There are Many Thin Places in Dingle

Of all the places in Ireland, the Dingle peninsula is the most mystical to me.  One could spend a month on Dingle and not see a tenth of the thin places.  I suspect the grounds everywhere are littered with nodes where earth energy seeps through.  Every sunrise, every sunset, every rainstorm, the light, the hills, the stones, the Atlantic, the views ... all are charged with a sort of divine presence.

Photo by Patty Green McArdle - Dingle Harbor

The photo above shows boats tied up at the Dingle Harbor. The photo placed 4th in popular vote in the Ireland Photos by You! contest.  59 photographs were entered and over 300 people voted by LIKING their favorite photos on Thin Places Mystical Tour of Ireland Facebook page.

Patty McArdle (the photographer) is a nurse who lives in Frederick, Maryland.  She had this commentary to offer with her photo submission:

The picture was taken at Dingle Harbor on the Dingle Peninsula. While most thin places seem to be on land (or, at least, that is what I've always thought) this place seemed to call to me. Notice that these boats are not pleasure boats, but rather working boats. I felt not only the beauty of the boats but felt the presence of those hard-working Irishmen, past and present, who spent their lives on the water providing for their families and community. I believe that those who lived off of that water who have gone before us remain close in that harbor.

My husband and I were on 2 week adventure in Ireland, taking in the sights all up and down the west coast and more. This was a trip that we had planned for months and months and enjoyed every second of it! We can't wait to go back!

 The Dingle Peninsula is in the southwest of Ireland and far removed from large centers of population.  Dingle town is toward the western end on the south side of the peninsula .  A snug harbor here entering from Dingle Bay is where many of the fishing and tour boats come it.  This was also where pilgrims left in Medieval times to travel to Santiago de Compostela - the pilgrim trail of St. James in Spain.

Dingle has always been a holy place.

Photos of Dingle from the Travel Hag Flickr Site

The North Side of Dingle

On the north side of the peninsula are villages around Tralee Bay and Brandon Bay, and of course Mount Brandon - the holy mountain where St. Brendan is said to have had his vision which inspired him to set out with a fleet of curragh's to find the "promised land."  In the end, Brendan came home to Ireland and founded several monastic communities.  Mount Brandon is the second highest peak in Ireland and dominates the northern landscape which is dappled with villages, monastic ruins and megalithic monuments.... and some of the most beautiful strands (beaches) in all of Ireland.

I had a one of my most remarkable thin place experiences there in the shadow of Mount Brandon

The West and Southern Shore of Dingle

On the west end and the southern shore, the Dingle peninsula has tremendously scenic drives such as the Slea Head loop and Connor Pass (which connects the north and south shores).  Bee hive huts, monastic settlement ruins, oratories, forts, cross slabs, standing stones, ogham stones and famine cottages can all be seen and visited along these roads.

The streets of Dingle town are friendly and chocked full of shops, pubs, galleries and lodging houses.  The convent beside St. Mary's Catholic Church on Green Street has one of the most remarkable collections of Harry Clark stained glass windows in the world.

Art Thrives in Dingle

Art simply thrives in Dingle.  Artists, crafters and galleries are prolific.  Dingle is also one of the most vibrant centers for traditional Irish music.  I interviewed painter, Carol Cronin in her gallery on Green Street and asked her if thin places mattered to artists.  A video of the Carol Cronin interview is on the Travel Hag YouTube channel.  In about 5 minutes, Carol explains how living on the Great Blasket Island transformed her as an artist.

Other posts on Dingle
The Man in the Sand - Dingle in the Shadow of Mount Brandon
Carol Cronin - Dingle Artist on Thin Places Impacting Creativity
Harry Clarke's Stained Glass in Dingle

The Burren - County Clare, Ireland - a Very Thin Place

The Burren, located in the West of Ireland (County Clare) is a stony moonscape full of jagged edges and mile upon mile of gray rock. It has long been viewed as a sacred landscape. Across the Burren are many high crosses, several monastic ruins, portal dolmens and over ninety megalithic tombs.

Photo by Christy Jackson Nicholas - Poulnabrone Dolmen

The photograph above placed 3rd in popular vote in the Ireland Photos by You! contest.  59 photographs were entered and over 300 people voted by LIKING their favorite photos on Thin Places Mystical Tour of Ireland Facebook page.

This view of the Poulnabrone Dolmen in the Burren - County Clare was submitted by Christy Jackson Nicholas, an artist from Morgantown, West Virginia with the caption  Poulnabrone Dolmen, Summer Solstice, 2006.

Christy added this commentary after winning second place.
This was a shot we took near Summer Solstice in 2006. We loved the Burren, and it's alien landscape, and since we all take a pagan path, it was especially magical. We did have to wait around a while until the busload of tourists filtered out, but we wandered and explored the crikes and passed the time. It was a much-needed girls' trip vacation! 
Christy is an accountant and an artist. Her work can be found on her website - Green Dragon Artist.

In places, the Burren has a barren, infertile appearance because of its lack of forests and endless vistas of rock. But because of its temperate climate, the Burren is also one of the most fertile regions in Ireland.  There are lush fields and hundreds of wildflowers and blooming shrubs set against the rocky landscape - some of them growing up through the rock crevices.

The Burren one of the most remarkable and mystical landscapes in Europe.   

It is a country where there is not enough water to drown a man, wood enough to hang one, nor earth enough to bury him and yet their cattle are very fat; for the grass growing in turfs of earth, of two or three foot square, that lie between the rocks, which are of limestone, is very sweet and nourishing.   ~Edmund Ludlow,

Corcomroe Abbey

Corcomroe Abbey ruin sits in the center of a lush valley where a monastic community was able to thrive in the twelfth century.  The abbey was most likely founded and financed by Donal Mór O'Brien,  and it went strong for over 400 years  - all the way up until the dissolution of the monasteries.

The Abbey sits just off one of the main roads that wind around the Burren.  It's easy to explore and has a strong sense of solitude. Each time I visit Corcomroe it's the same ... a kind of forgotten relic almost projecting its memory of what once was. It is not a subtle presence.

Imagine that someone destroyed a magnificent gallery and all that was left were some walls and remnants of art clinging to the ruins.  A thousand years after the destruction, you walk through and observe what's been left behind ... the raised arm of a bishop, the bold face of a saint, the curls on the head a warrior, detailed carvings on a column.  You know the place was special ... alive with the collective results of talented artists that toiled for years on these works of art.  But the place died and most of what was in it was lost.  Only scraps are left, leaving hints of the place's former grandeur.

That's what Corcomroe is like. It's a lonely place.

The fishbone pattern on the ribs that support the vaulted roof over the sanctuary, the effigy of a Chieftain king, carved faces and flowers resembling bluebells atop the large columns are amazing.  Corcomroe is a place to walk through slowly... to stop and notice the details.

The Poulnabrone

If the Burren had a brand, it would be the Poulnabrone portal dolmen (shown in the Christy's photo above).  It dominates the landscape.  It stands taller than a man, and dates back to somewhere between 3600 and 3800 BC.  Buried beneath the dolmen are the remains of 22 people, 16 adults and 6 children.  It was most likely a place for communal ritual.  A sacred place.


The church at Kilfenora was built in the 12th century.  It is located on the edge of the village and is now enclosed with a roof and locked gate.   Inside the church is the High Cross of Kilfenora and some interesting carvings on the walls.  The Doorty high cross is also located there and the views from the church are lovely.

A beautiful post A Visit to Kilfenora Cathedral offers a unique perspective on this region and its history.

Thin Places - Glendalough - a Magical Place

Glendalough in County Wicklow - One of the Most Magical Places on Earth ~ Maya Hanley

The photograph above placed 2nd in popular vote in the Ireland Photos by You! contest.  59 photographs were entered and over 300 people voted by LIKING their favorite photos on Thin Places Mystical Tour of Ireland Facebook page.

This colorful Autumn scene was taken by Maya Hanley of Carlow, Ireland and submitted with the caption - Glendalough - County Wicklow, one of the most magical places on earth.  

Maya added this commentary after winning second place.
It was taken in Glendalough on an October day when I had a friend over from Sweden. It was her first visit and I wanted her to see the magic of Glendalough. I grew up near there, in Roundwood, so Glendalough was sort of my back yard.
When we were small, my mother used to take us out on picnics in the summer and that photo was taken at the exact spot we used to picnic. In those days, we were able to light a fire and my mother would put potatoes wrapped in aluminum foil into the base of the fire and they would roast as the fire grew. She would boil a kettle on the fire and make tea that was smokey and delicious.
Mother would lie on the picnic blanket while we played in the river. After lunch, we would head to the lake, just around the corner and sit and look at the sky and the trees and talk about the history of the place and how there were fairies in the woods and other magical creatures. We all 'knew' there was something magical there, we could feel it in the soles of our bare feet as we ran about the place.
We always went to the wishing rock in the graveyard too. You had to stand with one hand in the groves of one rock and straddle the pathway to reach the other rock where there was always a pool of water, and make your wish.
I go back to Glendalough over and over again and it never fails to intrigue and inspire me. My friend,who was with me that day, was thunderstruck and it opened up a discussion of the 'other world' and what's possible. Since then, her life has taken another turn and has opened up to the idea of magic. I blame Glendalough!

Maya Hanley is a Marketing Consultant who works with small businesses, helping them with marketing strategies and social media practices.  More information about Maya can be found on her website and on her Facebook business page.

A Little More about Glendalough

The name Glendalough means valley between two lakes, which is indeed where the ruins of St. Kevin's monastic city rest - in a valley between two lakes.  In the late sixth century, St. Kevin founded a monastic community on this site and it flourished into the thirteenth century becoming a self sufficient city and center for learning.  The remnants of the grand building that once stood are from the eleventh and twelfth centuries.

The double gateway leading into Glendalough is rare and is actually set at two levels.  The arches still stand - one slightly higher than the other.  Several churches, a cathedral and round towers make up the main complex, which rests on a sea of grave markers remembering the dead of the Glendalough parish.  St. Kevin's High Cross, though not as ornate as many others scattered around Ireland, stands in the center of the complex

Pathways and bridges guide the visitor in and out of ruins that cling to the present time and space, but somehow those old relics seem to connect with the past  ... with a time when they were new and vibrant and the city thrived.

Even with throngs of visitors, one can find a quiet spot in Glendalough and ponder, pray, remember. There's a quietness about the place and a mystical draw that makes everyone want to return.

When I asked Paddy Moloney of the The Chieftains if he could name a thin place in Ireland, he remembered Glendalough.  He said, "Glendalough is my parish. I live near there.  I like to go there when it rains and walk and walk.  Almost nobody goes there when it rains."

Flickr Slide Show comprised of photographs by Mindie Burgoyne - (c) 2012