Anam áit

Thomas O’Sullivan

Editor: Tommy Martin

Spirit/Sense of Place …

… is a poem dedicated to Killorglin/Cill Orglan … Church of Forglann and environs, a phantasmagorical walk through its landscape … engaging with its history, mythology and place name … in which the present and the past share a common timescape conveying a ‘sense and spirit of place’.

The Last Train’s Ghost Whistle o’er the old Metal Bridge

The railway closed with the last train leaving Killorglin station and passed over the metal railway bridge on Friday 10.45 p.m. January 30th 1960.

The Great Southern and Western Railway was constructed in 1885, traversing from Farranfore to Renard, Valentia and as it were, lasted but one human lifetime. Michael Sugrue and Br. Nicholas O’Sullivan, Milltown were passengers on that train and were indeed passengers on the first train in 1885.

Down through its short history, the train was part of the fabric of Iveragh and one of its many functions ferried Kerry supporters to Croke Park on All Ireland Final day on what was known as the Ghost Train – travelling through the night toward its destination at Heuston.

Stealroe, Stial Rua townland lies at the western side of Curragh Hill … another name for Dromin Hill, with spectacular views of the Laune estuary and the Sliabh Mis mountain range as far as the Blasket Islands. Queen Scotia, a Pictish queen was killed at the Battle of Sliabh Mis in 3500 B.C. …. giving her name to Scotland and Nova Scotia … the lands of Scotia.

On the brow of Dromin Hill looking to the south, a magnificent panorama awaits. From the Paps of Anú, the Queen of the Danann to Drung Hill of the Pilgrimages at the end of the Iveragh Peninsula. The other mountain names include … Crohane, Torc … hill of the wild boar … Strickeen … the little peak.  Tomies of the graves, Cruach Mór … high peak … Corrán Tuathail … Ireland’s highest peak … inverted sickle of the god Tuathail and Seefin, Suí Fionn … his vantage point overlooking Rossbeigh and Inch.

By the lush fields of Anglont, Dromavally in view

Anglont … difficult to translate save there existed an old burial ground and perhaps an old church. Dromavally … meaning the back of the town …Arches refer to the eight arches spanning the County Bridge on the entrance to Killorglin …  the gateway to the Ring of Kerry and fast becoming the gourmet capital, where fine hostelries and restaurants abound.

Lord of the Castle refers to Jenkin Conway of Castleconway, who was granted a tract of land as part of the Munster Plantation. Annagh, a corrupted form of Annadale, is a leafy road on the Beaufort side of town. Farrantoreen … Fearrann Tuairín … land of the flax bleaching, where lies a ‘triple cross stone’ known as the Farrantoreen Stone/Coptic/Merovingian and may have Knights Templar associations.

Meanus … meaning a mine and Cnocan Árd Dearg … high red hillock … where it is said that a ship is buried – or as another story has it, that Fionn, while viewing the Laune from Dromin hill, on seeing the invader approaching up the river Laune, filled his huge fist with a clod of red earth at Poll Dearg near nearby Knockavota, flung it at the ship on its broadside, thereby burying it at that very spot. Actually it is believed that the Cnocán itself was man-made as the red earth is not native to that area of Meanus.

By Knocknaboola, Garahadoo from Ownagarry

Knocknaboola, Garrahadoo and Owenagarry … very poetic, musical place names, and Ceannouvree, difficult to translate … yellow hillock? … is mentioned in a local song, the Maids of Ceannouvree. The next reference is to Diggin (O’Duibhgín) the Piper from nearby Caragh lake and made his living playing for the local aristocracy in the Big Houses … having the Ceol Sídhe or Fairy Music and nearby … the Piper’s Stone is attributed to him.

Bolg ‘s Buinní is the ancient name for uilleann pipes.  Caherconree, part of the Sliabh Mis mountains is the site of the highest promontory fort in the land and has numerous mythological references. Among these is of Cú Roí Mac Dáire, King of Munster (Árd Rí) in his revolving magic Glass Castle. He is also associated with Amergín, the shaman poet of the Milesians who wrote Dán Amergín … the first Irish poem on setting foot at Inbhear Scéine, Kenmare.

Loch na dTrí gCaol is the ancient name for Dingle Bay/Castlemaine harbour … well named as it translates as the Lake of the Three Narrow Sandspits … namely Cromane, Inch and Rossbeigh.

Toward the hill of Garrane, Sunhill and Knocklyne,

Garrane, Sunhill, Knocklyne and Reen … more place names of a poetic nature. Ballykissane is particularly famous in that on Good Friday, April 1916, a Briscoe Cyclops motor car with four revolutionaries on board, took a wrong turning and drove over the Pier. The names of the men who drowned were Con Keating, Charlie Monaghan, and Donal Sheehan. Tom Mc Inerney survived but died some months later. This tragic event was the first casualty of the 1916 Rising, and if it had a different outcome, the theory is that it may have changed the course of Irish history.

Whist !!! is a localized Irish expression to mean shush! / silence! to call attention. The word Laune … Leamhain in Irish meaning Elm, possibly on account of a preponderance of elm trees in the area at one time. Lugh is the god of the harvest … Celtic Féile Lughnasa, falling in early August, which coincides with Puck fair, held in Killorglin … 10/11/12 annually, where a wild mountain goat is put on a stand at a place called Cnocán na gCeap on the Gathering Day of the Fair … never died a winter yet nor never missed a Puck!

ANAM ÁIT * Spirit of Place * Cill Orglan

The Last Train Ghost Whistle o’er the old metal Bridge,
along the path to Stealroe, climb up steep Curragh Hill;
look over your shoulder between earth, sea and sky,
on the Battlefield of Mis, Queen Scotia did lie.
Up on to the brow, a great vista appears,
the Paps to Crohane, then Torc and Strickeen,
from Tomies, Cruach Mór, Corrán and Seefin,
the spine of Iveragh fades out at Drung Hill.

By the lush fields of Anglont, Dromavally in view,
a cross at each head, the tombs lay there mute …
leave the Monks to their matins by the Arches repair,
to the Lord of Castle Hill up that long winding stair.
Through the thicket of Annagh on to Farrantoreen,
a Knight in repose there at the Triple-Cross stream,
the meadows of Meanus by the banks of the Laune,
Cnoc Árd Dearg entombs, a ship in the mound.

Knockboola, Garrahadoo from Ownagarry,
arrive at the foot of Ceannouvree,
hear Diggin the Piper sound the ‘bolg is buinní’,
on his Stone plays the wailsome, ceol of the sídhe.
Through a gap in the ditch see Caherconree,
from his Fort, Mac Dáire declares he is Árd Rí;
Loch na dTrí gCaol all shimmering there, squats,
fracturing the skyline … the Three Narrow Spits.

Toward the hill of Garrane, Sunhill and Knocklyne,
heron and otter feed on the seashore by Reen;
At Ballykissane, historys’ etched on the Pier …
three heroes drowned there, to set this land free.
Whist … !!! do you hear, on the wind from the west?
the Laune of the Elm, carries sound I attest,
Lugh’s Gathering attends, with flute, fife and drum,
at Cnocán na gCeap, Puck Fair has begun …

Thomas O’Sullivan … 2016


Songlines and The Dreaming Tracks …

Songlines and The Dreaming Tracks …

Anam áit … Cill Orglan

When the Australian Aboriginal peoples journeyed through their tribal lands, across hostile territories and over vast distances, they accessed their song tradition called Altjerinja … the Songlines. These verses were composed throughout thousands of years of observations by the elders, outlining the ‘walkabout’ from the departure point to their destinations, hard-wired into the lyrics of the song … Aboriginal Sat-Nav?

Songlines were committed to memory as part of the narrative guiding them through the deserts of the interior, seeking out of waterholes, dangers on their journeys and pointing out prominent features of the trail … a cognitive map interacting with the landscape, via the melodic contour of song.

Siúlóid na n-Dán, walk with the Lore, Legends and Poets of Na Chruacha Dubha, Magillicuddy Reeks, is the Kerry Dreamtime … akin to the Aisling of the Kerry Poets in the tradition of Eoghan Rua Ó’Súilleabháin, Piaras Feiritéar, Aodhagán Ó Rathaille and Geoffrey O’Donoghue, the Spéirbhean Poets – a compendium of the lore and legends, songs, poems and music that inhabit the land, a cultural tapestry of the Dreaming Tracks of Kerry.

The Irish song tradition featured the beauty of landscape, glories of mountain, river, lake, valley, glen and the journey, an turas, thematic of the song … Brosna Town perhaps, a songline from a Kerry tradition …

Back to the Peaks of Cuddy’s Reeks, from Killorglin by the Laune,
From Castlemaine to Coolnagrein and home by Brosna Town.

… the lay of the landscape. Siúlóid na n-Dán, Kerry Dreamtime is an extension of the sense of place, an important determinant of culture from Loch Léin to Kate Kearney’s over the Magillicuddy Reeks to Lough Acouse and Glencar … the whispered message of the landscape, I am watching you, are you watching yourself in me? Go n-eirí do bhóthar leat, the shortening of the road, blessings on your travels, the road may rise to meet you on the lore of the job of journeywork …
… Solvitor Ambulando …

Bíonn an Siúltach, Scéaltach … the walker has the stories.

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