Féile na gCloch – Inis Oírr – the Aran Islands of Ireland

There never fails to be mighty excitement about Féile na gCloch (Festival of Stones) which takes place on Inis Óirr island each year.  This time our journey is made in an aircraft ‘the size of a tube of toothpaste’ – a mere eight minutes in the air.

A paradise for dry stone wall lovers – when we arrive work is already underway on  a large retaining wall.

Our own Pat Mc Affee (below) and Scottish colleagues, Nick Aitken and George Gunn instructed workshops.

This year’s Féile saw an amazing array of attendees – including John Shaw-Rimmington of Dry Stone Walls Across Canada, Tomas Lipps of the Stone Foundation, Santa Fe, New Mexico and the talented Alexandra Morosco of Stonefest, Seattle.  Scott Hackney of Marenakos Stone, Seattle and co-director of Stonefest also came.

Of course many members of The Dry Stone Wall Association of Ireland were present from all across Ireland – as well as folk from France, Switzerland, Australia, Netherlands, Ukraine, England Finland & USA.

The large retaining wall was built within three days, weighs at least 150 tonnes and is up to 12 feet high. It is built in the traditional style of the island.

Such great fun building walls in great company  – then heading off to Tigh Ruarí & Tigh Ned for a bowl of soup and a creamy pint, or three.

The island has much to give to those who wish to forget time on a solitary wander

An Eden for butterflies & songbirds where tiny ferns do peep up between limestone slabs

Where handsome ungelded creatures graze in hand crafted fields

The same fields which did sustain so many lives during famine years, with those same limestone walls which still prevent winds from sweeping the precious ‘soil’ to sea.

Myself – I search for one particular wall.  I painted it’s portrait last winter (below). Like trying to find a needle in a haystack?

I cross the island westwards to where I  best recall it stood.  After scanning the faces of hundreds of ancient walls – I find it!

I want to hug my wall like a lost friend.

Back at the Féile we hold talks, forge friendships, compare notes, share experience. We get inspired. We sing and dance. We also build three fine walls.

Once again the weather was especially gentle and kind to us

For riches freely shared – thanks to Inis Oírr and to it’s people

To our gang of stone comrades – until next year!

13 thoughts on “Féile na gCloch – Inis Oírr – the Aran Islands of Ireland

  1. ”Where handsome ungelded creatures graze in hand crafted fields”
    An interesting and eloquent phrase,

  2. Hiya Louise, Very nice, I think you captured everything about the weekend very well there. Only about 50 weeks left till next years event! Cant wait. Karl

    1. Karl – thanks for the above group photo – it’s a cracker. Isn’t it great to see the stone Féile going from strength to strength & reaching a international crowd of people too.

    1. Nick – it was a whole island full of ungelded creatures – Créhan dancing in Tigh Ruari with the grace of a rhino comes to mind …

      Thanks for the training on the wall – my dry stone skills are improved!

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