Sunday happened to be Imbolc, Groundhog Day, Candlemas or Brigid’s Day, about halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. It marks the beginning of spring, which I now see comes a lot sooner in Ireland than it does in New England. Our first stop was at these fascinating beehive huts.
Also known as the Fahan Beehive Huts, Caher Conor (Cathair na gConchuireach) is located on the south side of Mount Eagle west of Dingle. The complex consists of five structures.
The clochan (beehive huts) in Caher Conor were probably single family dwellings and were attached to each other with a doorway leading from one to the other. They were built in the form of a circle of successive strata of stone, each stratum lying a little closer to the center than the one beneath and so on up to a small aperture at the top that could be closed with a single small flagstone or capstone. No mortar was used in building, which is called corbelling.
The hillside at one time had over 400 of these drystone, corbelled huts surviving, prompting one antiquarian in the 19th century to refer to the area as the “City of Fahan”. Dating the huts is difficult because the skill of corbelling has been used in Newgrange (3100 B.C.) and as recently as the 1950s. The huts at Fahan along the Slea Head Drive may well date to the 12th Century when the incoming Normans forced the Irish off the good land and out to the periphery of the Dingle Peninsula.
~ Saints & Stones website
It was good to get warmed up in the car and drive off for our next destination.
If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?
~ Percy Bysshe Shelley
(The Poetical Works of Percy Bysshe Shelley: In Three Volumes)
We recently discovered there is a festive parade in the town of Essex, Connecticut, on Groundhog Day! (February 2) It was fun to see people from near and far celebrating the occasion (also known as Candlemas and Imbolc) by wearing groundhog hats, watching the parade, and then following the procession while banging on pots and pans brought from home. It’s nice to have a holiday to brighten up the season between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox!
If Candlemas Day is bright and clear, there’ll be two winters in the year.
~ Scottish Proverb
We brought our groundhog, Basil, and his new son, Basil, Jr., along with us. The day was not bright and clear in Essex so perhaps there will be only “one” winter this year. Enjoy the parade!
Next year I will try to get a few pictures of all the folks clanging on their pots and pans!
Technically winter will be over in 6½ weeks no matter what the groundhog says, but because he didn’t see his shadow today, there is hope for an early arrival of spring-like weather.
Our groundhog, Basil, refused to step outside in the raging ice storm for his shadow-less annual photo shoot. So we put him in front of the sliding glass door with one of Brigid’s lambs. No shadows to be seen anywhere! Come spring!
Basil is named for my paternal grandfather, who was born on Groundhog Day, February 2, 1882 in the village now known as Ivano-Frankovsk, Ukraine. When Pop arrived in America at Ellis Island in 1909, instead of translating his name, Wasyl, to its equivalent in English, Basil, the immigration worker wrote his name down as William, by which he was known for the rest of his life.
Last year the sun was shining brightly, so we took Basil down to Eastern Point Beach for pictures.
Brighid of the mantle, encompass us;
Lady of the Lambs, protect us;
Keeper of the hearth, kindle us;
Beneath your mantle, gather us,
And restore us to memory
~ Caitlín Matthews
(A Blessing for Hearth Keepers)
Announced by all the trumpets of the sky,
Arrives the snow, and, driving o’er the fields,
Seems nowhere to alight: the whited air
Hides hills and woods, the river, and the heaven,
And veils the farm-house at the garden’s end.
The sled and traveler stopped, the courier’s feet
Delayed, all friends shut out, and housemates sit
Around the radiant fireplace, enclosed
In a tumultuous privacy of storm.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Candlemas Day ~ Groundhog Day
St. Brigid’s Day ~ St. Valentine’s Day
Fire ~ Quickening
Activities: Light candles