I just spent five wonderful days along the shores of Lough Gur in county Limerick. Some friends were over from the U.S. and we spent the first few days around Dublin visiting sites such as Clonegal Castle (home to the Fellowship of Isis), New Grange, and the Hill of Tara. Then several more friends joined us from Belgium and the Netherlands as we settled into the most adorable cottage just a short stroll from the Lough Gur visitor center.

It was such a delight to awaken each morning to bird song and to fall asleep at least one night to the patter of rain on the roof. The first evening at the cottage I slipped away from the group to explore the back garden and the marshy area that bordered it, when I heard a song I had never heard before. A cuckoo! What a treat. There is an old Irish saying that the cuckoo brings fine weather, though Joyce enjoyed quoting Shakespeare when he wrote in Ulysses, “Cuckoo! Cuck Mulligan clucked lewdly. O word of fear!” For us, however, the cuckoo brought fine weather with ne’er a cuckold in site!

We clambered into the cave on Knockadoon (which leads to Tír na nÓg), marveled at the glassy waters of Lough Gur (the narrow lake), circled around the Hag’s Bed wedge tomb, and sang in the majestic stone circle at Grange. We journeyed down to The Kingdom (Kerry) to wander in the cool Oak forest. We laughed, we cried, we shared stories and love.

    the host [rode from Knockadoon]
    over the bed of [Cailleach Beare];
    Caoilte tossing his burning hair,
    And Niamh calling, “Away, come away:
    Empty your heart of its mortal dream.
    The winds awaken, the leaves whirl round,
    Our cheeks are pale, our hair is unbound,
    Our breasts are heaving, our eyes are agleam,
    Our arms are waving, our lips are apart;
    And if any gaze on our rushing band,
    We come between him and the deed of his hand,
    We come between him and the hope of his heart.”
    The host is rushing ‘twixt night and day,
    And where is there hope or deed as fair?
    Caoilte tossing his burning hair,
    And Niamh calling Away, come away.