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"Hope, Lost"

Posted by FAINOMENON on October 30, 2013 at 9:20 AM Comments comments (0)

A painting I did especially for the Romanian Underdogs Charity, and donated it to be auctioned in their fundraising event. It was auctioned successfully and now resides in the U.K. 

Please help this worthy cause, they are saving Romanian street dogs from certain  death...


Posted by FAINOMENON on October 23, 2013 at 8:00 AM Comments comments (0)

As I look outside, my window clutters

from the charge of mighty steeds,

echoes of thunder, unspeakable deeds

most ancient, secret, unfathomable matters.


'Tis not the trees I see, of now;

captured in the afterburn of things unseen,

long dead, but not forgotten, somehow;

a sea coils there: an ocean of liquid wings.


A thick, boiling ocean; a heaving abyss

of spirits and others who follow the trail

Clotho weaves, unsmiling; oblivious in bliss.

O ye, like a sang song. Like a merry wag tail;


yet indifferent, staring, with fingers of thorn

coldly stirring the chaos, the whispering foam.

And I welcome the waters. I gladly give in

I open the windows, I welcome them in...

Joli's tale

Posted by FAINOMENON on October 17, 2013 at 11:30 PM Comments comments (0)


a simple little tale and remedy against the ill-effects of certain nights of Full Moon and blocked noses.


In the forest of Boullon a Boulonnais was walking in circles. He had a blocked nose, he was alone and he was annoyed. "Why", the angry horse was thinking "why oh why can't I have something in my life to help forget my troubles? Why can't I, too, jump hurdles with grace and be some nobleman's pride and glory? Why is it my fate just to pull carts and plough-shares and hurt my back and when the hay is cut get awns up my nose - like this? Oooh, why?" He was snorting and whinnying and nickering, sniffling and snuffling and neighing, lifting his hoofs high and hitting his huge feet on the ground, but none of these made him feel any better. Yet the Lady of the Night heard him, the cunning evening, and thought to herself: "this mangy cob that gets on my nerves with his snorting, he dreams he is the steed of the Fairy Prince himself or some Derby Winner with thirty generations pedigree of distinguished ancestors! I'll show him - I will wake up the old-jinx Manjo that just fell asleep, and he will think it was the horse's nickering and neighing that woke him up. With a bit of luck, he will butcher him up and eat him!"


The moon cackled gleefuly and took her tallow face, just like sour cheese, through the window curtains; sliding over the bed covers, she hit old Manjo right on the face, straight on his closed eyelids. He grinded his teeth, tossed and turned a couple of times, hit his sweaty brow with his big heavy hand that was the shape and size of a crude oar and, wide-awake, he sprang-sit on the bed, that creaked plaintively in protest under his weight. Desolate as he was, he started cursing and swearing on his own, before he pricked his ugly crinckled hairy ears to find out what woke him up. The horse was weeping and moaning at the edge of the woods, right next to the house of Manjo, who was lumber-jack, hangman, gombeen-man, dog-catcher, tax collector and gravedigger of the village, all these together. He opened the window a crack and looked outside: the trecherous moonlight was shining on the handsome beast, revealing it grey with uneven white bloches all over, apart from his rosy-pink nostrils and lips, the golden-brown powerfull hoofs and the large, beautiful, chocolate-brown eyes. Oh, and the ash-blond, long tail and wavy mane, of course! Manzo listened carefully to make sure he had found the culprit and then he gulped a mouthfull of arack, thinking just how he would punish the offender; axe? scythe? sledge-hammer? a wedge between the eyes? It wouldn't be the first time: all the old animals from the village, when they were used up and too weak or sick for work, ended up in Manzo's shed and he sold their last remains - skins, nails, hooves, teeth, wool, fat, meat, bones, intestines - they all had a price in the market, demand was steady and everything yieled a profit. Besides, Manzo enjoyed his work.


The horse that, when he was foaled at a farm on the other end of the forest, the young son of the farmer had called him "Joli", flicked his ears, ill-atease. Something he sensed in the air, some of the foul stench of death and Manzo's evil heart, that years now had been rotten and reeked of greed and murders, and he neighed even louder, with the bass voice of the male Boullonais. He was a stallion, Zolie, so bonny and docile, hard-working, earnest, and sweet-natured that nobody ever thought to have him gelded. Seven years old, he had laboured all his early youth in the fields as a draught horse, and not once had he misbehaved, not even as a colt. When he was pulling the heavy milk cart, he would start and stop so softly, that not a drop was ever spilled from the topped-up churns. Zolie had no equal. His ma, Blanche, and his da, Toto, were still working as a team with his sister, Ma Belle, but Zolie was working on his own in the field on the edge of the woods, until he got stolen by Guillaummar the horse rustler, who overheard Zolie's owner talking in the tavern about the awsome strength of the horse, that he had bought at the fair as a yearling, and now he was beyond compare, pulling on his own twelve full churns instead of the usual seven or eight, which was the most other horses could muster, and his whole family too, atop the cart. But Guillaummar abandoned Zolie, when he heard him sneezing and caughing like this, thinking he got pneumonia as his chest was heaving and his ribs were rippling and shaking and his eyes and nostrils were runny, from the awn-spike that got into his nose that very morning. It had rained at dusk and in his haste not to get caught the thief had left the horse uncovered and he didn't stop to dry him either; "bad luck" he thought and just left him where he was, prey to the wolves and bears, grumbling to himself for the troubles he took to snatch him from his stall at a time when everyone was busy having a good time at the harvest feast.

That's how poor Joli found himself under the nose of Manzo, who was by now sharpening his hack-hammer, whistling the tune about dondon Camile, who slipped and fell on the bucket and her butt-cheek got stuck from the fat; and he was thinking how much he would earn from the carcass and was smiling, pleased with himself, scratching his nuts and then his bald head, blessing his good fortune for bringing him such an unexpected prime piece of meat for a prize. Then, something lit up the sky and the blaze blinded Manjo, who was looking straight at it, counting, measuring and calculating everything, admiring Joli's broad fleshy croup and hindquarters. The horse did not suffer from the glare as he had his eyes shut from a humongous big sneeze, that finally got the awn spike unstuck and blew it out of his nostril. Oh, what joy and relief! Joli could not believe it! He started running and jumping around, so happy again, galloping and prancing and making the ground tremble, so much that he didn't realise that something else was shaking the ground too, setting the dry twigs alight in the glade.


It was a weird-looking craft, a flying metal ship, that swished and bobbed gently, gliding through air until it softly landed on the grass and sat in the middle of the clearing, terrifying Manjo who scuttled back into his hut as quick as his podgy legs could carry him, screaming and shouting and shitting and pissing in his pants and in such a great hurry to creep back into his house and hide, reaching out to find his way by hand, as his eyes were burned forever. He would end his days in a hospital, uncapable to look after himself or do any more harm to anyone, at the mercy of those whom he used to sneer at and exploit. All the gold and silver he had collected he gave gladly to ensure nursing care, and his ill-gain was used to build a bigger, better hospital for the poor and needless in the area. So in the end, Joli's coming and temporary misfortune had served to teach the old man some humility and appreciation of kindness for his fellow beings. His cruel heart had melted in the fire of need and even felt some regret for his wrong doings. Ah well ! But what happened to Joli himself? And who was his heaven-sent savior? 


Nothing but a strange invention of science, a time-travelling machine; it brought back a hunded years or so a very, very clever engineer of the 21st century, who was looking exactly for a horse just like Joli as a present for his friend Marie and her lovely daughter, Bridget; Marie thought Boulonnais were the loveliest horses in the world and she was sad reading that some people butchered them and ate them. She decided then to adopt one as a pet, one that would be truly in danger and need to be rescued from certain death. So the inventor's time-machine located Joli just in the nick of time and the instruments of the ship -that looked curiously like a Land Rover, as his inventor had used a lot of parts from a Mark II Defender to build it- brought it at the specific place and time at the right moment. Thus the friends from the future saved the lucky Boullonais and brought him home to live (a simple little tale in Ireland, loved and cared for by Marie & her daughter and admired by all. So Joli now lives in our own time, very happy and content indeed, and the only thing left from his adventure is the distant memory of a very annoying and constant tickling deep in his nose, that used to cause him insuppressible sneezing and snorting, and that he would never, ever want to have to suffer it again...


Maria Ginala

for Bridget


June 2006.



Το παραμύθι του Ζολί

(ξόρκι για την γέμιση του φεγγαριού και τις βουλωμένες μύτες;)



Στο δάσος της Βουλώνης ένα Βοulonnais με βουλωμένη μύτη έκοβε βόλτες μόνο του κι΄εκνευρισμένο. «Γιατί» σκεφτότανε το θυμωμένο άτι, «να μην υπάρχει κάτι στη ζωή μου για να ξεχνώ τη μπουκωμένη αναπνοή μου; Γιατί κι΄εγώ να μη μπορώ εμπόδια να πηδώ με χάρη και κάποιου ευγενή να ‘μαι το καμάρι; Γιατί η μοίρα μου είναι μόνο, κάρα να σέρνω και υνί κι΄ η πλάτη μου να με πονεί κι΄ όταν θερίζουμε το στάρι άγανα να μου μπαίνουνε στη μύτη όπως τώρα – κούφια η ώρα;» Χρεμέτιζε, ρουθούνιζε και χτύπαγε τα πόδια τα πελώρια του στη γη, μα ανακούφιση δεν έβρισκε καμμιά. Τον άκουσε όμως η νυχτιά η πονηρή και σκέφτηκε: “ετούτο το ψωράλογο που μου δίνει στα νεύρα με τα ρουθουνίσματά του ονειρεύεται πως είναι το άτι του Πρίγκηπα των παραμυθιών ή κανένας νικητής του Ντέρμπυ με τριάντα γενιές πετιγκρί! Θα του δείξω εγώ-θα ξυπνήσω το γέρο-γρουσούζη το Μανζό που μόλις αποκοιμήθηκε και θα του βάλω την ιδέα ότι τον ξύπνησαν τα χλιμιντρίσματά του. Με λίγη τύχη, θα τον σφάξει και θα τον φάει!»

Η σελήνη κακάρισε χαιρέκακα και πήρε την κιτρινιάρα μούρη της, ολόιδια ξυνισμένο τυρί, και γλίστρησε μέσ’ από τις κουρτίνες, κάτω από το πάπλωμα και ολόισια πάνω στα κοιμισμένα βλέφαρα του γέρο-Μανζό. Αυτός έτριξε τα δόντια, στριφογύρισε μια-δυό φορές, χτύπησε το ιδρωμένο κούτελό του με τη χερούκλα του και, ξυπνώντας, τινάχτηκε καθιστός στο κρεβάτι, που έτριξε παραπονιάρικα κάτω απ΄το βάρος. Μαγκούφης καθώς ήταν, άρχισε να βλαστημάει μόνος του πριν στήσει αυτί να καταλάβει τι τον ξύπνησε. Το άλογο έκλαιγε τη μοίρα του στην άκρη του δάσους, ακριβώς δίπλα στο σπίτι του Μανζό, που ήταν ξυλοκόπος, καρεκλάς, δήμιος, τοκογλύφος και νεκροθάφτης του χωριού, όλ΄ αυτά μαζί. Άνοιξε το παράθυρο και κύτταξε έξω: το φεγγάρι φώτιζε προδοτικά το μεγαλόσωμο άλογο, γκρι με ακανόνιστες άσπρες κηλίδες παντού, εκτός από τα ροδαλά του ρουθούνια και τα χείλη, τις καστανόχρυσες δυνατές οπλές και τα μεγάλα, όμορφα, σοκολατένια του μάτια. Α, και τη λευκόξανθη, μακριά ουρά και την κυματιστή του χαίτη βέβαια! Ο Μανζό αφουγκράστηκε προσεχτικά για να βεβαιωθεί ότι είχε βρει τον ένοχο κι΄ύστερα τράβηξε μια γουλιά ρακή για να σκεφτεί καλύτερα πως θα τον τιμωρούσε. Μάκιλα; Δρεπάνι; Βαριοπούλα; Mιά σφήνα ανάμεσα στα μάτια; Δεν θάταν η πρώτη φορά: όλα τα γέρικα ζώα του χωριού καταλήγανε στο υπόστεγο του Μανζό και κείνος πούλαγε τα τελευταία υπάρχοντά τους: πετσιά, νύχια, δόντια, δέρμα, τρίχες, λίπος, κρέας, άντερα, κόκκαλα-όλα είχαν την τιμή τους στο παζάρι, η ζήτηση ήταν σταθερή κι΄όλα άφηναν διάφορο. Άσε που ο Μανζό απολάμβανε τη δουλειά του…

Το άλογο που κάποτε, όταν είχε γεννηθεί σ΄έν΄αγρόχτημα στην άλλη άκρη του δάσους, ο μικρός γιός του επιστάτη το΄χε βαφτίσει «Ζολί», τίναξε τ΄αυτιά του ανήσυχο: κάτι έπιασε στον αέρα, κάτι από τη μπόχα του θανάτου και της καρδιάς του Μανζό,  που χρόνια τώρα είχε σαπίσει και βρωμούσε από την πλεονεξία και τους φόνους, και χλιμίντρισε ακόμα πιο δυνατά, μ΄εκείνο το επιβλητικό, αντρίκιο, μπάσσο χλιμίντρισμα των αρσενικών Boulonnais. Ήταν βαρβάτος ο Ζολί, τόσο καλός κι΄υπάκουος συνήθως, εργατικός, φιλότιμος και γλυκός στους τρόπους, που κανείς δεν είχε σκεφτεί ποτέ να του τα κόψει. Εφτά χρονών μονάχα, είχε δουλέψει όλη του τη νιότη στα χωράφια, σαν καλό καματερό, κι΄ούτε μια φορά δεν είχε παρακούσει. Όταν έσερνε το βαρύ κάρο με το γάλα, ξεκινούσε και σταματούσε τόσο μαλακά, που ούτε μια σταγόνα δεν είχε χυθεί ποτέ από τις ξέχειλες καρδάρες. Ο Ζολί δεν είχε ταίρι. Η μάνα του η Μπλάνς κι ο πατέρας του ο Τοτό δουλεύαν ακόμα μαζί με την αδερφή του τη Μα Μπελ, αλλά ο Ζολί δούλευε μόνος του στον αγρό της άκρης του δάσους. Μέχρι που τον έκλεψε ο Γκιγιωμάρ ο αλογοκλέφτης, που άκουσε τον αφέντη του Ζολί να καυχιέται στο καπηλειό για τη δύναμη του αλόγου, που τόχε αγοράσει πέρα απ΄το δάσος, πουλαράκι, και τώρα έσερνε μονάχο του δώδεκα καρδάρες ολόγιομες, αντί για έξι ή οχτώ, κι' ολόκληρη τη φαμίλια του πά' στο κάρο. Αλλά τον παράτησε ο Γκιγιωμάρ τον Ζολί γιατί τον άκουσε να φταρνίζεται και να βήχει όπως τώρα, νομίζοντας πως έπαθε πνευμονία έτσι όπως τρέμανε τα πλευρά του και τρέχανε οι μύτες και τα μάτια του, απ΄το άγανο που μπήκε στο ρουθούνι του εκείνο το ίδιο πρωί. Το σούρουπο είχε βρέξει κι απ΄τη βιασύνη του μη τον καταλάβουν, ο κλέφτης άφησε τ΄άλογο ξέσκεπο κι ούτε σταμάτησε να το στεγνώσει. «Κακοτυχιά» σκέφτηκε και το παράτησε να το φαν οι λύκοι κι οι αρκούδες, γκρινιάζοντας που μπήκε σε τόσο κόπο να το κλέψει απ΄το παχνί του την ώρα που όλοι γλεντούσανε στο πανηγύρι του θερισμού.

Έτσι βρέθηκε ο κακομοίρης ο Ζολί κάτω απ΄τη μύτη του Μανζό, που τώρα ακόνιζε το σκεπάρνι του σφυρίζοντας το τραγούδι για τη Μαρί τη χοντρέλω, που γλίστρησε κι΄έπεσε μές΄το μπουγέλο και σφήνωσε το κωλομέρι της απ΄το λίπος. Και σκεφτότανε πόσα θα καθάριζε απ΄το κουφάρι και κρυφογελούσε, ξύνοντας πότε τ΄απαυτά του και πότε την κούτρα του τη φαλακρή, μακαρίζοντας την τύχη του που τούφερε το άλογο πεσκέσι. Τότε, κάτι άστραψε στον ουρανό κι η λάμψη τύφλωσε τον Μανζό, που κυττούσε ολόισια κατά κει κι΄ αναμετρούσε τα διάφορα, καμαρώνοντας τα φαρδιά πισωκάπουλα του Ζολί. Το άλογο δεν έπαθε τίποτα γιατί είχε σφιχτά κλεισμένα τα βλέφαρά του από ένα τρομερό φτάρνισμα, που ξεκόλλησε τελικά το άγανο από τη μύτη του. Τι ανακούφιση! Ο Ζολί δε μπορούσε να το πιστέψει! Άρχισε να τρέχει με χαρά πάνω-κάτω, τριποδίζοντας και καλπάζοντας και κάνοντας τη γη να τρέμει. Τόσο, που δεν κατάλαβε ότι και κάτι άλλο έκανε τη γη να τρέμει, βάζοντας  φωτιά στα ξερόχορτα στο ξέφωτο.


Ήταν ένα γιαλιστερό, μυτερό και μακρύ μεταλλικό σκάφος, ένας ιπτάμενος δίσκος, που κάθησε μαλακά πάνω στα χόρτα. Έφερνε πίσω στο χρόνο έναν εφευρέτη του 21ου αιώνα, που έψαχνε ακριβώς ένα άλογο σαν τον Ζολί για να το κάνει δώρο σε μια φίλη του, που πίστευε ότι τα Μπουλονναί ήταν τα πιο όμορφα άλογα του κόσμου και ήθελε να υιοθετήσει ένα, αλλά μόνο κάποιο που είχε ανάγκη και έπρεπε πρώτα να το σώσουν από βέβαιο θάνατο. Με τη βοήθεια της επιστήμης εντόπισαν την περίπτωση του Ζολί και η χρονομηχανή του σκάφους το έφερε ακριβώς εκεί που έπρεπε, την πιο κατάλληλη στιγμή. Έτσι κι' έγινε, και ο Ζολί τώρα ζει στα χρόνια μας ευτυχισμένος, και το μόνο που θυμάται από την περιπέτειά του είναι ένα πολύ ενοχλητικό γαργάλημα στη μύτη που κάποτε του έφερε ακατάσχετο φτάρνισμα, και που δεν θάθελε με κανένα τρόπο να ξαναπάθει…

Μαρία Γκινάλα

Για την Μπρίτζετ, 2001.

Benaughlin and the White Horse

Posted by FAINOMENON on October 6, 2013 at 12:00 PM Comments comments (0)

This is a subject that fascinates me ever since I moved to northwest Cavan and I am determined to do something about it.

Benaughlin is a beautiful mountain sitting across the border between Cavan and Fermanagh. 'Binn' as 'he' is affectionately referred to, presents a very attractive landscape with a unique outline and features. Legend has it that the local chieftain, Donn Bin Maguire and a magic white stallion, the Coppal Bawn, have made this mountain their home. (see note 1) 

 In his book "By Claddagh's Banks - A history of Swanlinbar and District from Earliest Times", published in 2000, local amateur historian, Joseph McKiernan, has recorded some interesting legends & lore about the Maguire and the magical white horse. Like the mothers warning their children not to stay out late, because 'the white horse would come and take the away'; Bin Maguire, myth tells us, was tricked and abducted by the White Horse spirit and afterwards he in turn lured and carried off many people to his underground lair, situated underneath Benaughlin mountain. "Pukkas" are described in Irish mythology as shape-shifting spirits and I distinctly recall seeing a drawing of a white horse by Jack B. Yeats, perhaps an illustration for his brother's book, ( "Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry" by W.B. Yeats), titled "the Pukka". (see note 2).

The locals used to climb the mountain on Bilberry Sunday. So it looks like that the mountain itself, or rather, something on it , was used and worshipped as an oracle in prehistoric & pagan times. The very name of the mountain, Benaughlin, is the anglisized of its Irish name, Binn Eachlabrhra - "Peak of the Speaking Horse". (see note 3).


Joseph McKiernan in his book states as a matter of fact that there was indeed a white horse - a hill figure, carved out on the northeast face - on the side of Benaughlin Mountain. The locals used to maintain the petroglyph during their visits to the oracle. This tradition of course gradually eroded in Christian times and apparently has died out since the 1950's; the mountain face has since been allowed to overgrow with forestry. In the book there is an outline sketch of the mountain with a mark placed by the author, pinpointing exactly where the hill figure was. The horse figure was quite large and visible from a great distance.


I did some research on this and one elderly local actually told me that the horse was depicted running and facing towards the South and the town of Swanlinbar. A man who kept a B&B business near the mountain (Benaughlin Cottages) used to take tourists to the spot and could outline the hill figure on the ground. Gary Cullen, an Irish-American who's family was from Swanlinbar visited some years back and was so impressed by the Coppal Bawn legend that he wrote a book that was published electronically last year (see note 4). Sadly the Benaughlin cottages proprietor died a few years back. The local Forestry officer too, knew the location of the horse but he unfortunately has also passed. I have not managed to speak to his successor and the gates that were placed at the entrance of the route that leads to the site seem to be constantly under lock and key so I have not managed yet to do a search on ther spot, but it's only a matter of time until I manage to visit the site.

This is the ONLY hill figure in Ireland, so it's hugely important from a historical and archaeological point of view. We don't know how old it is. It could be dating back to Donn Bin Maguire's time (12th century) or it could be older, pagan, even prehistoric. The area had been inhabited since prehistoric times, settements & later date findings related to iron ore extraction show a continuous human presence in the area since the 3rd millennium BC (see note 5). So this hill figure is very significant.


There are several hill figures in mainland UK but, other than the Coppal Bawn, nothing like it exists in Ireland, North or South. Until the White Horse on 'Binn' is re-discovered and dated, by archaeologists and geologists, we can not know exactly how old it is. The evidence, pointing towards an oracle, and the fact that the very name of the mountain, in gaelic, is "The Peak of the Speaking Horse", suggests a very ancient site indeed. 


The site is very close to Lough Erne, mythologic settlement of the Partholons and the Firbolg, and to the centre of Crom worship, or Magh Sleacht, a little further to the south from Swanlinbar, between the towns of Bawnboy and Ballyconnell. Crom was a very important deity, connected to the forging of iron and smelting of gold for the first time in Ireland. Would it not be wonderful to restore the Coppal Bawn and connect all these in a unique trail of local history ? (see note 6). 

There are several other sites nearby, dolmen, ringforts, standing stones etc. The Killycluggin stone is well known (see note 7as well as the Corleck tricephalic head from further afield in Cavan (see note 8). Many more local sites can be seen in the area (look under "Written In Stone" in my Links section). All the above suggest the area was a centre of pagan worship.

So stay tuned, hopefully there will be some developments soon on this fascinating project...










 image from Joseph McKiernan's book, marking the site of the petroglyph on the mountain. 

 More interesting references & links: 

I. Books & publications


- Cadogan Guide Ireland By Catharina Day (1986)

“the white limestone showing through the scree at the foot of the eastern cliff did indeed once portray the outline of a horse, though it has now become difficult to distinguish”.

- Between rocks and hard places: discovering Ireland's northern landscapes By Paul Lyle, Geological Survey of Northern Ireland (2010)

The Speaking Horse of Benaughlin:

- a relevant project by St. Bricin’s College, Belturbet, Co. Cavan, with good photographs:


"Philip Minister Brady, in his Romance entitled the Prodigal Son, gives the fable which accounts for the name of Beann Eachlabhra now Binn-Aghlin and throws great light upon Irish Fairyology. It is preserved in the MSS in Trinity College, Class H, 1-4; see catalog."

 - Al Beagan's "Genealogy Notes" ©1996 of County Cavan

John O'Donovan's Letters


The relation of Benaughlin with Swanlinbar :

Dr. O’Connor states in a note that BEANN EACHLABHRA was Swanlinbar“ stated in letter by John O’Donovan, 1834. (He also gives an alternative meaning of BEANN EACHLABHRA as the “peak of the horse-herd?”;)

BEANN EACHLABHRA in the Annals of the Four Masters for the year 1111 AD:

"A predatory excursion was made by Toirdhealbhach Ua Conchobhair* and he plundered Tearmann-Dabheog. Another predatory excursion was made by him; and he plundered as far as Beann-Eachlabhra, Sliabh-Ruisen, and Loch-Eirne".

*Toirdhealbhach Ua Conchobhair was King of Connacht (1106–1156) & High King of Ireland between 1120–1156. 

Book inspired by the Coppal Bawn:

II. Other sources on the web


Aerial view of the mountain (Ordnance Survey Ireland Map):,617637,831234,6,0

Websites & Online Publications

The Horse's Mouth - an interesting page with additional information:

"Benauglin or Binn Eachlabhra translates as "Peak of the Speaking Horse" and is a small mountain situated 9 miles south of Enniskillen in the foothills of the Cuilcagh mountains. The origins of the name relate to a horse shaped piece of limestone that once showed through the soil on the eastern slope but is now largely obscured by soil and undergrowth. There are many myths and legends surrounding Benaughlin. It was thought to be a fairy mound, the dwelling place of 'Donn Bin', a fairy king who roamed the area on horseback every May eve, looking for 'changlings'. If you hadn't a piece of mountain ash above the door it was 'God help you'. The mythical white horse or 'coppal ban' was a powerful figure and came out once a year on the last Sunday of July, 'Bilberry Sunday', to speak oracles to the people.

Apparently, just below the pillar in a flattish area there is a memorial slab to a servant of Lord Stuart which I never came across when planting the cache. It is broken and is supposed to read:

"Maxwell and Stuart. This stone

was here erected on the 3rd November

eighteen hundred and one, by Lord E.

Stuart as a memorial to his esteem for

the above first mentioned officer.

The virtues that men have live after

them; so it may be with Caesar.

Si quid novisti rectius illis candidus

imperti si non, his utere mecum."

The Latin words are the last two lines of the poet Horace's letter to his friend Numicus. These words translate as: "If you know anything more honourable than these, be frank and let me know. If not then you must agree with me about this." Old residents in the area claim that this massive slab was hauled by a crowd of men to the summit from Florence Court to provide a stage for a fiddler to stand on during the Bilberry Sunday Festival."

on Donn Binn Maguire:

Donn Binn Maguire is identified with the mythical deity Donn Bin Eachlabhra (Eachlabra being the root of Benaughlin’s name, “the peak of the speaking horse”;), king of the fairies (sidhe) or people of the mounts. One of the animals he is associated with is the horse and another is the pig (A: note that the old name for nearby Swanlinbar is Sra[-na-muck which means "The River-field of the pigs"). In mythology Donn (dark) was one of the mortals who arrive to defeat the Tuatha De Danann. Donn is cursed by Eriu before he reaches the shore and is the first person to drown. In another story Donn is an ominous death deity who’s red servants are omens of violent death. In folklore he is a king who battles an opposing fairy army at Lughnasa for good weather and crops for his province.

Wikipedia article on the mountain:

"Discover Ireland" feature:

"Shee-Eire" feature:

Photographic Location of the horse:

by Gary Cullen, Author of " The White Horse of Binn"[email protected]/369089346/

Other relevant info links: 

some info about Bilberry Sunday (the traditional celebration that took place on Binn the last Sunday of July):

the Maguires of Fermanagh:

What is the "Pooka" :

from Pooka – pools to St. Patrick wells

Benaughlin cottages:

Swanlinbar in wikipedia:

Benaughlin mention in Geological Survey of Ireland, 1886


Catharsis Corner (the northern cliff-face of the mountain):

and a photo of the cliff face that earned the name “Catharsis Corner”:

[How did the cliff face of an Irish mountain acquired this ancient Greek name? ) 

"THE STORY OF CONN-EDA  or The Golden Apples of Lough Erne" - local Pooka & Fairy Horse legend involving the Firbolg and Lough Erne

from: Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry, Edited and Selected by W. B. Yeats [1888]

Tomregan (Tuaim Drecin) the  Ancient Druid University near Ballyconnell:


The "Horse Island" of Lough Erne, now inhabited by white goats:



BBC guide to the area: (video not available on BBCiplayer)

Off the Beaten track, Series 1, Episode 2, featuring an ascend of Benaughlin mountain, aired on Sat 2 Jun 2012

Referenced on video guides page:

"Ardan's Pooka", an illustration by Dorothy P. Lathrop for Ella Young's fairytale, "ARDAN'S POOKA and BALLOR SON GOES RIDING", in "The Children's Hour Two Favorite Irish Fairy Tales",  Published by The Spencer Press, U. S. A., 1953. This is how Ardan, the boy in the tale, has been told a "pooka" might look (as a faery horse). I think it's a beautiful illustration to finish the entry with !

and the tale continues... 

this project combines so many of the things I love - art, Ireland, history, mythology, horses, magic, legends, and the unique landscape of the place that I call home - that it has the potential to become my life's work: I am fascinated and at the same time scared by it - by how much I want to see it happen, to see the mythical Fairy Horse of the mountain in all it's glory again...

I feel I should add here Gary Cullen's experience when he visited the site, a few years ago, as he described it to me in a letter: 

"I learned of the existence of the white horse on Benaughlin both from reading old stories including a history of Swanlinbar, written I think in the thirties, and from talking to the family we stayed at for a few days when we visited Swanlinbar. Michael McMorrow told me that you can't see the horse anymore from the road because of the trees that were planted on Benaughlin and the fact the site has not been kept up in the last few decades. But, he described where we would find the white stones if we climbed up Benaughlin. From the picture (see link above), we climbed up on the right side to the base of the cliff and followed the cliff to the left where it ended. My wife wasn't too keen about going higher, so I went to the top. She went to the edge of the patch of trees to the left above the "V" open space to watch me. While she was sitting, a rabbit came up near her, watched her for a bit, then slowly proceeded down the mountain to the grassy area within the "V" below the blotch of trees. It seemed to be leading her and it took her to a field of white, chalky stones. After I came down, we explored about and found the the area with white stones substantial, but covered by brush and grasses."

If you believe in fairies, a little rabbit (or was it an Irish mountain hare, lepus timidus hibernicus, a sacred animal of the ancient Irish ?) was acting as an emissary for the White Horse. The Coppal Bawn is calling us, waiting to be reinstated in its rightful place. And I for one, will not give up until this happens... 


Posted by FAINOMENON on October 5, 2013 at 9:25 AM Comments comments (0)

The word iconography literally means "image writing", and comes from the Greek εικών (image) and γράφειν (to write). Hagiography (hagios = saint) is the painting of holy subjects. 

Icons are used by many different religions including Hinduism, Buddhism, and Christianity.


Technically, the early basis of iconography was the burial portraits of Fayum (1st-2nd century) and the catacomb paintings of the 2nd and 3rd centuries.

The Orthodox tradition teaches that the first icons (of Christ and the Virgin Mary) were painted by St Luke.

The phrase "Byzantine Icons" is often used because Iconography was the most important art form of the Byzantine Empire. The emperor Constantine the Great (272-337 AD) relieved iconographers of all taxes. Iconography flourished in Byzantium, in the form of mosaics, wall paintings (frescoes), panel (portable) icons & manuscript illuminations (miniatures).

In the Eastern Orthodox tradition, only flat images or low relief images are used in religious art. The Greeks, having a long association with sculpture since the ancient, pre-Christian times, thought that the three-dimensional representations glorify the human aspect of the flesh rather than the divine nature of the spirit and so they oppose three-dimensional religious images. The Roman Christians, on the other hand, did not adopt these prohibitions and so we still have religious sculpture among the Roman Catholics to this day. The Byzantine style of iconography developed a highly stylised manner that emphasizes the spirituality rather than the human aspect of the subjects. Symbolism allowed the icon to present very complex theological context in a very simple way, making it possible to educate even the illiterate. The interiors of Orthodox Churches are often completely covered in icons and many people commission or buy icons privately to keep them at home. Traditionally icons are commissioned as presents to married couples and also as votive gifts to the local parish. In the West it was the rich patrons of the arts who commissioned religious artefacts, but in the East Christians consider it essential to have the icon of Christ, Mary, the Saint they are named after or other holy image at home, as an act of devotion; blessed in the church, these holy images bring the church home, in a sense, by helping the believer to feel closer to the saint he or she are directing their prayers to; this way, they become essential focal points that aid the people concentrate during their daily prayers.

In the 6th century AD, a controversy appeared within the Eastern Church about Icons. The Iconoclasts ("icon-smashers") consider their use to be idolatry and destroyed icons wherever they found them, replacing them with the only depiction allowed, the cross. The Iconodoules ("icon-worshippers"), on the other hand, argued that icons were mentioned in the Bible and had always been used by Christians. Finally the Iconodoules, supported by the Empress Theodora (500-548 AD), upheld the use of icons as an integral part of Christian tradition.

After the fall of Constantinople (1453), the Holy Mountain of Athos in Greece became a great centre of iconography. The Byzantine tradition of iconography had spread in the Serbian and Russian regions, and styles of iconography have undergone their own topical evolution over the centuries. That gave rise to several artistic "schools" of iconography, most famous of which are the Cretan school (Domenico Theotokopoulos, the famous master painter "El Greco", was Cretan and a master icon-painter also), the Moscow school, the Macedonian school and others.

Although iconography is mainly associated with the Church of the East, it is also the original tradition of sacred art in the Western Church. Mosaics, frescoes, and paintings in Rome, Spain, and France bear witness that the Byzantine style was a prominent and common art form in both Western and Eastern Christianity up to the twelfth century.

Today, Icons are still used extensively by the Eastern Orthodox and to a lesser extent by Roman Catholics. Icons are kissed, carried in procession, and venerated. Some are associated with miracles.

Although in the earlier times iconography was confined to monasteries, gradually the art became a popular form of folk art and today many icon-painters, men & women, exist & work outside the monastic life.


While icons tend to look like the original person they are depicting, everything within the frame is symbolic. Christ, the saints and the angels all have halos (symbolising the divine light which enlightens the faithful). Angels (and often St John the Forerunner / the Baptist) have wings, because they are messengers (like Hermes, the pagan god & messenger of the gods of the ancient Greeks; wings signify divine communication). Most Orthodox can identify the saints depicted at a glance, because they are so stylised they are recognizable - they have become, in the modern sense, "icons". St George and St Demetrius are shown slaying dragons, a symbol of sin and temptation. St Marina shows her fortitude and strength against sin by gripping the devil by his hair.

Colour plays an important role. Gold represents the radiance of Heaven; red, the divine life. Blue is the colour of human life, white is the uncreated essence of God, used especially in the icons of the resurrection of Christ. Jesus wears red undergarment with blue outer garment (God becoming Human) and Mary blue undergarment with a red over garment (so humans can actually reach God); this way the Orthodox doctrine is taught by iconography. The background too gives us information. Mountains usually mean the scene took place outside, while buildings and walls mean the event took place indoors. Letters are symbols too. Most icons incorporate calligraphic text (Byzantine letters) naming the person or event depicted.

In Roman Catholic depictions, most of the symbolism survives, though there is far less consistency. Artistic license allows the western painter more freedom and personal interpretations of each picture. And yet, despite the imagination and brilliance of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel, for example, it is still quite easy to identify the Saints depicted, because of, and thanks to, the long-established symbolism.

The purpose of Icons

Icons are used in worship and also collected by art lovers for their style and aesthetic values. Describing the religious purpose of icons, the early Fathers used the Greek word anagogic, literally meaning "leading one upward." Photios Kontoglou, the renowned contemporary Greek iconographer, expressed this perfectly: "Icons raise the soul and mind of the believer who sees the icon, to the realm of the spirit, of the incorruptible, of the kingdom of God, as far as this can be achieved with material means." So iconography is an art form with a function that is essentially spiritual.

The Style

Described as "theology in line and colour" iconography traditionally uses particular artistic codes to communicate the spiritual world to the beholder. The folds of the clothes are depicted by means of geometric forms (ovals, rectangles, triangles), demonstrating a heavenly order. However, the trained eye can tell a Greek icon from others: the two-dimensional treatment of the clothes in the best Greek iconic examples echoes the classic sculpture, and even the style of the compositions still carry some of the classical forms (the military saints on horseback, for instance, like St. George, look remarkably close in posture & theme to the heroic burial sculptures of ancient Greece). The face of Mary or the angels, and their expressions, refer directly to the classic ideals for the human form. But the icon has further idealised the human form: the long, fine noses do not smell ordinary perfumes but the otherworldly fragrance of divinity; the large, luminous, serene eyes have seen the triumphant God; the small, shell-like ears are deaf to temptation. The small, delicate mouths are not preoccupied by eating but by singing hymns and praising God.  The elongated figures and hands are not subjected to earthly toils any more – they are dedicated to heavenly worship. (So the unique later style of El Greco can thus be easily explained and understood, as a natural progression from his iconographic background).

The stylization also appears in all the elements of the faces and body members of the persons in the icon. The hands have long, elegant and expressive fingers, in various gestures of blessing. The halos around the heads of the Saints form a clearly delineated circle, signifying their sanctity and drawing our attention to their faces.

Buildings, mountains, trees and animals are usually depicted in a very simplified, schematic way, rather than attempting to render a naturalistic likeness. The icon is not bound by time or space: events that took place at different times are represented as if they took place simultaneously - such as is in the Nativity of Christ, for example, where we see in the icon the Virgin with the swaddled Infant, the midwives bathing the Child Jesus, the angel announcing the Saviour’s birth to the shepherds, and the Magi (the three Holy Men) coming to adore the Messiah. The iconographer frequently uses an inverted perspective: objects in the foreground are smaller than the spiritually more significant objects or persons behind them.

In many icons the saints hold a scroll that quotes their own words (such as Saint Patrick, whose scroll quotes his words on the Trinity from his famous Lorica). How does the iconographer know how to depict a particular saint? The appearances of hundreds of saints are described in various iconographers' manuals. Some icons are created with the help of contemporary descriptions or paintings done during or shortly after the saint's own lifetime, such as the icons of Saint Francis or Saint Thomas More. And with the help of photography, there are now actual photographs of the saints that the iconographer can refer to, for contemporary saints.

This is a short introduction to iconography. But iconography is much more than just a technique or style. As the great modern iconographer Photios Kontoglou wrote, "The art of the icon painter is above all a sacred activity...its style is entirely different from that of all the schools of secular painting. It does not aim to reproduce a saint or an incident from the Gospels, but to express them mystically, to impart to them a spiritual character..."



a Helleno-Hibernian perspective

Posted by FAINOMENON on October 5, 2013 at 8:25 AM Comments comments (0)

My most intimate relationship within art to date has been an esoteric & erotic idolatry: a worship of the myth iconography. Mesmerised by the primitive human need for deification and mythology, while exposed to the unique notional semantics of the Greek language, I was inevitably allured by the mechanisms of visual metaphor, illusion and symbolism.

Intensely intrigued by the schizoid affair between the flawed and the perfect, attracted by the Odyssey between beauty and ugliness, virtue and sin, wisdom and innocence, I paint in a futile attempt to reconcile my own opposite extremes, merging my obsession for the old and my stubborn romance with the old-fashioned, and my excitement for the new and wide-eyed infatuation with the unknown.

My paintings are simple and intentionally simplistic, hardly illustrating the epic struggles, the ancient battles, the unsung paeans, the rare peace and the violent, occasionally blissfully orgasmic love-making between these opposing forces that underlies therein. I like to remain visually legible, attempting a dialogue that penetrates the form and engages the psyche. Any occurring surface harmony is pure accident, as my sole loyalty lies with an unashamed strife for meticulous craftsmanship and my inspiration comes from what the Greeks philosophically, if not ironically, called divine madness.

Faced with the age-old dilemma, I took what seemed to me the only truly challenging road: dive into a sea of convention and restriction at my own peril and swim, if I could, to an Ithaca of personal discovery, rather than start with a clean slate and make up the complications along the way. I was taken by a ‘dead’ artform and still am blowing my lungs out to breathe life into my Galatea, like the rock guitarist who stumbled on Apollo’s lyre, made from a tortoise shell & horse hairs – dead, but still capable of a fine tune; trying to discover the primordial notes within the instrument while strumming “Smoke On The Water” on an age-old cithara, cursed by traditionalists and avant-guardists alike but, thankfully, stone-deaf to both.

Perversely, I love the deception of simplicity, so what better medium to serve my infatuation with golden heroes and flawed geniuses, than the Icon, with its intimacy, surrealism and magic, its contrasting range from abysmal blacks to sublime golds, its ability to be a mirror for the viewer: it sprang from classic sculpture and Egyptian Hellenistic decorative art, corroded the barren Roman Imperium from within into becoming Byzantine splendour; then imploded and gracefully declined, beautifully decaying into a fragrant flower of humble, secret, ascetic & peasant craft, transcending its own origins and limits, surviving undercover in the typological western world and transforming, in our oxymoronic times, into a worn tabloid stereotype or a shy little pearl-bearing oyster, depending which lines you choose to read between…Today, when every insignificant celebrity is an Icon, when the wrapping is celebrated more than the context, and the inept, because of its ever-increasing focus on superficiality, English language is thrown open as it cannot contain the intricacy of the old design, what else could change the world than basilisks and ourovoros ophises?

Armed with ground dyes, eggs straight from the hens’ bottoms, malt vinegar, manicured miniscule brushes and fervent imaginings, I sail a Munchehousenian trireme of bashful clichés, oblivious to all the loud ground- and mould-braking, braving the winds of contemporarism with a silly head full of ancient Greek words and Gaelic pathos.


Icon-Painting today: a personal view

Posted by FAINOMENON on October 5, 2013 at 4:55 AM Comments comments (0)

The icon-painter is free:

from the anxiety of having to invent a signature-style;

from the need to 'belong' (by following any current -ism);

from the angst of the blanc canvas;

from the necessity (enforced upon him by the academic establishment and the art-dicecting, interpreting, recycling experts, critics and public) to squeeze himself into a convenient category so that his work can be more conveniently assessed, classified, consumed & digested;

from having to be modern, ground-breaking, revolutionary, eccentic, difficult, elite or the opposite (successful, popular, accessible) etc, etc.


I am not sure which one of these aspects of iconography attracted me most; it appealed to me, in all the soul-searching, anti-conformist pathos of my eighteen years of age, as the ultimate challenge: to earn my artistic freedom not the easy way (by throwing paint on the canvas at random - or installing corpses, blocks of wood, concrete or debris, or attempting to invent a radically new artform) but through the most gruelling, austere, strict exercise of discipline and self-control, mastering a highly demanding & stylised art-form.


The spiritual content was to me, initially, irrelevant: had the subject matter of icons been entirely different, it would have mattered one iota; what inspired my passionate plunge into icon-painting was the process itself; and the end goal (to conquer this austere, esoteric, tantalizing & laborious art-form, with the added danger of being labelled old-fashioned, traditional, obsolete) became the carrot dangling in front of my nose. I went into tackling all kinds of labels head on, with naive idealism and youthful enthusiasm.


But even at that young age I was already a loner and a cynic, fully aware that I was merely trading one freedom with another, or rather, one prison for another, perversely, masochistically, just because of the difficulty of the technique and the narrowness of the path: one foot wrong and I would sink in sentimentality and boredom, or fall into clumsy plagiarism and irrelevance. I loved danger, dilemmas & difficult tasks ever since I can remember; I loved the less obvious, too; the one thing that I loved more is freedom. Or, at least, as freedom is but a state of mind, the right to chose a punishment of my own liking...


Icon-painting is a scete, an escape into a monastic existence, a retreat from the material world. It is also a sentence for those who are either brave and foolish or shy and timid enough to feel comfotable with the obscurity, anonimity & even contempt associated with this humble craft.


Today, when everything is about the image and behavior becomes iconic, I am convinced that the further one retraces one's steps into the past, the further one can reach into the future; truth works like a pendulum.

My arrogance paid off and I have much more fun being a devotee of craftsmaship than if I had no rules to obey at all. I suppose I hate hidden rules more than the blatant ones - artistic freedom being an oxymoron, I prefer to subtrefuge old obstacles in my course rather than add new and baptise them, like the fasting monks christening meat and calling it fish...Too easy.


I suppose one has to have a healthy conviction in one's skill. Unfortunately convictions are not always objective; only hard work and practice can save talent from starvation and death.


Looking back after some thirty years of practice, I think I made a valid trade: having always been drawn to opposite extremes, Icon-painting presented me with a unique choice of vehicle for my contradicting affections: the spiritual and the material, the grand and the miniscule, the surreal and the factual, the stylistic and the anarchic, the sensual and the carnal, the systematic and the spontaneous, the palpable and the unfathomable.


Icon-painting today is as problematic as was when I started: marginalized as an arts & crafts discipline, plagued by copycats & industrial mass-producers, venerated only by antique dealers and religion, considered 'dead' and studied as a curiosity by trad and ethnic reviewers, it dares not say it's art in it's own right...

So, proud & happy to be a 'closet' artist, an icon-painter not limited to (or by) hagiography, I no longer wish to change the world: it is what it is. Controvercial.


Iconography has its own rules that defy all others. There is no perspective or depth. Three levels of existence occupy the campus of the icon - the natural, human and divine world. The elements of the composition are arranged in a strange, distorted "two-dimentional depth" as seen through a kaleidoscop; if we have to define it, we are looking at a highly stylised surrealism, with an under-lying symbolic impressionism, inspired by religious mythology.


Icons are both very childish and very mature. And, eventually, their ferocious, naive, fundamental content won me over. The themes, taken from oral tradition and apocryphal stories, revealed themselves to me, shedding their simplistic surfaces, in all their primordial, violent, timeless glory: questions and agonies never to be answered, tortures and fantasies of the hungry heart and struggles of the mind and flesh, wisdom borne from irony and primeval forces - fear, life, death, temptation, love and, finally, serenity...


Icons are the images of legends. They attempt to portray the psyche through a mixture of symbolism, mysticism and spiritualism transformed into pictorial purity and simplicity. Icons are bold and authentic in their defiance of naturalism, as they attempt to convey ideas transcending human existence and understanding with a naive and passionate simplicity. .





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