The Burren – a place I called home for 18 months. A fascinating Saint, St Colman of Kilmacduagh, lived many years of his life among the barren rocky landscape of The Burren. He lived in this hermitage in the Burren National Park – a solitary life in close communion with God.
Above and Below: These are some of my favourite images from St Colman’s Hermitage. Also included are some images from St Fachtnan’s Holy Well.
In Tuaim Indhir here I find no great house such as mortals build, A hermitage that fits my mind with sun and moon and starlight filled. Twas Gobbán shaped it cunningly – this is a tale that lacks not proof – And my heart’s darling in the sky, Christ, was the thatcher of its roof. Over my house rain never falls, there comes no terror of the spear; It is a garden without walls and everlasting light shines here.
8th Century poem ascribed to Suibhne Geilt. Translated by Frank O’Connor
God is not unjust he will not overlook your work & the love that you showed for his sake in serving the saints as you still do.
Hebrews 6: 10
There is a stillness and quality of silence that exists in the Burren – perhaps in some way explaining why St Colman chose to live and pray here for many years. Everything is hardened to the environment. The trees bend and mould in the shape of the wind, the rocks stand firm, tough, unrelenting to the elements. The soul in comparison is something much more lucid, spacious, open. It softens this harsh landscape wanting to be felt all the more strongly.
To be closer to God means to be closer to silence, to stillness. St John of the Cross explains, “What we need most in order to make progress is to be silent before this great God with our appetite and with our tongue, for the language he best hears is silent love.”
The monks of the Skelligs are another testament to this softness of spirit, harshness of exterior. Isolation, devotion, silence and absolute focus on God, to be in a rhythm with the landscape, the rocks, the wind. God can only be loved. A love we feel in our heart – an overwhelming sense of joy and peace emanating through us where we become one with God’s creation. You enter into the heartbeat of our loving Father, become part of the ebb and flow that surrounds all beings, never static, always changing.
“Contemplation is nothing else but a secret, peaceful, and loving infusion of God, which if admitted, will set the soul on fire with the Spirit of love.” St John of the Cross
Below: A recording of Pete Seeger’s ‘Quite early Morning’ I recorded in Ballyvaughan, North Clare in May 2020. I recorded this around 7am during a beautiful summer’s morning for the Redemptorist’s ‘Thought for the Day’ on facebook.