POETRY

poems of the month

fish

vagabondage

measuring my face

ostracism

old clothes

modern iranian poems

my hero

face at the bottom of the world

perhaps (maybe)

the diogenes sequence

where to store furs

i am and am not:
      fragments of rumi

destiny and destination

the zen of no-enlightenment

the iraqi monologues

already backwards

a light in ruins

separate amputations

the sexy jihad

awaiting the barbarians

the smell of possibilities

ultimate leaves

rejoice in the dog

post-millennium maggot

the book of nothing

confession from belgrade

dispatches from the war against the world

albanian poems

french poems in honour of jean genet

the hells going on

the joy of suicide

book disease

foreground trouble

the transcendental hotel

cinema of the blind

lament of the earth mother

uranian poems

haikai by okami

haikai on the edge

black hole of your heart

jung's motel

leda and the swan

gloss on rilke's ninth duino elegy

jewels and shit:
poems by rimbaud

villon's dialogue with his heart

vasko popa: a shepherd of wolves ?

the rubáiyát of
omar khayyám

genrikh sapgir:
an ironic mystic

the love of pierre de ronsard

imagepoem

 

TRANSLATIONS

 

BETWEEN POETRY AND PROSE

the maxims of michel de montaigne

400
revolutionary maxims

nice men and
suicide of an alien

anti-fairy tales

the most terrible event in history

the rich man and the leper

disgusting

art, truth and bafflement

 
ESSAYS & MEMOIRS

helen's tower

 

Nuadú, God of War

field guide to megalithic ireland

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

anticopyright 2015
Anthony Weir

 

 

THE BONE-HOUSE,
CALEDON, COUNTY TYRONE,
Northern Ireland

 

 


The Bone House was close to the river in one of the fields to the right
and above (North of) the Blackwater in this aerial photograph.

 

Popularly believed to have been built of the bones of cattle slaughtered by the victorious army of Owen Roe O'Neill (Eoghan Rúadh Uí Níall) in 1646, over the Puritan English and Scottish troops (6000 foot and 800 horse) of General Monro[e] at Benburb, not far from Caledon, during the 'Ulster Rebellion',The Hermitage, however, was built as a folly or belvedere by the Earl of Cork and Orrery. His wife was Margaret Hamilton. heiress to the Caledon Demesne (Estate), part of Owen Roe's territory which, after the collapse of the Ulster Rebellion and the Cromwellian victories in Ireland, was granted to Scottish Lowlander Captain William Hamilton in 1660.

It was then that the townland of Kinard/Kennard (Ceann Árd) was renamed and the village of Caledon (a poetic name for Scotland) was 'planted' on the site of an O'Neill castle.

In the Orrery Papers, under the date of June 24th 1747, the following letter from the fifth Earl of Cork and Orrery (Fellow of the Royal Society and a friend of Jonathan Swift, Alexander Pope and Samuel Johnson) to the 'Rev. Mr. F.' appears, referring first to a Bonery ordered to be built by Mary Assheton,Lady Curzon, (about which I can find no web-reference) :

"I then desired you, and I again desire it, that you will, if possible, obtain from Mr. Poole, or by whatever other method you think proper, an exact description of that ossified edifice. Let me know the size of it. The sort of bones.

"The method of putting them together.

"In short, all particulars relating to ossification."

"We came to the resolution of building a Bonery, to strike the Caledonians with wonder and amazement by fixing an Ivory Palace before their view. We have already gathered great numbers of bones, and our friends the butchers and tanners of Tyrone have promised to increase the number" [the number of dogs notwithstanding].

"We have built, at the expence of five pounds, a root house, or hermitage, to which on Sunday the country people resort, as the Londoners to Westm[inste]r Abbey. For gayer scenes, I have a lodge near a mile distant from the hermitage, and large enough to contain a good number of friends at dinner or supper, or to entertain eight couple with a country dance. Behind this room are three little rooms, a kitchen, a bedchamber, and another room, besides a cellar. buildings are in the form of Buckingham House."

Tyrone, the county, is in Irish Tír Eoghain - the Territory of Owen. The Caledon Estate on the southern edge was later bought by the Alexander family who were bestowed the Earldom of Caledon, and had built a Georgian mansion a mile down the Blackwater River from "The Bone House", which was beside the river on the county Tyrone side - the other side being county Monaghan in the Irish Republic.

more information

In 1775-6 the 9,000 acre Caledon Estate was bought by the Right. Rev. Dr. Nathaniel Alexander who became Earl of Caledon in 1800. Between 1806 and 1811 this first Earl (appointed Governor of South Africa) spent over £17,000 (£600,000 at today's value) when he employed the celebrated English architect, John Nash, to repair Caledon House and extend it. His colonnade is much admired.


I lived for a year at the beginning of Northern Ireland's little (and greatly over-reported) local difficulty, with my dog, in the beautiful Head Gardener's house, pruning greenhouse peaches, vines, outdoor plum-, pear- and nectarine-trees grown against high brick walls, painting pictures on wood and translating Rimbaud and Old Irish poetry.

Although even then somewhat beyond-the-pale, I was once invited to The Big House to make a spinach soufflé for the Countess...



There are no pictures of the Bone House available on the web, but perhaps some drawings exist in Armagh County Museum...or in the Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy...

Below are (probably) the last sad remnants of Orrery's Ossuary and Ivory Palace (actually a single room) : a chunk of cemented bones which fell further apart, despite my care in moving them.

photo by Anthony Weir
click the picture to enlarge

 

 

THE BONE HOUSE, CALEDON 1969
near which I lived for a year

from Cinema of the Blind, by Anthony Weir
Blackstaff Press, Belfast 1971

Near my house and up the river
in a field scattered with stones:
a line of trees that sway and shiver,
and Bone House - ruined room of bones.

Beside the trees that sway and shiver
ten thousand femurs made a single room
where fallow-deer cavort and quiver
and the brambles arch and bloom.

Where fallow deer cavort and quiver
a man stands staring at the view
among the bones that old men severed
from the oxen young men slew.

Among the bones that young men severed
prowls his cage of living bone:
a hermit in his skull forever
rarely sad to be alone.

A hermit in his skull forever
stares from windows brightly stained
by fancies flowing like the river
through a landscape it has drained.

Fancies flowing like the river
by this arcane, brittle place
conjure butchers and their lovers
jerking in their brief embrace,

conjure butchers and their lovers
briefly joined by flesh to flesh
among the mortared bones long severed.
Bloody fancies briefly threshed

among the mortared bones long severed
by the butcher's searching knife,
and, since then, I have endeavoured
to make nothing of my life.

 

 

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