What would it be like to ride, just like the late Dick Francis, on one of the famous Steeplechase race courses? Jodie Skelton’s helmet camera gives the viewer something close to the rider’s point of view. This race course looked to me like a tough version of an American Eventing course. The comments refer to “a bit of a slap off the ground,” meaning the footage even includes a fall. Ouch!
In this individual segment of a four-part series, Hector Ó hEochagáin (I think that would be “Hector O’Hogan” to you or me), as part of a personal investigation of important aspects of Irish life, goes out fox hunting with Ireland’s illustrious black-and-tan Scarteen pack.
An Cathach [“the Battler”] of St. Columba, the oldest surviving manuscript in Ireland, and the second oldest Latin psalter in the world, Royal Irish Academy.
Matt Rubinstein, in the Australian Book Review last Fall, prefaced a lengthy discussion of the impact of the arrival of the eBook and consequent issues concerning intellectual property and book piracy with a fascinating account of a 6th Century case of book piracy involving two saints which led to actual battle.
The most precious manuscript held by the Royal Irish Academy is RIA MS 12 R 33, a sixth-century book of psalms known as an Cathach (‘The Battler’), or the Psalter of St Columba. It is believed to be the oldest extant Irish psalter, the earliest example of Irish writing – and the world’s oldest pirate copy. According to tradition, St Columba secretly transcribed the manuscript from a psalter belonging to his teacher, St Finian. Finian discovered the subterfuge, demanded the copy, and brought the dispute before Diarmait, the last pagan king of Ireland. The king decreed that ‘to every cow belongs her calf’, and so the copy of a book belonged to the owner of the original. Columba appealed the decision on the battlefield, and defeated Finian in a bloody clash at Cúl Dreimhne. No trace remains of Finian’s original manuscript, if it ever existed. Only ‘The Battler’ survives.
Finian v Columba is difficult to reconcile with modern copyright law. The psalms in question were attributed to God, revealed to David, and translated by St Jerome in the fourth century, so Finian’s claim to copyright in the work is unclear. It may be that the pagan Diarmait simply free-associated his judgment from the calfskin of the Cathach’s pages. But any want of judicial rigour is surely redeemed by the king’s early intuition that there is something valuable about a book beyond its physical self, that it has spirit as well as flesh and a soul beyond its body – as well as by the delicious consequences of an actual military war being fought, at least in part, over a single illegal copy, and of that outlawed copy becoming a national treasure.
Tradition asserts that, sometime around 560, St. Columba became involved in a quarrel with Saint Finnian of Movilla Abbey over a psalter. Columba copied the manuscript at the scriptorium under Saint Finnian, intending to keep the copy. Saint Finnian disputed his right to keep the copy. The dispute eventually led to the pitched Battle of Cúl Dreimhne in 561, during which many men were killed. A synod of clerics and scholars threatened to excommunicate him for these deaths, but St. Brendan of Birr spoke on his behalf with the result that he was allowed to go into exile instead. Columba suggested that he would work as a missionary in Scotland to help convert as many people as had been killed in the battle. He exiled himself from Ireland, to return only once, many years later.
Columba’s copy of the psalter has been traditionally associated with the Cathach of St. Columba.
The comments on YouTube were interesting, featuring a good deal of concern for the safety of the horses.
Myself, I think the crossing would be accomplished better in general if one chose with some care and attention the point to be attempted, and then approached with speed and momentum (and grim determination) on one’s side. In these kind of unpropitious circumstances, I think one should follow the example of Jack Mytton, cry “Now for the Honour of Shropshire!”, direct one’s horse at the intended jump point and just go for it.
Henry Alken and T.J. Rawlings, From “Memoirs of the Life of the Late John Mytton, Esq. of Halston, Shropshire.”: Now For the Honour of Shropshire, Rudolph Ackermann, 1851.
On Facebook, I see today posting after posting from my Polish correspondents declaring themselves to be “fans of the Irish fans.” “Irish fans are the best fans in the world.” according to many Poles. One declared admiringly: “They sing louder when they’re losing.”
Shane McGowan (of The Pogues) refuses to allow his being very far along in celebrating the evening (and unable to remember the lyrics of the well-known song) to keep him from delivering a very moving performance.
Trinity College Dublin has said it is taking seriously an incident in which a profile page, complete with image, was inserted on its website for a fake staff member named ‘Dr Conan T. Barbarian’.
The page appeared on the TCD School of English website last night and could still be accessed until about 9.30am, at which stage it was removed.
Screen shots of the page were still being circulated online, however.
The staff listings were also amended to include the name of ‘Dr Barbarian’, while his own personal page bore an image of actor Arnold Schwarzenegger in Conan guise from the 1982 movie.
His full title and academic qualifications were given as: “Dr Conan T. Barbarian, B.A.(Cimmeria) Ph.D. (UCD). F.T.C.D. (Long Room Hub Associate Professor in Hyborian Studies and Tyrant Slaying).”
His profile indicated he had been “ripped from his mother’s womb on the corpse-strewn battlefields of his war-torn homeland, Cimmeria, and has been preparing for academic life ever since”.
“A firm believer in the dictum that ‘that which does not kill us makes us stronger,’ he took time out to avenge the death of his parents following a sojourn pursuing his strong interest in Post-Colonial theory at the Sorbonne.”
The profile went on to say Dr Barbarian completed his PhD, entitled ‘To Hear The Lamentation of Their Women: Constructions of Masculinity in Contemporary Zamoran Literature’ at UCD and was appointed to the School of English in 2006, “after sucessfully decapitating his predecessor during a bloody battle which will long be remembered in legend and song”.
“In 2011/12, he will be teaching on the following courses: ‘The Relevance of Crom in the Modern World’, ‘Theories of Literature’, ‘Vengeance for Beginners’,
‘Deciphering the Riddle of Steel’ and ‘D.H. Lawrence’. ...
A spokeswoman for Trinity College Dublin said the amendment to the website was not a “hacking”.
She said the site had not been externally hacked, but said she could not comment further as she did not have the full facts.
The page had been immediately removed once it came to the college’s attention.
In Ireland, Obama plans to visit the Irish village of Moneygall, population 300, which claims to be the birthplace of one of his great-great-great grandfathers.
Henry Healy, one of Moneygall’s many residents claiming to be a distant relative of America’s first African-American president, hopes to hoist a beer with the town’s favorite son.
“We knew that the president had interest in his Irish roots,” Healy said. “He expressed while he was seeking the Democratic nomination that he did want to visit the little village in Ireland and have a pint.”
Situated in central Ireland between Dublin and Limerick, Moneygall has undergone a patriotic facelift. With American flags hanging in front of homes and stores, Obama might feel like he’s visiting a small town in the U.S. on the Fourth of July.
Genealogists at Ancestry.com first shed light on Obama’s Irish roots when he was campaigning for the presidency. They traced his Irish ancestry several generations to a fellow by the name of Fulmoth Kearney, the president’s great-great-great grandfather on his mother’s side, who immigrated from Moneygall to Ohio in 1850.
Maybe it was that “luck o’ the Irish”—or perhaps support from some of the 40 million Irish-Americans—that helped Obama win the presidential nomination.
“It never hurts to be a little Irish when you’re running for the presidency of the United States of America,” Obama joked during a campaign stop in 2008.
James Delingpole is derisive on the identity antics of this kind. Tony Blair evidently used to do it, too.
Ah Bejaysus and Begorrah! Oi’ll be swearin’ boi the auld shrine to the Vorgin with the shamrocks growin’ round it next to the hill where Cuchullain slew the Great Leprechaun of Kildare on St Patrick’s Day that Barack Seamus O’Toole Flaherty Joyce O’Bama is the most Irish US president that ever set foot on the Emerald Oisle, so he is, so he is.
Except, when he’s in Africa, of course, when he disappears into the dry ice and re-emerges with a grass skirt and a bone through his nose and declares himself to be Mandingo, Prince of the Bloodline of the Bonga People, Drinker of Cattle Urine, Father of A Thousand Warrior Sons, Keeper of King Solomon’s Mines, Barehanded Slayer of Lions, Undaunted Victim of the Evil Colonial British Empire.
And in the Middle East, where he is Al-Barak Hussein Obama, Protector of the Holy Shrine, Smiter of the Kuffar, Lion of the Desert, Tent-Loving-Aficionado-of-the-Oversweetened-Coffee, Chomper of Sheeps’ Eyeballs, Restorer of the Caliphate.
Tony Blair used to do this trick too, his accent mutating from broad Glaswegian to genteel Edinburgh to Mummerset to Estuary to Richard E Grant to Sarf London Grime – often in the course of one Downing Street reception – the better to persuade his target audience that he was their kind of guy. And it is, of course, the hallmark of an unutterable charlatan
During questions yesterday in Parliament, Europe Minister Caroline Flint admitted that she had not read the Lisbon Treaty in its entirety.
Following a series of vague answers on the implications of the Treaty for European defence, Shadow Europe Minister Mark Francois asked, “Has the Minister read the elements of the Lisbon Treaty that relate to defence?”. Ms. Flint replied, “I have read some of it but not all of it.” She went on to say: “I have been briefed on some of it.”...
In a press release, Mark Francois responded saying, “It’s wonderfully honest of the Minister for Europe to admit that she hasn’t actually read the renamed EU Constitution. It’s not every day that someone will admit they haven’t read the most important document for their job. Her astonishing admission does leave some questions. How does she know if the Treaty’s good for Britain if she hasn’t read it? How could she lecture the Irish that they’d only rejected the Lisbon Treaty because they didn’t understand it?”
The story starts in 1994, when the Senator became one-third owner of a 10-acre estate, then valued at $160,000, on the island of Inishnee on Galway Bay. The property is near the fashionable village of Roundstone, a well-known celebrity haunt. William Kessinger bought the other two-thirds share in the estate. Edward Downe, Jr., who has been a business partner of Mr. Kessinger, signed the deed as a witness. Senator Dodd and Mr. Downe are long-time friends, and in 1986 they had purchased a condominium together in Washington, D.C.
Mr. Downe is also quite the character. The year before the Galway deal, in 1993, he pleaded guilty to insider trading and securities fraud and in 1994 agreed to pay the SEC $11 million in a civil settlement. The crimes were felonies and in 2001, as President Clinton was getting ready to leave office, Mr. Dodd successfully lobbied the White House for a full pardon for Mr. Downe.
The next year—according to a transfer document at the Irish land registry…—Mr. Kessinger sold his two-thirds share to Mr. Dodd for $122,351. The Senator says he actually paid Mr. Kessinger $127,000, which he claims was based on an appraisal at the time. That means, at best, poor Mr. Kessinger earned less than 19% over eight years on the sale of his two-thirds share to Mr. Dodd. But according to Ireland’s Central Bank, prices of existing homes in Ireland quadrupled from 1994 to 2004. ...
In his Senate financial disclosure documents from 2002-2007, Mr. Dodd reported that the Galway home was worth between $100,001 and $250,000. However, Mr. Rennie reports that in 2006 and 2007 the Senator added a footnote that reads: “value based on appraisal at time of purchase.”
Mr. Dodd had good reason to add the qualifier. Senate rules call for valuations to be current and anyone who looked into the estimate would immediately spot Mr. Dodd’s lowballing. A June 17, 2007 feature in Britain’s Sunday Times did just that. “Diary” observed that in Roundstone “a two-bed recently made E680,000 ($918,000) and a cottage is currently on offer for E800,000.” Noting Mr. Dodd’s estimate of his property—between E75,000 and E185,000.
We in Ireland, we can’t figure out why people are even bothering to hold an election in the United States.
On one side, you have a pants wearing lawyer, married to a lawyer who can’t keep his pants on, who just lost a long and heated primary against a lawyer who goes to the wrong church who is married to yet another lawyer who doesn’t even like the country her husband wants to run.
Now… On the other side, you have a nice old war hero whose name starts with the appropriate Mc terminology, married to a good looking younger woman who owns a beer distributorship.
What in Lord’s name are ye lads thinking over there in the colonies??
Received from Scott Drum & numerous other sources.
Bryan Patrick Miller returns to the Emerald Isle in search of his mother’s family roots, and encounters more than one surprise.
I did finally arrive in Goleen, a tiny cluster of stucco homes with farmland on one side and the Atlantic Coast on the other. It’s literally a one-horse town; a gray mare stood tied to a post outside the pub. I figured my best option was to walk into the only store, which doubled as the post office, and ask the clerk to point me to the church, so I could look in the town records.
“The name’s Glavin,” I said, smiling. She recoiled, backing away with a hand to her face, and wouldn’t say another word.
By the time I made it to Goleen’s dimly lighted pub, word seemed to have spread that a Glavin was back. Gnarled farmers glowered at me over their Guinnesses. No one spoke to me. I swallowed my pint fast and walked out.
The principal enemies that St. Patrick found to the introduction of Christianity into Ireland, were the Druidical priests of the more ancient faith, who, as might naturally be supposed, were exceedingly adverse to any innovation. These Druids, being great magicians, would have been formidable antagonists to any one of less miraculous and saintly powers than Patrick. Their obstinate antagonism was so great, that, in spite of his benevolent disposition, he was compelled to curse their fertile lands, so that they became dreary bogs: to curse their rivers, so that they produced no fish: to curse their very kettles, so that with no amount of fire and patience could they ever be made to boil; and, as a last resort, to curse the Druids themselves, so that the earth opened and swallowed them up.
A popular legend relates that the saint and his followers found themselves, one cold morning, on a mountain, without a fire to cook their break-fast, or warm their frozen limbs. Unheeding their complaints, Patrick desired them to collect a pile of ice and snow-balls: which having been done, he breathed upon it, and it instantaneously became a pleasant fire—a fire that long after served to point a poet’s conceit in these lines:
‘Saint Patrick, as in legends told,
The morning being very cold,
In order to assuage the weather,
Collected bits of ice together;
Then gently breathed upon the pyre,
When every fragment blazed on fire.
Oh! if the saint had been so kind,
As to have left the gift behind
To such a lovelorn wretch as me,
Who daily struggles to be free:
I’d be content—content with part,
I’d only ask to thaw the heart,
The frozen heart, of Polly Roe.’
The greatest of St. Patrick’s miracles was that of driving the venomous reptiles out of Ireland, and rendering the Irish soil, for ever after, so obnoxious to the serpent race, that they instantaneously die on touching it. Colgan seriously relates that St. Patrick accomplished this feat by beating a drum, which he struck with such fervour that he knocked a hole in it, thereby endangering the success of the miracle. But an angel appearing mended the drum: and the patched instrument was long exhibited as a holy relic.
In 1831, Mr. James Cleland, an Irish gentleman, being curious to ascertain whether the climate or soil of Ireland was naturally destructive to the serpent tribe, purchased half-a-dozen of the common harmless English snake (matrix torqueta), in Covent Garden market in London. Bringing them to Ireland, he turned them out in his garden at Rathgael, in the county of Down: and in a week afterwards, one of them was killed at Milecross, about three miles distant. The persons into whose hands this strange monster fell, had not the slightest suspicion that it was a snake, but, considering it a curious kind of eel, they took it to Dr. J. L. Drummond, a celebrated Irish naturalist, who at once pronounced the animal to be a reptile and not a fish. The idea of a ‘rale living sarpint’ having been killed within a short distance of the very burial-place of St. Patrick, caused an extraordinary sensation of alarm among the country people. The most absurd rumours were freely circulated, and credited. One far-seeing clergyman preached a sermon, in which he cited this unfortunate snake as a token of the immediate commencement of the millennium: while another saw in it a type of the approach of the cholera morbus. Old prophecies were raked up, and all parties and sects, for once, united in believing that the snake fore-shadowed. ‘the beginning of the end,’ though they very widely differed as to what that end was to be. Some more practically minded persons, however, subscribed a considerable sum of money, which they offered in rewards for the destruction of any other snakes that might be found in the district. And three more of the snakes were not long afterwards killed, within a few miles of the garden where they were liberated. The remaining two snakes were never very clearly accounted for; but no doubt they also fell victims to the reward. The writer, who resided in that part of the country at the time, well remembers the wild rumours, among the more illiterate classes, on the appearance of those snakes: and the bitter feelings of angry indignation expressed by educated persons against the—very fortunately then unknown—person, who had dared to bring them to Ireland.
A more natural story than the extirpation of the serpents, has afforded material for the pencil of the painter, as well as the pen of the poet. When baptizing an Irish chieftain, the venerable saint leaned heavily on his crozier, the steel-spiked point of which he had unwittingly placed on the great toe of the converted heathen. The pious chief, in his ignorance of Christian rites, believing this to be an essential part of the ceremony, bore the pain without flinching or murmur; though the blood flowed so freely from the wound, that the Irish named the place St. fhuil (stream of blood), now pronounced Struill, the name of a well-known place near Downpatrick. And here we are reminded of a very remarkable fact in connection with geographical appellations, that the footsteps of St. Patrick can be traced, almost from his cradle to his grave, by the names of places called after him.
Thus, assuming his Scottish origin, he was born at Kilpatrick (the cell or church of Patrick), in Dumbartonshire. He resided for some time at Dalpatrick (the district or division of Patrick), in Lanarkshire; and visited Crag-phadrig (the rock of Patrick), near Inverness. He founded two churches, Kirkpatrick at Irongray, in Kireudbright; and Kirkpatrick at Fleming, in Dumfries: and ultimately sailed from Portpatrick, leaving behind him such an odour of sanctity, that among the most distinguished families of the Scottish aristocracy, Patrick has been a favourite name down to the present day.
Arriving in England, he preached in Patterdale (Patrick’s dale), in Westmoreland: and founded the church of Kirkpatrick, in Durham. Visiting Wales, he walked over Sarn-badrig (Patrick’s causeway), which, now covered by the sea, forms a dangerous shoal in Carnarvon Bay: and departing for the Continent, sailed from Llan-badrig (the church of Patrick), in the island of Anglesea. Undertaking his mission to convert the Irish, he first landed at Innis-patrick (the island of Patrick), and next at Holmpatrick, on the opposite shore of the mainland, in the county of Dublin. Sailing northwards, he touched at the Isle of Man, sometimes since, also, called. Innis-patrick, where he founded another church of Kirkpatrick, near the town of Peel. Again landing on the coast of Ireland, in the county of Down, he converted and baptized the chieftain Dichu, on his own threshing-floor. The name of the parish of Saul, derived from Sabbal-patrick (the barn of Patrick), perpetuates the event. He then proceeded to Temple-patrick, in Antrim, and from thence to a lofty mountain in Mayo, ever since called Croagh-patrick.
He founded an abbey in East Meath, called Domnach-Padraig (the house of Patrick), and built a church in Dublin on the spot where St. Patrick’s Cathedral now stands. In an island of Lough Deng, in the county of Donegal, there is St. Patrick’s Purgatory: in Leinster, St. Patrick’s Wood; at Cashel, St. Patrick’s Rock; the St. Patrick’s Wells, at which the holy man is said to have quenched his thirst, may be counted by dozens. He is commonly stated to have died at Saul on the 17th of March 493, in the one hundred and twenty-first year of his age.
Poteen, a favourite beverage in Ireland, is also said to have derived its name from St. Patrick: he, according to legend, being the first who instructed the Irish in the art of distillation. This, however, is, to say the least, doubtful: the most authentic historians representing the saint as a very strict promoter of temperance, if not exactly a teetotaller. We read that in 445 he commanded his disciples to abstain from drink in the day-time, until the bell rang for vespers in the evening. One Colman, though busily engaged in the severe labours of the field, exhausted with heat, fatigue, and intolerable thirst, obeyed so literally the injunction of his revered preceptor, that he refrained from indulging himself with one drop of water during a long sultry harvest day. But human endurance has its limits: when the vesper bell at last rang for evensong, Colman dropped down dead—a martyr to thirst. Irishmen can well appreciate such a martyrdom; and the name of Colman, to this day, is frequently cited, with the added epithet of Shadhack—the Thirsty.
‘In Burgo Duno, tumulo tumulantur in uno,
Brigida, Patricius, atque Columba pins.’
Which may be thus rendered:
‘In the hill of Down, buried in one tomb,
Were Bridget and Patricius, with Columba the pious.’
One of the strangest recollections of a strange childhood is the writer having been taken, by a servant, unknown to his parents, to see a silver case, containing, as was said, the jaw-bone of St. Patrick. The writer was very young at the time, but remembers seeing one much younger, a baby, on the same occasion, and has an indistinct idea that the jaw-bone was considered to have had a very salutary effect on the baby’s safe introduction into the world. This jaw-bone, and the silver shrine enclosing it, has been, for many years, in the possession of a family in humble life near Belfast. In the memory of persons living, it contained five teeth, but now retains only one—three having been given to members of the family, when emigrating to America; and the fourth was deposited under the altar of the Roman Catholic Chapel of Derriaghy, when rebuilt some years ago.
The curiously embossed case has a very antique appearance, and is said to be of an immense age: but it is, though certainly old, not so very old as reported, for it carries the Hallmark ‘plainly impressed upon it.’ This remarkable relic has long been used for a kind of extra-judicial trial, similar to the Saxon corsnet, a test of guilt or innocence of very great antiquity; accused or suspected persons freeing themselves from the suspicion of crime, by placing the right hand on the reliquary, and declaring their innocence, in a certain form of words, supposed to be an asseveration of the greatest solemnity, and liable to instantaneous, supernatural, and frightful punishment, if falsely spoken, even by suppressio veri, or suygestio falsi. It was also supposed to assist women in labour, relieve epileptic fits, counteract the diabolical machinations of witches and fairies, and avert the baleful influence of the evil eye. We have been informed, however, that of late years it has rarely been applied to such uses, though it is still considered a most welcome visitor to a household, where an immediate addition to the family is expected.
The shamrock, or small white clover (trifolium repens of botanists), is almost universally worn in the hat over all Ireland, on St. Patrick’s day. The popular notion is, that when St. Patrick was preaching the doctrine of the Trinity to the pagan Irish, he used this plant, bearing three leaves upon one stem, as a symbol or illustration of the great mystery. To suppose, as some absurdly hold, that he used it as an argument, would be derogatory to the saint’s high reputation for orthodoxy and good sense: but it is certainly a curious coincidence, if nothing more, that the trefoil in Arabic is called skamrakh, and was held sacred in Iran as emblematical of the Persian Triads. Pliny, too, in his Natural History, says that serpents are never seen upon trefoil, and it prevails against the stings of snakes and scorpions. This, considering St. Patrick’s connexion with snakes, is really remarkable, and we may reasonably imagine that, previous to his arrival, the Irish had ascribed mystical virtues to the trefoil or shamrock, and on hearing of the Trinity for the first time, they fancied some peculiar fitness in their already sacred plant to shadow forth the newly revealed and mysterious doctrine. And we may conclude, in the words of the poet, long may the shamrock,
‘The plant that blooms for ever,
With the rose combined,
And the thistle twined,
Defy the strength of foes to sever.
Firm be the triple league they form,
Despite all change of weather:
In sunshine, darkness, calm, or storm,
Still may they fondly grow together.’
The serpent every Monday morning calls out in Irish, ‘It is a long Monday, Patrick.’
That St Patrick chained the serpent in Lough Dilveen, and that the serpent calls out to him every Monday morning, is firmly believed by the lower orders who live in the neighbourhood of the Lough.