Updated: Sep 8
Thanks to my Celtic genetics and being born a redhead, visiting Ireland and Scotland was always at the top of my list of places I wanted to see first. My dream of visiting Ireland came true in August of 2017 when I had the privilege of hosting a small group for our first Celtic Goddess Tour, which included Ireland and the Isle of Skye. We flew into Dublin on an overnight flight from the United States, It was a miracle that I made the flight, I almost missed it but luck was on my side that day and the plane's pilot waited for me, as soon as I boarded, they shut the doors and we got ready for take off. That first group tour taught me a few things, For one, I learned that I can not sleep on a plane and will need to arrive a day or so earlier to avoid delirium from being exhausted. When it comes to being a group leader it requires a certain level of groundedness as well as a lot of energy to hold space for everyone. We met up with our driver named Séamus from McKenna's of Boyle Coaches and Charter Service, and the adventure began.
Hill of Tara
Our first stop was the Hill of Tara, which is famous for being the "Seat of the High Kings of Ireland," located in County Meath, It is a large archaeological complex that was once the political and spiritual center of ancient Ireland. The Mound of the Hostages, and the Stone of Destiny, are among the site's most noteworthy features. I remember feeling a little disappointed at the site of the Stone of Destiny. With a name like that, I was expecting to feel something powerful emanating off of it as if it was blessed by the Lady of the Lake, and I did not get any of those vibes from the rock, and maybe my expectations were a little too high. I was confused, and as I mentioned, slightly exhausted from not sleeping on the overnight flight. I was expecting to see the Stone of Destiny that I once saw in a film called The Stone of Destiny, little did I know at the time, that there was more than one Stone with the same name. The Scottish Monarchs used a different stone for centuries in the inauguration of their kings and that was the Stone of Destiny that the film was based on. Actually, in my opinion, the Irish stone is far more remarkable even if it resembles a phallus. This is a very important landmark in Ireland. Do not let my experience take away from the magic of the land, it is definitely a site worth seeing.
Pictured from left to right: Hill of Tara, Stone of Destiny, and Connemara covered in Heather, a mossy tree, arriving at the holy well, our guide, The Woodland Bard, and the holy well.
Our first night's stay was at the cozy hotel called Dunraven Arms in one of the most charming little towns in Ireland known as Adare in Co Limerick, it was a perfect location for a peaceful night's sleep. Our room faced the gardens, where we slept with the windows open, and the gentle sound of the rain made for a tranquil environment. My first impression of Ireland other than it being green, was that it was a peaceful place with old-world charm and lots of castles. My second impression was that the Irish people were genuinely friendly, and polite. In some ways, it felt like we stepped back in time.
Our next stop in Co Limerick was to see the Grange Stone Circle, the largest stone circle in Ireland, so we made our way to Lough Gur. In case you did not know; Lough means Lake in Ireland and Scotland they call them Lochs. We were the only ones there at the time we arrived and had the entire circle all to ourselves, it was the perfect day to hold our intentional ceremony in the middle of the circle.
Our next stop was to see the Cliffs of Moher a place that I have visited in my dreams, so it felt important for me to see it in real life. This is a popular tourist destination and the day we visited, it was full of tour buses and people everywhere, so do not go there expecting to have the place all to yourself. I hear that the majority of the locals avoid the Cliffs due to the hundreds of tourists. While we were there, we engaged in a breathing meditation and one of our fellow travelers facilitated qigong for the group. Before we visited the Cliffs, we stopped in at the Burren Perfumery and I bought a floral perfume that smells delicious, I still get compliments when I wear it today, scents have a way of taking us back to places. I highly recommend stopping in for a bite at the Perfumery's Tea Room where they serve delicious scones, and other baked goods, and lunch with soup and salad on the menu.
After we left the Cliffs of Moher, we had planned on staying in Galway for a few nights before we met up with our local Irish guide John Willmott in Sligo, As we were on our way to Galway a hurricane was coming in from the Atlantic Ocean and brought in the heaviest of rain. Our driver Séamus with sweat on his brow did an amazing job of getting us safely to our next lodging destination. Due to the bad weather, we had to pass up our plans to see Brigid's Garden that day.
We stayed on the Connemara coast near the town of Clifden, where they have wild ponies roaming free and yes, we did see some from the distance near our lodging. This area is beautiful and I thought it had a wonderful high vibration to it, unfortunately, I can not remember the name of the lodging.
The next day, we hiked up to Clifden Castle and walked in the mud, There was a steady drizzle, so this is the part where I will tell you to bring a raincoat and waterproof boots when visiting the Emerald Isle. There are large stones placed upright here and there on the walk and we got some pretty pictures of the heather along the way. This may sound controversial to some, but when I asked Spirit why did we have to go here of all places? The answer I heard was to see the large stones placed there by the giants, not a reply that I was expecting. I wish I had known this at the time. These massive stones that stand upright and are placed across the British Isles, were put there before the great flood by a race of Giants. I am not saying every stone circle or large boulder was placed by giants, however, the stones that weigh tons and stand upright on purpose may not have been put there originally by 6-foot-tall humans. And since the stories of the giants have been erased from modern history except in biblical records, we may never know the truth of the matter (see pics below of the giant stones).
Being an ambivert, I was exhausted that night and stayed in my room, so the group went on without me I think they told me they enjoyed a game of pool, while the charming young man who worked at the Inn kept them entertained by playing music for them.
With our tours, we not only incorporate sightseeing but we feel it is important to mingle with the locals, so our next stop was perhaps the best part of our Ireland tour. We fostered a connection with an Irish Folklorist who calls himself the Woodland Bard. He made our visit to Sligo perfect, We had an Irish meal with him and after dinner, some of us were brought to tears by the sound of Claire Roche singing while she played the harp. We experienced several tours with John. One day we went on a forest walk near a lake that was full of graceful swans and sat down to do some poetry in the woods. Another day, Claire met us at the grave of WB Yeats and brought her harp to sing and play a melody in his memory, while a crowd gathered.
John also took us to see an ancient Sheila Na Gig, a carving of a woman and her opened vulva. They used to carve these explicit pictures into the stone at places of worship and no one seems to know why. For me, it is rather obvious when you look at the spiritual context of a portal or doorway. The female body is the portal from the spirit world to the physical world of matter. Perhaps Sheila was considered a blessing, similar to putting a horseshoe over a doorway in certain cultures. She may have represented protection and good luck, but more importantly, for those who carved her there, she served as a symbolic reminder that the Church doorway was the portal back to the spirit world.
Caves of Keash
One of the highlights while we were with our local guide John, was he took us to a holy well and my favorite experience was when we went to the caves of Keash (the keys) where I had a vision before arriving that there used to be an old hag's face carved into the top of one of the caves. The first cave drew me in and I asked the Hag for her permission for our group to explore the caves and gave thanks. Inside that cave was a large boulder that you could sit or lie down on. I picked up intuitively that some ancient, more adventurous, young lovers would meet there for a rendevous.
This cave steeped in legend ended up offering a few of us a magical experience, and not everyone in the group felt comfortable walking on a steep ledge. It was raining that day which made it slippery, so only three of us made it to the last cave. For the three of us, we got to experience what felt like a feminine deity or Goddess inside. Before we walked into the cave, I looked down and captured an image of what looked like three peas in a pod. As we walked in, each one of us gasped in astonishment at the same time. As someone sensitive to energy, it felt like we were graced with the presence of the spirit of an Irish deity, and there before our eyes was part of the cave that resembled a woman's feminine part with water spewing out. Energetically speaking, it seemed like a fitting moment for a goddess tour.
Photos are copywritten.
While I would like to continue, this is where our Irish journey ends. After our visit to Ireland, we went on to stop in Inverness and then ventured on to the Isle of Skye. However, since we are still in Ireland, I might want to mention that we had a free day to explore Dublin before our return flight home the next day. I believe it is important to include a free day for people who might want to do something else that was not included in our group itinerary. On this last day of the tour, some of us rode around on the big red, hop-on and hop-off bus and visited several museums, and one of our stops was to view the Book of Kells at Trinity College. That evening one of the younger women in the group wanted to walk to the Temple Bar to see what it was like, so I joined her and we had a Guinness. Now that is not a beer that I can drink anymore, but we were in Ireland, so why not?
The first Celtic Goddess Tour had some magical and unforgettable moments. I can't wait to go back in June of 2024 for our second Celtic Goddess Tour. This time we will celebrate the summer Solstice at one of the ancient stone circles. We are honoring the Cailleach, the divine hag, or wise woman, she is associated with the creation of the land and with the weather, storms, and winter. And we plan to visit some ancient stone circles that we haven't explored yet in the Beara Peninsula near Kerry and Cork, as well as meet up with kindred spirits, John and Claire again. For the Scotland leg of the journey, we are staying on the Isle of Mull, with a day trip to visit the Isle of Iona and Staffa.
If you are interested in joining us feel free to reach out via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The huge stones standing on the land at Clifden Castle-courtesy of Bob Ferry. And more pictures from this experience.