Place Where You Live:

The Black Stairs

The mountains.

The place where I live.


Ballyogan, Gráig-na-Manach, Co. Kilkenny, Ireland.


An artist’s palette of colours; changing through the day, through the seasons; a slide show moving silently to its own rhythm. Purple, orange, pink, cerise, grey, black. Drawing me in, holding me still.


I love to watch their understated displays, their quiet theatre of light and shadow.  These are the Black Stairs. Ancient hills, rooted low and worn, enfolding the river valley, shielding and feeding the sacred, life giving waters of the River Barrow. Watching over the town Gráig-na-Manach – the grange of the monks – for the past one thousand years. They were here long before the town was established and will be here long after it has gone.


As protectors, these hills offer solace, safe-keeping. I offer them my thoughts and my dreams. I know they will keep them for me, holding them, releasing them back to me as needed. Some pre-historic carved stones tell me that people have communicated with these mountains for many years.


The mountains speak many languages. No words are needed, just thoughts, feelings, dreams, energy, flow. I give these to the mountains. “Take them. Run them up your broad sides, along your ragged top, down to your valley floors. Re-fresh them in your bubbling springs. Protect them under granite stone. Invigorate them with your light show. I will come back for them soon”.


When I walk here, I trace the crooked paths in search of my deposited thoughts but they are not easily found. The mountains seem to play with them, hide them, releasing them only when they are ready to. Or is it that my mind will only accept them when the time is right, when thinking stops and the mind opens to the language of the mountains. Thinking with the body. Feeling as language.


Sometimes, exhausted from a day’s hiking, the body’s tuning fork picks the right note and the communication starts. Ebb and flow; wave and vibe; through and with; gently whispering; flowing silently back. Restored, rejuvenated, rejoiced.