Dr. Mark Hilliard Concludes Ireland Book Tour and Begins Launch in America
Hilliard Institute founder Dr. K. Mark Hilliard has been researching the topic of his latest book for years. When asked to teach a course in Abbeyleix, Ireland, this summer, he found himself with a tight deadline to complete his text, but he did so with vigor.
“Releasing the book in Ireland makes so much sense,” explains Hilliard Press Executive Editor Jessa R. Sexton. “Not only did much of his research come from his travels there, but the Irish culture is abundant in reverence for sacred place and space.”
Sacred wells, ruins, churches, trees, towers, tombs: the list goes on. Irish history and lore is rich with the stories of these places, and the potent value of these stories is found in many forms including art, song, and the physical sites themselves. Hilliard explains, “It may seem strange for someone living in Tennessee to go to Ireland, where documented sacred places are literally in people’s back yards, to teach a course and share about a book on this topic, but the truth is that all of us are guilty of often overlooking the abundant gifts so near us and sometimes need reminders of the blessings offered by the places that surround us every day.”
Dr. Hilliard states the he went into this study with some pre-conceived ideas of what he’d be writing about on the topic of sacred, but after his in-depth six years of research, which included a review of over three hundred books and articles on sacred place and space, over one hundred personal interviews, and visits to over one hundred and fifty sacred sites, the book took him in a totally new direction. One of his most definitive findings is seen in this quote from his book: “until we begin to understand the singular concept of sacred place and sacred space, we cannot begin to understand the concept of the plural aspect of sacred places and spaces. We tend to think of sacred places as overtly well-recognized religious structures, but a true sacred encounter begins with an individual connection with one’s own spirit and soul. Outward, material places that are considered sacred are simply venues to assist us in this very personal encounter with self, nature, and God.”
"The Crow's Enchanted Dance Irish Book Tour 2017" included book readings, storytelling, musical events, and book signings for Castle Durrow; The Abbeyleix Education and Training Centre; The Mountrath Forum along with a community book club at a traditional Irish restaurant; a yoga retreat and wellness centre, The Abbeyleix Heritage House and museum; and several small group sessions throughout the midlands.
The tour’s conclusion was held at the Abbeyleix Heritage House, Abbeyleix, Ireland, and co-sponsored by the Abbeyleix Further Education Centre. Entertainment was provided by members of the Irish band Fiuntas. The Heritage House is the place where Dr. Hilliard formerly held summer classes when he brought over American students to study in Ireland each summer. It seemed the ideal spot to conclude this year’s classes and readings.
Not only were Dr. and Mrs. Hilliard able to meet many new people during the trip, including those pictured below, they also felt blessed to visit with some of their long-time and dearest friends: Marianne Moloney and Kevin O’Brien, after whom the new publishing company Moloney-O’Brien was named. (Read more here.) They even received a visit from The Hilliard Institute's Chancellor and his new wife, Dr. David and Celia Woodfine, from Oxford, England, who joined the Hilliards for a tour and historical discussions of six sacred sites in Ireland (photo above).
Now that the Ireland portion of his book tour is complete, Hilliard is prepping to launch in America, beginning with talks, readings, and signings throughout Tennessee this July through September. The Tennessee tour will include sessions in West, Middle, and East Tennessee, before heading to other states. We invite you to join Dr. Hilliard for the U.S. release at the Big East Fork Retreat Centre in Leiper’s Fork on July 23, at 2:00, where he will be joined by Irish violinist Eilis Crean.
We’ll share more about the definition of a sacred place and a sacred space in an upcoming blog.