Strade Abbey, County Mayo

We played inside these walls
Laughter dancing in the chancel
Ran inside these halls
Bare feet upon the earth
And we watched the years slip by
The crosses gain in number
Until we laid there with them
Our laughter now in stone.
— Claire Loader

So often it is the smaller abbey that deceives, the humble and quiet that has the most to share. A modest and unassuming Friary, Strade harbours some of the best preserved stonework to be found in County Mayo. From the fabulous Gothic tracery and carvings on the two 15th Century tombs, to the wonderful medieval grave slabs, if you haven’t yet stepped inside her walls, then you have been fooled.

Copyright © 2019 Claire Loader. All Rights Reserved.

Quin Abbey, County Clare

I ran my hands upon the walls
Fingers soft on stone
Walked like shadows through the halls
Through the ghosts that lingered still
Like the ivy on the towers
The moss upon the path
The rooks that sang of days long gone
Crumbling memories of the past
— Claire Loader

There is something quietly enchanting about a cloister, the soft footfalls of the past still reverberating around its walls.  A predominant feature of Franciscan Friaries, so few in the West are left intact.  But Quin, she is something special.  Walking around her vast halls you cannot help but be transported, whisked into the lilting rhythm of a long lost matins, reaching out from the very stone.

Copyright © 2019 Claire Loader. All Rights Reserved.

The Rock of Cashel, County Tipperary

We sought our riches in the sky
Where we thought they couldn’t touch us
Built our castle up on high
Closer there to God
But time and sword they came
Slinking in through stone
Taking until all was left
A hill of rock and bone
— Claire Loader

There are few things in life that are truly awe inspiring, that catch you in your throat, stop you in your tracks.  Towering over the rolling green plains of Tipperary, the Rock of Cashel is one of them.  Like something out of a dream, her towers reach impossibly towards the heavens, her walls nearly kissing the clouds, as they dance then with the sky.

Copyright © 2018 Claire Loader. All Rights Reserved.