Teach Bhride Ancient Spaces.
For its size Carlow and its hinterland has one of the largest numbers of ancient and sacred places, anywhere in Ireland. It is said that a significant number of saints, scholars, pilgrims travelled to, from and within this county, not only major monastic and learning centres within Ireland such as Armagh, Clonmacnoise, Ferns, Clonard, but onward to Scotland, England, Belgium, France and beyond.
Here in the landscape of these ancient ruins we find the echoes of an era when the Celtic heart and mind recognised 'Spirituality' as something that was at the heart of humanity. This is very different to later times where we sought spiritual experience in the external form of traditional religion, that would later become strongly institutionalised and eventually leaving humanity outside the gate.
In his book, Celtic Christianity Timothy Joyce comments that Celtic spirituality was about sensing the passionate presence of God in all the ordinary events of life: love, eating, working, playing. In uncovering some of the life journeys of the ancient ordinary men and women, we now call saints , their prayer lives,and also the medieval poets, they ask us to notice that everything we experience is grace and blessing.
Joyce suggests, Part of the aim of Celtic Spirituality was to bring to consciousness the holiness of every moment.
These ancient places are now simply ruins, for the most part in farmland, left behind, decayed. They represent a bit of history, a bit of archeology, a bit of religious life; some are still associated with the 'Saints' through feast days, prayers, relics, stained glass imagery, traditions and folklore. But in this day and age, maybe they have simply become irrelevant.
However it looks like our Celtic ancestors knew a lot more about living from the heart, and yet being strongly grounded in the real world. They managed to live with a deep awareness of themselves, their environment, their story and spiritual presence.
The Ancient Spaces Project is hosted by Teach Bhride at Tullow. This project will not only explore the who and the what of the ancient sites in this locality, but also the ability of our ancient forerunners, to live in vibrant awareness of life’s journey. Vibrant, because in the midst of the very ordinary struggles of life - meaning, significance, and belonging nourished life’s journey ; no matter the weather.
The project will develop opportunities to explore these ideas with presentations, site visits and more.
“The Celtic world is full of immediacy and belonging.” John O’Donaghue, Anam Cara
More soon Keith Dowling