Friday, September 29, 2017

Tea Time


Things are brewing here at Emerald Post. We've been busy in the studio crafting new treasures for the gift giving season. To be sure, our shelves will soon be full of one-of-a-kind gifts for Irish enthusiasts, those enamored by Celtic culture, for travelers, history lovers, and the curious of heart. Until then, put the kettle on and enjoy a steaming cuppa tea while leaves blaze and fall and Autumn settles in.   

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Infinite Ireland - A Traveler's Best Friend

Dingle Peninsula - Photo Infinite Ireland
Infinite Ireland is a travel website that offers many avenues of help for those looking to make dreams into reality and touch down on the green, green grass of Ireland. It is run by Stephanie Chastain, an Ireland enthusiast such as myself. We both agree that if Ireland has been calling you to visit, you should go. It's probably easier and cheaper than you think. And Stephanie is here to help you.

Meet Stephanie - Master Traveler behind Infinite Ireland 
Stephanie made her maiden voyage to Ireland in 2006 for her honeymoon. Ireland left its indelible, magical, enchanting mark and, like so many folks, she was smitten and stricken with a strong desire to return. And return she did. Over a decade since her first Irish jaunt, Stephanie has, along with her husband (and quite recently her infant son), rambled all over Ireland enough times to be considered an expert. In 2012 she began Infinite Ireland to help others realize their dreams and travel to Ireland. Until just recently, she was a study abroad advisor for Penn State, so she knows a thing or two about travel. And she's just taken the leap to working on Infinite Ireland full time (lucky us!). She shares so much of her expertise on the Infinite Ireland Blog detailing itinerary, budget, accommodation, travel tips, and overall inspiration. Her blog is one of the best tools out there to help someone plan an Irish trip. But if you need a little more than a helping hand, Stephanie offers a unique service for travelers - it's called Travel Coaching.

Jaunting Cart  - Photo by Infinite Ireland 
Travel Coaching is one-on-one travel planning help in half-hour or hour phone planning sessions (and unlimited email support until your departure). It's like getting a personal partner in planning to make sure you get the kind of trip you are dreaming about, first-hand advice for all your decisions, great and small. It's especially helpful for first-time visitors to plan out their itineraries and receive guidance on the nitty gritty logistics like where to go, how long to stay in one place, or how to rent a car. She specializes in planning full but not overwhelming days, with time for spontaneity and flexibility to add in activities as you travel. She loves sharing personal recommendations from her many travels. She can help you start from scratch with basic itinerary planning or, if you’re further along, you can talk specifics with recommendations for activities, restaurants and places to stay. It's a fun, exciting, and incredibly helpful way for you to get all your questions answered and to lay the foundation for your perfect trip.  Learn more about Travel Coaching HERE.

Lough Tay, Wicklow, Photo by Infinite Ireland
Stephanie isn't a travel agent, she won't be booking hotels or tours for you but she can sure steer you toward breathtaking scenic drives, charming B & Bs, and delicious restaurants. She can be your personal Ireland guidebook (I'm sure she could write her very own) and take the overwhelming bits out of your journey by explaining how to rent a car in Ireland, what driving in Ireland is like, where to exchange money, how much you can fit into one trip. With Travel Coaching help, you can worry less and enjoy more. Travelers have left glowing reviews at Infinite Ireland of how Stephanie helped them turn their dreams into reality. So hop over to Infinite Ireland, sign up for the newsletter, or follow on Facebook. And start planning to make your dreams come true. 

Friday, September 15, 2017

Let's Travel to Ireland


If you frequent this blog there is a good chance that you've either been lucky enough to visit the wondrous island of Ireland or that you dream about it often, wish upon stars, or pluck up lucky pennies in hopes that someday, someday! you might get to visit Ireland. You might also think that it will never happen, that it's too far away, too difficult, too expensive.

The truth is, it's none of these.  

I like to say that Ireland is, in fact, the best place to visit if you've never hopped the pond. It is a culturally rich, completely gorgeous, friendly place where English is spoken (this helps for first time jet-setters). It can also be quite reasonable to afford. Many people I know spend just as much or more to rent condos on the coast, go to Disneyland, or take a cruise. It is possible. It is within reach, and it will be spectacular. 

Luckily, there are a lot of people and places on the web that can help make your Emerald Isle Dreams come true. Next up, I am going to introduce you to some helpful sites and some passionate folks who are as enamored with Ireland as you and I.  


Thursday, September 7, 2017

Monday, August 28, 2017

An Irish Wood - Dooney Rock Forest Park


County Sligo is Yeats' Country in Ireland. It is a place of epic legends and landscapes that inspired the Irish poet W.B. Yeats. In Sligo you will find many places that feature in the poetry of Yeats including Dooney Rock Forest Park which we just happened upon while driving a ring around Lough Gill where you'll also find Benbulben and Glencar Waterfall. Dooney Rock features in Yeats' poem "The Fiddler of Dooney" and Dooney Rock is an elevated part of the wood from which you can see sweeping views of Lough Gill, the Ox Mountains and Knocknarea Mountain. Look carefully atop Knocknarea and you can see "a huge flat-topped cairn called Maeve's Cairn (Miosgan Meadhbha). The cairn is 55m in diameter and is 10m high. It was supposed to have been built for Queen Maeve, the Iron Age Queen of Connaught (source)."  You can see why Sligo and this atmospheric woodland inspired Yeats and I always find it quite special to find places that connect to history in such a way. The woodland itself was stunning. Occasional trees were labeled with their species. The forest was mainly one species of coniferous tree (though I cannot recall which) which made for a striking fairy tale atmosphere, with moss creeping up each tree and a lovely filtered light. There were benches around to sit a spell and soak in the forest.  


FIDDLER OF DOONEY
W.B. Yeats - 1889

WHEN I play on my fiddle in Dooney.
Folk dance like a wave of the sea;
My cousin is priest in Kilvarnet,
My brother in Mocharabuiee.

I passed my brother and cousin:
They read in their books of prayer;
I read in my book of songs
I bought at the Sligo fair.

When we come at the end of time
To Peter sitting in state,
He will smile on the three old spirits,
But call me first through the gate;

For the good are always the merry,
Save by an evil chance,
And the merry love the fiddle,
And the merry love to dance:

And when the folk there spy me,
They will all come up to me,
With "Here is the fiddler of Dooney!"
And dance like a wave of the sea.


What appeared to be an old stone foundation or rock wall. 

Queen Maeve's Cairn atop the flat topped Knocknarea in the distance. 



Thursday, August 24, 2017

An Irish Wood - Gougane Barra Forest Park

Gougane Barra Forest Park in County Cork Ireland is one of my favorite woodlands. It is pillowed with moss. A small stream wends its way down to Gouganebarra Lough where St. Finbar's Oratory sits reflecting onto the dark pool of water. The can drive a ways back into the woodland and then hike easy trails into the green wood, all the sunlight to enter this forest is green. There was a wedding taking place in St. Finbar's Oratory while were there but the woods, we had those all to ourselves. Also worth mentioning that this place hosts about the coolest restrooms in Ireland.




A previous hiker (or woodland creature) had left a mushroom collection on a table here. 





St. Finbar's Oratory

Charming thatched loo (toilets)

Friday, August 18, 2017

August in a Sun-Dappled Wood

I went into a hazel wood, 
Because a fire was in my head

- William Butler Yeats


Contents: 5x7 Print of Beech Tree, 4x6 Print of Torc Waterfall, Hazel Botanical Card, Fern Bookmark, Decorated Yeats' Poem "Song of Wandering Aengus," sorry leaves not included. 

The August Issue of Emerald Post is inspired by the wild woods of Celtic Lands, the reverence that ancient people held for trees, and the liminal, mystical magic of woodland and an enchanting poem by Ireland's own William Butler Yeats. A walk through a sun dappled wood delivered right to your mailbox. Cool your feet at the base of Torc Waterfall in Killarney National Park, Ireland. Marvel up at a towering beech tree in Tollymore Forest Park, Northern Ireland. Stoop to trace the details of a fern on the forest floor and learn of the lore of the Hazel Tree. Hear the verses of W.B. Yeats on the wind and as the forest canopy sways above you.  Send a woodland walk to a friend of take one for yourself HERE.




Thursday, August 10, 2017

Into the Woods


Summer's long days are waning and I can sense the approach of Autumn. Days have been mercifully cool lately and fill me with anticipation of crisp leaves and brazen trees. I'm currently getting the August Emerald Post ready to dispatch. It is inspired by the wild woods of Ireland, the  reverence that ancient people held for trees, and the liminal, mystical magic of woodlands all tied together by a Yeats' poem. The August issue will contain a 5x7 print, a 4x6 print, a skinny bookmark, a botanical card, and a little poetry. You can still get yours HERE.  A sneak peak below... and remember you can still use the coupon code FORTRESS15 for 15% off the shop till the end of the month! Also, if you were unable to leave a comment for the castle giveaway due to a blogger glitch please email me at emeraldpostoffice@gmail.com so that I can try to fix it and send you freebie. 


Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Lúnasa


The beginning of August marks the old Irish Gaelic festival day of Lúnasa, halfway between summer solstice & autumn equinox, marking the beginning of harvest time and the turn from summer to winter. (In Irish, the word for August is Lúnasa.) It is a time to honor the sun, for Lúnasa (or Lughnasadh) is named for Lugh, the old Irish god of the Sun. It's a time to gather the first harvests, to light a bonfire in thanks for your blessings, bake a pie with freshly gathered blueberries, for matchmaking and hand-fasting, for pilgrimages to holy wells and sacred trees. Here Lúnasa arrived on a cool front, one I was aching for, a blessed foreshadowing of Autumn and all her finery. Happy Harvest to come. 

You can read more about Lúnasa and Irish customs at:
yourirish.com
Ireland Calling
Irish Central

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Castle Winner !

Congratulations Judy H ! You are the winner of the Castle Giveaway. Please contact me directly as soon as you can at emeraldpostoffice@gmail.com with the photo of your choice from the Castle Posts (include from which post as well as caption if you can) as well as a mailing address so that I can dispatch your prizes soon. Thanks to everyone who stopped by and left comments. As a consolation prize, use the coupon code FORTRESS15 in the Emerald Post Shop to get 15% off anything on the shelves, including some castle inspired creations

Cahir Castle, Ireland

Monday, July 31, 2017

Anatomy of a Castle: Magic, Myth & Legends


Ivy clad ruins of Ballycarbery Castle, Kerry, Ireland
Many of us have learned most of our knowledge of castles from childhood stories, from books, television and films. Or, at least, that is where we begin. From these interpretations, castles are infused with stories, with legends of King Arthur, visits from Merlin, with legends of ghosts and banshees, with the sadness of unrequited love, the joy of amorous reunions, even the mischief of fairies in the nearby woods. I see a castle turret and wonder who pondered the horizon from that window. I walk into a great hall and wonder who supped at the table. What kings plotted dominion from private chambers, what knights plotted treason from their seat below the lord. What lovers met secretly in dark corridors. All of these inklings woven with the true history and glorious architecture of castles form a truly magical tapestry. For this, I never tire of visiting these strongholds, these homes, these works of arts, these magical realms. I hope you've enjoyed the journey as well.  Here are some (well many!) of my favorite photos through which I hope you can grasp some of the magic.

Cahir Castle, Ireland 

Tower House of Aughnanure Castle, County Galway, Ireland
Courtyard of Craigmillar Castle, Scotland

Chepstow Castle, Wales

Cliffside ruins of Dunluce Castle, County Antrim, Ireland

Edinburgh Castle, Scotland

The remote ruins of Auchindoun Castle Scotland

Hilltop ruins of Carreg Cennen Castle, Wales

View from Kidwelly Castle, Wales

Stirling Castle, Scotland

Anatomy of a Castle: The Servants' Realm


Recreation of a hot and busy kitchen in Stirling Castle, Scotland. 
Castles were once well-oiled machines and the people that really held it together were the servants: the cooks, scullions (kitchen assistants), butlers, stewards, gardeners, chamber maids, blacksmiths, stable boys, maids, servers, and surely some folks I'm forgetting. Some of the more commonplace elements of castles are actually my favorite things: gigantic fireplaces, usually part of kitchens where whole animals might be roasting or being smoked, or where giant cauldrons could be hung to simmer stews and soups, dimly lit barrel vaulted cellars, beehive dovecotes which still serve as home to many birds.   

Fireplace at Craigmillar Castle, Scotland

Cellars Storeroom (Sometimes called and Undercroft) for storing ales, wines, food or supplies. Dirleton Castle, Scotland

Cellar at Dunnottar Castle, Scotland

Cellar at Dunnottar Castle, Scotland

Urqhart Castle, Scotland
Well at Dunnottar Castle - a source of fresh water within the castle walls was a necessity for any castle especially in the case of a siege. 
This beehive shaped structure is a Dovecote which is a home for pigeons or doves to nest, as these were a source of food for the castle. Think of them as the castles chicken coop. The birds were kept for their meat, eggs and dung (fertilizer). The bands on the outside prevented rats from climbing the structure to the top where the birds enter. This Dovecote is just below the tiered gardens of Aberdour Castle, Scotland

Dovecote at Aberdour Castle, Scotland - In Scotland they are often referred to as a doocote

The nesting boxes inside of dovecote at Hailes Castle, Scotland
Dovecote at Crossraguel Abbey, Scotland