The Irish Creevagh group – an introduction
The Creevagh group, Creevagh Art and Archaeology Collective, include 3 archaeologists interested in landscape from diverse perspectives and 5 artists with a variety of creative disciplines including contemporary dance and somatic movement practice, visual art, poetry, graphic design, photography and curating.
We bring a vast offering of research methods for landscape exploration, to work in the communities of the Burren limestone karst region and the adjoining Kilshanny parish that stretches to the Atlantic.
Stefan Bergh, PhD, Landscape Archaeologist, Lecturer, National University of Ireland, Galway.
Déirdre Carr, Masters of Fine Art, Artist and Poet.
Maria Kerin, PhD student, University of Limerick, artist/choreographer/curator.
Patricia McKenna, MA, Multimedia Artist.
Mary Nunan, dance-artist (PhD).
Dr Ros Ó Maoldúin, MIAI, Archaeologist.
Michael Walsh, graphic designer, photographer.
The water-worn karstic surface of the Burren is rich with archaeological remains of every period of Ireland’s past. Prehistoric megaliths, cairns, early medieval cashels and churches are particularly visible and numerous, and provide local communities and visitors with tangible connections to lives and deaths of past peoples. Unseen underground caves that carry the water beneath the Burren were also sometimes inhabited or used for ritual and burial.
Turlough Hill, the Burren
Turlough Hill, this conspicuous ridge overlooking Bell Harbour in northeast Burren was a ritual powerhouse in the Bronze Age. It obviously had some unique qualities to the people in the Burren as it became a focus for a series of ritual activities, the fragmentary remains of which we today can trace on the barren summit.
Some 150 house foundation on this bleak mountaintop strongly speaks to me in terms of isolation, identity, place and movement. Adding to these qualities, the large summit cairn, the huge stone enclosure and the unique long cairn snaking its way down the hillside, add a strong ritual concept to how this enigmatic landscape might be read and understood.
Turlough Hill is about identity and placemaking. Making place and carving out identity in a distant past, but also in the present.
I have been going to the Burren since I was a teenager in many ways it is still a mystery to me. As soon as I cross into the Burren I get a giddy sensation of happiness and rootedness. I feel as if I am tapping into something pulling me into the earth down through the all the cracks and hidden spaces a sense of solidness and calm an understanding of something even if I don’t know what that is. The textures and skies the mix of openness yet tightness as you have to watch your step crossing the limestone. The vastness of the Atlantic beyond the feel of expansion in my lungs. There are other beautiful places in Ireland I like to visit but I always feel I am a passerby, while in the Burren I feel absorbed, dissolved in the landscape. It never ceases to inspire me.
Kilshanny civil parish, situated in the barony of Corcomroe in northwest Clare, not far from the cathedral of the diocese of Kilfenora, is centred on the valley of the Dealagh river which flows from the north of the parish west into Killaspuglonane and onwards to the sea between Liscannor and Lahinch, the landscape a mosaic of grassy drumlins, heathery hilltops and patches of bogland.
The good land of the drumlins has attracted farmers and supported them in all probability from as early as the Neolithic right up to the present day, and as the river and lake have populations of anadromous salmonids there is a likelihood that the area supported human populations right back into the Mesolithic.
Although little can be said categorically about the archaeological monuments of the parish as none have been excavated, the large cairn, Carn Connachtach could date from as early as the Neolithic as other cairns in Clare and further afield have been shown to, the several ring-barrows in the parish could span the Bronze to the Iron Age, while sites such as St Augustine’s holy well and the earthen ring-forts in the parish could have been in use from the Iron Age until quite recent times. Later monuments also include the ruins of the medieval Augustinian abbey, and Smithstown tower house, which was in a ruinous state until it was restored to habitable condition in the late 20th century.
How we can communicate with and collaborate with each other, experts in separate disciplines? With Karum-Creevagh I offer a movement-based practice with special emphasis on somatic practice principles as a tool to support and enhance embodiment to strengthen our attentiveness and awareness, both to ourselves and others.
By sharing modes of receptivity we can nurture safety and build trust between us.
By listening to our selves and others, actively deep listening and sensing through layers of time and place, we can support each other to open our fields of perception to hidden knowledge in the eco-cultural landscape and thus create new insights.
“A body doesn’t coincide with its present. It coincides with its potential. The potential is the future-past contemporary with every body’s change.”
(Massumi 2002, 200)
Maria Kerin, Karum-Creevagh steering group
Cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary exchanges are being stimulated by this project. All involved, artists and archaeologists, have a great deal of experience in our respective areas of expertise. But of equal importance is our interest and commitment to generating fresh perspectives through our engagement with collaborative processes.
My practice, as a dance artist, could be said to involve a kind of archaeological dig into some of the layers of the moving body/mind.
I am interested in collaborating with archaeologists who are exploring movement as pattern in landscape. Our process will be guided by questions as to if/ how our respective approaches to research into ‘inner’ and ‘outer’ landscapes might inform, even illuminate each other, and generate new insights into both.
Poetry by Déirdre Carr