Hermit’s Cave — Dromoland Castle, Co. Clare

Hermit's Cave

Have I mentioned that I LOVE Ireland?

In Spring 2011, we were fortunate enough to spend three weeks touring the southern half of that glorious Emerald Isle. It mesmerized me … the beauty of the land; the warmth and charm of its people; the incredible food (yes, I wrote that … soda bread … yummm!). The experience so overwhelmed my senses that I wrote barely a word the entire time we were there. I just didn’t know how to capture on paper everything I was seeing and feeling in a way that would do it justice.

So, I relied on the camera to grasp the essence of the experience.

I captured more than 2,000 images and almost a year later am finally able to write something down. However, I’m beginning to think I should start a blog dedicated to the Irish trip as this piecemeal approach as part of a general photo blog seems a bit disjointed and unsatisfying. We’ll see …

In the meantime, one of my favourite photos from the trip is this quirky little number taken from inside the Hermit’s Cave at Dromoland Castle near Newmarket-on-Fergus in Co. Clare. Our guide (pictured and looking suspiciously like a leprechaun’s cousin … let’s call him Sean … ) took us on a horse and buggy tour of the 375 acre estate, and this cave was one of the stops.

Sean was a particularly fine Irish storyteller — the kind that leaves you wondering about the fine line between truth and fiction. He regaled us with the legends and stories of the castle, with his voice suitably intoned and inflected to underscore the drama, and folly, of historical life at the castle.

The Hermit’s Cave was the focal point of one of these stories. Legend has it (or so we were told) that a past castle owner (who shall remain nameless because I’ve forgotten it) in days of yore, feeling heavily the guilt of his terrible ways and the intense need to repent, had this stone and dirt cave constructed off the beaten path and then paid a man (the hermit) to live inside it for a number of years to do his penance for him.

Poor hermit. Living conditions would have been brutal, especially during the cold winter months. There was a doorway, but no door; a window, but no glass, and the floor was dirt. But as I understand it, he was usually handsomely paid so that by the end of his term (usually around 10 years, if I recall correctly. If anyone can offer more clarity on this I’m open to it … ) he would have accumulated enough wealth to purchase some land of his own. (At least that’s what Sean told us …)

I guess that’s one way to pay the mortgage.

Copyright Aimwell Enterprises 2012

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