Archives for posts with tag: preservation

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In May of 2016 I was fortunate enough to visit the Republic of Ireland with my partner at the time. I’ve yet to write up much of what was seen in that trip and I’m starting to get a bit of a back log!

I’ve previously written about Gurteen stone circle and the lone Gurteen Menhir that stands in a near by field.  Today’s post will be a quick one to detail a trip to An Cathair Cubh Deargh in County Kerry. (See location here)

Locally known as ‘The City’ this ruined site sits 7ooft above sea level and in the foothills of The Two Paps mountains. The Two Paps are also known as the Paps of Danu and their name is thought to be a reference to an ancient Irish Goddess, Danu (or Danann or Anu or Dana) who leaves little lore behind her. Yet who may well be a form of an even more ancient water Goddess connected to the River Danube.
In this case though, she is often thought of as one of the mothers of the Tuatha De Dannan which means ‘The Tribe Of the Gods Of Danu’. In Irish lore Danu is the mother of the majority of the Irish Gods, but is herself, the daughter of the good and mighty God Dagda.

These hills are rich in cairns and possible tombs and some can even be seen atop the mountains; appearing to be the nipple on the breast.

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The setting was not, however, the reason for paying a visit to the site. The City was thought to be the first place to be settled in Ireland and has seen thousands years of continuous worship held upon it’s soils!  Which makes it an amazing place for cultural heritage in the West. It’s a wonder to think of all of the ways in which that worship alone has changed.

However, the site has nought but a few notice boards and is accessed by a steep and country track like road in the middle of a cluster of farm like buildings. On approach, we thought we must’ve taken a wrong turn and so i nipped out of the car to, unintentionally, loom over a small and geriatric Irish man in order to ask for directions. At first glance the site would appear to be a ruined barn, or outbuildings, if one wasn’t looking for it.

Those notice boards are crammed with information though, and on them it can be seen that An Cathair Cubh Dearg translates to ‘The fort of the red claw’. The Red Claw is thought to refer to a war Goddess of ancient times and might even link in to a past far more ancient than can be easily told.

In ancient times, An Cathair Cubh Dearg was surrounded by a wall of mounded stones, over three metres tall and four metres wide. Some of this is visible today and the site has a clean but holy sensation to it’s air.

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The site has a central well spring, stabilised in concrete in more modern times and with cups laying around the area for any to use. The water tastes beautiful, in case you are wondering, although the relatively close proximity of cowpats did give me cause to pause for a moment.

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In fact, it’s absolutely wonderful to see that this hidden site is so well used. There are rosary beads and clootie ribbons around the place and deep grooves in the shape of  crosses that have been worn in by the rubbing of a stone from worshipful folk over the years.

In ancient times, Danu and other goddesses were doubtless worshiped on this site. It’s even been postulated that the site has developed several times – with the first incarnation being that of a sacred Neolithic mound.  Over time the site has been developed and enhanced by the artifice of clever hands and the Virgin Mary now holds court in The Fort Of The Red Claw, as testified to by a brightly coloured statue.

One of the notice boards tells of the the festival of Beltane, in which fires were burned and offerings made to the Gods to seek fertility and good luck. A festival which now would seem to be overtaken by the May Day Rounds.

The May Day Rounds, however, include such things as walking around the outside of the fort thrice and more within it – something that some practitioners of modern day witchery might recognise; certainly those who have looked in to the christianised forms of traditional witchcraft should see some parallels in how it’s done. Despite the number three being held sacred by the Christian faith, I can’t help but be titillated by the idea that the Rounds could be mirroring a pagan practice, even if only in where the feet of worshipers tread at the time of Beltane.

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A brief  blog today on the topic  of fruit preservation.  

You may recall from a blog post a few days ago that I had gathered the first few kilograms  of Jostaberries nd gooseberries. 

For the past few years I’ve  been  promising  myself that I’d  get round to making fruit leather. 

The process  is really simple:

– top and tail the berries

– blend or puree the berries

– place on a non stick sheet or strip of clingfilm at about  quarter of  an inch thick.

– dehydrate in a  standard  dehydrator for around eight hours or until it’s  no longer tacky or squishy but still flexes like leather. 

The volume decrease  considerably  and the resultant leather has a super concentrateday flavour. Honey or sugar can always be added to the puree to sweeten up tart berries.

This tasty leather can be rolled up and popped in to a kilner jar and stored or ages. It takes up less space than freezing it would or drying  the berries  whole and is great to nibble on for a fruity hit.

Doing it this modern way made me consider the olden days and how it might have been done then.

It would of course have been done on a tray in a low hear oven, perhaps  making the most of a fired oven’s heat after the main cooking has been done for the day.

Yet, looking further back it would likely  have been mixed in to a storage food like pemican. Pemican is made of finely diced or mashed meat mixed with nuts and berries, a survival and  travel food of the Native Americans. I’m  sure similar  mixes would be found all over the world though, anywhere that atmospheric  damp didn’t  re-wet dried food top easily. 

This pemican mixture would then be dried on rocks by the fire or green wood racks supended above a low burning fire / hot embers. The exposure  to smoke helping to cure the mixture too, thereby preserving it as it became a chewy delicious little meaty fruity cakey thing.

I hope to make pemican in the near future; if I get round to it I’ll  blog about it too.