Faires, Changelings, and Sheep?

Glencar Waterfall (2) ???????????????????????????????

One of the lovely places we visited was Glencar Waterfall.  It is located 8 miles north of Sligo town.  The waterfall has a drop of about 50 feet and is famous because it was mentioned by W. B. Yeats in his famous poem called The Stolen Child.

Glencar sheep

The Rockstar tour enjoyed the beautiful scenery around the falls and the misty aura of the falls themselves.  Betty and I made a new friend there as well.  He had escaped his pasture and we tried to coax him back in.  Our new friend evaded us adeptly.  Such is life…

Glencar Glencar 2

Back to the task at hand, in The Stolen Child W. B. wrote about the Irish folklore associated with fairies and changelings.

Here is as small taste:

in which he What follows is ‘Where the wandering water gushes

From the hills above Glen-Car,

In pools among the rushes

That scarce could bathe a star,

We seek for slumbering trout

And whispering in their ears

Give them unquiet dreams;

Leaning softly out

From ferns that drop their tears

Over the young streams.’


Conflict and Compromise

Derry monument

During our stay in Bundoran, we took a day excursion to Derry in Northern Ireland in order to learn about the conflict there and the peace process.

The name Derry is an Anglicization of the Irish name Daire or Doire meaning “oak grove”.  In 1613, the city was granted a Royal Charter by King James I and the “London” prefix was added, changing the name of the city to Londonderry.  While the city is called Derry by Irish citizens, Londonderry remains the legal name.  Just an FYI no self-respecting Irish-person calls it Londonderry.  As an anthropologist I have a duty to adhere to the cultural norms of the country, therefore, I shall respect their cultural history and refer to the city by its proper name, Derry.

Derry wall 3

Derry wall  Derry wall 2

Derry is the only remaining completely intact walled city in Ireland.  The Walls were built during the period 1613-1619 by The Honourable The Irish Society as defences for early 17th century settlers from England and Scotland.   The Walls, which are approximately 1 mile (1.5 km) in circumference and which vary in height and width between 12 and 35 feet (4 to 12 metres), are completely intact and form a walkway around the inner city.

Derry was a focal point for the civil rights movement in Northern Ireland.  Catholics were discriminated against under Unionist government in Northern Ireland, both politically and economically.

I had read a book about Bloody Sunday and the civil rights movement in Northern Ireland several years ago, so I was familiar with the event.  That being said, it is completely different to ready information in a book than to visit the site and speak to people who lived through the event.  When you read a book thousands of miles away, it was a terrible event that happened decades ago to a group of unknown people.   Looking at the artifacts in the Free Derry Museum and speaking with people who lost family during Bloody Sunday, made it much more real and personal.  Forty years later the pain and even some anger are still present.

On Sunday January 30, 1972, 13 unarmed civilians were shot dead by British paratroopers during a civil rights march in the Bogside area. Another 13 were wounded and one further man later died of his wounds. This event came to be known as Bloody Sunday.

The English Lord Chief Justice, Lord Widgery, was appointed to investigate the events of Bloody Sunday.  Many people in Derry were angry that a British judge had been appointed to investigate the actions of the British Army. After Bloody Sunday in 1972 the British government conducted an investigation that labeled the murdered men and women as IRA bombers.  It took until 2010 for the wrong doing to be officially recognized.  In London, British Prime Minister David Cameron said the investigation – based on evidence from 921 witnesses, 2,500 written statements and 60 volumes of written evidence – demonstrated that the soldiers’ shooting into the crowd protesting the internment without trial of IRA suspects was “both unjustified and unjustifiable.”

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??????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????? Derry Mural

After our visit to the Museum we took a walking tour of the city.  There are many murals scattered around Bogside on the gables (ends) of buildings.  Before the peace process all the murals were dark in nature and portrayed scenes of conflict.  Since the peace process began, the murals are slowly being replaced with symbols of peace such as doves, and lilies.  The murals represent what the community is feeling, whether it be conflict or  peace.


Repression of the Catholic Irish in Derry is still very fresh in the minds of the people there.  It all happened in their lifetime, they have achieved peace but have not forgiven or forgot what happened.

The Model – Ode to Yeats…

the model

During our stay in Bundoran, we took a day trip to the city of Sligo.  As academics, our quest was to visit The Model, a lovely modern art museum 20 miles south of Bundoran.  The Model is one of Ireland’s leading contemporary arts centers, and houses the Niland Collect of Art, one of the most notable collections in Ireland.  Featured works of the collection include John and Jack B Yeats, Estella Solomons, Paul Henry and Louis Le Broquy among others.

Model Museum group

While at The Model we met representatives from Fáilte Ireland, learned about the Yeats family, and had a delicious lunch in the museum’s café.  On a side note, my most favorite thing to eat in Ireland was the brown bread. Super scrumptious, and the museum café’s brown bread was one of the best I had while traveling there.  The representatives we met from the national tourism board were wonderful and generous with their time, considering they were meeting a group of dusty, musty professors and administrators.


While at the museum we learned about the Yeats Family.


Jack B Yeats, son of John Butler Yeats was an artisit – a painter.  He was the younger brother of the poet W. B. Yeats. He spent much of his boyhood in Co. Sligo and maintained that the landscape and light of the county inspired him to become a painter. In London he sporadically attended various art schools, including the Westminster School of Art, and worked as a black-and-white illustrator, chiefly for magazines. His early paintings were in watercolour, and he was over 30 before he began to work regularly in oils.

Often in his work you will see circus images, especially clowns, used as a metaphor for life, loneliness, mental illness in his work.  He was the youngest child of the family and lived with his maternal grandparents in Sligo from 7-16 yrs. Old.  Jack’s early watercolors (circa 1898-1910) are Sligo scenes and characters.  In 1905 he was commissioned to illustrate for a writer who looked at poverty in the west.  Between 1910 – 1920s worked in oils, mostly political works.  During the mid 1920s (later career) his work changed to a loose style with bright colors, as his painting technique moved from brush to handle and palette knife.


Jack’s brother W. B. Yeats was a famous poet.  He was born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1865, William Butler Yeats was the son of a well-known Irish painter, John Butler Yeats. He spent his childhood in County Sligo, where his parents were raised, and in London. He returned to Dublin at the age of fifteen to continue his education and study painting, but quickly discovered he preferred poetry.  Yeats became involved with the Celtic Revival, a movement against the cultural influences of English rule in Ireland during the Victorian period, which sought to promote the spirit of Ireland’s native heritage. Though Yeats never learned Gaelic himself, his writing at the turn of the century drew extensively from sources in Irish mythology and folklore.

John B Yeats ,father of Jack and W. B.,was also a painter. John Butler Yeats attended Trinity College, Dublin and studied law. He was admitted to the bar in 1866 and had a short-lived career as a barrister before pursuing his love of drawing in 1867. He went to America on holiday with 2 daughters and stayed.  W.B. sent him money to live.  He is buried in upstate NY.

Our visit ended with a nice chat with the Yeats International Society in the lobby of the museum.  We learned out the Yeats International School run in the summer by the society.  Sounded wonderful -Poetry circles, book clubs, public lectures, seminars, networking with experts.

Chair of Social Science, Humanities,
& Foreign Languages

Liberal Arts & University Transfer
Craven Community College

800 College Court
New Bern, NC 28562
Email: bellaceroc@cravencc.edu
Phone: 252.638.7328
Fax: 252.638.3231

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