Clonfert Cathedral, County Galway

They say we are barbarians,
the harp our only grace,
yet I dare all those who see her,
to say no god dwells in this place.
— Claire Loader

Nothing can really prepare you for the wonder that awaits at Clonfert Cathedral.  Peeking through the gates of this now quiet ecclesiastical site, the eyes take a while to adjust - like stepping out of a dark room into sunlight - but my, when they do.  One of the finest examples of Hyberno-Romanesque architecture in Ireland, the door of Clonfert is simply spellbinding.  Had it been built before Brendan the Navigator was planning his adventures from that very spot, he would indeed have been hard pressed to leave it.

Find this gorgeous site and many more of my favourite places here. Come explore with me…

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.

Winter or summer, you choose. - you can find its location here. Come explore with me…

Copyright © 2018 Claire Loader. All Rights Reserved.

Portumna Workhouse, County Galway

We passed through the gates in pairs
although I’d never felt more alone,
a coldness creeping in,
seeping into bone.

And in the walls I looked,
the shadows
searching for his face,
but in my heart I knew, I felt,
no God within this place.
— Claire Loader

A coldness lingers at the reception hall of the workhouse at Portumna, no matter how big of a fire is blazing in her hearth, as if the walls cannot relax, cannot allow themselves to forget what they have seen.  One of 163 workhouses built in Ireland in the mid-1800s, Portumna workhouse is now home to a group of dedicated staff and volunteers working hard to preserve the memory of a period in Irish history that both fascinates and haunts.

Read my short story about the architect who designed all 163 workhouses built in Ireland here.  To find its location and the many other places I’ve visited click here. Come explore with me…

Copyright © 2017 Claire Loader. All Rights Reserved.