The Garden of Bones

Some of you know that I like to undertake personal mini projects every now and again. Sometimes, I’ll plan and research it – other times, they just happen – like this one. I call it The Garden of Bones.

We were away in the midlands for a weekend recently and visited the monastery of Clonmacnoise. These ancient ruins are situated in County Offaly, on the River Shannon just south of Athlone. It was founded in 544 by St. Ciarán.

In the visitor centre, you can view three high crosses including the 9th Century Cross of the Scriptures and a number of cross-slabs. Outside there are the remains of several churches and two round towers.

There’s plenty of old graves sprinkled throughout the settlement. Among them, I came across these ancient resting places. Many of the headstones were laid flat on the ground. The earth had, over the years began to swallow them up – as if attempting to reclaim her children.

They peered out, into the outside world, helpless against the ravages of time. Their residents names still visible. Ellen died 1963, Darcy 1892 and her 18 year old daughter.

The next time I am here, they will have disappeared beneath my feet. I thought how the spirits within were clinging onto this world. But just as they have long since forgotten the world, soon the world will have forgotten them.


Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits, and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp’d tow’rs, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on; and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.

The Tempest Act 4, scene 1, 148–158


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