Ireland: Land of Ancient Song

Jul 14, 2021  By Albert Knapp MD & Ruth Oratz MD
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An ancient bridge,

and a more ancient tower,

A farmhouse that is sheltered by its wall, An acre of stony ground,

Where the symbolic rose can break in flower, Old ragged elms, old thorns innumerable,

The sound of the rain or sound Of every wind that blows…

WB Yeats – excerpt from “Meditations in Time of Civil War” (1922)

A bridge, a tower, a wall, all of these images is Ireland, a land of poetry and song, memory and magic.

At the edge of the known world, Ireland had been inhabited for almost 10,000 years with successive layers of civilization building a stony record in the ragged landscape. Mesolithic settlements can be identified along coastal areas and in the river valleys. Later the Celts, originating from Germanic tribes in Central Europe, pushed their way west, bringing language, culture and religion. Vikings descended from the Scandinavian North during the early Middle Ages, wreaking havoc but ultimately merging with the local population. Anglo-Norman influence from British dominance further molded Irish history.

We traveled to West Ireland in pursuit of this rich human legacy, where the ancient and modern coexist, where the spirits of times past mingle amongst the living.

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