Thursday, June 26, 2014

Day 3: Monday, June 23rd, St. John's Eve

By Irish standards, Day 3 was a heat wave...a scorcher!  That would be low 70s and sunny.  It did get hot on the site, and there was a welcome, if briny, breeze emanating from the blowhole.  We needed to make the most of this weather before it changes, as it inevitably does here--4 seasons in a day!

The two stone bench teams pressed on, coursing the walls, being careful always to keep each stone level and plumb, with a consistent 24" bench width, and following the curve--a lot to keep in mind.  Often frustrating, with moments of triumph, the stone teams learned how to search for the right size and shape of stone for each course, learning how to chisel the face and the sides to be as level as possible.  This is no easy feat, as even an experienced stone mason like Joe admitted that this local stone is extremely hard, with little apparent grain to crack down on.  By the end of the day, the teams were about 3/4 of the way done.

Meantime, students took turns helping Declan and Alan finish laying the limestone on the floor of the viewing temple.  (Check out the beam of light that projects from the skylight slit on the back wall...)

Corin Capodilupo with Declan

Not a bad place to have a lunchtime break, overlooking the expansive view of the sea, distant cliffs, and the ever-changing North Atlantic, today a serene brilliant blue!  The sound of the waves pounding the rocks is amazing, and you can literally feel the rhythm and churning power of the ocean in this place.

This was a productive day, and we were able to finish a little early to do some exploring of the surrounding beaches and sea caves, and a enjoy a spell at the pub to meet the very welcoming and friendly Ballycastle locals before dinner.

June 23rd is St. John's Eve, one night a year when it is traditional to have bonfires (in fact it is the only day of the year when they are legal), both to celebrate the Catholic feast day of the birth of St John the Baptist, and continuing on the old traditions surrounding the summer well as to take advantage of the opportunity to burn the rubbish of the year!  Yet another example of the 'crossing' of ancient folkways, Catholic tradition, and the just plain practical.

The locals invited everyone to join them for a beach bonfire that night, and the fires dotted the landscape...stay tuned for some pics.

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