The sculpture tree of St. Carthage in Lismore's Millenium Park, with the fountain in foreground
St. Carthage came to Lismore from Offaly (where Barack Obama's somewhat tenuous Irish links originated!) in 636AD and founded a monastery - Lismore was a great seat of learning in those days until the Vikings came along in the 9th and 10th Century to plunder and pillage - and it managed to retain its academic status until the Normans arrived in 1172. You can read more and see some pictures and photos here . Lismore Castle was built some years later by Prince John - later King John - when he was sent as Lord of Ireland by his dad King Henry II, who came here on foot of papal "Bull" (not a derogatory term but the actual one for some sort of edict) to bring the natives into line with the church in Rome.
Back to King John - this was the start of the 800 years of occupation which has had such resonance in our recent history, culminating in our independence in 1922, following a bloody Civil War and the famous Easter Rising of 1916. The euphemistically named "Troubles" in the North of Ireland gained notoriety for Ireland over the past number of years until cross-border agreements led to a power-sharing that would have been unthinkable in the dark days of the 70s and 80s, and much of the 90s.
Detail of the tree sculpture
St. Carthage's Catholic Church as seen from my front door last week in a snowfall - an Irish blizzard!
There is another local link to St. Carthage and that is the Holy Well, which has recently been renovated. His feast day is celebrated on May 14th or 15th, depending on your vintage - I always thought it the 14th. As a child that was the only day the well was open for prayers and rumour had it that the well only filled at this time, and was dry the rest of the year. An urban myth or wishful miraculous thinking, as since the renovation and year-round accessibility, it is always full! There are some photos of the well and its descriptive plaque here.
So that's a bit of local history and something I grew up with and somehow the tree sculpture has rekindled a lot of interest in the background to Lismore's origins as a once-renowned seat of learning all over monastic Europe. You can see much more at this Heritage Centre link if you wish.