Archive for March 2015

Springtime   3 comments

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Harsh wind shook the creaky door and driven rain pelted and rattled blurried windowpanes. Dirty grey-brown snow grudgingly retreated from the sidewalk and driveway.  Then came a quiet, The darkness of the storm and wind abated and carried the rain with it. 

The dawn brightened crisp and clear with a brilliant, warm sun hearkening all to the arrival of a new day…, the first day of Spring !

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It’s finally here.  The birds are returning. The snow has melted. Early flowers are sprouting.  Winter is finally releasing her harsh grip on the land.  Spring is here !

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Posted March 22, 2015 by PapaBear in Uncategorized

A New Muse   4 comments

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 1st effort

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The hour was late.  I was tired, but she pleaded with me and finally seduced me into an effort.  I pulled the brushes and tablet from the cabinet, loaded a pallet with paint, and began.  I hadn’t touched a brush for over 4 years, except to paint the walls in the house, and was dubious of the outcome.  After an hour or two I sat back….

Her only response was, “‘Hmmph !!!!  Ive seen you do worse !”

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Well, so it begins.  Warmer weather will get here (sometime !!!) and I’ll be able to get some decent light on the sun porch…., maybe even be inspired to do something worthwhile !

Ok everybody, stop dawdling !!!

Get out there and have a great day !

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Posted March 18, 2015 by PapaBear in Experiences, Painting, Personal, Prose

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~ Happy St. Patrick’s Day ~   3 comments

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Happiness and laughter for you every day
A warm summer sun to light your way
And a million dreams that all come true
Is my St. Patrick’s Day wish for you.

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Posted March 17, 2015 by PapaBear in Uncategorized

A Bit More o’ Irish Fun   2 comments

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To most people, St. Patrick is the man who brought a day of good times and green beer to pubs across the world. In reality, St. Patrick wasn’t made a saint until centuries after his death and he wasn’t even Irish. St. Patrick was born in Britain to a wealthy family. During his childhood, he was kidnapped and sold into slavery in Ireland. During his years in slavery he converted to Christianity and once freed he did spend the rest of his life teaching the Irish about the Christian religion, but he was soon forgotten after his death. It wasn’t until many years later that monks began telling the tale of St. Patrick forcing all the snakes out of Ireland. Something he never could have done as there never were any snakes in Ireland.

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In Irish mythology, the Dagda was a high priest who had a large and beautiful harp. During a war, a rival tribe stole Dagda’s harp and took it to an abandoned castle. Dagda followed the tribe and called to the harp. The harp came to Dagda and he struck the chords. The harp let out the Music of Tears and everyone in the castle began to cry. Dagda struck the chords again and the harp played the Music of Mirth and all the warriors began to laugh. Then, Dagda struck the chords a final time and the harp let out the Music of Sleep. Everyone but Dagda fell into a deep sleep, allowing him to escape with his magical harp unharmed.

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The Shamrock

The three green leaves of the Shamrock is more than the unofficial symbol of Ireland and one of the marshmallows in Lucky Charms. The Shamrock has held meaning to most of Ireland’s historic cultures. The Druids believed the Shamrock was a sacred plant that could ward off evil. The Celtics believed the Shamrock had mystical properties due to the plant’s three heart-shaped leaves. The Celtics believed three was a sacred number. Some Christians also believed the Shamrock had special meaning- the three leaves representing the Holy Trinity.

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The Tuatha de Danann, the people of the Goddess Danu, were one of the great ancient tribes of Ireland. The important manuscript ‘The Annals of the Four Masters’, records that they ruled Ireland from 1897 B.C. to 1700 B.C.

The arrival of the tribe in Ireland is the stuff of legend. They landed at the Connaught coastline and emerged from a great mist. It is speculated that they burned their boats to ensure that they settled down in their new land. The rulers of Ireland at the time were the Fir Bolg, led by Eochid son of Erc, who was, needless to say, unhappy about the new arrivals.

The Tuatha de Danann won the inevitable battle with the Fir Bolg but, out of respect for the manner in which they had fought, they allowed the Fir Bolg to remain in Connaught while the victors ruled the rest of Ireland.

The new rulers of Ireland were a civilised and cultured people. The new skills and traditions that they introduced into Ireland were held in high regard by the peoples they conquered. They had four great treasures (or talismans) that demonstrated their skills. The first was the ‘Stone of Fal’ which would scream when a true King of Ireland stood on it. It was later placed on the Hill of Tara, the seat of the High-Kings of Ireland. The second was the ‘Magic Sword of Nuadha’, which was capable of inflicting only mortal blows when used. The third was the ‘sling-shot of the Sun God Lugh’, famed for its accuracy when used. The final treasure was the ‘Cauldron of Daghda’ from which an endless supply of food issued.

The original leader of the Tuatha was Nuada but, having lost an arm in battle it was decreed that he could not rightly be king. That honour went to Breas, a tribesman of Fomorian descent. His seven year rule was not a happy one however, and he was ousted by his people who had become disenchanted with hunger and dissent. Nuada was installed as King, resplendent with his replacement arm made from silver.

Breas raised an army of Fomorians based in the Hebrides and they battled with Nuada at Moytura in County Sligo. The Tuatha again prevailed and the power of the Fomorians was broken forever. The victory had cost the Tuatha their King as Nuadha had died in the battle. A hero of the conflict named Lugh was instated as the new King of Ireland.

The grandsons of the next King, Daghda, ruled during the invasion by the mighty Melesians. The Tuatha de Danann were defeated and consigned to mythology. Legend has it that they were allowed to stay in Ireland, but only underground. Thus they became the bearers of the fairies of Ireland, consigned to the underworld where they became known as ‘Aes sidhe’ (the people of the mound – fairy mounds).

The Melieians used the name of one of the Tuatha de Danann gods, Eriu, as the name of their new kingdom. Eriu or Eire is still used in modern times as the name of Ireland.

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Just a wee bit o’ Irish fun

Before th’ day’s officially begun

Cabbage ‘n’ good corned beef

Decorated with a shamrock’s leaf

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Now, ’tis time for a glass o’ Guiness

Slainte !

…and G’nite to one ‘n’ all !

Posted March 16, 2015 by PapaBear in History, Humor, Poetry, Prose, Story

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~ Ireland ~ Stories, Legends, and Lore   3 comments

These are just a few tidbits and stories of Eire that I found along the way and thought to share with you.

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The Stolen Bride

About the year 1670 there was a fine young fellow living at a place called Querin, in the County Clare. He was brave and strong and rich, for he had his own land and his own house, and not one to lord it over him. He was called the Kern of Querin. And many a time he would go out alone to shoot the wild fowl at night along the lonely strand and sometimes cross over northward to the broad east strand, about two miles away, to find the wild geese.

One cold frosty November Eve He was watching for them, crouched down behind the ruins of an old hut, when a loud splashing noise attracted his attention. “It is the wild geese,” he thought, and raising his gun, waited in death-like silence the approach of his victim.
But presently he saw a dark mass moving along the edge of the strand. And he knew there were no wild geese near him. So he watched and waited till the black mass came closer, and then he distinctly perceived four stout men carrying a bier on their shoulders, on which lay a corpse covered with a white cloth. For a few moments they laid it down, apparently to rest themselves, and the Kern instantly fired; on which the four men ran away shrieking, and the corpse was left alone on the bier. Kern of Querin immediately sprang to the place, and lifting the cloth from the face of the corpse, beheld by the freezing starlight, the form of a beautiful young girl, apparently not dead but in a deep sleep.

Gently he passed his hand over her face and raised her up, when she opened her eyes and looked around with wild wonder, but spake never a word, though he tried to soothe and encourage her. Then, thinking it was dangerous for them to remain in that place, he raised her from the bier, and taking her hand led her away to his own house. They arrived safely, but in silence. And for twelve months did she remain with the Kern, never tasting food or speaking word for all that time.

When the next November Eve came round, he resolved to visit the east strand again, and watch from the same place, in the hope of meeting with some adventure that might throw light on the history of the beautiful girl. His way lay beside the old ruined fort called Lios-na-fallainge (the Fort of the Mantle), and as he passed, the sound of music and mirth fell on his ear. He stopped to catch the words of the voices, and had not waited long when he heard a man say in a low whisper–“Where shall we go to-night. to carry off a bride?” And a second voice answered–Wherever we go I hope better luck will be ours than we had this day twelvemonths.”

“Yes,” said a third; “on that night we carried off a rich prize, the fair daughter of O’Connor; but that clown, the Kern of Querin, broke our spell and took her from us. Yet little pleasure has he had of his bride, for she has neither eaten nor drank nor uttered a word since she entered his house.”

“And so she will remain,” said a fourth,” until he makes her eat off her father’s table-cloth, which covered her as she lay on the bier, and which is now thrown up over the top of her bed.”

On hearing all this, the Kern rushed home, and without waiting even for the morning, entered the young girl’s room, took down the table-cloth, spread it on the table, laid meat and drink thereon, and led her to it. “Drink,” he said, “that speech may come to you.” And she drank, and ate of the food, and then speech came. And she told the Kern her story–how she was to have been married to a young lord of her own country, and the wedding guests had all assembled, when she felt herself suddenly ill and swooned away, and never knew more of what had happened to her until the Kern had passed his hand over her face, by which she recovered consciousness, but could neither eat nor speak, for a spell was on her, and she was helpless.

Then the Kern prepared a chariot, and carried home the young girl to her father, who was like to die for joy when he beheld her. And the Kern grew mightily in O’Connor’s favour, so that at last he gave him his fair young daughter to wife; and the wedded pair lived together happily for many long years after, and no evil befell them, but good followed all the work of their hands.

This story of Kern of Querin still lingers in the faithful, vivid Irish memory, and is often told by the peasants of Clare when they gather round the fire on the awful festival of Samhain, or November Eve, when the dead walk, and the spirits of earth and air have power over mortals, whether for good or evil

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Danny Boy

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Ah, my fine friends, ’tis time to put all myths legends, and stories to bed for the night

……, and himself too ! 

Tomorrow would be another day, wouldn’t it now?  And might there be a few more bits of legend and lore lingerin’ about to bring to ya, so I’d be wishin’ ya a fine good night and peace in yer dreams…

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~ Rememberin’ The Days of Eire ~   6 comments

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With the approach of St Patrick’s Day, ’tis fitting to reflect back on some of the old myths, legends, and history of the Emerald Isle that we call Ireland.

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 A lot of the stories told dealt in the currency of magic – curses and charms.  Others are heroic tales.  Many feature fairies and other supernatural beings such as leprechauns, banshees, sheeries and the Pooka – the most feared of all, a vindictive fairy, sometimes appearing in the guise of the bogeyman himself.

Tales also exist of pipers being led away, condemned forever to entertain the fairies, and of ‘changelings’ – unwanted fairy children, left to replace a kidnapped human child.  A more benevolent fairy, the small and hairy but very friendly Grogoch, features in many folk stories particularly from the northern glens and Rathlin Island.

Who knows if all or any are based on actual events, but many are connected to actual places such as The Giant’s Causeway, and its legend of Finn MacCool, still maintains a strong presence in our culture to this very day.

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The Legend of Finn MacCool

The story goes that one day the fifty foot tall Ulster giant Finn MacCool, grew angry when he heard that a Scottish giant Benandonner was mocking his fighting ability. He threw a rock across the Irish Sea to Scotland, attaching to it a challenge to the rival giant. The Scottish giant quickly threw a message tied to a rock back to Finn, stating that he would not take up the challenge because he couldn’t swim to reach Ireland. Finn swore not to let the Scottish giant off so easily and responded by tearing down the great pieces of volcanic rock that lay near the coast and stood the pieces upright, making them into pillars that formed a Causeway stretching from Ireland to Scotland.

The Scottish giant now had no excuse but to come to Finn’s house. MacCool, masquerading as an 18-foot baby, bit the Scottish giant’s hand and chased him back to Scotland, flinging huge lumps of earth after him. One of the large holes he created filled with water and became Lough Neagh. One large lump of earth missed the Scottish giant, fell into the Irish Sea, and is now known as the Isle of Man.

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Folklore of the Trees

There has always been a strong association in the glens between the hawthorn tree and the fairies. Small, gnarled hawthorns, often of great age, survive on slopes and in the fields where other obstructions to the plough have long since been removed. Stories abound of the misfortunes that have befallen those foolish enough to cut down a ‘skeoch’, as they are known, e.g. someone struck dumb or even a man’s head turned back to front! Twigs of hazel are favoured by water diviners and noted for providing protection against mischievous fairies. Tying a hazel branch to a horse, for example, discourages fairies from taking the animal. Alder, on the other hand is feared for harbouring water spirits and the ash is said to be the first tree that lightening will strike, and should be avoided in a storm.

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Ah, just for tonight…., let me sleep in Ireland… 

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Posted March 11, 2015 by PapaBear in History, Personal, Prose, Story

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~ She’s Gone Again ! ~   4 comments

 

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I feel tonight that

the muse has fled

as thoughts and words

stay locked in my head.

She has surely taken flight

for though I try

I cannot write.

Other voices call to me

of canvas and brush

and thoughts of the sea.

So, tired and weary

of words that won’t write

I lay down my pen

and bid y’all “Good Night”.

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Posted March 10, 2015 by PapaBear in Uncategorized

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