The Glen

This Page is about Julie’s connections with the Glen River Park

Winter ~ Saturday 9 December 2023

The gaps between walks stretch and collapse these days and today the winds shimmy in song and ripple ~ summoning and releasing invisible presences in air, on water, through the winter valley The whisper touch of living and dying, honed branches and fallen leaves speak in shapes shifted from puddles, on the gravel, at the…

mirroring fire and water ~ Sunday 22 Oct

There is a synching of things, tracings and happenings in the Glen the surfaces and spaces tuning to one another the brown bronze of the swollen river drifts and swellings the movement across surfaces the metallic surface of the burnings and drownings their interlockings

An over view of sorts

A little glimpse at some history

On Left, a photograph showing Goulding’s Chemical Plant on the site of the Glen Park, in 1956. On right a photo from the same perspective 2020 Google Earth

It is interesting to see the train tracks still above ground in 1956, The North link road now covers them – see the lorry on the left. I am curious to see the Glen in 1956 shows few trees, there are many more today… I hear that The Glen was wooded up until the end of the 19th century, I am told the trees were cut down and used for military building practice, creating test trenches in the Glen, in training for active duty in WW1. I am wondering about these structures and the many others below our feet across time..I think of the rats who are always there….

Goulding Fertilizer Factory ceased to Function shortly after this photo was taken and the family donated the land to the people of Cork for recreational use in the 1960s. Sir Basil Goulding was a noted art collector, a champion of modernism when painting clung to figurative realism, an influential arbiter of art and architecture, and one of the early members of the Art Council of Ireland (established in 1951). I am intrigued by the circular form above the factory in this picture.

I am dipping into Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer and, curious to see how it looks, I did a search for “sweetgrass” the first link to show was probably the bots in action.

The Latin name for Kimmerer’s American Sweetgrass is Hierochloe odorata, meaning Sacred fragrant grass this one is rare in Ireland, and known here as Holy Grass, here’s a post about Holy Grass and on Wikipedia

We have a type of Sweetgrass in Ireland, known as Floating Sweet-grass
Glyceria fluitans, or Milseán uisce (water sweet) in Irish. Here’s what the plant looks like

Grasses are in the Family, Poaceae

There are lots of grasses in the Glen, I must look out for Sweetgrass when it flowers in the spring, to find it there now would be satisfying. I have been making cordage – a kind of spinning with fingers – from some grasses I gathered there in August, it would be some kind of synchronicity to find out it’s Sweetgrass//Milseán uisce or the other type of Sacred Sweetgrass.

A ‘True North’ image of the Glen River Park showing its East – West orientation

This google photo doesn’t show the hilly nature of the area, my home is at the bottom of this map and the house is on the north lee of Military Hill, sloping northwards down to the Glen river. The terrain appears pretty much flattened out in the google view. Below is a photo taken from the south facing slope showing the narrow gorge the river cuts through the land, the footpath flanks the river and is overlooked by a chorus of dead (elm?) trees. The Glen used to have many elms in the middle part of the last century but Dutch Elm disease and its beelte ran throgh them, we still se a flutter of new growth in the spring but it never amounts to much.

Mystic River ~ mist rising from the Glen river at sundown looking West at 5pm 26 November 2020

Nightfall in the Glen is a gentle exchange of sun and moon, bringing colour to the skies, and this time of year in the cold snap the mist rises from the river silhouetting bare trees that appear like other tributaries into the main flow. This sun||moon arc is one of the most beautiful things about the east west axis of this deep river gorge. One of the walkers, who grew up nearby, tells me that the Glen was always known for its pink sky.

Last night as we were sitting under the oak and dusk was creeping in, Lisa caught a glimpse of a fox over my shoulder, I turned and saw only the white tip of her tail as she slithered down the slope, we heard her trip, the stumble causing stirrings in the bracken, all fox coloured and darkening in the evening light. There have been many fox sightings in the Glen, one zipped across our path a week ago, and recently a walker posted images of a poorly one, all bony haunches and balding fur. I keep missing glimpses “Is that a squirrel?” asked Tom, as I turned it was gone. Ed has seen a sparrowhawk on the zigzag, mouse carrion in claw. The zigzag is a popular place for sightings, there has been a budgie at the bottom, and a jay at the top – Lisa alerted me to the squawk and I missed the blue streak dive into the trees. there have been talks about flashes of blue “is there a kingfisher in the ponds ?” one walker wonders.

Budgie snapped by Glen walker, Tom Doig.

There are so many particular habitats in the Glen park, and stopping places which invite moments of stillness and listening. Moments where sonic and visual worlds collide … recently, Rudolph in the Glen:

Is there a Yeti in the Glen? Photos of entrances by Glen walker, Niall Murray

The little egret has returned after a long summer break and loves to play hide and seek with human admirers among the bull rushes, photos by Glen walker, Isaac Fay.

Gerard O’Brien talking about growing up in the Glen

Gleann na Puca

We hear from Gerard that the Glen used to be known as Gleann na Puca – or Glen of the Fairies, or “the Haunted Glen” as he calls it. For a long time the Glen was a place to be avoided, when the mills came, the industry brought people and the Puca was dropped. “The origin of the name may have come from the Old Norse term pook or puki, which refers to a “nature spirit”.

In Germanic languages, such as Frisian or English, this became pucel, pook or puck. ….. The púca has the power of human speech, and has been known to give advice and lead people away from harm. Though the púca enjoys confusing and often terrifying humans, it is considered to be benevolent.

Another family resided in the Glen, the musical family of Aloys Fleishcmann lived in an old Mill house above the river at the Eastern end, a wooded area near where the zigzag enters. This place was a hub of many things musical while the family grew up here and Cork ballet mistress Joan Denis Moriarty was a presence with her dancers

The view from the kitchen window of the Fleischmann residence back in 1992, when it was still standing, this image made in the days of real film photography and herons, not trikes and trolleys under bridges. You can see the raindrops on the window in the top left a reflection emerges at the bottom of the glass … it’s lettering… forming that rosy glow in the river.. the plant life in the walls – this image gives me a kind of blade runner moment…whose memories are these…?

faairies from the School of Joan Denise Moriarty

and the legend herself poised on the gate post