The Blessing Moth®
The Blessing Moth – Haploa Clymene is distinguished by the cross or crucifix pattern on its wings. Many who encounter the Haploa Clymene moth tell of its spiritual significance and often consider seeing one to be a blessing.
The Blessing Moth website describes my Haploa Clymene moth sighting in 2002, and highlights the amazing journey I have been on ever since.
My moth sighting occurred on July 27, 2002 at approximately 11:00 PM. That day was special because my wife and I were both baptized in Emerald Lake earlier that evening.
In 2014, I made an unusual correlation between my Haploa Clymene moth and Saint Colman MacDuagh of Ireland. We both share special baptisms and this prompted me to learn more about his life.
Saint Colman is known for the blessings he bestowed upon the people of Ireland more than 1,400 years ago, and his feast day is celebrated annually on October 29th by the residents of Kiltartan and others throughout the world.
Since my first pilgrimage to Ireland in 2015, my purpose has been to share my testimony and story with others who may be seeking a sign of faith. It is a mission of spreading the blessing.
A Rare Moth Discovery
The Moth Sighting – July 27, 2002
During the summer of 2002, while camping for the weekend with family and friends at Emerald Lake campground in East Dorset, Vermont, I was preparing to close down the campsite for the night. My lantern had been placed upon the fire pit grate adjacent to the picnic table. In near total darkness, except for the glow of my lantern, several moths were milling about the light. On the edge of the fire pit rim, I spotted one moth in particular that stood out from the others. The moth was about the size of a quarter and had a pattern on its wing like no other I had seen before. The wings of the moth were white with a black border and in the center of the wings was a black image of what appeared to be a cross. As I looked at the pattern more closely, I realized the cross shape more accurately resembled that of a crucifix.
At that moment, I knew I needed to capture a picture of this amazing creature and remembered my camera was in my vehicle parked nearby. I quickly retrieved my camera and snapped a photo before the moth flew away.
The Blessing Moth ®
Photo by D. Colman
Campsite #15 Fire Pit
Emerald Lake, Dorset, Vermont
The moth discovery occurred on July 27, 2002 at approximately 11:00 PM. That day is special because my wife and I were both baptized in Emerald Lake earlier that evening. Many considered the timing of our baptisms and the rare moth discovery on the same day as a miraculous blessing from God. Little did we know that this would be the beginning of an amazing journey of sharing the story and spreading the blessing.
Emerald Lake Baptism Site
Identifying the Moth Species
Curious to find out what type of moth I photographed, I spent several hours researching the Internet looking for a match. Having no success, I realized with the hundreds or thousands of moth species that exist in the United States, I was in fact looking for a needle in a haystack.
One of the websites I visited stood out from the others with quality photos and descriptions of a wide variety of moth species. I decided to send an email to the site owner and included the photo of my moth with the crucifix pattern on its wings. Within an hour, I received a response from the photographer who knew exactly what type of moth I had seen. The moth is known as “Haploa Clymene”, (pronounced kly-mean-a).
The gentleman who identified my moth informed me that the United States Geological Survey (USGS) has a system of tracking the migration of butterflies and moths in North America. He told me that to-date, the Haploa Clymene moth had never been recorded in Vermont and he encouraged me to get it registered. After several weeks contacting state and regional entomology experts, on September 16, 2002 my moth was confirmed as the first official Vermont sighting of the Haploa Clymene moth on the USGS site. The January 2003 update to the Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA) website included my moth sighting and discovery in Bennington County, Vermont.
Commemorating My Haploa Clymene Moth Discovery
Because my rare moth sighting occurred on the same day I was baptized, I felt the need to somehow preserve the significance of the discovery. Having access to CAD software at my place of work, I traced the outlines of my moth photograph and designed a medallion that I could attach to my key ring or use as a zipper pull. The medallion would initially be made from stainless steel for durability.
Working with Gamlet, Inc., a metal fabrication company from Pennsylvania, I had 75 pieces made to the precise size of the moth I had photographed. My intention was to give the medallions to close friends and relatives as a way of telling my story and sharing the blessing.
Moth Medallion Jewelry Design 2003
© David B. Colman 2015
Our church congregation was eager to hear about my personal “God Sighting” and I presented my testimony on several occasions. I also attended a conference in Essex, Vermont with my pastor where we hosted a session that described the circumstances of my baptism and the crucifix moth sighting later that evening. My story was well received and many were amazed at the timing of the discovery.
For many years, I kept the undistributed medallions in a plastic bag on my workbench. I looked at them from time to time and figured the opportunity to share my testimony and distribute medallions to others had somehow faded away. Perhaps my story was meant to end there. I would later learn that God had other plans.
The Saint Colman of Ireland Connection
It was late in the evening on Saturday November 15, 2014, after returning from a business trip to Ohio, that I began preparing for our 35th wedding anniversary vacation to Ireland the following summer. I recalled my mother telling me that our family genealogy traced back to Ireland and England so I decided to start building an itinerary by searching the Internet under “Colman Ireland”. I soon discovered a website telling of a birth and “Miraculous Baptism” of a “Saint Colman” who lived in Ireland from 560 A.D. to 632 A.D. (Source: www.stcolman.com)
Having what I considered to be my own miraculous baptism experience in 2002, needless to say I was intrigued by this website. As I read more on the life of Saint Colman, one of the pictures that stood out was of a church ruin and side altar in Kiltartan, Ireland displaying a stone with a crucifix statue in the background. I stared at the photo for a moment and suddenly realized the crucifix in the photo seemed to be similar in size and shape as the Haploa Clymene moth medallion I designed in 2002!
I immediately got up and removed the moth medallion from my key ring and placed it over the crucifix photo. The photo and medallion were nearly a perfect match! At that moment, I felt like I had found the missing piece of what seemed to be a very complex spiritual puzzle!
Kiltartan Church Ruin Side Altar
Medallion Crucifix Overlay
As I continued reading more about Saint Colman’s life, I knew our journey to Ireland needed to center on a pilgrimage to locate as many of the sites associated with Saint Colman as possible. I felt compelled to learn more.
Saint Colman Mac Duagh
A book titled “The History and Antiquities of the Diocese of Kilmacduagh” (Fahey, 1893) was referred to me by Sr. de Lourdes Fahy of the Kiltartan Gregory Museum and Chapter VII through X describes in detail the life and accomplishments of Saint Colman Mac Duagh. Below are the significant events concerning Saint Colman.
The Prophecy of Saint Colman’s Birth
In 559 A.D., there lived a Queen Rhinagh who was expecting the birth of a child. There was a prophecy that the son born to the King would surpass him in all greatness and this angered the King. The Queen, fearing for her safety and that of her unborn son, fled the King’s presence. The King’s men went after the Queen and captured her. A heavy stone was tied around the Queen’s neck and she, along with her unborn son, were thrown into the Kiltartan River to drown. The stone with the rope mark is the one on the side altar in the preceding picture near the crucifix.
The Lord’s Intervention and the Birth of Saint Colman Mac Duagh
Instead of the stone sinking to the bottom of the Kiltartan river, it miraculously floated like a cork and the Queen was sent downriver to safety. Queen Rhinagh made her way out of the river and not long after gave birth to a son under the protection of a spreading ash tree. There she waited for someone to pass by and perform the sacrament of baptism to protect the child.
The Miraculous Baptism
Two cleric pilgrims soon approached and were asked to baptize the newborn son. There was no water readily available and the clerics begged Heaven for a solution. Water soon began flowing from the base of the ash tree and the baptism was performed. The Queen, still fearing for the life of her son, turned him over to the two clerics for safe-keeping and upbringing under the protection of the church.
Holy Well of Saint Colman’s Baptism
Time on the Aran Islands
Young Colman spent time on the Aran Islands, known as “Aran of the Saints”, where the island of Inishmore is renowned for the teachings of “Saint Enda”. While on Inishmore, Colman grew in the spirit of the Lord and he is credited for building two of “The Seven Churches” located on the island.
Hermitage in the Burren
Life on Inishmore did not provide the seclusion that Saint Colman yearned for and he set off on a hermitage on the main island of Ireland in a forested area within the Burren. The Burren is a region of limestone karst in County Clare, Ireland formed by glacial activity millions of years ago.
While in the Burren, Colman lived in a small cave on the hillside and, with the aid of a young servant, constructed an oratory at the base of the hill. There, concealed from any threats to his life, he could lead a life of the highest in spirituality. Colman remained in the Burren for a period of seven years and the cave, oratory ruins and holy well can still be seen today. The holy well he drank from continues to be a site of pilgrimage with reported healing powers to those who drink from it. Adjacent to the well stands a rag tree where visitors leave strips of cloth or other tokens of spiritual significance and remembrance.
The Road of the Dishes – Leaving the Burren
Aside from Colman’s miraculous birth and baptism, his discovery within the Burren is perhaps one of the greatest reported miracles of Saint Colman’s legacy. My translation is a condensed version of the events and I encourage readers to explore “The Flight of the Dishes”) for a more detailed narrative of the discovery of Colman MacDuagh and his cave within the Burren. (Source: https://theburrenandbeyond.com/the-flight-of-the-dishes/)
According to one account (Source: http://www.burrenlowlands.org/myths.html), after fasting throughout Lent, on Easter morning, Colman inquired as to whether his servant had found anything special for their Easter meal. The servant replied that he only had a small fowl and the usual herbs. Perceiving that the servant’s patience was near exhausted, Colman prayed for food.
At that moment, King Guaire [who lived in the nearby village of Kinvara] was sitting down to a banquet. No sooner had the dishes been served to the King than they were spirited away by unseen hands. The king and his men followed only to find the full banquet spread before Colman and his servant. This is the account of how King Guaire and Colman met.
The ascent through the mountain gorge is called to this day Bohir na Maes, the “road of the dishes”. Upon learning of the hermitage, King Guaire was so impressed with Colman’s holiness that he asked him to take episcopal charge of his territory.
Although reluctant to accept the title, Colman was ordained a bishop. King Guaire bade him to build a monastery. Colman wanted God to show him where to build the monastery, and so asked God to give him a sign; later while walking through the Burren woods, his cincture fell off. Colman took this to be God’s sign and built the monastery on the place his cincture fell.
Constructing the Monastery of KilMacDuagh
Upon leaving the Burren in 610 A.D., Colman began his great holy work of building the monastery of KilMacDuagh. Today site contains the ruins of numerous buildings, as well as the famous 110 ft tall Round Tower, the tallest in all of Ireland.
In his later years, Colman once again returned to the Burren to live out his final days. He passed on October 29, 632 A.D. and in honoring his final request, he was buried on the grounds of the Kilmacduagh Monastery.
Saint Colman’s Feast Day
October 29th is observed in Ireland as the feast day of Saint Colman and locals gather each year at his baptism holy well for Mass. The water from the well is known to bring miracles to those having eye and back ailments and visitors often fill bottles with holy well water upon conclusion of the Mass.
National Hermit Day (United States)
In the United States, October 29th is recognized as National Hermit Day. It is written that this day is in honor of Saint Colman’s seven-year hermitage in the Burren. On this day people are urged to disconnect from the fast pace of everyday life and spend time in nature or someplace quiet.
Saint Colman’s Legacy
According to the Saint Colman website, Saint Colman Mac Duagh was destined to bring “a thousand blessings which time has brought to ripeness.” His miraculous baptism and accomplishments in life are well documented and give testament to his faith in God.
There are numerous physical sights of interest in the Galway region of Ireland relating to Saint Colman’s time there. When visiting them, one can’t help but feel a strong spiritual connection and appreciation for the important role Saint Colman played, and continues to play, in the lives of the people of Ireland.
Since I first learned about Saint Colman in 2014, I have traveled to Ireland multiple times for research and to share my Blessing Moth story and the story of Saint Colman. During that time, I have had many of what some might consider to be coincidences or serendipitous connections between my Blessing Moth project and Saint Colman. Early on I considered these connections to be a coincidence but, with so many of them, I have since come to believe they are being orchestrated by a higher power.
The Flight to Ireland
As my wife and I departed from Boston’s Logan Airport heading to Shannon, Ireland, our hearts and minds were filled with anticipation. An hour or so into our flight I began to converse with the gentleman seated next to me on the plane. We asked each other about the purpose of our trips, which were quite different. I explained it was our anniversary and how we would be researching the life of Saint Colman. The conversation led to me telling him of our baptisms and the sighting I had of the moth with the crucifix pattern on its wings the day my wife and I were baptized in 2002. He was amazed by the story and I was able to give him a brochure and one of my Blessing Moth medallions that I helped fasten to a ring on his backpack. His interest in what I had to say seemed genuine and I was encouraged.
Time at the Monastery
Our first two nights in Ireland would be at the Naomh Colman B&B which is located across from the Kilmacduagh Monastery in Gort. That would become our home base as we attempted to see all of the Saint Colman sites in that area. When we arrived, I explained the reason for our Saint Colman pilgrimage to the owner of the B&B, Josephine. Through our conversations that afternoon, I shared more of my story and was able to provide her with a Blessing Moth medallion and one of my brochures. Appreciating the connection I had made with Saint Colman, Josephine was eager to assist us in locating the local sights relating to his life.
With the Kilmacduagh Monastery being directly across the street from the B&B, we elected to go there first to spend time exploring and taking photos. Josephine provided us with a visitor’s guide that included a map of each building and landmark within the monastic site. The afternoon was overcast and not the best day for photography, but fortunately we would have another chance the following morning when the forecast was for sun.
Coole Park – W. B. Yeats
Before we left for the afternoon, Josephine told us to be sure to visit Coole Park and the nature reserve on the north side of Gort. June 2015 was the 150th anniversary of the birth of poet W. B. Yeats and the nature reserve was celebrating his birth and history with Lady Gregory who lived on the grounds of Coole Park in the late 19th and early 20th century. Many of Yeats’ poems were written during the 1920s at his summer home Thoor Ballylee and also at Coole Park. Yeats and Lady Gregory were instrumental in the Irish literary revival at the start of the 20th century and were founders of the Abbey Theatre in Dublin.
As my wife and I headed through Gort that afternoon, we passed the sign for Coole Park and decided it would be a good time to visit. We were beginning to feel tired from our overnight flight and decided to save visiting other Saint Colman related sites for our next full day in the area when we would be more rested and the weather would be better.
We awakened on our second day in Ireland with the sun lighting up the hillside of the Burren across the valley. I immediately got dressed and grabbed my camera, walking to the monastery to get some quality photos in the morning sunlight. The light and shadows were perfect and the sky was bright blue with a scattering of drifting white clouds.
Killmacduagh Monastery Ruins
Saint Colman’s Baptism Well
At breakfast that morning, we told Josephine we wanted to next see the baptism well of Saint Colman and locate Saint Colman’s cave in the Burren. Josephine began to give us verbal directions to the baptism well and I soon realized that the location could not be found using a physical address and our GPS would be of little use to us.
Josephine recommended we stop and ask for directions when we got closer to our destination and people would be happy to assist us. I typically considered it a last resort to ask directions and I thought there must be some way to locate these places on a map. Using a map was something I was comfortable doing, but asking strangers for directions in a foreign country was a bit outside my comfort zone.
We made way back through the center of Gort in the general direction Josephine described. Nothing stood out to us on our first pass up the main road so we doubled back to see if we might have missed it. Again, there was nothing special about the various driveways we passed that made us think it was the right one.
Seeing two gentlemen standing and talking at the corner of a side road, I decided it was time to ask for directions. I had no idea how my inquiry would be received by the two men, but trusted the advice given by Josephine. The men smiled as I approached them and as soon as I told them I was looking for Saint Colman’s Baptism Well they pointed back in the direction I came from. The clue they provided was to, “Look for the white farmhouse on the right side of the road with the trailer parked next to it.” That seemed easy enough so I thanked them and we headed on our way.
After driving a short distance back toward Gort, we came across the white farmhouse at the crest of a small hill that had a storage trailer parked next to it. Believing it was the correct location, I turned through the stone walled entrance and followed the gravel driveway to the farmhouse.
The owner of the property soon came out and greeted us. He could tell by the rental car we were driving that we were tourists. When I asked about Saint Colman’s well he said, “This is the place.” He then gave us directions to follow the dirt road behind the house to a lower field and said, “It will be on your right, you can’t miss it.” I then mentioned that we also wanted to locate Saint Colman’s cave in the Burren and he asked, “Have you been to the museum? My cousin, Sr. de Lourdes Fahy, is the local historian and she oversees the museum.” I asked where the museum was and he said, “A short distance down the road toward Gort. There is a sign at the triangle and turn right there. You can’t miss it.” I thanked him for the information and my wife and I made our way on foot to Saint Colman’s baptism well.
As we approached the lower field we could see the dome of the well encasement rising above a stone walled compound. It was a larger and more elaborate structure than I envisioned and I could tell the people responsible for it took great pride in what it represented. Inside the structure were steps leading into the holy well and above the well was a statue and shrine dedicated to Saint Colman.
Saint Colman Baptism Well
I said a prayer and using a small bottle I brought with me, filled it with water from the holy well which is known for its special healing powers. It was now time to move on to our next pilgrimage discovery.
The Kiltartan Gregory Museum
We returned to our car and proceeded on the main road back toward Gort. A short distance later we came to the right turn at the triangle we were told about and there ahead of us was the sign for the Kiltartan Gregory Museum. We parked in the small lot across the gravel road and admired the architecture of the stone wall and museum that was originally built in the late 1800s as a one room schoolhouse.
The Kilkartan Gregory Museum
Entering the museum, we were greeted by a pleasant woman named Elizabeth who volunteered there. We told her we had just come from Saint Colman’s baptism well and the owner of the property recommended we stop at the museum to speak with his cousin, Sr. de Lourdes. Elizabeth told us, “Sr. de Lourdes is not here at the moment as she was in town giving a talk on the history of W. B Yeats and Lady Gregory.”
I then began to explain the purpose of our Saint Colman pilgrimage and told her of the Haploa Clymene moth I discovered the day my wife and I were baptized in Vermont in 2002 and the connection I later made with Saint Colman and his miraculous baptism. Elizabeth was immediately taken by the story and said, “You came on a good day because we just received documentation from the National Folklore Collection and part of it speaks of Saint Colman’s baptism well.”
Elizabeth then escorted us into a small backroom where a notebook lay on a side table. The collection was the digitization of the oral history of Irish folklore, much of which was documented by the schoolchildren of Ireland in 1938 – 1939. The project for the children was to interview their parents, grandparents and elder neighbors and write down the folklore of Ireland, much of which had been lost. Thumbing through the notebook, Elizabeth came to several pages about Saint Colman. She left us to attend to another visitor and allowed us to photograph the pages we were interested in.
History of The Rounds at Saint Colman’s
As we returned to the main room of the museum, we examined the many items on display from the Kiltartan history hoping to find more on Saint Colman. A short time later, Elizabeth was able to rejoin us and I described how the wing pattern of the moth I discovered was a close match to the photo of a crucifix statue that sits on the side altar of a church ruin near Corker. We explained that we wanted to visit the church ruin, but Elizabeth wasn’t familiar with the location. She decided to make a call to someone who might know, but unfortunately the person did not answer her call and it appeared we would be unable to find the site during our visit to Ireland.
Saint Colman’s Cave – The Burren
We then inquired about locating the cave where Saint Colman spent his hermitage in the Burren. Elizabeth had a general idea, but thought our best bet would be to check with the owner of the village store in Kinvara to see if he had a map of the area that we could purchase. We were given directions to the store and before we left the museum I presented Elizabeth one of my Blessing Moth medallions and a brochure. She smiled and thanked us for visiting and wished us well on our pilgrimage.
Carefully following our new directions, we made our way into Kinvara where we came upon the store Elizabeth told us about. Once inside, we asked for the store owner and he came out of his office to greet us. I explained our desire to visit Saint Colman’s cave and we were escorted to a shelf that contained various pieces of tourist literature. The owner helped us look through several maps and said, “The actual location of the cave is not on the map, but I believe I can mark the route and location that will get you close.” We selected a map that included elevation contour lines of the Burren and the store owner drew a line showing the roads we needed to take to get to the general area of the trailhead leading to the cave.
Leaving the store, we headed south out of town through a residential area that led to farm land where we came to a four-way intersection. We could see the highest ridges of the Burren in front of us to our right and matched it to our location to the map. Crossing the intersection, we made our way up the very narrow road where tall bushes along both sides seemed to form a shadowy tunnel. Eventually, our surroundings opened up, but we had no idea where the beginning of the trail was. Breaks in the wall to our right might be a trail, but we could not be certain. Once again, we began to feel lost.
Soon we approached a residence with a long driveway and a stone entrance. A woman near the house was working on her landscaping and I decided to enter the property and ask directions. Asking for directions was something I was finally getting accustomed to. The woman was very gracious toward us and explained the parking for the trail to the cave was a bit further up the road. We couldn’t miss it. Thanking her for her time, we continued on with our journey.
Arriving at the car park the woman described was a relief to us. Our pilgrimage was far more involved than either of us had imagined and we felt we were falling behind schedule. We regrouped and had some lunch before heading up the trail. As we crossed the wall at the gate we tried to locate the path to follow. Because the terrain is primarily slabs of limestone karst, we had to identify areas of grass between the slabs where people had walked before us. It was challenging at times, but we were determined.
We eventually came to a second stone wall in the open landscape and crossed to the other side. As we looked north along the wall we could see two other hikers in the distance moving in our direction. The path was more defined now and we proceeded toward the base of the rock cliffs ahead of us. As the path narrowed through the hazel trees we could see the remains of the oratory ruin in a small clearing. Entering the clearing we got the sense that this was definitely a spiritual setting. It was peaceful and serene.
I first examined the oratory remains, reflecting on the fact that it was constructed more than 1,400 years earlier. How many people had visited this site since then? I looked to the right of the oratory and the holy well that Saint Colman drank from was a short distance away on the other side of a small stream.
In front of the holy well stood a rag or blessing tree where visitors had fastened strips of cloth or other objects of remembrance. I brought several Blessing Moth medallions with me and wanted to leave one on the tree by the well. Neither my wife nor I seemed to have anything suitable for tying the medallion to the tree with, so I began to look along the ground for something I might possibly use. There, not far from the base of the tree, I found a single piece of new emerald green ribbon that would be perfect for the job. It was as if someone had left it there specifically for me. I carefully tied the ribbon to the medallion and then to a branch on the tree where it seemed to belong.
My next task was to locate the cave where Saint Colman slept. To the left of the oratory, the grass at the edge of the clearing merged with a stand of hazel trees and the ground raised behind them to a large rock outcrop. I could see a narrow path through the grass where visitors had gone before me. As I reached the path and looked up through the trees I could see a small landing with what appeared to be an opening in the rock face. Grabbing hold of the trees in front of me, I made my way up the slippery path until I reached the flat surface. Once there, I found myself standing in front of the cave opening and could immediately see how someone might want to claim this for a dwelling place. Again, I reflected back to the day Saint Colman decided to call this his home for seven years. My wife followed behind me and we explored the small but suitable cell that to me resembled a tomb.
We exited the cave and carefully made our way down the hillside to the clearing below. The couple we had seen in the distance near the second stone wall were now making their way in our direction. We greeted each other and they were pleased to see us. They were on holiday from Edinburgh and took a different route to find Saint Colman’s cave. They had almost given up until they saw my wife and I ahead of them.
As a result of my research, I was able to educate them on the history of the site as well as other places attributed to Saint Colman. I told them we were from the United States and shared the fact that our last name was Colman and that I had made an unusual connection with Saint Colman through a moth I discovered on the day my wife and I were baptized in 2002. I then removed two Blessing Moth medallions from my pocket and gave them each one along with a brochure that described the highlights of my story and discovery. The woman looked at me and said, “It seems we decided to come here on a good day. We have learned so much. Thank you!”
As my wife and I left the site and headed back down the path, I felt blessed to share my story with two strangers at this holy place and witness their reactions. It gave me a sense of validation of my mission and encouragement to continue on. We were nearing the end of a productive day and it was time to return to our B&B and prepare for the next leg of our pilgrimage.
Inishmore – The Seven Churches
We had an early breakfast at the Naohm Colman B&B to allow time to travel to the Ros-a’-Mhil ferry terminal west of Galway. In recognition of our anniversary, Josephine sent us off with a lovely gift of napkins in the colors of the flag of Ireland. The hospitality we received from all the people we met during our first two days in Ireland was wonderful. I definitely felt like I would return there someday.
The ferry ride to Inishmore was about 45 minutes and we had a reservation at a B&B on the island for the night. We were given a map of the island before we boarded the ferry and we studied it on the ride over. Our primary objective was to visit the Seven Churches on the island as well as see the other attractions that included the prehistoric fortress of Dun Aonghasa.
Saint Colman is reported to have built two of the seven churches late in the 6th century before he left for his hermitage in the Burren. Originally thinking the churches would be spread throughout the island, we were surprised to learn that each church was part of a single compound located closer to the far end of the island near Kilmurvey.
After the ferry docked, we were greeted at the terminal by our B&B owner and driven to her establishment where we settled into our room before starting our tour of the island. Having several options of transportation to choose from, we elected to rent bikes to allow us to chart our own course and proceed at our own pace.
Making our way along the lower road toward the Seven Churches we came to Kilmurvey Beach where we saw the sign to Dun Aonghasa fort. Hoping to find a suitable souvenir from the Inishmore, we visited each of the Kilmurvey shops and the woolen store in the center of the village before purchasing our admission tickets to the fort.
The path to the fort is a gradual climb up rocky terrain that can become slippery during and after a rain. The pace of our walk was dictated by the number of visitors and their ability to navigate the trail while securing solid footing. About a quarter of the way to the fort we came to a bend in the trail where a man had a display of woven baskets for sale. I thought a small basket from the island might be a perfect souvenir and approached the wood frame rack looking at the assortment of items. I soon realized the basket maker was on his cell phone and decided to continue on to the fort, expecting to stop there again on our return from the fort. I didn’t realize that postponing my encounter with the basket maker would turn out to be an adventure in and of itself.
At the top of the trail, we entered the fortress structure and once within the walled courtyard made our way toward the edge of the sheer cliff that dropped some 100 meters into the Atlantic Ocean below. Visitors were urged to use caution as they approached the cliff edge because there is no fence or barrier for protection.
The Cliffs of Dun Aonghasa
The time came for us to leave the fort to assure we would have time to visit the Seven Churches. We began our descent down the rocky and somewhat slippery path. Going downhill was slower than our hike to the fort and as we got closer to the bottom I looked ahead to see if we were approaching the basket maker. In the distance, I could see him carrying the display frame on his back with all of his baskets fastened to it. For a second time, I had missed him and could only hope to catch up with him in the parking lot at the end of the trail.
I kept looking ahead periodically and could see he was still in front of us. But when we neared the Admissions building, he exited through a service gate that went around the back of the building. As a paying visitor, we needed to follow the path to the main building and exit through the gift shop, which took more time. Once we made it outside the front of the building, I walked around to see if there was any sign of the basket maker. There was none. I had now missed my opportunity for a third time and figured my basket purchase was not to be.
Regrouping in the bike parking area, we checked our map and headed to the Seven Churches looking at the sights along the way. Eventually, we came to a small sign for the Seven Churches with an arrow pointing down a side road to our right. We rounded the corner and proceeded down the hill and there before us was the stone wall compound of the church ruins and many cemetery gravestones from so long ago and some more recent.
There were two vehicles parked near the gate entrance and I could hear the sound of a compressor running. Looking closer, I could see a man had run his sandblasting hoses into an area of cemetery plots where he was in the process of restoring headstones where lichen had built up over the years. My wife and I then passed through the gate and made our way toward the two main churches at the site. There were a number of foundations from other buildings, many of which are likely damaged or destroyed by Oliver Cromwell’s army in the 17th century.
The Ruins of the Seven Churches
I made my way around the settlement examining the older flat gravestones and taking pictures of the architecture of the churches. My wife and I had separated while I took pictures and when I moved on to see the rest of the site my wife was in the active cemetery area. When I reached her, she was standing next to a relatively new grave and told me the basket maker was just there. Apparently, his was the second vehicle we saw when we arrived and he had just left. This would be my fourth near-encounter with him within a few hours.
I looked at the grave site and was taken by the many lovely flowers that were planted in baskets in front of the headstone within the limestone border surrounding the plot. There were many more flowers there than on any other grave and I could definitely sense a feeling of great love, while at the same time a feeling of deep loss. In front of the many flowers and plot was a wooden bench facing the headstone where I surmised the basket maker came often to pray. It was a moment for both my wife and I we would not forget. We returned to our bikes and began the journey taking the high road back to our B&B.
The following morning, we awoke to another lovely Irish breakfast and planned our remaining few hours on the island before catching the ferry back to Ros-a’-Mhil. We decided to spend time on the east end of the island looking for Saint Enda’s church. Saint Enda is known for teaching the many scholars, monks and bishops who came to Inishmore during the 5th and 6th century.
Saint Enda’s Church
Inishmore, Aran Islands
As we checked out of our B&B I explained more to the owner about my Saint Colman connection and my Haploa Clymene moth discovery in 2002, the same day my wife and I were baptized. I handed her a brochure and one of my Blessing Moth medallions and she thanked me for them.
I then inquired about the basket maker we saw on the trail to Dun Aonghasa and again at the cemetery of the Seven Churches. I told her of the grave we found with all the baskets and flowers and she told us that his son passed away from a car accident in Australia a couple of years earlier. I mentioned how I wanted to purchase a basket from the man, but never could seem to connect with him despite four near-encounters.
Before we said our final goodbye, I felt compelled to give her a second brochure and medallion and asked if she could get it to the basket maker. She said, “Yes, I can do that for you.” For some strange reason, I felt a strong connection and compassion toward this man and for his loss. What I didn’t know was that I would make another amazing connection with the Seven Churches of Inishmore, and with the flowers two and a half years later.
We gathered our suitcases and decided to walk back through the streets of Kilronan to catch our ferry. Our next pilgrimage destination was Dublin, after making a slight detour to Cong for a night. Cong is where John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara starred in the John Ford film The Quiet Man in 1952. This is one of our favorite movies and John Ford was born in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, not far from where we currently live.
Dublin and Glendalough
One of our pilgrimage objectives and purpose for visiting Dublin was to locate the ancient crozier that Saint Colman used when he was bishop at the Kilmacduagh Monastery early in the 7th century. The crozier, or ceremonial staff, is located at the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin. Unfortunately, by the time we arrived at the museum, we did not have sufficient time to see the relic. That will have to wait for another time in Dublin.
We stayed in Wicklow the night after we departed Dublin and made arrangements to take a guided walk with Martin Swords in Glendalough, the valley of the two lakes. Thinking our walk would be on trails in the woodland areas near the lakes, we didn’t realize that Glendalough is also home of the monastic site where Saint Kevin lived around the same time period that Saint Colman lived in Kilmacduagh.
Our tour and walk began at the Glendalough Hotel, which is adjacent to the monastery near the lower lake. On the deck of the hotel Martin interviewed us concerning our pilgrimage and I was able to tell him about the Blessing Moth and my association with Saint Colman. We began our tour of the monastic settlement with the history of the famous round tower, which happened to be very similar in design to the round tower at the Kilmacduagh Monastery. From there we visited the Cathedral, Saint Kevin’s Church, and the Deer Stone. Martin told us the story of how a mother deer would leave milk in the bowl cavity of the large stone every morning to help feed Kevin’s foster-child when food and milk was scarce. Thus, the origin of the name the Deer Stone.
We then made our way along the path toward the upper lake to see the early medieval crosses, the Reefert Church and the site of Saint Kevin’s Cell. Approaching Saint Kevin’s Cell, we came to a bronze plaque in honor of the 1995 Nobel Prize winner for Literature, Seamus Heaney. There, Martin recited the poem by Heaney titled “Saint Kevin and the Blackbird.” The poem gave us a real sense of who Saint Kevin was and how he valued nature in this sacred place.
Crossing between the two lakes, we followed the path back toward the hotel. In a meadow between us and the lake, a mother deer and fawn came out to browse in the grass. We couldn’t help but reflect on the story of Saint Kevin and the Deer Stone that Martin had described to us earlier.
Nearing the end of our walk, I felt the time was right for me to give Martin one of my Blessing Moth medallions. As I presented it to him, he immediately fastened it to the lanyard and badge he wore around his neck. I returned to our car to get one of the last brochures I had brought to Ireland. As we met inside the hotel for coffee, I handed Martin my brochure and he then reached inside his satchel and pulled out a CD of his poetry in exchange. Thanking him for it, and for the lovely walk and education on Glendalough and Saint Kevin, we shook hands and said goodbye.
As my wife and I drove back to our B&B in Wicklow, I had a feeling I would be in contact with Martin again in the future. What I didn’t realize was how poetry would become a key link to many of the sites my wife and I were experiencing on our pilgrimage to Ireland.
The Rock of Cashel
Leaving Wicklow the following morning, we decided to visit the Rock of Cashel on our way to Killarney. Once again, we didn’t realize the site was an ancient monastic settlement, dating back to the 5th century during the time of Saint Patrick. It later became the place where Brian Boru was crowned king toward the end of the 10th century. Sitting high on a hill, the Rock of Cashel boasts a much larger and impressive main structure than any of the ruins we had visited thus far on our pilgrimage.
Before beginning our tour, we decided to have lunch at a small café located adjacent to the parking area. Seating was outside the café across the street in a small courtyard where several brightly colored picnic tables were arranged. Each of the tables were occupied and we looked around to see if any would soon become available. I made eye contact with a couple with a young child and they motioned for us to join them at their table. We graciously obliged and took our seats at the opposite end of their table.
It didn’t take long to strike up a conversation with them and we learned the family was vacationing from Indianapolis, Indiana and their names were Brent and Amber. We told them we were from Maine and were on a Pilgrimage of the many sites relating to Saint Colman. That opened the door for them to inquire more about Saint Colman and for me to tell them the story of my Blessing Moth discovery and how I associated the moth medallion I designed with a crucifix at one of the landmarks of Saint Colman.
I could tell in their body language and expressions that my story interested them. Having only a few of my Blessing Moth medallions left, I felt compelled to offer one to Brent and I told him, “Giving you one of these is no guarantee that you will receive a blessing” and Brent’s reply was, “Just hearing your story is a blessing!” That response was a defining moment for me. For whatever reason, people seemed to need to hear my story and also learn of the life and legacy of Saint Colman. It was as if I delivered them a sign of hope and encouragement. I was humbled.
Our Anniversary in Killarney
We made the two-hour drive from Cashel to Killarney where we had reservations for dinner and a show the evening of our 35th wedding anniversary. Checking in at our hotel, The Killeen House, we were greeted by the owner Michael and shown to our room. Michael described the amenities of his hotel, which included the highly renowned restaurant Rozzers. We were encouraged to have dinner there before we left Killarney and explained how we had reservations for dinner and a show that evening, but would definitely make a reservation at Rozzers for the following night.
During our tour of the hotel, Michael asked us, “What is it that brings you to Ireland?” I explained the pilgrimage we were on to see the sights of Saint Colman who lived during the 6th and 7th century in the region south and west of Galway. I began to tell Michael of my connection to Saint Colman, not simply by the fact that we shared the name Colman, but also that we shared somewhat remarkable baptisms. As I described the events of my wife and my baptism in 2002 and the discovery later that evening of the Haploa Clymene moth with the crucifix pattern on its wings, I could see Michael becoming truly interested in what I was telling him.
At the end of my story, I handed Michael one of my Blessing Moth medallions and he immediately reached for his key ring that hung on the wall next to the reception counter and slipped the medallion securely on it. I knew I had given away the last of my brochures when in Cashel and told Michael I could email a copy to him once we were settled in our room and had setup our computer. Michael provided the email address to use and we returned to our room to get ready for the show that evening.
The next morning, we had a lovely breakfast in the hotel dining room before heading out to play golf. We couldn’t leave Ireland without playing at least one round of golf while we were there. Before we left the hotel, I passed by the end of the stairway to the second floor and could see Michael sitting at his desk in his office at the top of the stairs. I said, “Good morning Michael” and he came out to greet us. As he was partially down the stairs I asked, “Did you receive the story I sent you last night?”, and Michael responded, “I did David and that is quite a story. You know, I have operated this hotel for twenty-four years and have seen many people pass through this door. Most of them will come and go and be forgotten, but I will not forget you David.” Much like our encounter with the family at the Rock of Cashel, I considered the response from Michael to be a defining moment in our journey. A moment of confirmation that my story is one that others want or need to hear, no matter where they may be from.
The following day we departed The Killeen House to take a bus trip to see the Ring of Kerry before heading on to the Dingle Peninsula for a one night stay there. We said our goodbyes to Michael and his wife Geraldine and thanked them for their warm hospitality at their lovely establishment. I assured Michael I would return with friends for a golf vacation and would definitely stay at The Killeen House. A trip that was realized in September 2017.
Return to Kiltartan
We began the last day of our vacation on the Dingle Peninsula, making our way back toward Shannon where we would fly to Boston the next morning. We explored the ancient monuments and landmarks found along the coastline of the Slea Head Drive before the weather worsened in the late morning. As we neared Shannon in the early afternoon, I reflected on all the sights we had seen on our Saint Colman pilgrimage and also on the places we were unable to locate. My initial connection to Saint Colman was the church ruin and side altar with the floating stone and crucifix and I was somewhat disappointed we were unsuccessful in locating the ruin at the beginning of our trip.
Looking at the time, I realized we still had a few hours left to revisit the Kiltartan Gregory Museum near Gort before checking in at our hotel in Bunratty. I presented the idea to my wife and she was eager to take the detour to the museum and give it another try.
A little over an hour later, we were pulling into the car park at the Kiltartan Gregory museum for a second time. Rain continued to fall and my wife decided to wait in the car and read while I went inside to inquire again about the location of the church ruin near Corker. I opened the door to the museum and went inside seeing the volunteer, Elizabeth, standing in the far side of the museums main room.
As Elizabeth approached me, I had the feeling she recognized me, but felt the need to reintroduce myself as the person who visited the museum 10 days earlier inquiring about Saint Colman. She remembered my earlier visit and I thanked her for referring us to the store in Kinvara where I was able to purchase a map that the store owner marked with the route to Saint Colman’s cave in the Burren. I told her about our pilgrimage discoveries thus far and explained my desire to once again locate the church ruin with the floating stone. Elizabeth remembered that our first attempt was unsuccessful and was willing to help me once again.
Along the wall was an old map of the Kiltartan and Corker area and Elizabeth moved a small table aside that stood in front of the map. We studied the map for a minute or two, but nothing stood out as being the church ruin that I was looking for. As she did during our first visit, Elizabeth decided to try and contact someone else for assistance and left me for a moment while she went to make a phone call.
A Chance Encounter at the Museum?
I stood there looking at the map when a woman visitor at the museum came across the room and introduced herself to me by saying, “Hello, my name is Anna. I overheard you talking with Elizabeth. I lived in this area many years ago and moved back recently. I might be able to help you locate the church you are looking for.” I introduced myself to Anna just as Elizabeth was returning from her call.
Unfortunately, Elizabeth was unable to reach the person by phone and she apologized for that. I then introduced her to Anna and explained that Anna thought she could help me locate the church. I then told Anna, “My wife was waiting in the car. Do you want to go with us, or would it be better if we went with you?” Anna replied, “I think we should walk!” With that, we said goodbye to Elizabeth and exited the museum to have my wife join us on our walk to locate the church.
Returning to the car park across the road, the sun was beginning to shine through the clouds and the rain was ending. I told my wife about the hike we were about to take and she eagerly exited the car to join us. I introduced her to Anna and we began our adventure by walking along the road heading toward Kinvara. This was the same road we traveled when we left the museum after our first visit.
During our walk, Anna began to tell us a detailed history of Lady Gregory and her friendship with the poet W. B. Yeats. Both of them spent portions of their lives in the Gort area of Coole Park and Thoor Ballylee and were known for founding the Abbey Theatre in Dublin in 1904.
A short distance from the museum we came to a white church nestled in a lowland across the road surrounded by stone walls. We entered the gate near the road and made our way down the steps along the side of the building looking for a stone altar. The church seemed far too modern to be considered a church ruin and Anna told us there was a cemetery further up the road that we should check out next.
Anna continued on with the history of Lady Gregory as we walked along and soon we approached a car park where we could see a number of older headstones along the side of what looked like an ancient stone church covered in ivy. There was a large tree within the church that extended above the roofline and my first impression was that this could be the church ruin we were hoping to find.
Entering a special gate designed to keep livestock from passing through it, we followed the path to the opposite side of the church where I found an open doorway leading inside the church. Proceeding with caution, I observed a number of grave sites within the building itself. Some were flat on the ground while others were upright. In the east gable end of the church were three window openings that would have long ago streamed sunlight onto the main altar of the sanctuary.
The Floating Stone and the Crucifix
The large tree that I could see from the road was to my left and as I walked past it, there within the north wall of the church was the side altar I was looking for! On the ledge of the altar sat the floating stone and behind the stone was the crucifix statue. The photo of this crucifix that I found on the internet was a near perfect match to the crucifix wing pattern of the Haploa Clymene moth I discovered in 2002.
I spent some time looking closely at the details of the church interior and what struck me most was the vegetation that seemed to thrive there. On every wall, in the cracks and crevices of the stonework, plants had taken root and flowers could be seen in bloom. It was as if this church embodied true signs of life.
Anna told us that her grandparents were buried in the cemetery area behind the church and we followed her outside to locate their graves. I felt blessed that a total stranger would take the time to assist us in finding the site that was so important to our mission.
As we prepared to leave the cemetery and church ruin, I realized I had one Blessing Moth medallion left on my keyring and knew instantly that I needed to give it to Anna as a token of appreciation for her help in finding such an important landmark of our pilgrimage. All of my brochures had been given away, but I told Anna I would email her the file once I got home to Maine. Anna replied, “That would be lovely.”
Walking back to the museum along the road, I mentioned that when I got home I intended to consult with a jeweler about having my Blessing Moth design made into a necklace or earrings made of silver. Anna said, “My daughter will be taking a class in Dublin in September to learn how to make silver jewelry.” Her comment registered with me, but I didn’t think too much about it at the time. I suppose I was still caught up in the moment of finding the church ruin with the floating stone in the eleventh hour of our vacation to Ireland.
When we arrived back at the car park, Anna wrote down her contact information and I thanked her before we said goodbye. I went back inside the museum to let Elizabeth know we were successful in our mission and thanked her for all her help during our visit.
The Sterling Silver Blessing Moth Necklace
On our return flight to Boston the next morning, I thought more about what Anna said concerning her daughter’s class in Dublin to learn to make silver jewelry. I wondered if there might be a chance that she would consider using the Blessing Moth medallion I gave Anna as a pattern for a piece she could make as part of her class assignment. It seemed like an unlikely idea at first, but the one thing I’ve discovered during my journey is that asking the unusual more often than not resulted in something favorable.
When I got home, I sent an email to Anna that included the brochure of The Blessing Moth discovery and highlights of Saint Colman’s life and asked the question about having her daughter make a sterling silver pendant. After checking with her daughter, I received Anna’s reply. Her daughter thought making a Blessing Moth pendant and necklace for me was a lovely idea and she would do it!
Another Haploa Clymene Moth Discovery!
Several weeks had passed since returning from Ireland and we were preparing for the marriage of our son Matthew in early August. I awoke early for work three days before the wedding and removed my cell phone from the charger. I noticed I had a text message from a phone number I was unfamiliar with and showed it to my wife. She thought it was a Rhode Island area code and the only person that might be contacting me with a Rhode Island phone number was our son’s fiancé Lauren. I opened the message and it read, “I was up late last night writing thank you notes to the wedding party and as I was writing yours I looked up to see this on the dining room curtain!” Below the message was a photo of a Haploa Clymene moth that had somehow made its way into the house.
Haploa Clymene Moth
Coventry, Rhode Island
Photo by Lauren Wells, July 30, 2015
Needless to say, I was amazed at the timing of such a discovery and had to work to hold back tears. Family members considered Lauren’s sighting to be a sign welcoming her into the Colman family. I later learned that Lauren’s moth was the first reported USGS sighting of a Haploa Clymene moth in Kent County, Rhode Island. I was surprised, but then again, should I have been?
Spreading the Blessing
At the rehearsal dinner, I briefly told the story of our Haploa Clymene moth discoveries and how Lauren and I now shared something very special. I then handed out more than 30 Blessing Moth medallions to those in attendance, sharing the story in more detail as a way of spreading the blessing. The moth sighting by Lauren was the answer to a specific prayer said by my friend Chad during a phone conversation we had six months earlier when Chad first learned of Matthew’s upcoming wedding. Matthew and Chad’s family performed together in Vermont as part of the Calvary Bible Church worship team before Matt headed off to college. Chad and I would periodically meet for early morning coffee and our conversations would often touch upon the puzzle pieces of my life. We agreed that Lauren’s moth was another puzzle piece in my continuing spiritual journey.
Feast Day – October 29, 2015
Returning to Saint Colman’s Cave
My first visit to Ireland in June 2015 was far better than I could have imagined and it gave my Blessing Moth project momentum. I had learned a lot about Saint Colman and knew his annual feast day was celebrated on October 29th at his Baptism Well. The date coincided well with completion of the class at the Dublin School of Jewelry that Anna’s daughter was taking and it seemed feasible that I could possibly attend Saint Colman’s Feast Day Mass and purchase the sterling silver necklace from Anna while I was there. October 29th is recognized as National Hermit Day in the United States and I couldn’t think of anything better to do on Saint Colman’s feast day than to visit the cave in the Burren where Saint Colman spent his seven-year hermitage. A plan was in the making.
I flew out of Boston on October 28th and arrived early the next morning. I drove directly to Kinvara and had to retrace the route I took to the Burren in June. It was overcast and the road was wet from the rain during the night. Traveling through the residential area off the main road and into the farmland, things began to look familiar to me. The sun was beginning to rise over the hills to the east and the mist in the air was starting to dissipate. As I approached the intersection leading into the Burren I could see a vivid rainbow to my right and as I came to a stop, the rainbow appeared to be planted in the ground some 50 yards from the car in a field. I stared at this sight in awe, but for some reason didn’t think to pull out my phone and take a picture of it. It was as if I received a sign telling me I was at the entrance to the Burren.
I easily found my way to the car park at the start of the trail to Saint Colman’s cave and prepared for my hike. Mine was the only vehicle in the lot, but as I looked toward the portion of the mountain range where the cave was located, I could see movement on the other side of a distant stone wall. At first I thought I was seeing the heads of people, but where did they come from? As I moved closer, I could see that the heads were those of feral goats that wandered the hillside of the Burren.
Getting nearer to the goats, I wondered what they would do next. The thought crossed my mind that I might be in some kind of danger and this could be my last day on earth! Faith came over me and I continued on without incident. As I got nearer to the goats they trotted off ahead of me up the shallow ravine leading to the holy site. Entering the clearing, I could see the goat’s hoof prints in the soft soil, but there was no sign of them. They had made their way through the trees and onto higher ground.
I was most curious to see if the Blessing Moth medallion I tied to the rag tree four months earlier was still there. As the tree came into full view, I could tell many more items were fastened to the tree than the last time I was there. I had a general idea of the location of my medallion and peering between the branches and through the other items, I soon discovered my medallion hanging by the emerald green ribbon, just as I had left it.
Behind the tree, the shallow stream was flowing from the recent rains and spilling into the holy well that Saint Colman drank from. I removed a small bottle from by pack and filled it with holy water before making my way to the oratory and up the path to the cave on the other side of the clearing.
The sun was shining brightly now and the morning air was fresh and crisp. I checked my watch and it was a little before 9:00. Climbing the hillside to the cave entrance, a sense of peace came over me. As during my first visit, I reflected on the fact that this location was the home of Saint Colman for seven years where he worshiped his creator.
I left the holy site and followed the trail back to my vehicle. Nearing the gate at the entrance, I looked back from where I came and could see about 20 goats walking single file along a narrow path traversing the limestone face of the Burren landscape. It was time for me to return to Kinvara where I had a reservation for the night.
Attending the Feast Day Mass
Later that afternoon I returned to the farmhouse that my wife and I had difficulty finding in June. I had been in contact with Sr. de Lourdes Fahy concerning the feast day ceremony and she gave me permission to park up near the farmhouse, instead of along the main road. I had no idea how many would attend the Mass on a weekday in the middle of the afternoon in a field by a well. I arrived early so that I could take pictures as people arrived.
As I neared the Baptism Well a small number of people had already arrived. They were performing “the rounds” as described in the documentation the museum had received and shown me in June. Another woman with a camera was moving about the field taking pictures and she told me she was writing an article about the holy wells of Ireland.
Soon, I saw Anna making her way along the dirt road and we greeted each other. Anna gave me an overview of what the service would involve. She pointed out Sr. de Lourdes and the priests who would be performing the Mass. As we got closer to the start of the service, I stepped back to get pictures of the entire gathering.
Toward the end of the service, Sr. de Lourdes informed Fr. O’Griofa that I had come to Kiltartan all the way from the United States to attend the Feast Day Mass of Saint Colman. Fr. O’Griofa acknowledged my presence to the congregation and I thanked them for welcoming me. It was then that I began to truly understand the importance of Saint Colman Mac Duagh to the people of Ireland.
At the conclusion of the Mass I got in line with many others to fill a plastic bottle with holy water from the baptism well. I was pleased that I made the trip to Kiltartan to witness the Feast Day ceremony and learn more about their blessed saint.
A Gift for My Wife
After the Mass ended, Anna and I went to dinner where she presented me with the sterling silver hand cut pendant and necklace of the Blessing Moth that her daughter made for me. It was absolutely lovely and would be given as a gift to my wife for her birthday in December.
When I returned home to Maine, I researched several jewelry stores in the Portland area to see what might be required to produce pendants and other related items in larger quantities. One store, in particular, D. Cole Jewelers, was a family-owned business that specialized in custom jewelry. I brought my brochure and sample pieces to the store and was greeted by one of the clerks. As I began to tell my story to her, she said, “You need to speak with the owner.” Soon, the three of us were having a conversation about my moth discovery, Saint Colman Mac Duagh and the sterling silver necklace I recently had made in Dublin.
As I told my story, the jeweler said to me, “Most people come into our store wanting a piece that only has a significant meaning to them. Your piece captures a spiritual meaning, the nature aspect of the moth and also has the Ireland association. It also has a delicate heart shape that is very attractive. Yes, I can make these for you.”
By the beginning of December, the jeweler had made a complete set of earrings and other items that would complement the necklace I brought back from Ireland for my wife. For additional information about available jewelry items, please refer to the “Store” page on this website.
The Blessing Moth Poem – Martin Swords
I have been to Ireland on four separate occasions and remain in contact with many of the people my wife and I met during our pilgrimage in 2015. I retired from my corporate job in 2018 to pursue developing my Blessing Moth project. Soon after retiring, I asked Martin Swords if he would consider writing a poem about the Blessing Moth conversation and guided walk my wife and I went on when we visited Glendalough in June 2015. Martin’s graciously agreed and his poem, “The Blessing Moth” is as follows:
The Blessing Moth
There are many Messages
And many Messengers
Many to listen but few to hear
It could be a Butterfly in Brazil
Telling us to love the Earth
Or a Moth in Green Vermont
Telling us to love one another
Haploa Clymene – Salve
I met a man in Wicklow’s Holy Glendalough
He told me of The Blessing Moth
I told him of Saint Kevin and the Blackbird
He told me of Saint Colman,
and Kiltartan’s Floating Stone
Among this Litany of the Saints of Celtic Spirituality
He knew that The Blessing Moth message was alive
in God’s Nature, in the Sacred Valley of Glendalough
He vowed to spread The Blessing
Becoming a Messenger,
a medallionaire, in turn
The Blessing Moth lives on
in Glendalough, Kiltartan and beyond
Attracted to the Spiritual Light
Showing all who listen
a way of seeing, a way out of the dark
Martin Swords January 2018
Specially written for David Colman
for The Blessing Moth Project
© David Colman 2018
What I liked most about Martin’s poem is that it assigned a meaning to the Haploa Clymene moth of “Telling us to love one another.” I believe that definition captures what my sighting represents in my relationship with God and with others.
I also appreciate Martin’s creation of a new word “Medallionaire” that emphasizes my spreading the blessing through the distribution of my medallions as I share my testimony and story with others.
Artwork by Anna Murphy
I can’t thank Anna Murphy enough for stepping forward to introduce herself at the Kiltartan Gregory Museum and offering to help us locate the church ruin with the floating stone and crucifix statue. This site is the key link between my Blessing Moth medallion and Saint Colman and not locating it during our pilgrimage in 2015 would have been unfortunate.
During my last visit to Ireland in 2018, Anna showed me many of her paintings and explained her plans to paint some relating to the life of Saint Colman. Below are two of her most recent works that she has given me permission to share with you:
The Story Continues
As I continue to share my testimony and experiences with others I have distributed more than 1,000 Haploa Clymene medallions (blessings) in various forms. My journey continues to evolve and I realized there are far too many events, encounters or conversations to include on this website.
People have encouraged me to write a book about my experiences, which I am currently working on. The beginning of the book will describe my spiritual uncertainties and need for proof that God is with us in the form of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. I will explain how the power of prayer convinced me to become a believer leading up to my becoming baptized as an adult. Once I made that decision in my heart, my life changed and my purpose became clear. God had a plan for me as he does for all of us who believe in him.
In closing, I hope you enjoyed learning about the Haploa Clymene moth discovery, the life of Saint Colman Mac Duagh, the pilgrimage my wife and I made to Ireland in 2015 and many of the lovely people we’ve encountered during our travels.
Wishing you many blessings in your spiritual journey,
Fahey, J. (1893). The History and Antiquities of the Diocese of Kilmacduagh. Dublin, Ireland: M. H. Gill and Son. Kessinger Legacy Reprint (2007), Whitefish, MT
Hobson, D., Mr. (2005) www.stcolman.com, Saint Colman Mac Duagh, Bishop and Monk website.
The Burren and Beyond: https://theburrenandbeyond.com/the-flight-of-the-dishes (citation info request pending)
Kiltartan Gregory Museum: https://www.kiltartangregorymuseum.org/
Martin Swords Guided Walks: https://glendaloughguidedwalks.wordpress.com/
The Killeen House Hotel: https://www.killeenhousehotel.com/
Saint Colman: http://www.stcolman.com/
The Burren and Beyond: https://theburrenandbeyond.com/the-flight-of-the-dishes/
The Burren Lowlands: http://www.burrenlowlands.org/myths.html
D. Cole Jewelers: https://dcolejewelers.com/
Gamlet, Inc.: www.gamlet.com
Some of our lovely Blessing Moth items.
16 Oakmont Drive
Old Orchard Beach
Get In Touch
We'd love to hear from you with any questions or comments.