Today was an unprecedented experience for Cultural Ecology class. Climbing Knocknarea was not only an epic hike as noted by the trail map (see below) but I had never heard of the story of Queen Maeve. As a prolific warrior queen she proved to be a formidable woman who ruled over the area of Connacht. Her grave, which sits at the top of this mountain provides the ultimate vantage point over her domain both in life and death. Reported by Niamh, Queen Maeve was buried standing up so that "no man could stand above her." Feminism that's over 2000 years old, I'll take it.
This visit provided another area of exploration for me. Like many culture-based stories there is a liminal connection between history and myth and the story of Queen Maeve, or Queen Medb. I will definitely bring my family back to this amazing hike.
Another component of this hike, beyond the power of Gaelic women across history and culture, is the concept of access. This public hike traverses land owned by a farmer, maybe even several farmers. Yet. there is no monitoring or sense that a hiker is trespassing to enjoy this hike. This concept is a stark difference in Hawaiʻi and other parts of the U.S. as privatization and restricting access is increasingly. I could not help but think about beach access paths in Kailua, Mauna Kea protesters and Bears Ears. I learned more about this movement, albeit through the UK version in a podcast I listened to when I returned home some weeks later. I found it helpful and hope you have a listen (click on the button below).
I'm taking this class again to increase my knowledge and connections to Ireland. As a teacher, I need to be a student from time to time in order to better understand the student experience. This allows me to understand my students and grow my teaching prowess.