Our day was spent learning about the integration of Christian ideolotry and symbols into pagan practices. These photos represent the pagan practice of tying gifts, in the form of ribbons, necklaces and pieces of fabric, onto a Wishing Tree (photo on the right). This tree communicated with the Otherworld. Right across from the tree is the altar to St. Patrick (photo on the left). This altar is where Christians prayer for many of the same reasons as the Wishing Tree.
When the Christians arrived in Ireland they handled their missionistic tendencies differently. Instead of abolideration of native religion and practices, as is common throughout the world, the Christians integrated pagan and Celtic symbols and practices into their systems of worship. While acknowledging the pagan practices, they also utilized the same sacred spaces further deepening the connection of place and practice for early Irish people. To this day, this is why many Irish citizens are deeply connected to land and belief.
Donegal Castle was next on the agenda. This space represents the loss of Irish control over their sovereignty and the changes under Brisith rule. The original Donegal Castle stands as the tall structure on the right with the fortress-like appearance. This was the original home of the O'Donnell family (Irish lords) and eventually the Brooke family who build onto the castle the Jacobian Manor that appears on the left. Much of the castle has been restored except for the roof of the manor house, but this is in the works. Many of these heritage sites we have visited are managed by the Office of Public Works (OPW). I will report more on this amazing government program for restoring and educating the public about historical cultural sites in a later post.
Many elements of the castle beyond it's manor addition were meant to be political messages for visitors and members of the household. The sandstone fireplace that appears in the slideshow is filled with Scottish and English motifs that were indicative of family orders and recognizable symbols of the time.
Overall the pace of the trip has been high speed with lots of see and think about. The connections of Ireland to Hawai'i are uncanny. From the belief systems and later means of control of the native people, the histories and understandings of these places and people are striking a deep chord for many of us.