Nov 30, 2011

It's Not Too Late!

This is my ornament on my tree,
but you could have one
just like it!
I probably won't get around to sending out my monthly newsletter for a few days. Every subscriber will be entered to win this Celtic ornament, plus (and I've only so far mentioned this here) I'll offer subscribers a second chance to win another one of these ornaments when the newsletter comes out. You'll have to subscribe though to learn how. It's easy, just go to and click on "Subscribe to my newsletter." If you're already subscribed, you'll be entered.

*If you have any trouble with the link (a few people have) do one of two things: leave your email in a comment here or try opening the page in another web browser and see if that works. But if you give me your email, I can get you subscribed.

Also in the newsletter you'll about new releases and get some tidbits and links to other information you might like but I announce it on other social media sites.

Hope to see you on the list.

Also, don't forget that you can discuss Celtic interests with others (not just me) on our Facebook Group: Celtic Voices.

Now I'm going back to my cave to finish my novel as my deadline approaches!

Nov 28, 2011

The Dance of the Celtic Bee

After my "sweet" post on the Irish Fireside, I thought I'd share The Dance of the Honey Bee. This is a version that will get your day started off on a light, happy note. (And if you live where it's raining, like where I am, you probably need it!) It's a tune composed by Leitrim man Charlie Lennon and performed by Donegal Irish traditional group Altan (according to the YouTube site.)

In case you were sick that day and missed it in Science class, yes, bees dance:

Dancing Honeybee Using Vector Calculus to Communicate from B Bee on Vimeo.

Nov 24, 2011


Thanksgiving Dinner 2007

Give us O God of the nourishing meal, well-being to the body, the frame of the soul.
Give us O God of the honey-sweet milk,
the sap and the savor of the fragrant farms.

God in our waking, God in our speaking;
God in our cooking, God in our eating;
God in our playing, God in our digesting;
God in our working, God in our Resting.

~From the Carmina Gadelica

Nov 22, 2011

A Sweet Post

In case you don't read the Irish Fireside, I want to point you over there instead of repeating here what I wrote there.

I think you'll enjoy this post on Irish beekeeping and the history of Irish honey. Let me know what you think! Comment over there or here.

Nov 18, 2011

I Heard the Voice...

I love hearing new arrangements of old hymns. I love the old ones too. The hymn I'm sharing with you today is "I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say", words by Horatius Bonar in 1886. I found several versions of it on YouTube (I'm sharing a few with you here.) I noticed that it's been called a Catholic hymn, a Baptist hymn, even an African American hymn. Isn't it cool that's found acceptance in many Christian settings? Bonar was born in Scotland in 1808, was an ordained minister, and wrote many religious lyrics. The third verse in the hymn sounds particularly Celtic to me.

I heard the voice of Jesus say,
"Come unto me and rest;
Lay down, thou weary one, lay down
Your head upon my breast."
I came to Jesus as I was,
Weary and worn and sad,
I found in him a resting place,
And he has made me glad.

I heard the voice of Jesus say,
"Behold, I freely give
The living water; thirsty one,
Stoop down and drink, and live."
I came to Jesus, and I drank
Of that life-giving stream;
My thirst was quenched, my soul revived,
And now I live in him.

 I heard the voice of Jesus say,
"I am this dark world's Light;
Look unto me, your morn shall rise,
And all your day be bright."
I looked to Jesus, and I found
In him my Star, my Sun;
And in that light of life I'll walk,
Till trav'ling days are done.

Below are some very different versions. Enjoy and worship God!

First, probably the most traditional.

This one has a different tune but the same words. It finishes up with a foot stomping Amen chorus, so be sure to listen to the end.

This one might just be my favorite, although I love them all.

Nov 16, 2011

5 More Facts About Celtic Crosses

Said to be the tallest cross in Ireland (pictured here) the West Cross in Monasterboice stands at 21 feet tall.

The second tallest cross (17.5 ft) stands in Moone, County Kildare. The monastery ruins where it stands are older than the cross, possibly dating to St Palladius, the first bishop sent to Ireland. (Yes, before St. Patrick.)

Moone High Cross, Ireland

3. Some of the high crosses are thought to mimic the wood and metal crosses that preceded them. Look at the "studs" on this cross. Ahenny High Cross in County Tipperary.

Ahenny High Cross

4. The Downpatrick High Cross was relocated from the busy downtown area of Downpatrick and erected in front of Downpatrick 1897!

5. Kilfenora in County Clare is known as the city of crosses. It was once home to seven high crosses. You can read more at the Clare County Library web site.

Nov 14, 2011

5 Facts About Celtic Crosses

I never tire of talking about Celtic crosses or the High Crosses of Ireland. I plan to go back and see more of them. Here are some things you might not have thought of:

Muiredach's Cross
1. Most of the high crosses (maybe all) still existing today were erected by Christians. It's been said the symbol of the cross with a circle joining its arms, predates St. Patrick and Christianity, but none of the crosses still standing today are that old. But they are old. Muiredach's Cross at Monasterboice in County Louth was built in the 10th century. The Ardboe Cross in County Tyrone is about the same age, but perhaps even a bit older. Most of the high crosses can be associated with monasteries that used to stand on those sites.

2. The ancient high crosses were not grave markers. They were probably boundary markers, and might have marked the boundaries of monasteries. That's likely why they were so tall--so they could be seen from a long way off. In more recent times Celtic crosses have been used as grave markers. Here is one in NYC.

3. The crosses were carved from sandstone or granite. The high cross at Clonmacnoise was carved from a single slab of sandstone.

4. The crosses, especially those with biblical scenes, might have colorfully painted. They were stone versions of illuminated manuscripts.

5. The crosses with biblical scenes were probably used as teaching tools for folks who could not read or had no access to scripture, which was everyone not residing in a monastery or somehow connected with a church or a king.

South Cross
Celtic By Design posted an informative article on Celtic crosses that you should check out.

Nov 12, 2011

A Novel With a Celtic Heart

Review: There You'll Find Me by Jenny B. Jones

It's not often a book review finds its way onto this blog. It has to have an Irish and/or Celtic connection, and of course it has to inspire me. If you look back in this blog's archives, you might think I don't read much. You'd be wrong. I read a lot. I just don't find many books to review here.

So I was delighted to find that my friend, Jenny Jones, had written a novel set in Ireland. Jenny is a wonderful novelist who has written several contemporary romances/woman fiction, and YA. She's won several awards. I've enjoyed her books, but this one is the one that touched my heart. I'll tell you why.

It's a book about a young girl named Finley Sinclair who goes to Ireland to live with a host family and attend school while she prepares an original composition on her violin for an audition she hopes will get her into a music conservatory in New York. On the plane to Ireland she meets a handsome movie star, a teenage heartthrob named Beckett Rush. Finley doesn't want anything to do with him, however. She's still hurting over the death of her brother two years ago, and she hopes that retracing his steps when he visited Ireland (by way of his journal) will help her heal and inspire her to finish her piece for the audition, which she just can't seem to find the ending to.

The book visits themes of high school bullying, eating disorders, and family disfunction (including her own unwillingness to communicate with her family back home, Beckett's domination by his father, and the broken relationship of a dying nursing home resident Finley is assigned to as a school project.) As Finley goes to the places her brother visited, the wonder of the Creator comes alive--as you will understand if you've ever been to Ireland. But Finley doesn't think God hears her prayers. Why try?

There is one place in Finley's brother's journal that Finley, and Beckett her guide, have trouble finding. All they have is a photograph of a Celtic cross, and how many of those are there in that country? How she finds what she is looking for, and how she's healed is something you'll want to find out for yourself. But the ancient landscape and the history of faith on that island have something to do with it.

You'll find my name, along with other writer friends, mentioned in the acknowledgments for helping pray Jenny through the writing of this book. She admits that this book "kicked my tail." I don't think she'd want to revisit the difficult time she had in writing this, but that's probably why the book feels so authentic. Finley struggled to find her way to the end of the song for her brother. She planned to take this journey alone in a foreign land. That didn't happen. Many others went with her. What she found was worth the journey.

Nov 8, 2011

Five Thoughts For You From Celtic Wisdom

"The first book of Scripture all monks learned--and, it logically follows, the first that all Irish Christians learned--was the book of Psalms. Memorizing the Psalter was their primary task, and every moment spent cooking, praying, walking, building, or engaging in any routine task involved the verse being spoken, often in song or chant." p. 65

"A country's knowledge is in its language, mythology, and mountains."--Old Irish saying, p. 65

[Speaking of The Book of Kells] "The illustrations themselves show influences from various regions in the world, indicating that the monks either travelled or interacted with traders." p. 69

"Brigid was born to Dubthach, a man of some wealth who owned a dairy, and his slave girl, Broicsech. Dubthach's wife was none too happy and urged him to send the pregnant thrall far way. He sold her to a druid but did not sell the unborn child. Shrewd as he was, he listened to advisors and would not part with two slaves for the price of one. When the child was old enough, she returned to Dubthach's household." p. 25-26
(Read my fictionalized version of Brigid's story in Brigid of Ireland.)

"For it is not by path of feet, nor by motion of body, that one draws nigh to God, but it is through practice of good customs and virtues." FROM THE LIFE OF ST COLUMBA (LEABHAR BREAC) p. 45

You can purchase Celtic Wisdom, Treasures from Ireland at Amazon and anywhere you purchase books.