Our favorite event "Féile na gCloch" is back again this year and it going online! This unique stone festival covers many aspects of stone work including stone carving, dry stone walling, lettering, carving, sketching and working with lime.
Féile na gCloch live events run on Fri 18th and Sat 19th September 2020. For this virtual experience log onto:
THE THREE DAUGHTERS OF THE KING OF THE SEA by Terry Flanagan
FOREWORD: In the Folklore of Ireland and other maritime countries, there is a profusion of stories concerning seals. Possibly due to the fact that they come ashore and that their head, when seen at a distance above water, bears a resemblance to a human head, it was said that they were human beings under a spell. In other tales they were called Selkies, mythological creatures who could take on a human form.
Many years ago, there was one family of Conneelys (Ó Conghaile) living in Errismore very close to the sea. They had one son, a fine young man. On May Day each year, three seals used to come ashore on a very big flat rock that was high above the tide. There was a cave, five or six yards deep, at the back of the rock, under a cliff.
When the seals came up on the rock, each of them used to
take off the hood that was tied about its neck and throw it
into the cave behind them. As soon as they took off the
hoods, they became the three finest women that the sun had
ever shone upon, and they would go out swimming, each with
a golden head of hair. The third woman was the most
beautiful of all. When they grew tired after swimming for
two or three hours, they would come back on to the rock
again. Each of them would then take her own hood and tie
it about her neck. She would become a seal immediately.
After spending about half an hour on the rock, the three
seals would dive into the sea together and disappear from
Young Conneely used to watch them every May Day. He liked
the youngest woman best of all. He was working in the
field one day at the end of Spring when he met an old man
who he never saw before. He spoke to the old man, each of
them telling his own story. Conneely told him about the
three seals that used to come to the rock every May Day.
'There's one of them a lot nicer and more beautiful than
the other two,' said he.
'I'd say that you have a liking for her,' said the man.
'Indeed, I have,' said Conneely.
'I'm in love with her, but I've no chance of ever getting
'I have an idea who they are' said the man. 'I have heard
talk about them. What would you give to the person who
would tell you the way you might get the one you want?'
'Oh, I'm only a poor man,' said Conneely. 'All I could give
you as a reward is my seven thousand blessings.'
'That's a good reward,' said the man. 'I'll tell you what
you must do. When next May Day comes, hide yourself in
the cave early in the morning, and when they throw their
hoods into it, you must put the young seals hood inside
your shirt. Keep the other two hoods in your hands. The
three women will be screaming and wailing, each of them
asking for her own hood, and saying that their father will
kill them if they aren't home by a certain hour. They are
the three daughters of the King of the Sea. You mustn't
give the youngest woman her hood, at any price, no matter
what screaming and complaining she does. Give the hoods
to the other two. Then walk towards your house, and the
youngest one will follow you. You must hide the hood in
a place she'll never see it. If she does, you'll have
finished with her.'
'You may be sure that I'll never give her the hood,' said
Conneely. 'I love her too much for that!'
The old man then stood up and left, and Conneely never
laid eyes on him again. May Day came, and at dawn, Conneely
hid himself in the cave. Soon the three seals came up to
the rock. Each of them took off the hood, and threw it into
the cave, and they were the finest women to have ever
raised their faces to the sky. The youngest was the most
beautiful of all. When the three women jumped in to swim,
Conneely picked up her hood and shoved it inside his shirt.
He kept the other two in his hands. He waited until they
came back to the rock. When they saw him with the hoods in
his hands, they asked him for them, but he refused. They
started to wail at the top of their voices, saying that
their father would kill them if they weren't home early in
the evening. He threw her hood to the eldest, and to the
second eldest. The two seals jumped into the sea together
and swam off.
The youngest seal was left behind, and her cries could be
heard for miles. He told her that he wouldn't give her the
hood and he asked her to go home with him. She had no wish
to, but she had no option but to follow him to his house.
She spent the night there, and they got married the next
day. He hid the hood in the roof of the house, between the
thatch and the sods. They lived happily together, and five
sons were born to them. There wasn't a better worker to be
found. But each day, when he was out at sea, fishing, she
would weep her fill.
One fine summer's day, the husband was out at sea, fishing,
and his wife was working in the fields. When she looked back
at the house, it was on fire. There were two or three other
houses nearby and she shouted to them for help. Two or three
men came and started throwing water on the burning thatch,
while she stood watching them. Suddenly, a large clump of
thatch fell down near her and in it was the hood. She
grabbed it, tied it about her neck and she was immediately
turned into a seal. She ran down to the sea and was gone.
Her five sons followed her to the shore but failed to
find her. They returned home, crying for their mother.
When Conneely returned home in the evening, the house
was half burned, his wife had gone and the children were
waiting for him. He sat down with them, and he too cried
his fill until morning. As soon as the children got up
in the morning, they went down to where they had seen their
mother go into the sea, hoping to see her. And they did.
She came in close to the shore where they were and spoke
to them. And there wasn't a day that came during the next
five years that they didn't go down to the sea, and she
came every day and talked to them. When the five years
were up, she told them that they would never see her again.
There were very few Conneelys in Errismore at that time. But you couldn't count all of them now, that descended from the five sons of the seal-woman. That's why, to this very day, it is said that the Conneelys are related to the seals.
You can read about the seal colony on Inis Oírr here.
Áras Éanna, our local arts centre has launched it's summer 2019 schedule.
We are privileged to have a great arts centre in Inis Oírr. The management there have been doing fabulous work and continue to attract artists and performers of great renown. Aras Éanna is a multi functioning arts space that includes an artists studio space, a 75 seat theatre, two galleries and a café. There are also various rooms for workshops or classes. It provides a rare opportunity to see some of these local, Irish and international acts in an intimate venue.
You might come to Inis Oírr especially to see a particular act or artist, or just happen to drop to the arts centre as you pass by. Either way, you are sure to find it a unique experience. You can see the current schedule on their website here.
To find Áras Éanna, just continue on past Cill Ghobnait (number 12 on our map) up the hill for about 150 yards.
The Burren Slow Food festival begins in Inis Oírr this year. We are big fans of the slow food movement. Its philosophy of Good, Clean and Fair food complements our belief in sustainable low impact tourism. This festival is organised by Slow Food Clare which has peen promoting local and traditional food for 15 years.
The festival kicks off with a seafood supper in Tigh Ned on Friday 10th May. This is a great endorsement of the quality local fare that they have been serving in Tigh Ned for a number of years. Their crab salad and fish battered in the craft beer Inis Beer are so sought after you may need to book ahead!
Indeed the foodie culture in Inis Oírr has been steadily establishing itself for several years now. Teach an Tae serves homegrown produce and was included in the Top 100 Places To Eat in Ireland by the Irish Times in 2017 & 2018.
With an ever increasing number of quality food options there is even more reason to visit us in Inis Oírr!
The Inis Oírr Cleasathon 10k and 5k road runs take place on 13th April this year. By now a well established annual event, it has been kindly handed over to our local secondary school Coláiste Ghobnait to organise. The students will develop and promote the event as a business project.
Thanks to the cleasathon team for their great work to date, and the best of luck to the students and all involved. Ná lagfidh Dia sibh!
This year Inis Oírr Currach Races will be held on the last weekend of July (28/7/19) -subject to the weather conditions. The festivities include Tug O'War, weight throwing, kid’s races and other competitions as well as music and craic. For the latest updates check out their facebook page.
A currach is a traditional Irish boat with a design which is unique to Ireland & Scotland. It has evolved over time, and there are many regional variations. A modern currach is constructed with a timber frame, a canvas is stretched over the frame and it is then coated in tar. This makes a lightweight and versatile boat. In good hands, it is capable of handling surprisingly heavy seas.
The currach was an integral part of island life for centuries. It was a working boat, used for fishing, cargo and transportation. The tradition of currach racing has been kept up on each of the islands and most seaside towns around the west coast. For more information check out this article about its history.
This year we have expanded our family range of bikes to include tag-alongs. These are perfect for younger family members who may not be up to cycling for long on their own. They get to cycle or coast as they wish, while feeling like they have their own bike. Tag-along bikes have been such a hit that we have already ordered more!
The recommended age group for the tag-alongs is 4 to 10 years up to a maximum weight of 75lb (34Kg)
Alexandra has created some stunning pieces of commemorative stone sculpture here on Inis Oírr.
In 2015 she created the memorial for Caomhán Seoighe. The work was commissioned by the Irish Defence Forces, in collaboration with his surviving family. Caomhán served with the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Lebanon in 1981 and never returned. The memorial is in the graveyard at Teampall Chaomháin.
In 2013 she carved 'An Chloch' about which you can read here.
Alexandra's gift is an ability to listen and observe until she gains an understanding of people and place. She infuses her art with this essence to produce beautiful works uniquely suited to their locale.
The exhibition is at the Rob Schouten Gallery, Greenbank Farm, Whidbey Island. We wish her the best of luck!