Our Irish Strolls 'n' Stories


Ireland is a land where it is easy to experience spirit of place.


A beautiful country, steeped in history with some of the oldest megaliths and prehistoric monuments  in the world, not to mention its engaging and hospitable people. A treasure trove of history, story and characters, mixed with a little Guinness if you like it! The obvious place for a Strolls ‘n’ Stories.

The Newgrange Hotel is an old hotel with up to date facilities where the staff could not do enough to make us welcome. Based in Navan, County  Meath , Navan means the cave , a good starting point for our trip way back to the past.

The pictures produced by Ellen Law gives you a little introduction to the sites and fun times we had in Ireland, including a car that we hired which one member of our group became very attached to!

Newgrange, and Knowth were our ancient starting places which can only now be accessed for short periods of time. Not that we let that stop us, So who was the architect of these alleged burial tombs or are they really sound chambers or ways of communicating with things beyond our ken? Our stories went back to the creation of Ireland through glaciers and the ice ages to the unknown architect  and his people who created Newgrange itself.

We visited the Hill of Slane where St Patrick lit his forbidden Easter Fire and the first High King of Ireland is said to be buried. The story of Patrick who was taken from Scotland to become a slave in Ireland, eventually escaped and then returned to banish the devil and snakes from the land, is well known but imagine our surprise when St Bridget became the story teller and told of her disappointment with Patrick and his work!


Melifont  Abbey saw us in the middle of confirmation ceremonies with young girls dressed in white and boys in suits for the catholic celebration. A mischievous monk seemed to tell our story here and there was much smiling, laughter and even dancing broke out!

WE visited Kells, where the famous Book of Kells  with its beautiful lettering and illustrations was scribed by monks . We heard stories of the creation of this book and left there with the story of Brendon the monk, famous for travelling the seas on a special mission.

Navan has some interesting rivers too. The group saw where the River Boyne and the Blackwater  meet, a strange merging and flowing of waters.

Our visit concluded with a visit to the Hill of Tara, the seat of the high King of Ireland where Tia Tephi an Egyptian princess once came as a refugee and ended up marrying  one of the High Kings.  And of course no trip to Ireland is complete without the story of how the faery folk were driven underground at one of the burial mounds at Tara.


Rumour has it the song Irelands Call, the Irish national rugby anthem could be heard resonating for miles as the group gave voice at the top of a mound.  Indeed throughout this trip we were basking in music, singing and toning provided by Thoby Davies , one of the group members. Flute during the day and Guitar at night, we spent long hours into the evening, singing, dancing for those who wanted and engaging with local characters in the hotel and pub. Such  wonderful relaxing  evenings with excellent food, drink and entertainment . A big thank you to Thoby for bringing his talent and adding such a wonderful dimension to our Irish trip.

Of course what  makes a trip work are the people who come on it…and what a great group of people they were. Everybody made the task so easy, everyone participated and enjoyed.

And for all those who have been asking…yes, there will be another one next year or may be even two. Certainly a trip to the South of Ireland is in the pipeline and a return trip to Newgrange for those who couldn’t come because the trip was full this year.


 Look forward to seeing you there!

Story and Spirit of Place are Inextricably Linked

For me, story and Spirit of Place are inextricably linked.

Image: SNappa2006 [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]

Image: SNappa2006 [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]

When we combine Spirit of Place with story, you don’t just get a history lesson or a stunning view, you get an experience. And often in the telling or listening to a story we see aspects of our selves, things resonate with us creating  a journey through our own inner landscape as well as our outer world.

There are the supposedly mythological stories from the world of faery and nature like the Lady of Llyn y Fan Fach lake.  There are real life stories from suffragettes, famous war poets,  persecuted catholic priests, eccentric artists and wealthy stockbrokers .The list goes on and on, from the 6th century to modern day, characters abide in our landscape and sometimes we are just too busy to sense their presence.

LLyn y Fan Fach lake near LLandeusant in Carmarthenshire has a wonderful Spirit of Place, yet many come merely to climb the mountains, and they are untouched by the history beneath their feet. As you walk up to the lake, with the stream and little waterfalls, surrounded by mountains, you cannot fail to be impressed, by one of the wildest areas in the Brecon Beacons National Park. It is magnificent. Yet the spirit of place at LLyn y Fan Fach varies with the season and the weather.

If it is sunny, everything is light and bubbly with a sense of spring and airiness. This is a Spirit of Place that fits with the faery people who are said to live both above and below the lake.

If it is stormy or raining, the mountains become oppressive, dark and foreboding. The wind blows and waves emerge scudding across the seemingly dense and uninviting waters. It is eerie with a heavy mystic presence and we shiver as we feel the wrath of the Lady of the Lake.

If there has been drought, the lake looks sparse exposing things that you have never seen before. You disbelieve its depth and the fae creatures that live in its deepest parts. On the other hand, if the lake is full, brimming with movement, you look into it and believe anything is possible.

Each place, I visit has its own story of how it came to be. It tells of the human influences on its soil, the myths and legends that surround it and may be forgotten truths that characters from its past have to tell.

Llyn y Fan Fach has a wonderful story to tell, enshrined in both myth and history. In Wales we call the faery folk the Tylwyth Teg and there is a special tribe of beautiful fae folk who live beneath the waters of rivers and lakes.   These are the Gwragedd Annwn and the Lady of the Lake at Llyn y Fan Fach  is one of these faeries, one of the Gwragedd Annwn. 

The story tells us how the Lady of the Lake married a human being. How her husband lightly struck her 3 times and she returned to the lake, leaving her husband and sons behind. Then we encounter factual history- how Rhiwallon, her son became a famous physician and served Prince Rhys Gryg of the kingdom of  Deheubarth in Wales in the 13th century.  Rhiwallon was the first in the ancient lineage of the Physicians of Myddfai. We hear how these famous doctors had their herbal recipes recorded in the red book of Hergst , now held at Jesus College, Oxford and in a manuscript held in the British Museum.

As I tell the story, the lake and the Spirit of Place change. Myth and history mix. The mountains are no longer mountains but homes to potent healing herbs  and miraculous cures . The waters are no longer just the result of rain, but they hold the Lady of the Lake and her healing powers. The story begins to make the spirit of place as much as the spirit of place makes the story.

Most of us know Spirit of Place for it is simply this…

Most of us know Spirit of Place for it is simply this…

Itinerant story tellers have an ancient lineage from indigenous cultures to the Bards of Wales and the travelling story tellers of Ireland. Before the written word, oral histories were passed from one generation to another. It is an old craft which has not yet died out and dare I say a valuable craft with much to offer in this technological age.

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