Month: November 2019

Ireland Road Trip

Blarney Castle

Our Road Trip through Ireland

We had the “best of times” while visiting Ireland. The people of Ireland totally delivered on their promise posted on Ireland’s official tourism website,

“Discover heart-warming moments and spectacular sights.”

We did just that. We filled 12 glorious days discovering breath-taking countryside in addition to visiting amazing historical castles, gardens, and monuments throughout Ireland.

It was a spectacular trip. I would do it again on a heartbeat and recommend anyone who wants to go to Ireland – to go.
We saw so many wonderful places, I wanted to at least share a few highlights of our trip.

Megalithic Monuments

When planning our trip, we had a hard time deciding where to go. There were so many places I wanted to see in Ireland. While we planned our agenda, a friend told me about a website I should check before our trip Megalithic Monuments of Ireland. It is a fun website to peruse through – especially if you plan a vacation in Ireland.

Megalithic monuments have been around since the Neolithic and Bronze ages circa 4,000 to 11,000 BC. These monuments consist of large stones and slabs placed together to build a monument. Some are single large stones while others are grouped in circles. One of the most famous of megalithic monuments is Stonehenge in England. Archeologists and historians believe that communities built these as tombs and to celebrate seasonal rituals.

You’ll find photos and stories on the Megalithic Monuments of Ireland’s website including this video of prehistoric art on the outside stones at Knowth, Ireland – one of the sites where we visited.

I have to say that the few megalithic monuments we visited were the highlight of my trip. Their energy felt amazing to me. Three that stood out included the gardens at Blarney Castle, Poulnabrone Dolmen (dolmen means “tomb entrance”), and the World Heritage Site of Brú na Bóinne’ tombs of New Grange and Knowth.

Blarney Castle

Blarney Castle and Gardens

I am crazy about gardens anyway and Blarney Castle’s gardens are wonderful. I feature just three here for you.

Rock Close Garden

A truly magical experience, the Rock Close Garden offers you a planned, yet primitive, adventure in nature. You’ll find Wishing Steps, an ancient Druid circle, and other hidden places where, “they” say magical creatures dwell. I had hoped to meet a leprechaun there – but unfortunately, I did not. It felt like a magical place and I could have sat there for hours meditating on the energy there.

Rock Rose Garden Path

Blarney Castle Rock Close garden megalithic monument


Video of Rock Close Garden by Alice Friend

The Jungle

The Jungle garden was also amazing. It thoroughly impressed me that they could get all those incredible tropical plants to grow in Ireland — yet there they were! We walked among banana plants, giant tree ferns, and bamboo. Amazing.

The Jungle Garden of Blarney Castle

Poison Garden

Have you ever heard about a “poison garden?” I have seen others, and the Blarney Castle’s Poison Garden is one of, if not thee, best — very well done. It’s hidden behind the castle and they recommend you “enter at your own risk.” Although they call it a poison garden, it is really a modern garden planted to resemble a medieval “physic garden.” As such, it contains many medicinal plants as well as ones on the toxic side. As the website promised, we found Wolfsbane, Mandrake, Ricin, Opium and Cannabis growing in their beds. In medieval times, people would have used the plants for medical and culinary purposes.

The Poison Garden sign of Blarney Castle

A plaque at the Poison Garden proclaims that:

“Although the plants are dangerous, there are actually very few deaths as a direct result of poisoning from plants. They do, however, cause millions of deaths every year, just not in their natural state. The huge numbers of deaths occur once we start to make products from the plants. Every year, thousands of people die from an overdose of heroin (Opium Poppy) and over five million die from smoking related diseases (Tobacco).”

I thought the message is something to think about in our lives on how much nature benefits us – and how we must protect nature from us altering it.
The plaque also references John Robertson in England and his The Poison Garden Website. Robertson provides us with a serious compendium of information about toxic plants and a great reference site if you want information on the dangers of plants to you and your pets. He also stresses that there are relatively few deaths each year because of directly ingesting plants.

Poulnabrone Tomb

Another megalithic monument site that stood out was Poulnabrone Tomb. I think it might have had that function, but it was also something else. It felt more like a portal perhaps? When I stood in front of it, I could feel energy coming from beneath my feet and streaming toward me. It’s also a place where amazing plants grow between the rocks. Again, I could have stayed there for hours. I felt the veil to be very thin while visiting certain places in Ireland. I got the sense that anything could happen – Poulnabrone was one of those places.

Ireland's megalithic monument -- Paulnabrone-dolmen

World Heritage Site Brú na Bóinne

The last place I want to share with you is Brú na Bóinne where we visited two of the three passage tombs — New Grange and Knowth. Passage tombs provide access to burial chambers; often more than one. These were covered with grassy mounds.


We went to Knowth first. As we approached, all we saw was this very large grassy mound surrounded by smaller mounds. This site is older than the Egyptian pyramids. I’m glad we went to this site first as New Grange provided us with a much more inclusive experience.

Knowth moundsknowth standing stone at entrance

New Grange

At New Grange we were met by another very large grassy mound. This site allowed visitors to hike into the tomb. We entered through a very narrow passage where even I had to bend to walk. I am not very tall so this was an unusual experience for me. We trekked in to a large chamber with three smaller chambers off the central one.

Builders of this passage tomb designed New Grange to honor winter solstice, the shortest day of the year (December 21st). At the time, this was their new year – a symbol of rebirth; a new beginning. Much like we celebrate the new year today. During those few hours, the winter solstice sun comes and shines on a certain point.

I found this interesting, but what intrigued me more was the energy I could feel. A strong energy come into the chamber through the floor where I stood which surprised me. Our guide showed me where to stand to feel this energy in other places.

Again I asked myself, what are these monuments for besides burials?

NewGrange entrance stoneNew Grange Passage

What a great trip.

We visited many other wonderful places; too many to list here. I encourage you to go visit Ireland and it’s incredible castles, monuments, and countryside for yourself.

Happy travels,


A Note regarding the photos

I am not much of a photographer plus, I wanted to be in the moment when I visited these sacred sites. When writing this article, I pulled photos from the various websites which I linked to in the copy. They have much better pictures than what we took. I wanted to include a list of sites here to give credit to the photographers; and for you to discover more about Ireland’s megalithic monuments for yourself at those links. You just might be drawn to visit Ireland after that. As I stated, it was a spectacular trip.

To Speak for the Trees: A book review

Speak 4 Trees Cover

To Speak for the Trees

My life’s journey from ancient Celtic wisdom to a healing vision of the forest
By Diana Beresford-Kroeger, PhD
Penguin Random House (September 24, 2019)


I am very excited to recommend you read To Speak for the Trees by Diana Beresford-Kruger. From reading my blogs and book reports, you probably noticed I have a deep love for trees. Despite this great interest, I had never heard of this author who writes about trees scientifically and in a language we can all understand. Last October, one of my students suggested I attend a talk by Beresford-Kruger talk that was held locally.

I went to the talk and the speaker blew me away. So much so, I bought her book. Diana Beresford-Kruger combines her autobiography with her deep knowledge of the spirit and medicine of trees in her new book. I read the book while in Ireland where I travelled for 10 days those last weeks in October.

That’s significant because Beresford-Kruger is Irish with deep Celtic ancestry. Her knowledge of trees encompasses the conventional scope of her training, research, and teaching in science and medicine, as well as, the ancient wisdom of her Celtic ancestors. I loved reading her book while traveling Ireland. Although I did not go to the places she mentions in her book, I felt a wonderful sense of connection to the land, people, and culture through her stories of her early life there and her beginning love for trees and nature.

Speak 4 Trees CoverDiana Beresford–Kruger is a world-renowned medical biochemist and botanist. She has written several books and hundreds of articles. Many are scientific in nature while others written to provide the world a greater understanding of the importance of nature and our dependence on trees. In her book To Speak for the Trees, she describes the healing medicine that trees offer us, their sacred lives in nature, and the role trees have in disabling global warming.

Her captivating account of how her early life and trauma led her to these crucial discoveries of trees and life. A series of unfortunate circumstances resulted in her becoming an orphan and the last ward under Brehon law, the earliest reported laws of Ireland. She describes her life as a ward of the “O’Donoghue Elders.” The Elders taught her the ways of the Celtic triad of mind, body and soul. This included the philosophy of healing, the laws of the trees, Brehon wisdom, and the Ogham — the Celtic Alphabet of Trees. Beresford –Kruger goes into these in depth in the second part of her book. She offers a wonderful introduction to the way Celts wove together trees, language, people, and places.

This book fascinated me and was a joy to read.

Her speech impressed me and I’m very grateful to my student for recommending her. In both in person and in her writings, Beresford-Kruger shows us how forests can heal and save the planet.

In her talk, she suggested that if everyone planted one tree a year for the next six years, we could reverse climate change. She suggested that we collect acorns from our High Park in Toronto and plant them. You can plant any seeds of native trees wherever you happen to live. I am pleased to say, I have started the process.

I also look forward to watching her documentary, The Call of the Forest; the forgotten wisdom of trees, which is currently screening across Canada. Like me, Beresford-Kruger moved to Canada after completing her university training as a young adult – many moons ago. Before she migrated, one of the Elders had foretold that her destiny was to bring her wisdom from Ireland to the people across the ocean. I, for one, am glad she has shared her knowledge and love of nature with us. I plan to follow her work and recommend you do too.

~~ Enjoy, Ellen