Mountshannon, Co Clare
Phone: 061 927237
Mountshannon has an espicially beautiful park at its heart. At 4.5 acres, Aistear Iniscealtra is a green and peaceful retreat for locals and visitors to the village. Follow a gravel path from the Main Street through the park to the harbour, and you'll pass by 500 trees and shrubs, bursting with life.
This community park has three and a half thousand trees, plants and shrubs, centred around a large green area perfect for a little relaxation or holiday fun. The most impressive thing about Aistear Iniscrealta is its origins. Fearing that the original Rectory Field would be lost as a site for housing development, the community came together to save the last remaining green area of the village for themselves, visitors and future generations.
Officially opened on the 21st of June 2000, its completion closed a chapter on an area of ground that had been a concern for fifteen years. Under the guidance of the Mountshannon Community Council, and with the help of other projects, such as LEADER, which provides assistance to many community based developments, and the Urban and Village Renewal Scheme, Mountshannon United the Aistear was convieved.
The main entrance to the Aistear is from the village. Stop to examine the tall entrance gate and you'll find a depiction of the Inis Cealtra, or Holy Island, captured in the arch. Ranked as one of the most important monastic sites in the country, Inis Cealtra can be found on Lough Derg, a short distance from the village.
The park has a rustic play area for children, but as you walk inwards you'll encounter the maze, the real focal point, and pride of Aistear Iniscealtra. Designed as a pathway or pilgrimage through time, its key features pay homage to the history of spirituality in Ireland. These periods are reflected in the seven spaces within the maze, each displaying contemporary relics amd artifacts, which reflect the beliefs of generations past, from prehistoric times to the modern era. All the artifacts have been replicated from orginal archaeological discoveries, making it a fascinating walk for history buffs.
The maze incorporates local timber, stone and foliage, which would have all held significance for different belief systems of the past. The maze is a place of mystery and contemplation, which seems a wholly fitting tribute to spirituality. The decision to use an open-air setting makes perfect sense in the world of nature and landscape.
The Gaelic word Aistear means journey, and the metaphor of a spiritual journey is often associated with the movement from darkness to light. Take as stroll through Aistear Iniscrealtra's vast and impressive maze, and enjoy the sense of time travelling through thousands of years of fascinating and fantastical beliefs.