Tá sin ceart, tá pubaill páirtí aige;
All silliness aside, yes... The Boa Island figure now has a
Since I have not much to write these days, as I'm still bundled up in trying to get the commissions back on track after our water-related delays I decided to share the last few days of travels.
Mr. Richardson booked a long weekend off, and the first plans were to go to Dubrovnik.. were it not for our financial status being ever so slightly depleted after afore mentioned delays and construction work. Instead, we opted to just stay on the island we're on, and just travel about for a few days. I've only rarely been County Fermanagh, and there were a few historical sights I wanted to see, the 'Janus' idol on Boa Island being amongst the top list.
The first day was spend mostly mucking about the places, and just seeing where the road takes us. Any brown sign (indicating places of interest) were carefully considered and, if met with approval, visited. The first day included a visit to Cookstown, and a lovely brunch in a quaint restaurant. After nibbles, a visit was paid to the local park/estate for a walk and as a lovely and bright surprise the Yew trees were carrying fruit!
From there we went on with our journey, and paid a visit to Tulach Óg, more commonly known as the Tullyhogue Fort. The ceremonial seat of the kings of Tir Eogain, and the inauguration of the O'Neills. It's a beautiful site, on top of the hill with a gorgeous view over the surrounding valleys. The site is well-maintained, but very lonely and quiet. Certainly a plus point if you ask me. You can sit there on your own for hours on end.
Coming away from the site, and back towards the bottom of the hill it's situated upon, you can see the Donaghrisk walled graveyard which is the final resting place of the O'Hagans, chief justices of Tyrone. They resided by hereditary right over the O'Neills crowning ceremony at Tulach Óg.
Our journey went on to our final stop for that day, and as the sun was setting we arrived at the Beaghmore stone circles. With seven stone circles, ten stone rows and twelve cairns it is certainly an impressive site/sight, be it a bit too 'manicured' for me liking. The new footpath along side it was certainly a point of annoyance, and I'm not sure if it would persuade any visitors to stay on it, as the site just tugs on the inside to 'join in'. The furthest two joined stone circles could not be explored further, as a young couple of busy 'exploring each other' inside one of them. Leaving them in romance, I snapped a shot instead of the circles all the way at the front.
The next day our journey went in the same direction; County Fermanagh, only this time we'd be pushing onwards towards Lough Erne. Inis Badhbha, or Boa Island, was on the agenda for that day.. as I still had not had the chance to visit the site of the idols at the Caldargh graveyard myself.
By the time we arrived the weather had taken a turn for the wetter. Just as we were passing the Muckros scenic vantage point we could see most of the islands in the Lough in low cloud cover. Following the road, we eventually came onto the bridge that links Boa Island with the main land. Contiuning on the same single road that crossed the island, we soon ended up at the Caldragh graveyard.
After a short walk through an overgrown bit of walkway, you could soon make out the party tent, and the idol underneath, it and in all fairness the tent looks horrible. If that is a protective canopy than they must have run out of funding to get a proper one, because that thing is a joke. The smaller 'Lusty More' island idol isn't even under the cover.
Despite the initial canopy consternation both idols look amazing. The smaller idol has suffered the weather, but one can still make out most of the carving lines and patterns. The 'Janus' idol is amazing, and it's later found base is still along side it. Two figures, standing back to back, with their arms crossed while reaching backwards and the hands grabbing the base of the other figures. Up top a hollow, where over the years many people left offerings in the form of coins or another and the metal corrosion hues clearly visible. The coins are now gone, and the the tent has been placed over the figure to prevent water from gathering in the hole and expanding during frost.
The graveyard itself appears to be largely unattended. Overgrown graves, and massive grasses are part of the overall look. On our departure I spotted a small wooden cross, wedged in between the pieces of a broken headstone, almost drowning in the ever growing grasses.
After spending one time on the site, we departed for the Marble Arch Caves. We were unsure if we would make it in time, as the weather had been very rainy during the day, and we were nearing the dreaded 5pm. Luckily, the caves were still busy, and upon further inquiry we gained a spot in the last tour group 5:30pm.
Which gave us plenty of time for a sit-down, a cut of tea and some 'looking through leaflets'. Now caves and Mr. Richardson don't seem to mix at the best of times. Add to this the prospect of an underground boat-ride and it was a recipe for stress. I wouldn't say disaster, as he did promise to come along, but needless to say my man was unnerved.
When the time arrived our guide, properly dressed with helmet, light, and life-jacket, guided us down a small trail. From the trail, a huge opening soon dawned into sight, and from the rustling of the trees and the dripping of the rain a light 'rush' of water could be detected from down below. As we got closer it soon grew into the sound of a fully swollen underground river. The guide informed us of the small boat ride, and as he was doing so Mr. Richardson spotted the raging river. Grabbing my hand he called out that I owed him for this, as we now entered the cave.
Perhaps it was a bit mean to tell him that there was no way on earth anyone would put a boat on the river that he spotted, as it had no room for air anywhere, but he soon eased up as he spotted the river system we would be 'boating' on. A tranquil and calm body of water, and despite being blacker than the night we were assured it wasn't deep.
The ride lasted only a few minutes, and a short climb awaited. Soon the formations appeared, and for all I cared the guide could have been calling me names, I ADORE the rawness of the forms, the coolness in the air, the feeling of timelessness as you stare at forms that you know take a hundred years to grow a couple of millimeters, and there before you hangs a formation over 30cm long. Time giants for sure!
The whole place was magical, a definitely a must-see for anyone near that place. The last treat involved the largest in the caves; Martel's Stalactite, named after the man that first explored the place; Édouard-Alfred Martel. His companion, Lyster Jameson, was also named, in the slightly smaller stalactite that sits along side it.
( Click for more pictures )
Slán go fóill!
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