So let´s kick off the return to the land of digital communication and start at the beginning. It´s been a great few weeks in Ireland full of travel, activity, culture and nature. We started off by staying at my sister-in-laws place near Dublin and visited the Memorial Garden on a gloriously warm muggy Irish day. I found this place particularly moving near the main memorial where wreaths were lain by many of the regiments and battalions that fought in the war. Sadly there was no wreath for the Royal Munster Fusiliers of which my grand-uncle was a member who died in the fields of France one month before the armistice.
Many might say he was a traitor to his country, fighting for the British in a foreign war. I say not, he just chose a different war. But were these world wars foreign wars for the Irish, who were in the throes of their own fight for independance? Or were they more entitled to being called wars of liberation or democracy than those being fought in the east today? If he had stayed in Ireland, we got our independance anyway, however would the Kaiser have stopped in France? Anyway, let´s not speculate on what might have been nor dive to far into politics, that´s not what this blog is about.
Of the many Irish men who fought in the Great War from 1914-1918, 49,400 died and probably in conditions which would seem totally incomprehensible to any of us living in this day and age of luxury. We may be going through the worst financial period of modern times but nothing, nothing could compare to the suffering all those men went through.
During that day I got a shot of a Hooded Crow (Corvus corone cornix).
This is a bird that breeds mainly in northern, eastern and southeastern Europe as well as parts of the Middle East. The nominate race breeds in Ireland and Scotland principally and parts of eastern Europe south as far as Corsica. Culturally in Ireland it has always been associated with death. It was a hooded crow that landed on Cúchulainns shoulder when he tied himself to a standing stone to die on his feet. This was seen as a manifestation of the Morrigan or Cailleach, the Phanton Queen. She was the celtic goddess of battle and strife, but also fertility. Generally she is associated with war, but when she assumed the shape of a cow she could be associated with wealth and land also.
Back in the fields of France, although the hooded crow is not generally found there, I am sure the Morrigans spirit has flown over them many times during the battles and pain and death, and after each war, she must have assumed her cow form again, since those fields are quiet and fertile again. May they always be so…