Kilmaine Abbey, County Mayo

I stood trembling in the long grass
Sunshine warm on stone
Tears falling softly
To the risen earth below

Yet I smiled as I watched
Tiny petals reach like towers
For I’ve not lost you to the earth
Simply to the flowers
— Claire Loader

It's easy to drive by Kilmaine Abbey, nestled as it is between house and shop. And I did, many times, until one sunny day a spree of colour caught my eye and I stopped to go in. Situated on the site of the biggest of St Patrick's three churches, a modest abbey in her winter garb, she is simply a thing of beauty in bloom.

Copyright © 2018 Claire Loader. All Rights Reserved.

Ballinrobe Priory, County Mayo

Come to me in the deepest night
and rouse me from my slumber,
from the shackles of my dreams
where pain and pleasure lurk.

Come wake me into daylight
to face what I have forgotten,
all the things I run from
each time I close my eyes.
— Claire Loader

If Ballinrobe Priory had a star sign, it would certainly be Gemini – the Abbey of the Two Faces.  Desolate in her winter garb, the earth damp with long forgotten grief, she comes alive then in summer, flowers blooming in alcoves, life within the stone.

Copyright © 2018 Claire Loader. All Rights Reserved.

Kilconnell Friary, County Galway

In life you were my light,
in death you are my flame,
that burns the corners bright,
until we meet again.
— Claire Loader

Storm clouds were building the first time I took the arching path up to Kilconnell Friary, and ever since it has held a certain magic – the clouds roiling in my memory as her carvings found a place in my soul.  One tomb in particular, a work of stunning tracery just inside the West door, the lines like fire curling up the walls, is easily the most beautiful thing I have laid eyes on in Ireland.

Copyright © 2017 Claire Loader. All Rights Reserved.