Folk Ways and Ritual Landscapes – A Hidden Heritage
Join expert local guide Martin Bradley as you visit ancient landscapes brimming with myths and legends. Take a trip to sites that were sacred in Bronze and Iron Age Ireland; to the tombs and standing stones, the quaking bogs, the healing wells, and other places of powerful magic.
Discover how folklore, ecology and archaeology combine to reveal secrets from these ancient landscapes, secrets that are the origins of many of Ireland`s cultural traditions. Fairy trees, for instance. Usually whitethorns, their blossom heralds the arrival of summer were celebrated at the Celtic festival of ‘Bealtaine’ or May Day. These trees were instilled with sacred significance and performed a central role in various rituals. Pilgrims would leave small offerings – a strip of cloth tied to a branch was a typical one – and make a wish. If you see a piece of ribbon on the tree Martin shows you, you’ll know that local people are still putting their faith in these trees.
You’ll visit sacred wells with too. It was believed that drinking from them would protect you from harm and ill health.
Martin will also tell you about bog bodies, human bodies which have been mummified by the habitats that they have lain in – sometimes for thousands of years. The ecology and chemistry found in the peat bogs provide a perfect medium for preservation. The preservation of these bodies happened naturally. But the way in which these people met their death was not. Hearing Martin relate their stories may make you shiver, even on a hot summer’s day. Bog bodies like these provided Seamus Heaney with the subject for some of his most famous and imaginative poems.
“I lay waiting between turf-face and demesne wall, between heathery levels and glass-toothed stone.”
Bog Queen, Seamus Heaney
From £55 per person
Minimum 2, maximum 10 participants
7 hour tour (mini bus and walking tour)
1 hour lunch stop in Castlederg
Groups of 4 or more please book 7 days in advance.