I stood looking out at the Galtee Mountains with Luke, a friend. He had not been home to Sydney since his children’s birth and now the haze of our once in a lifetime Irish summer was bringing the blue mountains to Tipperary. The mind wanders….
We had just emerged from the womb of the Mitchelstown Caves. Halls of stone and pillars of crystal were the scene for a night of music provided by Roisín O and her brilliant band and myself! The sound in the place is magnificent and just asks for music. Millions, hundreds of millions of year old formations blended with our mortal selves. I couldn’t help but think of the Tuatha De Danann who chose not to destroy the invaders because their blood would corrupt our sacred land. Instead they went underground and there they remain. Every now and again one emerges and marries giving us heroes like Cuchullainn son of Macha. I thought also of my father whose bones have been in the earth now for some twenty years.
It’s cool down there and damp. Steam rises as the songs are sung. I spoke of the ancients. The marriage of the sun to the earth and the stories we have inherited to keep that miracle in our hearts. The music lasted for around two hours. It was a good time to emerge.
We walked eighty eight steps back up to the warm summers evening and Luke’s blue mountains. Kay is the mother of the land where the caves are. She is a grandmother with the heart of a goddess. Her house reminded me of my own grandmother’s house. She gave us tea before the show and shared her twinkling presence with us. Her presence reminded me of the women of our country. The women of my grandmothers’ time. She had a ready laugh and when she came down to the cave in her cardigan there was not a bother on her. She stayed the two hours in the damp chill as if this too was her house.
Mary Hickson made us laugh when we sat at Kay’s table before heading home. There is a certain sense of humour among country people that can access laughter from a random phrase and a look. My grandmother in Galway and her daughter my mother used to laugh helplessly over the phone over the simplest of things. I get it! Life is good.