“Being Irish, he had an abiding sense of tragedy, which sustained him through temporary periods of joy.” — William Butler Yeats. To mark the 150 years since the birth of W.B. Yeats on 13 June 1865, a year-long event titled Yeats2015 will take place across the world. We’re kicking it off here with that group of distinguished foreigners who visited Jesus after his birth, bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. The poem is filled with symbolism and imagery relating to the never-ending human quest for solace.
Now as at all times I can see in the mind’s eye,
In their stiff, painted clothes, the pale unsatisfied ones
Appear and disappear in the blue depth of the sky
With all their ancient faces like rain-beaten stones,
And all their helms of silver hovering side by side,
And all their eyes still fixed, hoping to find once more,
Being by Calvary’s turbulence unsatisfied,
The uncontrollable mystery on the bestial floor.
W.B. Yeats (1865 — 1939)
Spent an enjoyable afternoon yesterday in the company of Eithne Hehir, the creative spirit behind Ballyhoura Ceramics. Using earth and fire, she produces unique pieces that are inspired in the main by one of Ireland’s great natural resources: water.
Note: The Ballyhoura Mountains straddle the borders of south-east County Limerick and north-east County Cork in the central Munster region of southern Ireland.Tweet
As the poet Philip Larkin wrote in The Mower: “Is always the same; we should be careful / Of each other, we should be kind / While there is still time.” As well as nurturing friendship in the coming year, we should spend more time looking at clouds. “These vast, quiet things are always to hand,” say the makers of this inspirational video.
The most westerly of the Galtee Mountains is called Temple Hill. Its somewhat conical shape can be seen above on the right-hand side of the this website’s header image. Yesterday, Temple Hill provided the route for bracing hike to a frosty summit whipped by a freezing wind. The hikers were Joe Prendergast, Johannes Kowal, Tom Sheehan, Neddy Coleman, Mike Upton, Father Tom Breen and Eamonn Fitzgerald. Note: A cairn is a man-made pile of stones. The word comes from the Gaelic: càrn.Tweet
The great Dylan Thomas knew that the best Christmas present of all is a story well told. A Child’s Christmas in Wales is a classic Christmas story and it’s more relevant this year as 2014 marks the centennial of the poet’s birth. Snippet:
Always on Christmas night there was music. An uncle played the fiddle, a cousin sang “Cherry Ripe,” and another uncle sang “Drake’s Drum.” It was very warm in the little house. Auntie Hannah, who had got on to the parsnip wine, sang a song about Bleeding Hearts and Death, and then another in which she said her heart was like a Bird’s Nest; and then everybody laughed again; and then I went to bed. Looking through my bedroom window, out into the moonlight and the unending smoke-colored snow, I could see the lights in the windows of all the other houses on our hill and hear the music rising from them up the long, steady falling night. I turned the gas down, I got into bed. I said some words to the close and holy darkness, and then I slept.
Dylan Thomas (1914 — 1953)
Album of the Year? Lots of contenders. One is The Moon Rang Like a Bell released by Hundred Waters on 27 May. “Part of The Moon‘s appeal is that it hearkens back to the style of Vespertine, the last album when Björk’s restlessly experimental music still had a foot in accessibility, before she took such a conceptual turn,” wrote Mark Richardson in Pitchfork. This was a good year for Nicole Miglis, Paul Giese, Zach Tetreault and Trayer Tryon.Tweet
In many parts of Ireland, it was customary on 26 December, Saint Stephen’s Day, for the “Wran Boys” to go from house to house carrying holly bushes decorated with ribbons and singing traditional ditties:
“The Wran, the Wran,
The King of Birds.
Saint Stephen’s morn
Was caught in the furze.
We hunted him up
And we hunted him down
And in the wood
We knocked him down.”
In return for singing, they would be given small amounts of money and the evening often ended in the local pub. One legend about this tradition is that Saint Stephen hid from his enemies in a bush but was betrayed by a chattering wren (“wran”). As a result, the wren, like Saint Stephen, is hunted down and stoned to death.Tweet