During the early part of the pandemic, I spent months researching grave rubbing, making my own ink, pastes, waxes and sourcing the best papers to develop a GraveStone Rubbing Experience. There wasn’t a lot of resources online so much of the research came from books out of print for many years.
Working with Kilkea Castle, Co Kildare, I developed a site-specific experience based on their history, which centred on the Fitzgeralds and the family cemetery on the castle grounds. The sensory action of gravestone rubbing is a tactile hands-on experience, the sound of the paste on the paper, touching the outline of ancient symbols and letters on the stone.
Kilkea Castle has an air of history if you walk the grounds you can feel the invisible presence of forgotten stories and characters.
I researched Kilkea a few years ago when I was working on Illuminating Athy, when I learned of the tale of the pet monkey who saved the baby, future Earl of Kildare from a burning castle I was hooked!
I did rubbings of the
Kilkea is also a perfect location for my mobile natural dye workshops, with it’s beautiful grounds, and plentiful trees and flowers, lots of oak which I love! Oak trees were sacred in pre-christian times and also precious to the monks as a source for writing. Ink for the black/brown writing in the ancient manuscripts and Book of Kells would have been made from oak galls of the oak tree.