All posts by richard

  • St Brigid’s Well & Exit 13

    Just off the M7 (the primary road between Dublin and Limerick/Cork), lies St Brigid’s Well. This is a very active site associated with one of the most prominent Irish saints. While Feb 1st is the main day to visit the well, it receives pilgrims throughout the year.

    The well is only a few minutes from Exit 13 on the motorway, a junction more associated with the adjacent Kildare Village Outlet Centre. This position presents a geographical juxtaposition between the modern, flowing motorway and the stationary, sedate well. Two aspects of Irish social and cultural life overlap here. The new roadway designed to seamlessly connect major urban areas, with the purpose built retail centre, boasting world-famous brands, is a newer ‘Celtic Tiger’ Ireland. While, St Brigid’s Well, a site off heritage and spiritual/religious activities, seems to be of an older, vernacular Ireland. However, there isn’t a tension, more of a co-existence. People visit either, both, and neither. Perhaps, approaching Exit 13, you might consider this and what you will do.

    St Brigid's Well, enclosed by a low circular stone wall.

    St Brigid’s Well, enclosed by a low circular stone wall.

    A rag tree by the well, with a selection of fabrics, tokens, and other items hanging off a branch.

    A rag tree by the well, with a selection of fabrics, tokens, and other items hanging off a branch.

    A statue of the saint by a modern structuring housing votive offerings.

    A statue of the saint by a modern structuring housing votive offerings.

  • Cill Gobnait, Inisheer

    The stories surrounding St Gobnait, who is most prominently associated with Ballyvourney, hold that she was born in Clare in the 6th century and later spent time on the Aran Islands studying under St Enda. Her time spent on Inisheer (Inis Oírr), the smallest of the Aran Islands on Ireland’s west coast, marked the beginning of her life in peregrinatio. In this tradition, holy individuals, in imitation of the Desert Fathers, left their homeland and social ties to pursue a life dedicated to Christ; for example, St Fionán established his monastery on Sceilig Mhichíl and St Columba lived on Iona in Scotland. Later, following a visit from an angel, Gobnait went in search of a place to establish a church across Munster, and as had be prophesised she found a herd of nine white deer grazing at Ballyvourney. She was granted land by St Abbán and she found a community of religious women.

    A small ruined church, Cill Gobnait, remains on the island as evidence of her time there. The structure is reminiscent of other oratories found in Ireland, especially older sites along the west coast. Adjacent to the church are three altars or potentially penitential stations.

    As features associated with St Gobnait, can be linked with other locations named after the saint. A network of places across Ireland, including sites in Clare and Kerry, as well as Inisheer and Ballyvourney, have a Gobnait connection. Through belief in the holy person and her journeys, a thread unties these sites. The stories of the saint and her peregrinatio are manifest in these places. Legend and history, geography and belief fold together in this spaces.

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  • Leaf Walking

    Leaf walking
    autumnal being
    rustled pace
    visceral

    Leaf walking #autumn #autumnal #leaves #Corklife #insta_ireland #video

    A video posted by Richard Scriven (@richardscriven) on

  • An angel reaches

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    An Angel reaches
    in morning fog.
    Silently, it calls;
    more silent this morning.

    A filter enhances
    atmospheres.

    Obscured and clarified,
    together.

  • Inscribing Crosses

    The imprinting of crosses is a practice that is found at many holy wells. It is a simple, yet lasting action that seems to speak to the heart of these pilgrimages. The engraving of crosses at particular spots is an established part of doing ‘the rounds’ in some cases, as is found at St Gobanit’s Well in Ballyvourney or ‘the City‘ near Rathmore. These simple features are tangible forms of continuity, as successive pilgrims, over time, have worn the shape into the hard stone. However, there can also be newer crosses found indicating that personal variations are leading to development of supplementary practices.

    A single cross is worn into the large capstone on St Gobnait’s Grave; the grave is a station on the turas which is circled several times and stopped at for prayer.

    A single cross is worn into the large capstone on St Gobnait’s Grave; the grave is a station on the turas which is circled several times and stopped at for prayer.

    Crosses are imprinted into four rocks at the Eastern prayer Station in ‘the City’ as part of the rounds.

    Crosses are imprinted into four rocks at the Eastern prayer Station in ‘the City’ as part of the rounds.

    The crosses are manifestations of faith in the places and the intercessory power of the patron saints. Each cross was forged as pilgrims performed these local pilgrimages for particular intentions: cures and hopes, dreams and problems, worship and thanks. The action of making the cross, which wears down further in the stone each time, is intimately linked the motivations of each pilgrim. The gap that is the cross – the distance from the depth of the imprints to the rock surface – is not an eroded void, but a space willed with supplications, prayers and beliefs. These intentions and beliefs remain embed in these sites as the physical geography, cultural tradition and spiritual practices combine in these simple forms.

    A slightly embellished cross on the beehive structure encasing St John’s Well, Carrigaline. As part of the annual St John’s Eve ceremony a single pilgrim imprints the cross on behalf of the gathered crowd as the a collective rosary is prayed

    A slightly embellished cross on the beehive structure encasing St John’s Well, Carrigaline. As part of the annual St John’s Eve ceremony a single pilgrim imprints the cross on behalf of the gathered crowd as the a collective rosary is prayed

    A pilgrim engraves the shape of a cross as part of the rounds at St Gobanit's shrine.

    A pilgrim engraves the shape of a cross as part of the rounds at St Gobanit’s shrine.

  • Going on Pilgrimage – Book of Lismore

    Going on pilgrimage without a change of heart brings little reward from God. For it is by practising virtue and not by mere motion of the feet that we are brought to heaven. – Book of Lismore

    This quote has been placed at the beginning of Tóchar Phádraig at Ballintubber Abbey establishing a meaning of pilgrimage which draws on the early Irish Church. I have referenced this quote in numerous public presentations and it is a sort of definition of pilgrimage that really resonates with people. It nicely combines the idea of pilgrimage as a physical journey and a spiritual/emotional (or meta-physical) journey.  As I have previously discussed, pilgrimage involves a number of characteristics that distinguish it from other types of travel and this quote captures that idea well. Pilgrimage is a type of meaningful movement, a journey or undertaking of significance, one that takes shape in doing, feeling and believing.

  • Prayers, Waves, Reverberations: An audio engagement with phenomenal pilgrimage

    My second paper at the RGS-IBG Annual Conference 2014 is part of the ‘Postgraduate Snapshots: Engagements in Social and Cultural Geography‘ session, which explores the different ways in which postgraduates are (co) producing social and cultural geographies through their research, collaborations, methods and encounters. Each participant presents a ‘snapshot’ (an image, object, media clip etc) of their research in a creative and interactive way.

    Prayers, Waves, Reverberations: An audio engagement with phenomenal pilgrimage
    Using an audio clip of pilgrims praying in St Patrick’s Basilica on Lough Derg in northwest Ireland, I consider how the aural and acoustic induces, enhances and disorientates the phenomenal and spiritual experience of being a pilgrim. My research, informed by the mobilities field and nonrepresentational approaches, explores pilgrimage practices in contemporary Ireland. An audio recording taken during the Night Vigil on Lough Derg, where pilgrims stay awake for 24hrs fasting and praying barefoot on a lake island, captures a portion of the atmospheric and sensuous as they unfold. Drawing on my ethnographic fieldwork, I present the sounds and audio waves, which reverberate with meaning and experience, as being simultaneously created and received, embodied and asomatous, ethereal and material. Speculation on conceptual and practical approaches to and challenges for the use of audio are also offered.

    My presentation centres on a continual playing of the audio clip, to generate suitable atmospherics, as I verbally offer context, comment and speculation. In foreground the use of audio, I shall build on the increasing role for audio, sound and the sonic in social and cultural geography.

  • Ireland’s Holy Mountain: symbiosis, co-existence and tensions on Croagh Patrick

    My first paper at the RGS-IBG Annual Conference 2014 is within the session Sacred Space, Pilgrimage, and Tourism which looks at sacred space through the areas of the sacred, such as pilgrimage/theology/spirituality/belief systems, and the more secular, incuding tourism/leisure/promotion/visitor behaviour. My contribution is on Croagh Patrick.

    ‘Ireland’s Holy Mountain’: symbiosis, co-existence and tensions on Croagh Patrick
    In this paper, I examine Croagh Patrick, Ireland as a space that is simultaneously sacred and secular, political and recreational and of the past and present. This mountain in County Mayo, which has been the location of religious-spiritual activity for millennia, serves as one of the most prominent pilgrimages in Ireland, as well as being a venue for hill-walkers and tourists. Recent engagements with sacred spaces, being influenced by phenomenological and non-representational approaches, have conceived of them as being performed or in continual a state of becoming. Using my fieldwork experiences on Croagh Patrick, I explore how the different practices on the mountain create it as a space of devotion, leisure, protest and charity in ways which can be complementary, synchronous and frictional. By focusing on the embodied spatial practices, consideration is given to how these interactions form and forge meanings, places and participants.
    Croagh Patrick on Reek Sunday

    Croagh Patrick on Reek Sunday

  • Spiritual Directions

    Brass Compasses, Iran, 1800-75. V&A Museum No: 574-1878; 762-1998; 307-1887

    Brass Compasses, Iran, 1800-75. V&A Museum No: 574-1878; 762-1998; 307-1887

    These beautiful brass compasses on display in the Victoria and Albert Museum reminded me of the importance of direction within Islamic Prayer. These compasses would have been used to establish the direction of the Ka’bah in Mecca, or the Qiblah. The cases contain engravings of the coordinates for Mecca from different cities in the Islamic world.

    This feature of Islamic prayer is a very clear example of a spiritual or religious geography. In this case, there is a very literal connection between location and faith. These compasses hint at the efforts that individual Muslims most undertake to perform their faith. The requirement of regular prayer necessitates that each person must have an awareness of directions in their daily lives. As a geographer, this rich connection between belief and location is fascinating.

  • Máméan Pilgrimage

    Máméan is a mountain pass pilgrimage located in Galway between Connemara and Joyce Country. The traditional pilgrimage is practiced on the first Sunday in August, linking back to the Celtic harvest feast of Lughnasa. Pilgrims walked, sometimes barefoot, from either side of the Maum Turk Mountains to the site. St Patrick’s Bed, two holy wells and a number of leachtana are the focus of older customs, while more recently a revival of the pilgrimage has involved the performance of the Stations of the Cross and the saying of mass.

    The more recent additions of the small chapel and the statue of St Patrick stand next to the grotto containing St Patrick's Bed.

    The more recent additions of the small chapel and the statue of St Patrick stand next to the grotto containing St Patrick’s Bed.

    Pilgrims circling on of the leacht at the site. They throw a stone into the centre after completing their rotations.

    Pilgrims circling on of the leacht at the site. They throw a stone into the centre after completing their rotations.

    Tobar Phadraig or St Patrick's Well, one of two wells on the site. It is rounded as part of the pattern.

    Tobar Phadraig or St Patrick’s Well, one of two wells on the site. It is rounded as part of the pattern.

    The cross leads the pilgrims around the site, with prayers, reading and singing at each station.

    The cross leads the pilgrims around the site, with prayers, reading and singing at each station.

    The group following the cross in completing the Stations of the Cross

    The group following the cross in completing the Stations of the Cross

    These photos were taken during the 2012 pilgrimage.