Posted on March 16, 2016
MB has mentioned the hill of Knockadoon in recent posts. In the below photo, the 16th century Bouchiers Castle is visible left of pic. The ruins of a 13th-century castle, called Black Castle, also lie within the treescape of the hill, but it’s not visible on MB’s shot.
Knockadoon contains one of Ireland’s four secret entrances to the land of everlasting youth, or Tír Na Nóg in the Irish Gaelic language (pronounced – teer-na-noog). Each of the four provinces of Ireland contains one entrance, which are known only to a select few Knights of Nóg. HX blog followers can guess whether or not MB is such a Knight, but MB’s not saying. However, MB’s extremely youthful looks for his age may give followers a pointer.
Other than the above, MB is not at liberty to say much more about the sacred historical hill which contains many secrets.
Posted on October 9, 2015
Regardless of life or work or travels, MB is always back home in HX for the Summer Solstice Festival. The home locality is always a happy place in the opinion of MB with its stunning green landscapes around ever corner, but during the festival weekend it is particularly so.
One of the festival events introduced in recent years is ‘The longest walk for the longest day‘. It entails a 2 to 3 hour guided walk around some section of the local lake or adjacent localities, on 21 June, the day of the Summer Solstice, the longest (daylight) day of the year. Regardless of weather, and it was a rainy wet evening on 21 June just past, there is a great sense of happiness & feel good during the event. The below photo was taken by MB when the walkers reached the summit of Knockfennel, the highest hill adjacent to the lake, and the happy smiley faces are a give-away.
For those who may be interested in gaining everlasting youth (everlasting youth – really MB?), the hill in the background of the photo (on the other side of the lake) is called Knackadoon. Knockadoon hides one of the four entrances to the fabled Irish Land of Everlasting Youth (a really happy place), called Tir Na N’Og in the Irish Gaelic language. Each of the four provinces of Ireland has one entrance, and the province of Munster has it’s entrance at the hill of Knockadoon at HX.
The tale of Tir Na N’Og is well known to every Irish schoolchild who reads of it during school years. Many believe that the story is just some old Irish mythology blarney. But HX locals know better. And if you ever caught sight of MB and his youthful looks, you would certainly agree that there must be some truth to the tale. MB is one of course one of a few village elders (even though MB is far from an elder) entrusted with the exact location. And only those most deserving, after a lifetime of good deeds and faithful HX service, are taken at dead of night and totally blindfolded to the entrance cave to arrest the ravages of declining years. But as ever in HX land, MB and the elders are sworn to secrecy. So very sorry dear followers that MB must cut this story short and move on.
The walkers on the Longest Walk For The Longest Day – 21 June 2015, at the top of Knockfennel:
Posted on October 25, 2013
Greetings boys & girls
Actually finished this blog last night and managed to delete it all. Hells bells or what?! Now back in the saddle again, so here we go:
MB is back in Saudi for the last four days and getting acclimatised once again after ten day break back home. Mercifully the weather is getting cooler out these parts and it’s possible to walk about in some degree of comfort, especially at night. It might be possible to go for nightly strolls or even power walks were it not for all the crazy Saudi male drivers, who have little regard for traffic lights or lane discipline or anything else related to good road manners. Poor street lighting and lack of definition between street & footpath in many places is also a factor. So to venture out for a walk, as MB did a few nights back, means constantly looking over your shoulder, left & right, up & down, and in the end the neck muscles end up getting more exercise than the leg muscles. MB is lucky he has eyes in the back of his head, as it’s is a prerequisite for walks around northern Riyadh.
Tomorrow is Lady Drivers action day in Saudi. When some ladies will drive cars on the public roads, which is against the law at present. MB tried to log on to some of the web sites the ladies are using but they are mostly blocked. Anyway, good luck to the ladies tomorrow. I asked one Saudi (male) friend today what Saudis thought of it all and he replied that Saudis are only thinking about the Barcelona/Madrid game tomorrow night!
On landing in Ireland two weeks ago MB was immediately struck by how so many things are good and right. We like to complain at home sometimes but we should thank our lucky stars. Taxis, buses, trains all working, clean streets, fantastic scenery. Relatively low crime rates. And people have a life. Outside of work there are so many things to do. Irish parents are always complaining that they are on the road with Junior or on the side of a pitch 24/7. If Junior happens to be particularly skillful then he/she has numerous sports to participate in and mom/dad will spend much of their spare time going from home to match back to home. And same again tomorrow. But while its a drag most will admit that they wouldn’t have it any other way.
All organised by unpaid volunteers in the local communities. And the culture & country is enriched as a consequence. There seems to be no such history or culture in the Middle East. None that MB has seen at least. Maybe it’s combination of the extreme climate for six or seven months per year, the conservative traditions & history, and the interpretation of the religion, which can be extreme in many locations. If your history is one of struggle and strife in a very hot desert climate then it difficult to be organising kids soccer matches, to be fair. But there is no shortage of the green stuff – the cash. Loads of it for buying fancy cars, building plush villas, or palaces. So cash is not the issue. Just the culture, the traditions and the history I guess.
Another thing that MB noticed on trip home is how old everyone is starting to look. Many of MBs friends & family are now north of 50. And starting to look it. Hit MB like a hammer blow last week. Greying heads, wrinkles that were not there previously, bulging waistlines, thinning or receding hairlines, and more.
All getting older. Except MB of course. The combination of the Arabic honey, the camel milk and the 24/7/365 sunshine all ensure that MB has not aged a day since his arrival five years back. Allah u akbar.
For the non-Irish followers, let me tell you briefly the story of Tir Na Nog – the land of everlasting youth (pronounced in English – teer naa noog) from Irish mythology (forget all that Greek & Roman crap). An Irish warrior hero called Oisin (pronounced – osh-een) was taken to the land of everlasting youth called Tir Na Nog by a beautiful lady (they will always lead you astray) called Niamh of the Golden Hair (a blond bimbo obviously). After some time in TNG Oisin got lonely for his homeland, family and friends. Niamh warned him that if he went back he must stay on horseback at all times, as if he touched the soil of Ireland he would immediately age all those years he had been away. And in the land of everlasting youth time stands still, so you just do not know how long you have lived there.
When Oisin arrived in Ireland he could find neither family nor friends, but he did come across a group of men struggling to lift a large rock (presumably construction workers). Oisin lamented how weak Irish man had become, bent down and removed the rock on his own without any help. But in doing so he slipped from his horse, and immediately aged 300 years. Khalas (finished), as we say out these parts!
So friends & family back home, please realise that even though MB does not have any great social life out these parts, he is reasonable happy in his Arabic Tir Na Nog. He will of course travel again at Christmas to see you all, when you will witness MB wandering around HX at all times on his trusty Arabic stallion. And you can lift your own damn rocks!
This weeks photos are eclectic collection of different events back home that MB attended or was somehow involved in. Will return to a more focused photo collection next week and to a less rambling blog post! Inshallah.
Ok, enough for this week.