For travellers interested in living a spiritual life there are many spiritual places in Ireland to visit to make your vacation a true holy day ( or holiday as we call our vacations in Ireland.) I will introduce you to a few lesser known spiritual places in Ireland over a series of articles. But first off, I invite you to alight your vision so you may wholly live your one wild and precious life. Our first stop is the Sculpture Park on the shores of Lough MacNean in County Cavan.
Imagine standing before a sculpture that is a series of three pillars or standing stones. Celtic spirituality is fond of trinities so it is in keeping with this tradition that this sculpture fits into the landscape in this spiritual place in Ireland. Each stone has a circular hole drilled through it close to eye level. In order to see into the distant horizon one has to align ones’ sight to look through all three holes at the same time. The sculpture asks us to align physically so that we can see the shore on the opposite side of the lake in Northern Ireland.
You stand before these holy trinity of standing stones, which I often feel are the embodiment of prayer. I offer a silent prayer of intention as I do as a practice when I visit spiritual places in Ireland. The sculpture faces north. It allows me to look out across the lake where there is a border between the north and south of Ireland. When you align your vision you can see that in reality there is no border, only the border that is in the mind that creates labels and develops an attachment to labels.
There is an inscription on this rock sculpture by Louise Walsh, which is entitled “Imagine.”
an island where people live in peace
Make it Real
That is a real vision that this beautiful sculpture invites us all to envisage and to come into alignment. This is a true work of art because its intention is to invite the connection to the eye of the heart rather than the myopic idea of the separate sense of self.
One of the ways to embody your vision is to connect to a physical representation like this sculpture and other great works of art. You stand before them and they invite you into a presence that exists beyond time and space. They invite you to connect with a vision that is more universal than the limited time space identity that one calls me, my or mine. These spiritual places in Ireland can take you into that kind of presence. They are also sometimes called ‘thin places.’
This writer and storyteller is blessed to live nearby to this beautiful sculpture. I stand in silent and prayerful attention before it. I look through the three holes in the hope to bring my vision into alignment as the other shore comes into view. This is the shore of sacred unity. It is an inward shore, too, that can be reflected in the outer world. This is a practical visionary endeavour.
Come and see for yourself. Visit this and other spiritual places in Ireland and align your vision. It will be a souvenir to last a lifetime.
And yet no other corner of this land
offers in shape and colour all I need
for sight to torch the mind with living light.
John Hewitt, 1907-1987, “The Glens”
I am blessed to live in the loveliest of places. The light here in this corner of the land of Ireland Is, as Hewitt writes, a living light that invites the experience of delight.
It is, I think, a place that will remain largely untouched by the rollercoaster of progress. It offers me its shape- the rolling hills and drumlins- and the colour – ever changing – for the insight I long to receive and express.
In folk tales of Ireland it is told that the magical people called the Tuatha de Danaan arrived on the mountain where I look out at each morning from our small cottage living room window. Slieve Anierin, or Iron Mountain, is a magical landscape, especially in the early morning when the mist rises from the earth as the sun moves to bless the land with warmth.
The Tuatha de Danaan were called the Shining Ones and the exemplify the living light in the land. As the legend tells us, after being defeated at Moytura they literally went to ground and live in the fairy forts and raths that are scattered over the Irish landscape. The legacy of their magical light which is heart felt is especially strong in this part of the world.
The purpose of taking a vacation, or holiday (holy day) as we call it in Ireland, is to connect with a sense of wholeness. A vacation or holiday offers the possibility to see the beauty within yourself. It occurs on a day when you feel whole and the shape and colours of your life are reflected all around you. I
The part of Ireland has the pervasive spirit of those Beautiful People the Tuatha de Danaan who were driven underground. That is a metaphor that resonates with many a person’s life story. Many people find that they lock away their own light. If you decide to have a wholistic holiday or vacation, the attitude one journeys with can become infused by the living light of this place, and inspire you with delight. Delight is a great souvenir.
The ability to see the living light requires that you receive your sight. The eye of the heart looks onto Creation and is said most aptly by American poet e.e. cummings:
i thank You God for most this amazing
day: for the leaping green spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes.
e.e. cummings is looking through the experience of the living light. This moves from inside out. I requires a certain kind of stillness of mind and a certain kind of willingness to be colourful.
I invite you to come to this corner of Ireland so that it might offer you what you need. What we all need in these changing times is a kind of certainty. There can be certainty experienced within the journey to who we are as the wonder tale that is a living light.
This storyteller will tell you that this living light is all around you waiting for you to see it and feel it and be it. Some places invite your awareness of this living light more than others. Such is the corner of this island of Ireland where I live in awe of the amazing shapes and colours; all that is needed is for me to have the sight and allow that living light to touch my mind and delight my heart.