Killeshin, Glean Uiseann - of Ossain, Uissin - the Bard - son of Fin Mac Cumhail.
When we pause and Reflect in Places like these, we may discover new thresholds for our own life's journey.
Thresholds can offer powerful symbolic knowledge helping us to encounter the beauty and voice of ourselves in fresh living ways. Often opening new possibilities, new beginnings, new beginnings.
Killeshin's ancient site finds its setting in the lovely Killeshin hill about four miles west of Carlow town. Existing as a place of community, learning, and presence since around the early 6th century. However, with its presence, the existing stream and rath nearby was also a partner in all that was sacred and special in this place even earlier in our local ancient culture. Small granite stonework elements remain of the 6th-century place amongst this late 11th-century monastic site. However, it retains a very beautiful example of Irish Romanesque architecture and artwork from around 1041. It remains a powerful symbol still of thresholds even amongst ancient ruins.
Diarmaid was the first abbot here followed by Comgan who is said to have been son of the sister of St Columba, no less. Near his passing, it is said he asked for the female Abbott St Ita to come to Killeshin pray with his and close his eyes on his death bed. It is recorded that Mugen an abbot here in the late 6th century was an instructor to Laserian of Leighlin in Sacred writings scripts and in the travels to open new places of learning eventually off this island.
Localities such as these give a sense of an ancient world, and of the organic Celtic heart and minds of our ancient race. A spiritual life was not a structure of building, beliefs, creed, tradition, and place. The Spiritual life resided inside humanity and its journey in the here and now, often gaining access to the invisible through what was visible.
This Ancient world had at its heart the Celtic sense of Belonging, and connection. The Tribe, its community and families and the life to be lived, including all of the realities of both life and death, formed part of belonging. However, the search for connection with the Natural, created world around gave recognition to another sense of belonging. It was one of a larger world, where life flowed from its visible sense to its invisible and back again. Over time such observations placed humanity as a key player, yet not at the centre of all things. There was a much bigger story unfolding in us and all around us. The Divine was present, Transcendent, and Immanent. We ourselves were more than our tactile sense, we in ancient woods, streams, and hallowed places were on our own journey through this life. We had a measure of ourselves beyond circumstance, appearance, or position. We bore sacred life within. It was a thread woven in us and through us. We too were transcendent beings, journeying.
However here we are at this little place on the Killeshin hills. As you stand looking at the remains, stonework and indeed the detail of the Romanesque architecture Nearby within 100 metres is a rath and stream that have been present long before even the faint remains of the 6th-century life here. Maybe here too the local Bard, the local chief, and the prophetic Druid marked this space as sacred, and significant to the life of the locals. Incidentally, the stream has a holy well, but I forget the name associated.
The Important Romanesque doorway which in the early morning or lit by a westerly sun presents a beautiful threshold. The arch and its artwork can serve as a place to stand. Standing to notice the warmth of sunlight, how the stonework is revealed, in shapes and textures, the geometry, feel, the light and shade. Notice too how it feels to stand in a doorway, a threshold, in an in-between space.
John O Donoghue in his wonderful book Anam Cara on the Celtic heart and soul comments for us, 'Our senses are thresholds for the soul' (p84)
and he also reflects that; 'The Celtic world is full of immediacy and belonging' (p14)
If you're still standing here's a little reflection. : As you stand in a threshold (seen or unseen) ponder the mystery of yourself. Reflect not so much on, Who am I ? but on WHO I AM. Namely the uniqueness of your own person. Do you have faith in yourself, in your greatness?
More soon K