But you’d be surprised how many interesting folk have ended up in Roscommon through the years, by “accident” – either permanently or just passing through. I’ve hosted Witches, Druids, Bards, Tantra practitioners, Warriors, Ceremonial Magicians, Shamans and a Seanchaí (storyteller). It seems that few of them, if any, had actually planned to be here.
I know I didn’t.
Yes I wanted a quiet rural location, and a house I could afford, in which to raise a young family. The exact location was pretty damn irrelevant at the time – “anywhere but here” was the driving force. I very nearly bought a house in County Clare, my mother’s home county… and I may end up back there yet.
The Tarot decided me eventually: I picked one card per county, and the most fortuitous was Roscommon, with the Empress. I’m sorry to admit that my first question was – “Where is Roscommon?” I found it easy enough on the internet, though the county’s tourism marketing strategy was dire back then (I helped fix that, YOU’RE WELCOME!) A suitable house was located, viewed, and once the sale was agreed, it occurred to me that maybe, ya know, perhaps, I should possibly do a wee bit of research into what sort of a place I was bringing my kids into.
The results were something of an eye opener – Rathcroghan, seat of the High Kings and Queens of Connacht, Ireland’s Western province, for over 2000 years. A vast complex of multi layered archaeological sites; steeped in myth and legend, epic literary history, and all sorts of infamous folklore. I’d read stories of Cruachan, knew the history of Queen Medb and the Cattle Raid of Cooley, the Táin Bó Cuailnge… but had somehow failed to connect all that to the real life physical location of County Roscommon.
And the Cave. Her Cave. Right bang in the middle of Rathcroghan, this historical and archaeological greatness, lies the entrance to the Otherworld, the Cave of the Cats. The Gates of Hell.
I was Traditional Wiccan at the time. I’d found a coven t train in when I turned 18, and luckily it was a really good one. There wasn’t much in Ireland at the time, and that was way before we had this new-fangled internet craziness (coz I’m old). I was blessed to find a group with whom I could develop safely, was encouraged to grow at my own pace, and could use the Trad Wicca structure to explore wherever my path was leading me.
My roots though, my family learning, were all about the old stories – the folk and fairy tales, natural awareness, Irish myths and legends. I received my 3rd Degree recognition as a Wiccan High Priestess, with thanks and respect. At that time, I was sure I was leaving it all behind as I moved West to begin my new life…