Home Is A Web of Connections


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My long hiatus in writing may be over, if only to share in stages some glimpses of my fifth pilgrimage/journey to Ireland. Although so much of my scholarship in relation to this place did not neatly fit into a conventional academic trajectory, it nonetheless led directly to teaching for one month in this most special and beautiful place. My science colleague/friend and I began a new study abroad program! Since life does not always wrap up chapters of our lives fluidly, I am especially grateful that my sense of true north that prevailed over the years transitioned me in this way to a point of great change.

Returning to Ballyvaughan, not as an artist-in-residence this time, but as a professor bringing students to share experiences and learn in a deeply meaningful way felt somewhat to me not like being in Ireland initially. We group of Americans doing a certain kind of work, albeit in a different place, seemed strangely familiar, as every new semester is accompanied by its own sets of uncertainties. Without benefit of a car or solitude I needed to be in this familiar area in a new way and dispel the transformative memories that continually arose seeking attention I could not afford to give them. It was necessary to pare down my expectations and become utterly patient. Perhaps after another very intense year of work this was what all of us needed. Extraordinary leaders of our field trips, however, revealed in their own ways aspects of the magic that wasn’t perceptible to me at first, and allowed my friend and me to share new and direct experiences along with our students. I so appreciated the time and poetic, eloquent sharing of information that many individuals, especially Patrick McCormack, Gordan D’Arcy and Eddie Lenihan offered us.

I explained to my friend, who was visiting Ireland for the first time, that when in this place I tend to feel as if I am a character in a fairy tale. Practical difficulties must be dealt with at first as I search for my bearings. I must shed much of the drive and focus that brought me to the first leg of the journey. Once begun, it then takes on a life of its own. I must ask directions, follow instructions strangers provide and pass through one challenge after another, each seemingly more complex and unexpected. There is a learning or re-learning of even simple things—bus and train systems, denominations of money, making it through a shortcut path in the woods without getting lost and figuring out SIM cards and hotspots. With each challenge passed the reward seems greater, the emotional impact is stronger and eventually it becomes possible to feel present and comfortable. This time it was necessary to perform a role within the unanticipated restrictions and complexities that, thankfully, came to a truly satisfying and successful result. Four weeks went by very quickly and a new group of individuals were embraced by the resident community, experiencing more and different things than any of us might have imagined.

During one week more my friend and I became tourists and transitioned into the kind of free-form wandering that I love best to do. This is how I feel most spiritually at home in Ireland. My cells and soul had recognized a deep connection to the midlands from my first visit. My intellect finally caught up with emotions and sensations about all of Ireland and her history. All of myself now works together there. I have walked and driven over so many miles that I can envision a web created over years that a tracking device might have been able to illuminate. (Perhaps someday I will draw some version of this, like delicate crochet.)

Deep and wide research, digging, seeking multiple sources for every fact, acknowledging doors that might never wish to open was necessary in exploring my mysterious ancestral history with its many Irish surnames. Being in contact with living people has been utterly necessary in order to fully perceive what my quest has been about. With each detail of the possible stories that have come into focus a calm, settled feeling has taken hold in me—and even miracles have occurred! I have felt that the ancestors dropped sequential clues, made themselves slightly more clear in stages as if acknowledging my effort paid forward while trying to learn about them. With this visit my visible and invisible teachers provided a true treasure!

With only two days left, my friend and I found ourselves driving along a winding road in Kilkenny that led higher and higher up a mountain to what we expected would reveal the small townland in which one of my great-great grandmothers had lived pre-immigration. Before leaving America someone had already confirmed my research. The Internet had provided the location of the ancient cemetery associated with her parish. The road, however, led instead to a farm at the top of the world, looking out over the other counties between which my questions had continually been weaving back and forth. Suddenly we were being invited into my ancestor’s former home! The joy of the current owner’s family regarding an American relative’s return deepened this gift exponentially, and my friend’s presence allowed me to fully feel the profundity of our visit. She had the wherewithal to take notes and snap photos while I was overcome and could only concentrate upon conversing with these gracious individuals as best as I could manage. Feeling entirely blessed by them it appeared that this portion of my quest had come to an actual fairy tale ending. I am thrilled to know that I now have a new family of friends to add to the dear ones we also visited on this trip.

It is about the people with whom and within the places in which I’ve had soulful experiences that my interior world has been created. As with friends and relatives in America, the return to a person and a place is a constant. What we do together, combined with our solitary explorations, continues to build upon the truths we’ve shared. When apart a psychic web remains.

Ireland is no longer a foreign place to me. I continue to study her history and pose new questions about her with as much curiosity and excitement as ever. Actual friends are there, even if I do not see them often. One has visited me in America. I hope that others will. Through my immersion in the homeland of my ancestors my experience of the world has grown and deepened. The awareness of connections held in energetic space has made it more possible for me to trust that the Universe provides what I need, moment after moment. I feel that our last week in Ireland provided the firm grounding from which the rest of my life will proceed.

Having not mentioned “Maher” at all yet, I’ll share that when handing over my passport and answering the airline worker’s questions before our departure, I habitually spelled out my always mispronounced and unfamiliar last name, then my friend’s. The attendant smiled and pleasantly replied, “There’s no need to spell those names here!” Laughter and joy, we belonged!

©2019 Janet Maher / Sinéad Ni Mheachair

Art & Science in Ireland!


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It is with excited anticipation that my friend and I are now preparing our Loyola University Maryland courses for a paired Art and Science experience in County Clare, Ireland. Our students and we will be at the Burren College of Art from the end of May through the end of June! We will use Instagram primarily to post aspects we wish to share. I intend to also post here, hoping that those who follow this blog will find the images and text to be interesting, even if not directly Maher-related. Looking through digital photographs from my artist residency three years ago at the College, I found two of Maher graves at Corcomroe Abbey (above). Maher references never fail to find me in my extensive journeys within Ireland and Connecticut. Sometimes a hovering spot appears in an image, as on the Patrick Maher grave here. Perhaps I’m superstitious, but I interpret this phenomenon as a spirit visitation, making its support of my continued search for illusive answers known!

That the rabbit hole of my Irish research and in-depth genealogy work since 2006 has brought me to this point in time feels astonishing. The many years of following my instincts as an artist, continually evolving my teaching, and allowing myself to veer onto a path of research that seemed (to some) to have led my decades of artwork trajectory astray has beautifully come full circle to the present! This new Study Abroad opportunity for Loyola creates a collaboration between Fine Arts and Biology — and will also be the culmination of my teaching career. I am thrilled that it also brings me to Ireland for a fifth time! Until our adventure begins, please enjoy my various Ireland boards on Pinterest and enjoy Mother’s Day!

©2019 Janet Maher / Sinéad Ni Mheachair

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day, 2019!


In this time of world strife, let us remember the open hearts and hospitality of our Irish ancestors, who had initially been treated as poorly as all non-WASP immigrants that arrived in America in the early centuries. Let us not forget that the Native and Indigenous tribes had populated the world continents before colonization against their will and their genocides, much as the Irish had been disenfranchised of their ancient ancestral homelands through the process of religious discrimination. Even in Waterbury, Connecticut, the topic of my 2015 publication, Waterbury Irish: From the Emerald Isle to the Brass City, the arrival of Italians and other nationalities had been historically met with discrimination, including by the Irish.

My childhood friend, Dave Manzo, contributed this important photograph to Waterbury Irish that represents an evolved time when the Irish and Italians got along so well that Irish-Italian marriages had become quite common. Dave’s dad, of Italian descent, is included in the photo riding in a horse-drawn coach full of his Irish friends at a Saint Patrick’s Day parade circa 1937. Not only could Mr. Manzo quickly list every county in Ireland, but his very best life-long friend was Irish — the owner of Waterbury’s former Wacki Grill.

As I concluded in Waterbury Irish, “Irishness remains in Waterbury like the currents that flow beneath its Green, blended through the blood streams of many generations. Waterbury’s heart beats strongly in a community that continues to change and rebuild itself from hopes, dreams and hard work. May the stories continue, the dreams be realized and people of every nationality thrive there.”

I still have paperback copies of the first edition of Waterbury Irish, should anyone wish to purchase one. You can contact me through my website (troll safely typed here — janetmaher dot com), or please leave a comment, all of which are first approved by me before they are posted here.

All good wishes on this day and always, with special prayers on behalf of those suffering persecution of all kinds in New Zealand, North America and throughout this endangered planet.

©2019 Janet Maher / Sinéad Ni Mheachair











A Great Gift (No Victory Without Labor!)


It has been an extremely long time since my last post, and for that I apologize. After the intensity of completing my second book while working full time and trying to still keep my artist self alive, I needed a big break from this type of research. Thank you to those who, meanwhile, have been subscribing and posting comments (which I recently answered).

Thinking that I was “finished”, I had arrived at a point where it seemed that nothing more could be found, and I had no more energy to keep trying. Hypotheses needed to remain as they were. While I had unearthed so much material about and for other people, my own direct connections remained where they lay. That my mother had a “junk man” haul off the materials of our basement in 1967, which accidentally included my father’s personal boxes in storage (even containing their letters back and forth across the ocean while he was in two wars), has always meant that I would not have the evidence and mementos he once had about our Mahers. Her telling me that I would never be able to learn more, that there was no information available (having tried to find some herself) only made me want to prove that one day I would, in fact, find it. She left a handwritten list of names and dates and references to Saint Francis Cemetery and to northern Tipperary on papers I found after her death. This is where I began, with breadcrumbs and mostly unlabeled photographs.

I have snippets of memories, stories my father told me, small details he shared, and the memory of reading typed information about the Mahers of New Haven, this having been given to him due to his familial relationship. It was there that I first learned of a “sleeping porch”– a question about which I recall asking with the strange clarity of learning other odd facts in grammar school having to do with the relative temperature of water in a bathtub, for example, or washing the backs of plates when doing the dishes. My father was a quiet man, so conversations with him, precious as they were, have remained permanently seared into my memory. He had thought this Maher story that seemed to have come from out of the blue was something I would want to read.

While my Maher research remains on hold, it has suddenly become possible to learn more about others within the many Irish surnames in my lineage. In the past few months individuals have gotten in touch with me who have used my first book in the way I had intended — to fill in gaps or help begin their own personal research. This time, however, lines have cycled back to my own family! Hallelujah! I appreciate that the acts of paying forward through the years of sharing research that was so time consuming, labor intensive (and expensive) to gather, making some kind of sense of it and putting it out for the world to receive, has cycled back bringing gifts in kind to me.


Recently I met someone who has not only validated aspects of our information, but has given me a treasure — a handmade 1934 graduation album in tribute to my great great aunt, Josephine, principal of Salem School, Naugatuck, Connecticut, in the year she retired. (Some day I intend to publish a book primarily about her, including all the articles and clippings found in scrapbooks my cousins have shared with me.) Quoting from my introduction to her in relation to early Catholic schools in Waterbury, Connecticut in From the Old Sod to the Naugatuck Valley, page 107:

Patrick and Anne Maher’s daughter, Josephine Agnes Maher, born in 1861, graduated from Notre Dame Convent in 1878, after which she became a teacher herself, in Naugatuck. She was principal of Union City School, the first school in Naugatuck to give grades, and of Salem School. She had a fifty-six year long career in education, and an academic scholarship is still awarded annually in her name. (More information and photographs appear on pages 247-254.)

With gratitude to my new friend, I share some Naugatuck history through details from this beautiful artifact, typed with handmade covers, a two-hole string-tied binding with an actual photograph of Josephine included in the beginning, secured with photo corners. This same image was in one of our family’s photo albums. Enlarging the detail of “Josie” standing on the balcony of Salem School, I included it in From the Old Sod on page 252. Now I know the photo was made on June 20 of that year. Then she was waving to whomever took the picture, yet in less than two months, her beloved nephew who had lived with her most of his life died. Her wave, instead, now seems prescient of good-byes that would be said to her students and colleagues only a few weeks after that. Josephine resigned from her long-held position on September 5 and entered retirement with the weight of Joseph Martin’s loss upon her.

Josephine signed both that page and a page at the end, underneath which were signatures of all the teachers, followed by another page of signatures from all the graduating eighth grade students.




Honor Roll student Franklin E. Bristol, Editor-in-Chief of the publication, one of the Josephine A. Maher awardees and speaker at the graduation ceremony upon which this album was likely presented, included an eloquent editorial in the album, a portion of which I include here:

In our first eight years of training, Salem School has…provided us with spacious classrooms, an excellent library and numerous other advantages. Our teachers have cooperated with us in such a way that our studies have been most interesting. Our associations here have taught us to have a sense of security among people and a confidence in ourselves … it matters not what [profession] we choose, providing that it be done sincerely and honestly. Then, undoubtedly, we shall have reached our ultimate goal and our footprints…will be left on the sands of time.

Josephine continuously stressed to all her nieces and nephews how important education and toeing the line was. She certainly left her footprints on the sands of time in our family, famous even to those of us who never actually knew her. A few people with whom I have corresponded regarding our mutual research, however, were proud recipients of her prestigious grade-based award themselves. It is thrilling to meet someone who has memories of or ties to any deceased relatives, akin to walking along the same ground that earlier ancestors might have also stepped upon in Ireland.

When I began to do research about Josephine Maher I naively presumed I could simply walk into Tuttle House or the Naugatuck Historical Society and find a wealth of materials already in place about her. There were some, but not nearly the amount I already had within our scrapbooks. Little did I know it would be up to me to definitively and formally reintroduce her as an historic figure to the town in which she deeply left her mark and influence. That’s a project for another time, but this album will be a very important component of it. For now it will serve to remind me of the generous good spirit in others and of further work that needs doing.

©2018 Janet Maher / Sinéad Ni Mheachair







Updates: Sean Ross, The Quakers and Irish Famine Relief

• My friend, Caitriona, tells me that the Heritage Festival honoring the history of Sean Ross in Roscrea, Tipperary, was a success! The Midland Tribune published three photographs with an article in their section, Roscrea News (though the article appears not to be linked online). It explained, “The cradle of Christianity was honored at Sean Ross, now known as St. Annes, with a prayer service at the medieval abbey and a comprehensive presentation by George Cunningham on the heritage of Sean Ross demesne…During the presentation Caitriona Meagher showed the new O’Meachair crown, symbol of the chieftainship of the clan…young Gavin Meagher from Clonan was persuaded to show off the crown. Immediately afterwards Demesne Manager Barry Noyce and conservation architect Ivor McElveen explained the conservation process on the medieval ruins.”

Perhaps I’ll be able to add a photo from the event at a later date. A painting of Sean Ross Abbey by artist Caoimhe Arrigan may be found here.

• Bill Duffney has received great pre-talk coverage in Waterbury’s Republican-American. He was quoted as saying, “The real evil with which we have to contend…is not the physical evil of the famine but the moral evil of the selfish, perverse and turbulent character of the people [who were responsible for it].” The starvation, he said, was “an effective mechanism for reducing surplus population.”

Many prefer to think of Ireland’s 1845-1852 years as the “Great Hunger” rather than the more commonly used, “Famine.” Duffney explained, “The word famine is a misnomer because it wasn’t really a famine; it was actually politically imposed starvation, caused by the tenacious adherence to the economic theory of laissez-faire…It’s borderline genocide.”

Describing Bill’s lecture at 4 p.m. this Thursday at Quinnipiac University, Hamden, Connecticut, the article noted efforts of the prosperous merchant and shipbuilding Quakers in Ireland to spearhead the setting up of soup kitchens and donating fishing nets to help fishermen resume their work. “Quaker William Bennett moved to create more diverse farming methods [apart from potato crops, which were affiliated with disease], purchasing vegetable seeds that he distributed in Counties Mayo and Donegal. Later, Quakers helped to distribute a much larger government donation of seeds to 40 thousand small holders and helped to plant 9.6 thousand acres.”

Duffney’s lecture will feature information from letters he has collected for the past ten years. “Among the letters he found was a donation from Waterbury, [Connecticut] which arrived in New York’s Quaker Relief Committee on March 4, 1847. The relief committee in Waterbury donated $460 on May 4, 1847, at a time when the average annual income was $600 to $800, Duffney said. Northfield, population 250, sent in $249 in 1847.”

(See Quakers in the World.)
©2016 Janet Maher / Sinéad Ni Mheachair

Two Exciting Upcoming Irish History Events!


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©2016 Janet Maher, Ancient Meachair Chieftain Cap Interpretation

©2016 Janet Maher, Ancient Meachair Chieftain Cap Interpretation

Two exciting Irish History events are around the corner in Tipperary, Ireland and in Hamden, Connecticut. First, for those lucky enough to be within driving distance of the ancient home of Clan O’Meachair, be sure not to miss National Heritage Week events in Tipperary – particularly on its last day, Sunday, August 28 in Roscrea!

The Sean Ross Heritage Group has organized a series of events that will take place from from 14:00 p.m. to 16:30 p.m., focused upon the importance of Sean Ross Abbey, once the inauguration site of the O’Meachair chieftains. Guest speakers, guided walks, and music will accompany family picnics.

The illustrious historian and author, George Cunningham, will speak about the O’Meachairs as having been priors of Sean Ross Abbey, Monaincha, and of the significance of this site in Roscrea’s ancient history. See his lovely images and text about the Monastery of the Island of the Living HERE.

I’ve sent on my own contribution and hope it makes its way across the pond in time! It’s an interpretation of the chieftain hat illustrated in Joseph Casimir O’Meagher’s Some Historical Notices of the O’Meaghers of Ikerrin. The original, found in a bog in 1692, was “a gold cap or morion, which may have served as a crown, and been used at the inauguration of the O’Meagher…Its ornamentation was undoubtedly Irish, and was identical with some earlier golden articles—lunnulae and fibulae—found in Ireland, and consisted of embossed circles, some parallel and others arranged in angles of the chevron pattern.” (pg. 13) It may be that this cloth version of a crown will be placed upon the head of this year’s chosen O’Meagher/Maher at the event, passed to another in 2017. I only wish I could be there for all the fun! Hoping that folks will share their memories of the day to post here.

For more information email mdobbin at eircom dot net. Download a pdf guide for all the Tipperary Heritage events.

NEXT: Coming September 8 to New Haven County, Connecticut—William J. Duffney Lecture at Quinnipiac University! 

William J. Duffey, Postal and Irish Historian

William J. Duffney, Postal and Irish Historian

On September 8 at 4 p.m. Bill Duffney will speak about The Quakers and Irish Famine Relief at Quinnipiac University Mount Carmel Campus, in the Student Center, Room 225. Registration is required, and a link for that is included on the Quinnipiac Calendar.

“Using original correspondence, The Quakers and Irish Famine Relief outlines the selfless efforts made by the Society of Friends (Quakers) on behalf of the starving Irish during the Great Hunger. The personal vignettes found within their letters bring us closer to the perspective of the people in their place and time. Political and social history, and maritime and postal history collide in unexpected ways.

Bill Duffney is a retired musician, educator and postal historian, who has travelled extensively in Ireland. Bill served for several years as the editor of the Connecticut Postal History Society Journal. Today, he maintains the website, Connecticut Philatelic Projects, and is a member of the American Philatelic Society, U.S. Postal Classics Society, and the Boston Philatelic Group, among others.”

Sure to be a great lecture! Good luck Bill!

©2016 Janet Maher / Sinéad Ni Mheachair

Ireland 2016, Last – Ireland Images.10


Connemara ©2016 Janet Maher

So much about my last few days in Ireland was privately wonderful due to the people with whom I shared many additional experiences. The end of my fourth trip to this magical place was more about re-connecting with people who have already become part of my present while meeting more through the connections of these friends and my stays with once-strangers via airbnb. What my husband used to call my “obsession with dead Irishmen” has come fully into the land of the living. There are no more tears upon leaving, nor a sense that I may never see these people or be here again. It was simply time to come home. It may be quite a while until next time, but I feel there will be another before my life is truly over.

In the multi-location contemporary art exhibition in Limerick, Still (The) Barbarians, that Karen and I saw a few weeks back, Alice Maher’s character in her poetically disturbing video whispered at the end, “Sometimes I am too full of dead men.” The letting go of the dead and the turbulent past is an intentional process that requires constant work, particularly in a place where collective memories seem to fill the air and permeate the land and the buildings that exist upon it. At one of my airbnbs my host actively works to heal individuals’ and the earth’s energy in the historic location he has adopted. The ancient forest on what is now his property is being returned to its sacred roots. The place, without much fanfare, attracts others like me who sense its specialness from its online description. We arrive open, with no expectations but what will be experienced in response to being there.

The drive across from the west to the midlands along a more northern parallel allowed me to see new places that had appeared in my earlier research. That the drive felt oddly as if simply traveling around Connecticut was also interesting, and that a whole portion seemed placenames-wise to relate to Rhode Island. How closely connected the areas were that I had studied in Laois, Kilkenny and Tipperary continued to be revealed, further supporting hypotheses I had made in Waterbury Irish and From the Old Sod to the Naugatuck Valley.

That the weather upon return was more like an Irish summer than an American one was very welcome to me. As I settle back into and pick up my other life again, I hold in my heart the people across the Atlantic who are so dear to me, many with whom I will surely remain in touch. A place and one’s experience in relation to it has everything to do with people and the interactions that are possible with them. Ireland is now not only about physical earthly beauty and the ease with which her people live together despite centuries of tragedy and hardship. For me Ireland is about Jane, Caitriona, Anna, Josephine, Eugene, Austin, Oliver, George, Carmel, Ellie and the Flaggy Shore women, Mary, Lisa, Ava, Mrs. Linnane and her cousin, Mikie and Christina, Mike and Mathew, Simon, Bridget, Anne and all the people from America who came to the Burren to allow their souls to delve in a very special way into the universal well of the Creative. I can only be forever grateful and attempt moving forward to remain focused from the still point that has been returned to me.

Some last photos from almost 4,000 taken, having driven more than 2,200 miles:


An Ghaeltacht ©2016 Janet Maher

If Irish is still spoken there and signs are written both ways, know that you will find beauty and friendliness! Cars will not honk at you. People will greet each other and wave fingers or a hand from their steering wheels when encountering other cars or people walking by the side of the quiet roads.


Monument Sign in Recess, Connemara ©2016 Janet Maher


Shot from Alice Maher’s video at Cleeve’s Condensed Milk Factory, Limerick ©2016 Janet Maher


President Obama and a Pint at Hayes Bar, Moneygall ©2016 Janet Maher


Across the Way from Kylemore Abbey, Connemara ©2016 Janet Maher


The Cliffs of Achill Island ©2016 Janet Maher


Intersection at Mountmellick ©2016 Janet Maher


Other Side of Intersection, Mountmellick ©2016 Janet Maher


Fintan Phelan Bakery, Port Laoise ©2016 Janet Maher


Between Port Laoise and Abbeyleix ©2016 Janet Maher


Bergin’s Pub, Port Laoise ©2016 Janet Maher


Between Port Laoise and Abbeyleix.2 ©2016 Janet Maher


Steeple of Ballinakill Church As Seen From Heywood Gardens ©2016 Janet Maher

Jane and I went looking for Kileany, in Laois, as I still wondered about the location regarding a detail in previous posts I had made here: Meagher Women, Some New Connections and The Mahers of Kilkenny. The town seems mostly gone, and there is no sign, although GPS finds the area. Might this formerly strong farmer’s house not far from Saint Fintan’s Well have tied to an earlier William Maher?


Kileany House ©2016 Janet Maher


Going Forward ©2016 Janet Maher


Thank you to those who have accompanied me on this journey, literally and/or virtually. May we all be helped in keeping to our paths as our hearts direct us. Slán!

©2016 Janet Maher / Sinéad Ni Mheachair

Ireland Images.9 – Connemara, Mayo


Achill Island House ©2016 Janet Maher

In Connemara and Mayo the sheep and lambs roam where they will and foxglove grows wild. There are Burren-like places, but with spongy, shrubby plants crawling over the stones. Here they include reds and tans that are mainly sandstone and quartz. A furry-looking green in all its range covers stupendous hills that surround every kind of waterway. I’ve thought at times of Georgia O’Keefe’s New Mexico in another palette or of upstate New York or New Hampshire, but nothing really compares to this. There was not enough time to go into Kylemore Abbey and Victorian Walled Garden, but the scenery around it was among the most memorable to me in Connemara. According to E. Charles Nelson, when Ireland was underwater the tips of what are known as its Twelve Bens would have been visible as islands.

Mayo is where pirate queen, chieftain Grace O’Malley (Gráinne Ni Mhaille) ruled and the survivors of the Spanish Armada were killed. It is another place, too, where Saints Patrick and Columcille (Cholm Cille) left their marks. I trudged through the south cemetery of Aughaval Graveyard looking for Saint Patrick’s Knee, a legendary stone where a small indentation reportedly never goes dry. The grounds were completely overgrown, however, and their small ruin within has been almost entirely reclaimed by Nature. The magic stone named for Columcille that once existed in the south cemetery on the other side of the street was destroyed centuries ago when a priest decided to put a stop to people’s wishing ill toward each other, which had succeeded with the stone’s assistance.


Interior, Abandoned House, Achill Island ©2016 Janet Maher

Enroute to this area, the road to Clifden had been covered over from a landslide and I needed to take an unexpected bypass through the back of Killary that was very Burren-beautiful, quite different looking from the rest of the land this far north. It was full of sheep decorated with multicolored markings designating ownership. The person who guided me at the detour explained that when bogland is on top of a base of stone, extremely wet weather can completely soak the ground to the degree that the water simply sweeps the layers apart. My host of the (very cool) airbnb in which I am staying added that a movement is underway urging farmers not to let their sheep graze on the mountains (which are common areas and should actually not be used by them at all). Between the vegetation being eaten away and those in the business of selling wood removing the trees, the subterranean webbing of so many kinds of roots that used to keep the ground anchored is being eroded. Sheep, he said, are also getting too heavy, which, in turn, translates to people also putting on too much weight. Everything, as always, being interrelated.


Detail, National Famine Museum Sculpture at Croagh Patrick ©2016 Janet Maher

©2016 Janet Maher / Sinéad Ni Mheachair

Ballyvaughan.4 – Wrapping Up

Graphite Drawings, Irish Lace ©2016 Janet Maher

Graphite Drawings, Irish Lace ©2016 Janet Maher

Time to say goodbye to my Ballyvaughan community and the Burren, taking so many grateful memories with me into the last leg of this Ireland journey. My very heavy return box is almost taped up to ship back tomorrow, packing having become a relatively simplified process after so much adventuring here.

Several works have come out of this stay: one completed (having brought the interior pieces with me to be reworked and torn into pages), a box for it to be made back home; one completed mock-up for another book to be made at home; one plan for another book to be made at home; images and recording for a video installation piece to be made at home; the continuation of an ongoing project (Mapping the Invisible) with more progress made; and — a new series begun from this experience. I include here a shot from the studio wall of two of three graphite drawings on vellum (of which there will be more) that will go through a process of wax transfer over photographs that I have taken throughout this stay. The photographs will be chosen from among the at least 100 versions of palimpsests of decaying/paint-peeling walls. Why I chose to draw Irish crochet lace has to do with many things. One is that it was a highly-skilled craft taught to young girls and women in order to provide some means of income during years of nineteenth century starvation.

Yesterday there was a lecture at the college by reknowned model, props and prosthetics maker for major international films — Mark Maher. His presentation and props were fascinating. Among the pieces he handed around for everyone to examine were an actual copy of a cast of David Bowie’s face and the severed head of a man that looked and felt all-too-queasingly-real. Amazing what can be achieved with silicone, paint and hours of painstaking creative labor!

Also yesterday, I received an email requesting me to enter a show that I did not get into last year, the person saying that she still remembers my pieces and recommends that I enter given that there is a different judge this year. One never knows, it may be another wasted entry fee, but it would be lovely to be able to show there…

Last adventure a few mornings ago, a visit to Dysert O’Dea, recommended to me by my new friend who returned to all things home last week. Well worth the trip. Clan O’Dea has been in continuous hold of this ancient well-restored castle in an area that includes a beautiful demolished church and round tower, high stone, ring forts and the gamet. Twenty-five remains are available to see as long as one’s hiking legs hold out.

Perhaps before the day is through I will visit dear Flaggy Shore one more time. Tonight I’ll also visit O’Lóclainn’s to say goodbye to Margaret and where I’ll meet my Johns Hopkins friend who will be back from her class’s field trip to Dublin and tell me all about it.


Detail, Desert O’Dea Monastery ©2016 Janet Maher

©2016 Janet Maher / Sinéad Ni Mheachair