Yes indeed, the Otherworld, what is it? Where is it? – I don’t know but I heard recently that it was in Co. Roscommon.
Cruachan Aí (or Rathcroghan in English) is a vast complex of archaeological sites near the village of Tulsk which includes at least 28 burial mounds from the Bronze and Iron Age, numerous ringforts from early medieval times, standing stones, earthworks, all sorts of works – but I was particularly drawn to Uaigh na gCat (Oweynagat) because they said that it was the entrance to the Otherworld.
I ventured in.
I had to crawl on hands and knees for the first bit, then take a sharp left and the floor sloped down steeply for about 8 metres into a naturally formed limestone cave. I could stand upright; I’d say it was about 6 metres high. It was pitch dark but I had a torch. What next?
I was thinking about Queen Meadhbh (Maeve). In Irish legends, she was the queen of Connacht and her royal seat was at Cruachan Aí but others say that she was the Earth Goddess, that Meadhbh actually was the land.
So here I was standing in the bowels of the earth, wondering…
No, nothing happened. I could hear water dripping occasionally. It was cold – but maybe there was something in the gloom. Did you notice anything, or anyone?
But all this has reminded me of the bold Don Quixote and his curious adventures. Yes, strangely enough, he had also ventured into a subterranean cave (called the Cave of Montesinos). He had scattered the raggedy black crows that were guarding the entrance; he had slashed and hacked at the clinging brambles and the wild fig trees and then, Sancho Panza and the cousin had lowered him by rope, down into the depths of the dark cavern.
Was he down there for 3 days? – Sancho said that it was only for an hour but Don Quixote described in great detail the charming countryside below, the various people he had met there and in particular, his meeting with the fair Dulcinea…
But why all this about the Don? Well, the Olivier Cornet Gallery has been invited to curate an exhibition for this year’s Opera Festival at the National Opera House in Wexford. The exhibition entitled: ‘Drawing on Don Quixote’ will feature new work by artists represented by the gallery, including me 🙂
Your comments are welcome as always.