish countryside with a angling, golfing, walking, horseriding or cycling and much more - see our country and farmhouse properties.

See the sights with a city break in Dublin, Galway, Cork or Belfast…great places to visit all year round – our town houses give you the town and city feel. Properties are now classified, choose from Approved, 3*, 4* and 5* homes offering you an Irish experience at the level of standard and service you require.
Serving breakfast to guests
Most overseas visitors to Ireland choose B&B accommodation exclusively for their holiday here.
The latest consumer research shows that the level of personal care and friendliness experienced by overseas visitors staying in B&B’s is exceptionally high (Fáilte Ireland – Ireland’s national tourism body).

The feedback from domestic visitors shows that they find B&B’s “to be more informal and welcoming, flexible, rich in local knowledge, improved in terms of quality and standards, and good for experiencing home made food”. (Fáilte Ireland).
Visit www.bandbireland.com for more information. View their ebrochure here.
In my next post we will take a look at their iPhone App and Facebook page!

Jul 4, 2011

Happy Birthday, America!

I have blogged in the past on American/Celtic topics. Here are some links to help you celebrate the 4th!

I'm proud of my Celtic heritage, but I'm also proud to be an American. Happy Birthday, America!

Jul 1, 2011

O'Dangal's Vision

St Martin's relief
Photo by Lawrence OP
I read about this in  The Wonders of Ireland by P. W. Joyce, 1911.

During Ireland's Golden Age of Christianity pilgrims would journey to religious centers such as Rome and Tours. They greatly venerated Martin of Tours, probably because of the association that they believed had existed between Martin and St. Patrick. One day while a man named O'Dangal approached Martin of Tours'a tomb he saw a great crowd of people. When he got closer he discovered that while there was a great deal of activity, he heard no sound. In the middle of the crowd he saw his mother passing out meat and milk to the poor. He knew his mother was in Ireland, however. He decided to test his vision and he sneaked up and took the lid to the milk vessel. Then he stood back and saw his mother searching about for it. He kept the lid, continued his journey, and then went home to Ireland.

He asked his mother what she had been doing on the very day he'd had his vision. She said she had called together the poor of her community and had passed out meat and milk. But strangely, she had lost the lid to her milk vessel. He produced it and she saw that this was indeed the missing lid.

This story was told to persuade the people that an arduous and dangerous journey to a holy site need not be made in order to do good--the work the venerated saint had done in his lifetime. Do good where you are.

This rhyme brings the point home:

To go to Rome
is much of trouble, little of profit:
The King whom you seek there,
Unless you bring him with you,
you will not find. 

"Lord God, you were glorified by the life and death of Saint Martin.
Renew the wonders of your grace in our hearts 
so that neither death nor life may separate us from your love.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen." ~ This prayer accompanied the photograph above.