(Sligo street art)
I was stranded for a second day in Grange. When I woke up, I had breakfast on my mind and enjoyed an Irish breakfast with a beautiful view. I had to be out by 11 a.m. as the painter was coming and the owner had to visit someone in hospital.
Having tried the credit card at 2 p.m. the day before to hire a car, I couldn’t try again till 2 p.m. today day, and there was no telling whether the money I had frantically dumped from the Visa debit had cleared.
I started to fret. I didn’t want to bother the kind festival guy that had looked after me. In the shower, I said a wee 'Please help me – someone!!' When I got out of the shower, my phone beeped to tell me someone had messaged on Facebook.
It was Alicea! I had met her through the musical and we had become friends. She was heavily into the O’Rourkes' history and helped me find my family tree AND my mother's youngest brother who had been adopted young when her mother died. He had gone to a family in England -- mum never saw him again. She would never see him again as he had passed at a young age, but his daughter is alive and well and thriving.
Alicea had dropped offline, deactivating her Facebook. Her parting words were something along the lines of, if you ever get here, I will show you the homeland. I tried to get in contact when I found out I was actually travelling to Ireland, but to no avail. I tried and I tried and I gave up.
“Where are you?” her message read. “I am stranded in Grange!”
Alicea told me to get the train to Carrick-on-Shannon and she would pick me up! I was saved! After a long walk with my luggage back to the wee town, my arms ached. I was picked up by the festival guy and taken to the train station. On the way he pointed out a mountain -- Knocknarea. It is where Queen Meabh is buried and legend has it that she is buried standing up to face her enemies in Ulster!
There is a great image of Meabh created by Joseph Christian Leyendecker (pictured), in which she is sitting on a throne seemingly unimpressed with your b.s. She is a figure in Irish mythology who features in stories dating to the early first millennium CE. "She is the enemy (and former wife) of Conchobar mac Nessa, king of Ulster, and is best known for starting the Táin Bó Cúailnge ("The Cattle Raid of Cooley") to steal Ulster's prize stud bull." (Wikipedia) "Some historians suggest that she was probably originally a "sovereignty goddess," whom a king would ritually marry as part of his inauguration. Her name is said to mean 'she who intoxicates,' and is cognate with the English word 'mead' -- it is likely that the sacred marriage ceremony between the king and the goddess would involve a shared drink." (Wikipedia)
I had a quick scout around Sligo before the train left. What a beautiful place, I hope to see more of it in the future. They had recently finished the Yeats Festival, and he was everywhere! Yeats spent his summer holidays in Sligo and the landscape fuelled his imagination. From his pen:
"Where the wave of moonlight glosses
The dim grey sands with light,
Far off by furthest Rosses
We foot it all the night,"
Waiting at the train station at Carrick, I enjoyed the serenity and watching the ravens fly in and out of a large tree. I called my mum and we laughed about my mad adventures in Ireland.
(Carrick on Shannon station)
Alicea took me to her lovely wee house in the middle of nowhere, and we chatted and planned the following day. She has so much information on the O'Rourkes it's mind boggling. Here is a very old map of the O'Rourke territory:
She and her friend Al, also an O'Rourke, took me to Dromahair – the seat of the O’Rourkes. (That’s what the sign says when you enter). “Dromahair was once the capital of Breifne -- a Gaelic kingdom that stretched from Kellsin, County Meath, across County Cavan and north County Leitrim to County Sligo. It was the seat of the O'Rourkes, the ancient Kings of Breifne.
The ruins of the O'Rourke castle (built circa 950 A.D.) and banqueting hall are present in the village. It is also the place from which Devorgilla (wife of Tiernan O'Rourke) eloped with Dermot McMurrough (the King of Leinster) in 1153 to Ferns, an act which brought about a feud and McMurrough's eventual exile from Ireland.
We also went to Creevelea Abbey, located on the outskirts of the village. It is a Franciscan friary, founded in 1508 and in use until the 17th century when the Franciscans were forced to leave by the Cromwellian army. We then drove on to Parke's Castle. “Excavations in 1972-73 revealed the base of the original O'Rourke tower house beneath the courtyard cobbles, and this is now exposed to view. It was in this tower house that Francisco de Cuellar, the shipwrecked Armada officer, was entertained by Brian O'Rourke." (Wikipedia)
So here I was standing on the ground where stood the men and woman that I had written music for. If I hadn’t been stranded, none of this would have happened. Isn’t life full of wondrous twists of fate? #onlyinireland