Sacred Landscapes places the past before us, warm with its ancient hallowed life and indomitable energy-the presence and the voice of eternity.
Here the reader can glance backwards through the vistas of ages, and cast an enquiring eye down the scroll of Ireland’s story; here one can look into eras animated with other feelings, powerful in alternative phases of intellect and mining a different vein of knowledge.
We Irish love to breathe the atmosphere of old mind and heart which our ancient relics enshrine and where a peculiar and fascinating influence survives. In truth, the very existence of these treasures acts in a talismanic fashion to call up before us, visions on which memory loves to muse with reflective appreciation.
No matter where they are situated in the Sacred Landscapes-in the remote countryside, beside rippling ocean, lake or river waters, in the somnolent village, the bustling town, or in the fastness and solitude of the mountains-in whatever state of preservation they may be, these relics, often passed by travellers, unconscious of their presence or history, have an elevating and civilizing influence which those who are privileged to linger in their midst will appreciate and profit by.
On flows time, leading us on, in thought, through the ages of Ireland’s passion, on, through her Sacred Landscapes.
In the great mystery tradition there is an ancient legend which tells that at one time the gods, having stolen from man his divinity, assembled in conference to deliberate as to where it should be hidden.
One deity advocated that they should transport it to the other side of the world and bury it; but when his attention was drawn to the fact that man is the greatest and most curious of all the wanderers and that on his wanderings he might discover his divinity, this plan was discarded.
Another suggested that it should be weighted and dropped into the very depths of the deepest ocean; but the assembly voiced the same concern that curious man might dive to find it. Eventually, after much deliberation, the wisest of all the gods declared: ‘Hide it in man himself, for that is the last place he will think to look for it!’ The assembly, seeing the wisdom and subtlety of the stratagem agreed.
So it came to pass that for ages man wandered the entire earth seeking out his lost divinity until at last he thought to look within himself. Finally, after much prolonged searching man came to the realization that what he believed was hidden way off in ‘the pathos of distance’ is in fact closer than the breath he breathes.
“Shall we tread the dust of ages,
Musing dream-like on the past,
Seeking on the broad earth’s pages
For the shadows time hath cast;
Waking up some ancient story,
From each prostrate shrine or hall,
Old traditions of a glory
Earth may never more recall!”