The Incantation of Amergin – Lisa Gerard & Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin
Just back from staying at the beautiful Huntington Castle in Ireland – the only stately home with a temple to the Goddess! And before that we were at the Celtic Spirituality gathering at Eigse further north. We had an inspiring time with wonderful people, and I managed to record a brief conversation with a Celtic monk, John Ahearne, which you will find in the next episode of Druidcast – due out tomorrow.
Dr Rhona Fogarty in Dublin has been working on a comparison between Hindu and Old Irish texts for the One Tree Gathering this weekend, and when writing to me about this, she mentioned some music that I’ll share with you here.
The Song of Amergin is well-known to students of Druid lore and has been evocatively and beautifully rendered in two recordings over the last few years – by Lisa Gerard and Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin. They are both powerful and reveal the beauty too of the Irish language:
For information on the Song, and its wording, see this blog post.
From the album Songs of the Scribe – the seventh studio album of Irish singer Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin, who is also Traditional Singer in Residence at the Seamus Heaney Centre For Poetry at Queen’s University, Belfast. Released on 3 December 2011, the album features old and newly written translations by Ní Uallacháin, Ciaran Carson and Seamus Heaney and harp accompaniment by Helen Davies. Recorded in Copenhagen, Denmark, Songs of the Scribe was inspired by the manuscripts held in the library of St. Gallen. Pádraigín visited the library to research the manuscripts, carried to safety from Viking attack by St. Gall and others from Bangor, County Down to Europe over a number of centuries.
Gosh Philip – how Huntington Castle has changed! As one of the founding members of F.O.I. and went on a ‘pilgrimage’ there in the early Seventies to meet Olivia and Derry I wept when I saw what they’ve done to the place. Both of them must be turning over in their graves – an absolute antithesis of what they had built there (as no doubt you will also recall having made it your domicile.)
Hi Gordon, I understand your reaction, but actually I think Olivia and Derry far from turning in their graves will be delighted. When you and I knew the place back in the 70s it was an extraordinary ‘hidden’ and secret surprise away from the everyday world. But times change and without the huge investment that has taken place to restore the castle and without opening it to the public, it simply would have decayed and finally might have had to be sold. You know what it’s like maintaining even a normal-sized house, so you can imagine the costs involved in just treading water – just keeping an old building of that size safe and dry. The temple now has an even greater atmosphere than before. The damp in it has been fixed, and the whole place is just a wonderful oasis still of beauty and light. Well worth another pilgrimage if you can manage it! All the very best, Philip
Well, of all people I feel you are the one to give an honest opinion of the ‘transformation’ of Huntington Castle, so my heartfelt thanks for that. For myself though I prefer to keep my old images of the place in its faded but genteel splendour in my memories; together with the somewhat eccentric but beloved and highly talented sister & brother team of Olivia and ‘Derry’ who created such a spiritual haven. At least the present incumbents appear to have retained the original fabric of the Temple. I remember Olivia telling me with wicked delight how she’d added the words ‘of Isis’ to the inscription carved above the entrance: ‘Sacred to the Holy Name’!
My sincere best wishes for the success of your latest book (and new genre!) – Gordon
Thank you Gordon!