7 May 1998
Better Late Than Never – On Grianan of Aileach and Beltany Stone Circle 8 Days After We Visted Them

Grianan of Aileach stone circular fort situated on 5 ½ acres of land land united divided and conquered was once occupied by the royal house royal louse Ui Neill, of which Eoghan founded a dynast of High Kings of Eire that lasted 500 years terraced steps 3 concentric rings and inside the walls hiding places crawling spaces for escape in this place of the sun ‘grian’ in modern gaelic Grannos the male sun diety godde and down a path lined on all sides by thick gatherings of heather dry in the late spring *to see it bloom would be glorious* was a well spring metal cross banged in above it hammered in as an afterthought and dedicated to St. Patrick for it is said that he baptized Eoghan at that well between the earthwork defenses that now has cigarette butts and a film atop it your flag stones pushed aside disgarded yet lush greens grow about your moist motherly mouth your sacred sacramental wine but this too in time will may be forgotten by the people those who pave over my flesh with a cement casket who dig up my nipples as ore smelt me melt me for tin cans and cash crops and like me Griannan o Aileach was destroyed torn down by Brian king of Munster in 1101 in revenge for the uiNeill destruction of Kincora and only 100 years or so ago was she the stone womb devoid of tombs rebuilt to its lovely loneliness atop the mountain gazing down on derry and all gazing up to be seen

Earth my body
Water my blood
Air my breath
And Fire my spirit

– Wiccan chant to the elements
Motioning a prayer with the spirit between her lips another prayer another calling to the earth here as the sage slips between her fingers onto the soil grass inside the stone circle before we run off to catch the McGinley bus back to Oideas Gael her eyes wet with the wind that flows through long ruah locks tied back with a blue scarf silver strands interwoven the prayer done she hikes up her skirt friends at her side and heads down the hill
*has everyone taken their photographs good one two three* and off they run into the circle four boys and two girls suddenly in a race against time space age 12 once more move faster their feet slipping on cloud broken rain remnants that were pouring down as we had approached the site sad but expectant a twenty minute refuge from the road trodding the ancient weeds beneath adidas and doc martins and there they go off on the ancient race ancient traces in a standing circle the rest of us standing around laughing photographing betting who would get there first and looking at these ancient stabs there is a question comment in the minds of all save the fast footed lads and ladies… who was here first so long ago who were they what were they like what races did they run so many millennium ago horse hooves clopping along ancient cobblestones and across theses same pathways and this plateau Beltany Hill that looks out on a fantastic view view of a world ancient unknown and now merely to imagine oak ash groves that might that grew below holy woods groves grounded above this sacred ground stone circle

At it center stone surrounded the winds whispered lightly gutly the music man through the weeds deeds of our day I closed my eyes bent down in veneration and imagination to feel those who had come before me in the green dew tears at my touch *hush* a lit fire mountain night dancing singing *hush* reeds rustling far away flowers hidden yellow against these grass greens old granite upstanding citizen slabs *hush* a bird chirping clouds passing over head a cat cutting through the undergrowth at the other side of the clearing hearing the noises we as humans made *hush* my hair weaving with the spirit abounding and the moisture fills my eyes too as if dew rain clouds had hit me loved me washed me as well *hush* and now thank you north forms of earth soil between the tracks of my boot bare toes solid finger tips east air that rides me in spirit mist clouds comfort caresser love of the willow ashen oak to bring them to life south fire that lights my soul that was lit here so long ago that will be burned here again some summer night in your honor west the waters waves washing over us gentle rain giving life and loving the world loving me a pause a single breath open my eyes time to walk on

The bus calls rolling away on muddy field streets goodbye to the hard painted *stone circle* sign the green corridor the up and over entrance yet the circle calling back puts sheep in the way to slow our leaving come back come back dance in me pray in me live here love me know me and be mine you were here such a short time in my ancient place and I have been lonely make my existence meaningful again not to be a tourist trap but a venerated location once more don’t go come back come back but with our back turned to her the sheep are cleared from the road and we ride home to fill our stomachs and forget the magic forget her cries but I listened and every fiber aches to return to her my lost lover to feel her beneath me again to lay with her run her hair through my solemn fingers kiss her gently and return to her make her whole once more