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Glenade Lough or Ghleann Éada – meaning ‘lake of the glen of jealousy’ – holds the story of the dobhar-chú, a creature of Irish folklore known as the ‘water hound’. This tale of heartache and loss is carried through the valley and takes many different forms. The most common version tells of a young woman called Grace who was killed by the ‘monster’ in 1722, as she was washing clothes in the lake. When her husband found her lifeless body, he avenged her death by slaying the monster. The beast’s companion awoke from the lake and chased the man and his brother many miles to Cashelgarron, below Benbulben mountain in County Sligo. There he managed to slay the beast. The nearby ancient Conwal Cemetery contains Grace’s gravestone, which displays a carving of the dobhar-chú. Ireland has many myths and legends, but very few are evidenced through carvings on a person’s gravestone. A second tombstone connected to the tale was once situated at the south end of Glenade Lough, but has since been lost. This particular folk memory is so deeply embedded in the landscape, that when I swim in the lake, people tell me to get out in case the dobhar-chú gets me. Variations on this story include women being killed by serpent creatures or jealous wives killing their husbands with poisonous reptiles.
My intention with this new body of work was to convey a narrative from the water’s perspective. I wanted to find ways to distill this ephemeral environment and decided to create remedies based on homeopathic principles with water taken from the lough. These waters channel the metaphysical forces that interact with it and the stories, memories, myths and folk tales that are layered upon it. My process involves serial dilutions with water and each individual water sample is analysed to see what is held within. These samples can be viewed as tiny, poetic time machines which form the basis of moving image and photographic works, as well as water remedies.
I also developed a number of successful collaborations and gained access to specialist ecological knowledge. For example, during the field investigations, I joined Cillian Roden, an experienced naturalist and ecologist, who was carrying out a targeted aquatic survey of Glenade Lough. Accompanied by Jim Ryan, Cillian was searching for the Najas Flexilis, a native aquatic plant that is entwined with Glenade Lough’s mythology, but has not been seen there since 1970. A recording of the men’s conversations during this expedition formed the basis of a soundtrack which accompanies the video work. I also had the pleasure of working with digital archaeologist Gary Dempsey. Sometimes the lines between archaeology and folklore become blurred, as archaeologists excavate layers of rich topography, ancient legends, place-name lore, hagiography and local traditions pertaining to specific regions. It could be argued that where the folklorist digs where the archaeologist does not.
By opting for a publication as one of my main outcomes, I wanted to extend the work beyond the gallery context. I was thrilled to work with Padraig Cunningham from Pure Designs on the design and layout of the publication. Padraig really helped to assert the idea of something precious that would reflect the level of the care and research I had invested in the project. I wanted various aspects of the project to be contained within a presentation box. A unique water remedy sits snugly underneath a booklet and several postcards – a formation that emulates the imprinted, layered stories I have encountered on my journeys through this valley and its water. With this publication, I want to take the reader on a journey to become part of the water, to listen to the whispers of stories yet untold from this place.
I have worked diligently to assemble a range of poetic, critical and theoretical understandings as well as inventive artistic approaches linked to my broader water investigations.
Glenade Water and Moss Remedy
This remedy is especially helpful for those who work with energy. It helps to clear old unwanted patterns quickly and to integrate new patterns that are emerging. The remedy allows your own innate healing powers to do their work with ease and it holds space for you. When we hide things from others (tears, pain, grief etc.), they can become hidden to ourselves. This remedy helps people listen to their intuition and stops them becoming stuck in repeated thinking. The moss brings a new clarity and deep clear mental energy that is calm yet energising. It works deeply on the sinuses and spine and helps to clear viruses. It is a powerful awakener and brings one on an inner journey to be in the now.
‘Water Senses’ is supported by the Arts Council’s Arts and Disability Connect Scheme managed by Arts and Disability Ireland. It is kindly supported by Leitrim Sculpture Centre and The Model, Sligo.
Water Senses is a boxed publication which contains a unique water remedy, booklet, series of postcards and a map. First edition print of 100. Designed by Pure Designs.
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Water Senses is supported by the Arts Council’s Arts and Disability Connect Scheme managed by Arts and Disability Ireland. Also kindly supported by Leitrim Sculpture Centre, The Model, Sligo and Leitrim County Council