Carved in stone.

I was lucky enough to be offered a lift back from Limerick the other day by a dear friend. I was even luckier when she invited me to take part in a fieldtrip around the Portumna area of County Galway with her fellow students on the day. Because we encountered great beauty and wondrous beast I decided to avert from the usual subjects of this blog and share a few photos here from the day.

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We visited Kilnalehin Priory, the only Carthusian settlement in Ireland and I was blown away by the beauty of the old stone carvings on headstones, crosses and plaques.

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Note the head above the window.

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The high crosses had intricate Celtic designs and I was particularly fond of the beautiful  mother figure flanked by two angels on one of the headstones.

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I learnt of the mythical Cockatrice, a winged dragon like creature with a cock’s head and a dangerous stinger on its tail. Apparently it can only be born from the egg of a cock, with no hen involved in the making.

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This cat was fascinating and appeared in two different versions. What was the lead for? For what purpose was he kept and not allowed to roam free?

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There were many more intricate, amusing and marvellous beasts to be found in this place.

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Another destination was the impressive Pallas Castle, a tower house built around the year fifteen hundred surrounded by an impressive bawn with a crenelated parapet, two corner defence towers and five storeys. Here I found another version of the Cockatrice above the gate on the Family armorial plaque.

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The third place we visited was a graveyard with some very old stones and one in particular caught my eyes. It had panels with different designs, surrounded by borders of Celtic knots and a cross made up of rosettes in the middle.

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I returned home full of impressions and very grateful to my friend Jacqueline for inviting me along. I hope you have enjoyed the pictures. I am usually fascinated by things that grow and change but there is a very special and profound beauty in something that takes time hundreds of years to devour.

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