Saturday, November 17, 2007

Ballyportry Tower, Co Clare

Ballycrottry, “The Place Of Harps”


BallyportyCastle-smSituated a couple of miles from Corofin town in the heart of The Burren of Co. Clare, Claire, myself and some travellers from Asheville, North Carolina are enjoying our exclusive use of this remarkable preserved 520 year old castle tower.


It is currently called Ballyportry names after the townland its is resident on. A townland is a measurement of land so this does not mean this is in town. However, once upon a time it took a lot of ploughmen to maintain this amount of land. A lot of people need supplies, entrepreneurs moved in and towns as we know today evolved from this, but this tower served this townland differently.


This is a former home and fortress of the O’Brien clan. It is unique in that it is truly a Gaelic home with the visibility of being a former Norman stronghold. It is said to have been a place of hosting, merriment and harp music between the O’Brien chief of the area and trading partners of France and Spain.


Here we are, Claire with her harps and song, and the rest of us thoroughly enjoying the experience. Tales tell us that the vibrations from music of the harps will help to preserve the structure of the tower and help prevent it falling again in the future.


Inside Ballyportry Castle Tower


BallyportyCastle-claire1If you are looking for the image of a castle but with the familiar comforts of a hotel this would not be for you. If you wish to briefly leave your familiar world and enter the world of the Gaels there is not a finer opportunity for doing this than at Ballyportry, and may I say “Ballycrottry” in future. Its other name is “Ballecrutteragh”, also meaning “place of the harps”. Both crottry and crutteragh are assumed to have derived from the word “cruit”, an ancient harp that could be plucked or bowed.


The tower is 7 storeys high, with each level connected with a spiraling stone stairway. On the lowest level is a very cosy kitchen, dining, living and lounging area with very efficient and warm turf fire. The next 5 levels are a combination of bedrooms and bathrooms. At the top is the “Great Hall” with racks of church candles, huge turf fire, and an array of benches, seats, large cushions and comforts.


There are modern additions such as eco-lighting, a USA style refrigerator, dishwasher, boom-box and well equipped kitchen. The cooker is a massive professional catering chef gas cooker.


It is self catering, but easy to do due to its facilities. It is not cold or damp either.


This is a place for a group of up to 8 people to share with the space to do things as a group and for individuals to escape within the building for their solitude and not be found until they are ready to re-join others. The beds are extremely comfortable!  We all remarked on having the best night’s sleep for a long, long time!


From The “Great Hall”


It is here we can wonderfully engage in harp and other music concerts (if harps can be successfully carried up the winding stairway), storytelling, poetry, mirth, mockery, meditation, prayer, silence and laughter. This top room must be a beacon to spread celebration through an afar circumference. You can also go to the top to view across the Burren wilderness across the battlements


“Re-kindling Lost Traditions” :  another Celtic Ways vacation


After staying at Ballycrottry, a new vacation package has now given birth.


“Re-kindling Lost Traditions” will start with 3 days based at our “Carrowcrory Country Cottage” a thatched cottage reviving country living and sharing traditions while also touring sacred areas and exploring ancient nature traditions that are fun, soothing, stimulating, healing and fun. We will engage with ancient 5500 year old passage cairns, sacred wells of beautiful sanctuary and healing waters and mirth, merriment and renewal through traditional folk drama, dances, music and ceili.  


Then we will share 4 days and nights here at Ballycrottry to continue “Re-kindling Lost Traditions” through rising into the life and traditions of the people of ancient castles. On one side there will be shared feasting, songs, harp music, and merriment along with personal time for retreat, solitude, sanctuary, writing and drawing. From the castle walls we will venture into the wonders of nature, celebration of the seasons, fire festival frolics, and some time on the coast to relate to sand and sea.


BallyportyCastle-thumbTotal cost at present is
€1400, $1950, for 8 days,

limited to 8 people per group


3 nights Lough Gara Lodge overnight accommodation
3 days workshops and day tours from Carrowcrory Cottage
4 days and nights accommodation, workshops and tours from Ballycrottry
7 dinners
7 packed lunches
7 breakfasts
8 days of guides, workshop leaders, transport, musicians, storytellers


Not included are air fares and travel insurance


We recommend you fly into our local Knock Airport for convenience and financial savings. We can advise you on low cost flights often as low as $400 return between New York and Knock, Ireland that you can book online or through your favourite travel agents.


How To Book


I’ll get this info expanded and on my web site as soon as possible.


For now please go to my contact form and let us know when your available dates are.


Life In A Tower House Castle


This quote from 1620 by Luke Gernon I think sums up where we currently are beautifully.


“The castles are built very strong with narrow stairs for security. The Hall is the uppermost room where you shall be presented with all of the drinks of the house. The fire is prepared in the middle of the Hall. The table is spread and plentifully furnished. They feast together with great jollity. The harper begins to tune and sings Irish Rhymes of Ancient Making”.


 

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