Friday 28th May – Baltinglass, County Wicklow
I got a bit carried away telling you about the good stuff and I forgot to tell you about the bad stuff, “Lesson #1”, or as we refer to it “The Leprechaun Incident“. Let me take you back in time to Friday 28th May. You may remember that we had just been on our first visit to the major sites along the Boyne River, namely Knowth and Newgrange. We had been having a wonderful time.
As we returned to the car from the Visitor’s Centre Kal reminded me about my ash staff. When should we go and see if it was still there? Well, as it was early afternoon I guess now would be a good time, less than 24 hours after I left it at the Castleruddery stone circle. Or at least, that’s where I hoped I had left it! Otherwise it was lost. I was utterly resigned to that idea. Remember, none of these material items is invaluable. None. All things come and go. Some things have their own path once inbued with sentience. Perhaps the staff and I had parted ways and someone else way now using it? It mattered little, yet I was willing to go back to the other side of Dublin, a good two hour drive, just in case it was still there. Hey – there were sites down the N81 that we hadn’t seen yet, so….nothing to lose, right?
When we arrived I vaulted the stile and raced to the Castleruddery circle – I could see the staff still propped up against the old ash tree that lined the circle’s embankment. Yeah, like I wasn’t bothered or anything? Right! I was relieved to have it back. We decided to see what else was in the area and for some reason we thought that a cluster of sites atop a hill in the nearby town of Baltinglass would be a good thing to go and see, even though there was no obvio9us way to access them. We entered the town of Baltinglass apprehensively and Kal was told off for using the toilets in a pub. Good start! There was an odd feel to this town, and no mistake. Both of us were on edge and flustered for some unknown reason.
We couldn’t find a good place to park or access the track or path that led up the hill to the ancient sites so we parked at the bottom of a lane that led to a farm. At every few turns of the track were signs warning us that we were on farm land, not a public highway or byway. Which we ignored. We checked the farmhouse for signs of life so that we could ask permission, but all was quiet, so we made our way quietly over a gate into a field populated with bulls, and then another with sheep. All the while we were climbing steadily up this steep slope, and the sun was getting hotter.
We headed for a corner of the field away from the farmhouse – feeling guilty for not having obtained permission to cross the land. We reached a corner of a field where there was an unreasonably tall wall – some 8 feet high! We found what appeared to be a hole in the corner of the wall, and if we climbed and pushed ourselves through the gorse and bramble we could climb through and get into the safety of the forest where we wouldn’t be seen going up the hill.
The forest was made up of densely packed fir trees, old tall gorse bushes and old and thorny brambles. We tried to find and pick our way through a path through the plantation as best we could and about half way in we reached several dead ends and were forced to consider turning back. Despite sweating like crazy and being torn to shreds we pushed onwards – the GPS telling us how far we still had to go. It was the countdown to hell! After 30 minutes of fighting with the forest we broke free into the daylight again breathing sighs of relief and trying to cool down. We turned to each other saying things like “I never want to go through THAT again!”
At this point Kal realised he had lost his dowsing rods!!! The only pair he had brought with him on the trip. He was clearly gutted. We vowed to go find them if we could, but didn’t relish going back into the forest, and to retrace our steps was impossible. We oddly made the decision, in the heat of the middle of the day, to continue climbing UP the massively steep slope towards the top of the hill. After all, we were almost half way up!
What to see on Baltinglass Hill
We were on a really steep track like that up to Llandrillo, but made of mud not tarmac. As we finally reached the top, another half hour later – we found the hill fort ringed by a huge wide wall of boulder. After clambering somwewhat precariously inside we found the site littered, almost literally, with the remains of some burial chambers – mostly damaged and strewn, and cluttered with water and pop bottles. Nice! We dowsed to see if there was anything useful up there – not a single thing. In fact, it was detrimental for us to remain there for any length of time so we were forced to leave rather quickly!
A Swift Return to Hell
On the way back down we found an abandoned small tent, like everything else around there it was randomly strewn around and in poor shape. Looked like someone had though that this hill might be good for camping, but had been disabused of that idea so quickly that they had to flee leaving the tent to its own fate! Another strange sign of destruction and a portent of doom that added to our growing unease. We headed down the back of the forest to see if we could connect with the point where we had entered it and see if Kal had dropped his rods right at the beginning;. A fruitless search began which yielded, as expected, nothing. As I sat ont he tal wall listening to Kal getting scratched and lashed a thought came to me – this was the work of a leprechaun. We had crossed into a leprechaun’s territory, and he had stolen Kal’s rods! Our story, as I played it back, was so filled with portent, so akin to the tales I had read in childhood of the activities of the Little People, so much a tale of woe and warning – what else could it be? I told Kal what I thought and he laughed, but not in a dismissive way, in a nervous way!
We moved through a field of bulls which woudl lead us back to the field through which we oculd reach the town again. Iwarned Kal not to stare at them or make a noise, but regardless of that the bulls began to charge us! We high-tailed it over the nearest low-point in the barbed-wire fence at a gap in the hawthorn trees, but were faced with the awful task of having to leap a six-foot a ditch which held three stinking rotting corpses of sheep and a cow – putrid with the sun’s activity, and making our nostrils reek of foul vapours! We almost retched but leapt over (just makign the five foot jump) and hurried down the hill for the corner and the gate to the trackway and freedom. We tried to climb quietly over the gate again past the farmhouse, but now the owner must have returned because three dogs set off barking and we had to run back to the car, sweating and panicky again.
This was the hell of our worst experience of dowsing ever. What lessons could we learn from this? Only one – when the warning signs are presented, and you have the option to heed them, be sensible and heed the advice! If Nature ways “turn back” then bloody well do it or face the awful consequences!!