Photo: Garry Jones, Dave Hogan, Fiachra O’Regan
The “Fire Eye” Music Suite
A unique and essential element of the Pilgrimage to the Otherworld tour revolves around music. At the core of the tour, and connected to the mythology that we will be exploring, lies “The Fire Eye Suite”, a five movement suite with a prelude of original music composed by Garry Jones. Each movement is inspired and informed by the goddesses of ancient Ireland and the spiritual power of their sacred sites:
Brighid at Cnoc lainne (in the province of Leinster
- Aine at Cnocine (Munster)
- Medhbh at Cruachain (Connacht)
- Macha at Emhain Macha (Ulster)
- and Eriu (after whom Ireland, or Eire, is named) at Uisneach (Midhe).
The term “Fire Eye” comes from a 4,500-year-old tradition of a fire being lit on the hill of Uisneach every May Eve, or Bealtaine. Answering fires were then lit on the surrounding hills until the entire island was covered in hill fires honoring Eriu as the essence of the land.
This great coming together was called the Aonach and was last historically recorded as recently as the 17th century. The Fire Eye Suite is a metaphor for the coming together of the four provinces at the sacred center, Uisneach, the fifth province, which is a spiritual and notional province rather than a physical one. (The existence of five provinces in ancient times is echoed in the modern Irish word for a province, which means a fifth.)
In 2001, Irish Byways tour guides Garry Jones and Dave Hogan created an Ireland-wide, and international, event to re-light the hilltop fires as a major community art celebration. Supporting fires were lit all around Ireland and in thirty-six countries around the world. Read more in the Fanning the Flames article below.
Through exploring the stories of Irish mythology, visiting some of the sites and performing the Fire Eye Suite, we hope in a sense to re-light the fires in a modern world that seems so irrevocably cut off from sacred landscape. We hope to bring these concepts and traditions into a modern context. The music is original but with a clear traditional Celtic influence. This can also be a way of approaching the concept of sacred landscape. Most of us have a traditional understanding of this, largely centered around churches and memorials. We need to expand that understanding. We all have sacred landscape in our lives, places that have fed our souls, but that have never been identified as such. Through this music, we hope we can help people return to these places, to experience this feeling again and to carry it with them when they leave Ireland.
There is this wonderful tale about the creation of Ireland in which the Earth, a dark mass of chaos still unformed, begins to sing its longing for beauty, to sing its longing to be created in beauty. The Earth still sings this song we need to hear it, and we must sing back.
Please join us in this rediscovery. Traveler Application Form