There’s no where on earth I want to go more than to Ireland. If I had to choose between Ireland and Mars, well, that would be a tough call. But that’s totally unlikely to happen, so Ireland it is. And Romance there is as soft and sweet as the rain and the air.
The best known symbol of love from Ireland is the claddagh ring. The story goes that the creator, Richard Joyce, loved a lass in the isles, but he was captured by pirates and enslaved for many long years. He stayed true to his beloved, and fashioned the ring from gold scraps he found. Two hands hold a heart that is crowned, showing loyalty and love as more important than anything else. When he won his freedom, Joyce returned to Ireland to find that his girl had waited for him, and she loved the ring. They did live happily ever after, I am quite sure.
Lisdoonvarna holds a special place in Irish history. A small town in County Clare, the name actually means the fort that encloses the gap. Inside the fort wall is a hot springs that served every year as a gathering place for farmers and merchants in late fall. The harvest was over, the winter hadn’t started yet, so it was time to relax and look for a wife. Today, the town is the site of a music festival that attracts thousands of people. And just in case, there is a matchmaker or two on hand to help out. http://www.clare.ie/events/view/festivals-109/lisdoonvarna_matchmaking_festival-9.html
Romance and Valentines go hand in hand, so I have to visit the relics of St. Valentine in the Carmelite Church in Dublin. And before you ask, no, Valentine was not Irish, just a wonderful and generous man who wanted to grow his church in Turkey. But in 1835 an Irish Carmelite priest, Father John Spratt, had quite the reputation for being a powerful speaker. He accepted an invitation to speak in Rome and, as this was before movies and television and even radio, his speech drew a large crowd. In thanks, the pope of the time, one of the Gregorys, bestowed the earthly remains of St. V to the church in Ireland. Having certified relics of actual saints carried a lot of cachet so there was a lot of hoopla involved. The shrine in Dublin is lovely, graced by a statue carved in the 1950s or 60s. More information can be found here. http://www.carmelites.ie/stvalentine.html
Here’s some of the history of Saint Valentine: http://www1.cbn.com/st-valentine-real-story and not to ignore today’s feast, here’s some history of Saint Patick: http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=89 Erin go bragh!
Thanks for reading, I’ll be back on Sunday.