A diary record of Bernadette Mac's walks by the Boyne during the pandemic lockdown of 2020-21. Latest post first.
Walking by the river Boyne on Sunday taught me to tune in, go with the flow and, just like where the Blackwater meets the Boyne, we shall all meet again with a better understanding of each other and healing.
17th February 2021 - a winter's walk
Updated 20 November 2020 - an unexpected family connection
Continuing on from my walk along the River Boyne heading towards the Dublin Road to my left, across the river, just beyond the bridge, before you come to the Ardboyne Hotel, is the Norman motte at Athlumney ( known locally as the King's Belly).
The summit of the motte would probably have held wooden buildings and may have been surrounded by a defended enclosure. It would have functioned as a local administrative and agricultural centre and as such would have been the focus of activity necessitating the constructions of outbuildings, barns, kitchens, stables, and other structures ( O'Connor 1998)
The construction of The Tower House and later house additions near the motte demonstrates the continuing local importance of the site as the seat of the Athlone branch of the prominent Anglo - Norman Dowdall family. By the later mediaeval period the Dowdalls, who own the land, had areas including a tuckmill, a watermill and two fishing weirs in addition to the Tower house and church.
Very interesting to learn this as I was married to a Dowdall. I still have that name today as I never got divorced. It was quite a surprise to me to learn of this history and the connection that I have to the King's Belly, a place I walked past many times... and played there as a child.
I remember rolling down the hill on hot Summers days. Little did I know that one day I would have a connection to it in name.
So what can you learn about your surrounding areas today? and are you connected to any piece of history that you didn't know about?
Now I call that Magic of the Land. It means there must be some royal blood in me there somewhere, in all of us in fact.
Do we know who we truly are?
To be continued.... but I plan to visit Athlumney Castle very soon.
During this time of lockdown put the experience into doing something positive, like finding out about your town or country, the history that surrounds you, the magic.
Maybe you live near a fairy Fort that you don't know of?
Maybe you have a connection to a building that you don't know of?
Enjoy the adventure whatever it may be for you.
Each day now as I go for a walk along the Boyne I look, I listen and I research when I get home. It's amazing what you learn.
Blessings to you all today and may you find the magic in your life in the Magic of the Land. Bernadette Mac
up-date 15th November 2020 - What was it like back then?
Hi everyone. I wrote during the week about the Magic of the Land and the river Boyne and it's so strange when you look at a news feed and find Navan Heritage have posted old photos of the river Boyne. So where are we connecting? on a level in this pandemic that were not aware of?
Now I call this magic so here's a few photographs from the olden days along the River Boyne in Navan, Slane, Trim and then by the Ramparts.
I hope you enjoy them as much as I did. I wonder what it was like back then.
Take care everyone, Bernadette Mac
|A stroll down the Ramparts in Navan
|New Bridge, Navan
|The Boyne with Beauparc House in the distance
|A cruise down the Boyne at Slane Castle
Up-dated 13th November 2020 - discovering something new in the familiar
Hi everyone and welcome to the Magic of the Land.
I've been walking around my town, Navan, County Meath, most days and without realising it I have been walking along a magical path along the River Boyne.
I also find, since I was a child, the autumn time is my favourite time of year and a time of learning and New Beginnings and also time of letting go and acceptance.
My journey starts from the centre of Navan town, down to the bottom of Flower Hill where the Blackwater meets the Boyne.
One day it occurred to me as I walked along by the Boyne, "wow, there's so much history here". I thought about my childhood and and some of the history that I learnt about the Boyne and it got me curious again. It's amazing what you remember and what you learn again. In times of lockdown, disease and pandemic, we must certainly find the positive in our daily lives and I surely found that at the Boyne and Blackwater.
The Boyne rises in County Kildare. It is long, with a 17 mile course to the Irish Sea, to it's estuarine channel between Drogheda in County Meath and Baltray in County Louth. It's famous for it's stocks of wild trout and salmon and indeed there is a mythical association of salmon with the Boyne that stretches back to the Legend of Finn mac Cumhaill and the salmon of knowledge. The river is also well remembered for one of the most decisive battles Irish history in 1690.
The river Blackwater is the largest tributary of the Boyne with origins at Lough Ramer in County Cavan and flows past Kells to join the Boyne at Navan. Together they form part of a special area of conservation (SAC) due to the presence of alkaline fen and alluvial woodland habitats, listed on the EU habitats directive. The populations of Atlantic salmon, otter and river lamprey species are protected under the same directive.
As I walk along the River memories of childhood flood back to me of the history, some I can remember and some I had to look up. There is much that we don't know or have forgotten about that's just right under our noses.
What's important to me is the Magic of the Land in your own time or place.
Are there areas around you that are magical and full of History but you had forgotten about?
When you're out walking, ask yourself the question:
"Is there a place close by that can give me the magic I need to keep me going until the day comes that I can get into my car and go to the Hill of Tara, Loughcrew and no doubt Newgrange, all the places around Ireland that we love to visit?"
Each day, when I walk along I learn something new about the river Boyne and the Blackwater in my hometown of Navan. There's so much more I want to write about as I'm learning more as I walk down by the river to the bridge on the Dublin Road. But for now I'll leave you with thoughts of:
Where in your surroundings can you tap in to the Magic of the Land, just as I did where the river Boyne meets the Blackwater?
I will be writing more about this as there is so much I have learnt over the last few weeks but for now I'll leave you with the Little Bit of Magic and something to think about.
Will you find magic in your surrounding area?
Until next time may you be blessed with the Magic of the Land wherever you may be in these strange times.
Updated 27th October 2020 with photos from an evening walk
Originally written September 2020 - Walking during Lockdown
Hi everyone and welcome to the Magic of the Land.
It's been a while since I've written anything because I always thought that I had to go to far away places to write something. Places like The Hill of Tara, Loughcrew, Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth, and many more places in our land, along with the beaches and rivers. As we are living in strange times and our world came to a stand still in March some of these places were off limit for a bit, so I took to the streets, walking during lockdown within the guidelines.
Each day I went a different route but, I have to say, walking down by the river Boyne on the Dublin Road is my favourite place to walk. Only Sunday gone by I realised how the walk helped me so much.
As I came to where the Boyne meets the Blackwater at the bottom of Flower Hill I thought of friends from my childhood, and friends from the town who helped me so much over the years, and how I came down Flower Hill on my roller skates. I laughed to myself. I remembered how much fun it was.
Then it hit me, as I walked along the river Boyne, I was tapping into the magic of the river. As the sun was setting on Sunday, just as I came up to where the Blackwater meets the Boyne, I thought I will stop at the bridge and take a couple of photos. It was then I realised the Magic of the Land on a busy town on a late Sunday afternoon.
The town was so busy with traffic so I focused on the river to the left of me as I walked along the path. I tuned into the element of the water, both meeting then going with the flow of it.
I noticed the wildness of the trees growing alongside, the black and red berries, the last of the swallows and the odd sea gull, along with crows and black birds. I thought to myself this is magical, in a busy town to tune into mother nature as I walked along, remembering my childhood, fun on my skates, and way down the river where I learned to swim. We would have had a lot of picnics there too. A group of friends just hanging out together, having fun, with not a care in the world.
I felt my heart lift of the memory of it and tuned into a magical place deep within, with the help of the river Boyne.
I thought to myself 'yes' there is magic in the land even in a busy town on a Sunday afternoon in late summer. I remembered a few months back when some things were lifted, people gathered down by the river and swam, something I had not seen in many many years on the river Boyne in Navan.
It was good to feel that awe and magic again in the town. Even in the
middle of the busy traffic I was able to find the balance, tune into a
place of pure peace along the path. I walked for an hour down to the
bridge and back keeping the focus on the river and the flow, stopping now
and then to take in the beauty of the land and feel how the flow of the
river and the good memories took me to a place of healing and magic.
In a time of major change in our world we can find the magic of the land, not only in far away places but right at our door step, right under our nose.
'Yes' I thought, I get it.
So, as I write this, is there a place near by where you live that you have forgotten about or, like me, too focused on far away places you could not see it?
So today look, even if it as simple as your own back garden. I promise you, you will find the magic there, or it will find you!
This is not to say that far away places are ruled out but, in the case of the events and major change in our world today, I feel it's very important to tune into mother nature more now than ever and see the magic and feel the healing.
the river Boyne on Sunday taught me to tune in, go with the flow and,
just like where the Blackwater meets the Boyne, we shall all meet again with a
better understanding of each other and healing.
I know for me today I am starting to appreciate the little things in life we took for granted. How many times I have walked or drove down that road and not seen the magic like I did on Sunday. And how the river Boyne is our water source for the East Meath water supply - the water we cook, wash and need to grow our food.
As I came back up to my car I felt so light and grounded, at the same time the magic. I went home feeling a sense of something that took place along my walk that was bigger than me, something that we tap into now and then that tells us we are all exactly where we are supposed to be.
On that note I will finish by asking each and every one of you who read this to just tune into your heart and find the Magic of the Land in the places close by we do not see, even if it's just in your back garden.
Love, Light and Healing to you all, Bernadette Mac