Connemara – Rain & Angelica


Since the beginning of time, Connemara has been partial to a bit of angelica and a lot of rain, especially from July to September. And, since nearly the beginning of time, it’s also been where the Monaghan boys have chased the O’Leary girls (think Romeo and Juliet for generations). The O’Leary’s have always had a horse farm on the outskirts of town and have almost always attended all the proper church functions. The Monaghans owned a dairy farm just inside Clifden proper; and, it has been said that they only attended church for weddings and funerals.


In the fall of 1839, Kieran Monaghan was gathering “Angelica,” hemispherical umbels of pale, pink-flushed, white flowers with deeply grooved purple stems, when he noticed the fair Sheela O’Leary trotting on her Irish Hunter. He knew the path she’d chosen, well, and mindful to meet her despite familial warnings, he ran left, then right, then left, again, to cut her off at Quiet Man’s Bridge. Before a hoof beset the planks, fair Sheela saw Kieran, fistful of flowers and bid her horse, back away from him. The next day, in the same location, Kieran stepped onto his end of the bridge, as did fair Sheela before pulling in her horse’s reigns. This game continued for a fortmonth and one sunrise before Kieran and fair Sheela met in the middle of Connemara’s oldest bridge.


Fair Sheela asked what Kieran was holding. “Angelica,” he responded thrusting them skyward at her. “And why do you bring them here everyday?” fair Sheela wanted to know. “I pick two bouquets, daily,” he said, “one for my athair [father) to dye his sweetmeat and flavor his whiskey…” he looked down at his bare feet.


“And, the other one?” fair Sheela dismounted her steed and smelled the blossoms.


“This one is for you.”


“How did you know I would come every day?” fair Sheela asked the red-haired lad.


“Because I asked the flowers to bring you.”


A cloud that had followed them smiled at the conversation and spun itself into a rainstorm. Fair Sheela beckoned Kieran to ride to shelter with her. Over a thunder clap and a kiss, the two decided not to follow their families’ forbiddance. Instead of starting a brutal family feud, the two galloped away under the Irish sky, leaving a trail of angelica blossoms for future love to follow.


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