Sunday, February 26, 2017

Inside February Emerald Post

February's Parcel all bundled up.
An Original 5x7 Block Print of Glendalough - Valley of the Two Lakes
Black ink on a Mossy Green Paper.
Accompanied by some history of the ancient site.

5x7 Notecard of Doorway at St. Canice's Cathedral, Kilkenny, Ireland
4x6 Postcard of Grazing Sheep near Charleville Forest, Ireland
5x7 Original Blockprint of Glendalough
Miniature Notecard & Envelope - Blooming Fuchsia

Monday, February 13, 2017

The Names Upon the Harp

Today I'd like to introduce you to one of my favorite books of Irish myth. The Names Upon the Harp is a spectacularly illustrated edition of 9 well-known Irish myths such as The Children of Lir and Finn and the Salmon of Knowledge. It is written by Marie Heaney (more on her husband Seamus Heaney's poetry another time) and illustrated by PJ Lynch. This book is great for children and adults alike. The myths are abridged for length but still quite poetic and the illustrations absolutely bring the stories and the land of Ireland to life. Both author and illustrator are Irish and these stories are certainly in good hands here. Also, there is a handy pronunciation guide in the back for that tricky Gaelic.  Heaney and Lynch both have other, quite spectacular works. Lynch, in fact, is Ireland's Laureate for Children's Literature. Heaney has written may books of myth including Over Nine Waves: A Book of Irish Legends (for adults) which is on my list to read this March.

I think this may be out of print here in the US and on amazon but you can find a hardback here at The Book Depository with free shipping. And I actually first found this at my local library.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Green Greenery

Not that I put much stock in such things but the PANTONE Color for 2017 is GREENERY. Though some shade of green is always my color, it's lovely to know that green will likely be finding its way into fashion, clothing, home d├ęcor, and more this year. And that is always a good thing! This color abounds in Ireland and here is proof...

A Fern Among Many in Ireland

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Shadow of Spring - Irish Tradtions

Happy Groundhog's Day here in America. Happy St. Brigid's Day in Ireland. Happy Imbolc in Ancient Ireland - the first day of Spring according to the old wheel of the year. The beginning of February is steeped in old folklore, traditions, and religion, though many only know of the infamous Punxsutawney Phil.

Traditionally, if the groundhog emerges from his burrow and it is cloudy, thus seeing no shadow, spring will come early. If it is sunny and the groundhog sees his shadow, he will retreat back into his burrow and winter will persist for six more weeks. 

This tradition has trickled down from ancient times. February 1st is the Ancient Celtic Festival of Imbolc, which divides the winter from the spring, and honors the Celtic Goddess of fire and fertility, Brigit or Brigid. She dispelled the dark of winter and was "mistress of fertility"* to the land, animals and women, too. Later this day would be Christianized into St. Brigit's Day, the patron saint of mothers, cattle, and poets. Imbolc marked time to begin sowing seeds for Spring and reading the signs of nature to forecast spring weather. "An exceptionally fine day was regarded as an omen of poor weather to come."** Seeing a hedgehog was a good sign, because he would always return to the burrow if he sensed the coming of bad weather.** Traditionally, ancient civilizations also trusted the Badger to impart this important prediction because they lived beneath the earth where Spring might already be afoot. If the badger saw his shadow, winter would linger on. This tradition came over to America with German settlers and became the Groundhog Day we know today, once with a little more veneration.*

So many nearly forgotten or over-commercialized traditions are deeply rooted in the past. There is so much history in the transformation of traditions, from a Celtic Festival to Punxsutawney Phil, and much can be learned about our ancestors who settled this country and the places they left behind.

In Ireland, many traditions remain that are associated with both St. Brigit and her more ancient incarnation the Goddess Brigid such as making St. Brigid's Cross with rushes or straw, feasts, and visiting her holy wells. One fascinating tradition is to hang a piece of cloth outside for the day for the Saint to bless overnight. Throughout the year, this scrap of cloth could be used to treat headaches and other ailments.

Read more about St. Brigit's Day Traditions HERE or HERE .

*Dance of Time by Michael Judge
**A Year in Ireland by Kevin Danaher

Inside January Emerald Post

January is already behind us as we inch closer to Spring, to green, and to March throughout which I celebrate Irish Culture & St. Patrick and the renewal of the natural world. You can bet that the March Edition of Emerald Post will be extra special & Irish. For the curious, below are the contents of the January Edition: A lovely print of a watercolor cityscape of Dublin and it's architectural icons, a large notecard featuring a view from the Rock of Dunamase, and a small notecard of Bloody Bridge on the coast near Newcastle, Northern Ireland. Read more about Bloody Bridge HERE on my Traveling Chariot Blog.

5x7 Art Print of Dublin Icons
(left to right) Dublin Castle, Brazen Head Pub, Christ's Church Cathedral, St. Patrick's Cathedral, The General Post Office
Watercolor on Paper
Beneath Bloody Bridge, Newcastle, County Down, Northern Ireland
3.5x5 Notecard with envelope

View from Rock of Dunamase, County Laois, Ireland
 5x7 Notecard with Celtic Stamped Envelope

*Watermarks on artwork/photos are not present on actual items