Saturday, February 18, 2006

Blessed spring

There are many holy wells in Ireland. Each has its annual Pattern Day, or day of pilgrimage, but year-round people come to a well to avail of its special properties. There is usually ash or haw growing nearby and you will often see the branches hung with strips of bright cloth, or offerings such as babies' toys and rosaries.

I park at the sign for Tobercranavan (‘Well of the white tree’). Local lore has it that the water here will strengthen failing eyes. On the path uphill the morning sun catches gorse in early bloom, its sweet tobacco scent on the cold mountain air. Overhead sharp shadows on scots pine make a more subtle play for my attention. Further along, I notice odd arrangements of twigs and rocks beside the path. It is said that these are secret signs left by the Tinkers.

At this well, there is a feature known as a 'coffin trough', where caskets would be dipped into the blessed water before being carried to nearby Crannagh church for burial. Having wet my eyes with the springwater, I gaze across the valley to Crannagh but see only a few chunks of granite among the brambles. I will wet my eyes again another day.

blessed spring
one last dip
on my way home

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Blogger Aurora said...

Norman, I love your work.

5:23 PM  
Blogger texas haijin said...

as do i, aurora.

thank you for sharing, norman.

7:04 PM  
Blogger Jason Sanford Brown said...

Norman, this moved me when I first read it, as it still does.

I can't wait to visit the Emerald Isle, to see all these things. I give you a jingle when I get there and we can have a pint and write some poetry! Perhaps you can translate my work into Gaelic?

7:12 PM  
Blogger laryalee said...

Norman, this is one to sigh over...
I'll always remember it.
Thanks for bringing it here!

9:22 PM  
Blogger Norman Darlington said...

Thank you, guys. I'd love to sit down with you, Jason (or any of you), and write poetry over a pint or two of the black stuff. I'm afraid my Gaeilge isn't up to the job of translating even my own work, and that after learning it for 16 years in school :(((

Let me know when you're coming!

11:27 AM  
Blogger Denis said...


This is wonderful as haibun, but the closing haiku has also an allegorical meaning with universal appeal. Unforgettable!


4:33 PM  
Blogger Norman Darlington said...

Thank you, Denis, for your careful reading :)

10:43 AM  
Blogger Scatterling said...

spring trickles
inexorably -
towards the well

- megan

12:20 PM  
Blogger Scatterling said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

12:22 PM  
Blogger Norman Darlington said...

Thanks, Megan. That's exactly what it does, and that's how it does it too :)

3:00 PM  
Blogger Norman Darlington said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

3:02 PM  

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