This is an article from a Cork newspaper about the September gathering in Castletownshend, Ireland: I transcribed it for a friend, but maybe it's of interest to people in alt.gathering.rainbow. I wasn't at this gathering, so I can't say much about the accuracy of the reporting apart from obvious misunderstandings, but the tone is pretty good for a mainstream paper in a fairly rural and conservative part of the world. (For background: This is an area with a fairly significant number of people from the cities, Britain, Germany, Holland etc. who settled in the 60s and 70s as farmers, potters, etc.; over the past year or so there has been an increase in publicly-expressed prejudice against these people and newer waves of travellers, particularly from Britain as times get harder there. So this is quite a relaxed response in that context.) What the article doesn't mention is that the gathering had originally been planned for the August full moon in Castlefreke (much the same part of the world). That gathering didn't happen (we got there before finding that out...) so it's good news that an Irish gathering _did_ eventually happen.

Blessed be, Laurence Cox (lcox@alf2.tcd.ie)


* The following is a transcript of an article from the Cork Examiner of 19.9.1994, warts, mistakes, non sequiturs and all. * New Age Travellers gather to celebrate autumn equinox * By Eddie Cassidy

In a partly wild and natural setting, near a famed West Cork village, several hundred people will become "moon-struck" tonight! The approach of the autumn equinox and tonight's full moon has, within the past week, led to an influx of New Age Travellers into the coastal region for a Rainbow gathering. Close to where a puzzling, possibly pre-Christian, stone alignment known locally as "The Fingers" dominates the skyline near Castletownshend - the village made famous by the writings of Somerville and Ross - the Rainbow people have created a "sacred site" on sprawling, layered, farmland. The hillside "altar" site, adjacent to where the travellers' cone-shaped tepees protrude from a clearing in the bracken and the heather, offers a panoramic view of the tranquil valley. Boughs, that had already snapped off the big oaks, sycamores and beech trees int the nearby woodland, were recovered from the forest floor and embedded in a cattle grazing spot as an altar site for the travellers. An estimated 300 travellers and participants were at the site on Saturday, but the organisers have anticipated that possibly 400-500 people will be there tonight. They will apparently "worship" the full moon, but not in a demonic fashion. A similar Rainbow gathering was held last year in Rosenallis, in a wooded hill region of County Laois. The "travellers", some in their converted, and ageing, Bedford's, Volkswagen's and Dodge vans, have converged on coastal Castlehaven parish from all over the country and Britain. Others, with infants and pets in tow, including a goat, hitch-hiked and cycled to the spot, a couple of miles from the cul-de-sac, old world, village of Castletownshend where a steep main street pitches down to the sea and to the churchyard where authors Edith Somerville and Violet Martin lie at rest. New Age Travellers, or those seeking an alternative lifestyle, are not an unknown pheonomena in West Cork. For almost two decades, people, some with relatively unkempt appearances, unconventional dress and regarded, generally, by the native population as "hippies", have settled in hillside areas near Dunmanway and Bantry. The arrival in Castletownshend, the previous weekend, of some of the Rainbow followers at the invitation of landowner Peter Salter-Townshend, initially alarmed some villagers and the rural population. But, as one shopkeeper admitted, "They're very polite, you know", local concern was swiftly replaced by simple curiosity. Said another local woman: "They're doing no harm to anyone." In a signal of friendship and reassurance to locals, the organisers of the gathering held a ceili on Saturday night to which everyone was invited.As for the planned full moon celebrations, participants need "to have a feeling for the occasion", one New Age Traveller advised. The full moon, he said, radiated "great energy". Not surprisingly, in an area noted for forts, cromlechs and carved stones that have fascinated archaeologists, stone relics of possibly early Celtic times have been uncovered within the past week.


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