Category Archive 'Ireland'
21 Dec 2020

December 21, 2020 Winter Solstice at Newgrange

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Wikipedia:

Newgrange is a prehistoric monument in County Meath, Ireland, located 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) west of Drogheda on the north side of the River Boyne. It is an exceptionally grand passage tomb built during the Neolithic period, around 3200 BC, making it older than Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids.

The site consists of a large circular mound with an inner stone passageway and chambers. Human bones and possible grave goods or votive offerings were found in these chambers. The mound has a retaining wall at the front, made mostly of white quartz cobblestones, and it is ringed by engraved kerbstones. Many of the larger stones of Newgrange are covered in megalithic art. The mound is also ringed by a stone circle. Some of the material that makes up the monument came from as far away as the Mournes and Wicklow Mountains. There is no agreement about what the site was used for, but it is believed that it had religious significance. Its entrance is aligned with the rising sun on the winter solstice, when sunlight shines through a ‘roofbox’ located above the passage entrance and floods the inner chamber.

The original complex of Newgrange was built between c. 3200 and 3100 BC. According to carbon-14 dates, it is approximately five hundred years older than the current form of Stonehenge and the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt, as well as predating the Mycenaean culture of ancient Greece.

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17 Mar 2020

It Wouldn’t be St. Patrick’s Day Without Some Shane MacGowan

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Sid Vicious plus William Butler Yeats equals Shane MacGowan.


Matthew Hennessey
, meanwhile, in the City Journal notes that you couldn’t kill Shane MacGowan with a stick.

They say God takes care of fools and drunks. If so, he’s been working overtime the last few decades taking care of Shane MacGowan. As the frontman and principal songwriter of the Irish rock band the Pogues, MacGowan is as famous for his lyrics and whiskey-timbered voice as for his unlikely longevity, despite a Homeric appetite for intoxicating substances, especially, but not limited to, alcohol. Though he cuts a shambolic figure, MacGowan is still upright at [now, 62], a feat many view as a minor miracle. His rheumy eyes and distinctive throat-clearing cackle suggest not genius, necessarily, but late-stage dipsomania; there is nary a tooth left in his head. God or something like God must be taking care of MacGowan. He’s not been doing the job himself.

Hat tip to the News Junkie.

17 Mar 2020

St. Patrick’s Day

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From Robert Chambers, The Book of Days, 1869:

LEGENDARY HISTORY OF ST. PATRICK

Almost as many countries arrogate the honour of having been the natal soil of St. Patrick, as made a similar claim with respect to Homer. Scotland, England, France, and Wales, each furnish their respective pretensions: but, whatever doubts may obscure his birthplace, all agree in stating that, as his name implies, he was of a patrician family. He was born about the year 372, and when only sixteen years of age, was carried off by pirates, who sold him into slavery in Ireland; where his master employed him as a swineherd on the well-known mountain of Sleamish, in the county of Antrim. Here he passed seven years, during which time he acquired a knowledge of the Irish language, and made himself acquainted with the manners, habits, and customs of the people. Escaping from captivity, and, after many adventures, reaching the Continent, he was successively ordained deacon, priest, and bishop: and then once more, with the authority of Pope Celestine, he returned to Ireland to preach the Gospel to its then heathen inhabitants.

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. …

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. …

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. …

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. …

In the Galtee or Gaultie Mountains, situated between the counties of Cork and Tipperary, there are seven lakes, in one of which, called Lough Dilveen, it is said Saint Patrick, when banishing the snakes and toads from Ireland, chained a monster serpent, telling him to remain there till Monday.

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.

17 Oct 2019

The Oubliette in Leap Castle

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Leap Castle, Coolderry, County Offaly, Ireland

Any well-equiped caste ought to have among its conveniences an oubliette.

An oubliette (etymology: French, from oublier, “to forget”) is a small bottle-shaped dungeon, usually concealed under a trap-door. The traditional oubliette has a round bottom and is too small for a prisoner either to stand or lie down with comfort. With the trap-door closed, the oubliette is also sound-proof.

One merely arranges for one’s unwanted guests to walk over the unlocked and ready trap-door, and voilà! the inconvenience may be forgotten.

The oubliette is the sort of colorful medieval artifact that strikes the modern reader as a good story, but probably just a story.

However, it turns out that at least one oubliette was only too real, the one in Ireland’s Leap Castle, home of the wicked O’Carrolls.

Wikipedia:

During renovation of the castle in the 1900’s, workers found an oubliette behind a wall in the chapel. At the bottom of the shaft were many human skeletons amassed on wooden spikes. When cleaned out, it took three cartloads to remove the bones. Today, the dungeon is now covered over in order to keep people away from it. It is believed that the O’Carrolls would drop guests through the trap door to be impaled on the spikes 8 feet below. A pocket watch found at the same time, dating from the mid 1800’s, shows how recently the oubliette may have been used.

BWW Books:

They emptied out the oubliette at Leap Castle in Ireland in the 1920s and discovered remains from over 150 people.

Photo of Leap Castle Oubliette here

14 Oct 2019

Irish Veteran Leaves Them Laughing

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The late, but irrepressible, Shay Bradley.

NY Post:

He got the last laugh.

Loved ones at an Irish funeral for Defense Forces veteran Shay Bradley were shocked — then delighted — when they heard the voice of their late friend calling out from his coffin.

“Hello, hello — let me out!,” they heard on Saturday at Bradley’s funeral in Kilmanagh, Leinster, as his casket was lowered into the ground.

The pre-recorded message continued, “Where the f - - k am I? Let me out, let me out. It’s f - - king dark in here. Is that the priest I can hear? This is Shay, I’m in the box. No, in f - - king front of you. I’m dead.”

A video of the posthumous prank, posted to Twitter Sunday, shows mourners laughing and crying as Bradley’s voice began to sing, “Hello again, hello. Hello, I just called to say goodbye.”

The footage has gone viral with more than 500,000 views and over 16,000 likes.

Friends and family said the good-humored officer and father made the recording because he knew he was dying of a “long illness bravely borne” — and wanted “to make his family laugh rather than cry at the funeral.”

RTWT

17 Mar 2019

It Wouldn’t be St. Patrick’s Day Without Some Shane MacGowan

, , ,


Sid Vicious plus William Butler Yeats equals Shane MacGowan.


Matthew Hennessey
, meanwhile, in the City Journal notes that you couldn’t kill Shane MacGowan with a stick.

They say God takes care of fools and drunks. If so, he’s been working overtime the last few decades taking care of Shane MacGowan. As the frontman and principal songwriter of the Irish rock band the Pogues, MacGowan is as famous for his lyrics and whiskey-timbered voice as for his unlikely longevity, despite a Homeric appetite for intoxicating substances, especially, but not limited to, alcohol. Though he cuts a shambolic figure, MacGowan is still upright at 56, a feat many view as a minor miracle. His rheumy eyes and distinctive throat-clearing cackle suggest not genius, necessarily, but late-stage dipsomania; there is nary a tooth left in his head. God or something like God must be taking care of MacGowan. He’s not been doing the job himself.

Hat tip to the News Junkie.

17 Mar 2019

Irish Joke

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Brenda O’Malley is home making dinner, as usual, when Tim Finnegan arrives at her door.

“Brenda, may I come in?” he asks. “I’ve somethin’ to tell ya”.

“Of course you can come in, you’re always welcome, Tim. But where’s my husband?”

“That’s what I’m here to be telling ya, Brenda. There was an accident down at the Guinness brewery”

“Oh, God no!” cries Brenda. “Please don’t tell me.”

“I must, Brenda. Your husband Shamus is dead and gone. I’m sorry.”

Finally, she looked up at Tim. “How did it happen, Tim?”

“It was terrible, Brenda. He fell into a vat of Guinness Stout, and drowned.”

“Oh my dear Jesus! But you must tell me true, Tim, did he at least go quickly?”

“Well, Brenda, no. In fact, he got out three times to pee.”

17 Mar 2019

Are We Irish?

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AreWeIrish

17 Mar 2019

Everybody Wants to be Irish on St. Patrick’s Day

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Including these cute Thai kids.

17 Mar 2019

St. Patrick’s Day

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From Robert Chambers, The Book of Days, 1869:

LEGENDARY HISTORY OF ST. PATRICK

Almost as many countries arrogate the honour of having been the natal soil of St. Patrick, as made a similar claim with respect to Homer. Scotland, England, France, and Wales, each furnish their respective pretensions: but, whatever doubts may obscure his birthplace, all agree in stating that, as his name implies, he was of a patrician family. He was born about the year 372, and when only sixteen years of age, was carried off by pirates, who sold him into slavery in Ireland; where his master employed him as a swineherd on the well-known mountain of Sleamish, in the county of Antrim. Here he passed seven years, during which time he acquired a knowledge of the Irish language, and made himself acquainted with the manners, habits, and customs of the people. Escaping from captivity, and, after many adventures, reaching the Continent, he was successively ordained deacon, priest, and bishop: and then once more, with the authority of Pope Celestine, he returned to Ireland to preach the Gospel to its then heathen inhabitants.

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. …

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. …

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. …

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. …

In the Galtee or Gaultie Mountains, situated between the counties of Cork and Tipperary, there are seven lakes, in one of which, called Lough Dilveen, it is said Saint Patrick, when banishing the snakes and toads from Ireland, chained a monster serpent, telling him to remain there till Monday.

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.

15 Sep 2018

Antlers and Skull of Irish Elk Found in Lough Neagh

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Irish Times:

Fishermen Raymond McElroy and Charlie Coyle thought their nets had snagged on an old piece of dead tree at the bottom of Lough Neagh.

It had been a bad night’s fishing and when they ventured out to their nets on the lake at 4.30am, they found they had caught no fish, yet the net was straining.

It took two of them all their strength to lift the net from the lough floor. By the weight, they figured it might be a piece of a dead tree snagged at the bottom.

Instead, it was the perfectly preserved antlers of a giant Irish elk. Now extinct, this magnificent animal stood more than two metres tall and had antlers of up to four metres in diameter.

Though called the Irish elk because their skeletons have been found in the bogs of Ireland, they roamed across most of northern Europe, but died out 7,000 years ago in mysterious circumstances.

One of the largest collections of such deer is in the National History Museum in Dublin.

Mr Coyle said he got a fright when the two metre wide antlers came out of the water. “I thought it was the devil himself. I was going to throw it back in. I didn’t know what to do with it.”

Mr McElroy said he recognised straight away that it was the antlers of a giant Irish elk. The jawbone of possibly the same animal was recovered from the lake in 2014.

RTWT

18 Jul 2018

Drone Discovers New Neolithic Henge Near Newgrange

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Science Alert:

The same environmental conditions have unveiled dozens of concealed architectural apparitions in recent weeks, but when eyes were laid on this prehistoric, epic circle invisibly cradled within the Boyne Valley, the sacred truly met the profane. …

“When we saw this, we knew straight away, this had never been seen or recorded before.”

Prompted by the recent archaeological discoveries borne out of the British heatwave, Murphy – who runs the website Mythical Ireland – decided to fly his drone southwards of the prehistoric monument Newgrange, never actually dreaming he’d encounter an unknown site of the same ilk. Until he did.

Co-discoverer and fellow drone photographer Ken Williams at first couldn’t believe the pictures the drones were relaying, assuming the traced outline of buried prehistoric mounds was a strange artefact of drone interference, or perhaps crop circles stamped by pranksters.

“What we were looking at seemed too good to be true,” he wrote on his blog.

“We moved in closer to look at it in detail, [and] we could see for certain that this was the colouration of standing crops that had not been interfered with. What we were looking at was beneath, within the soil, not in the crops themselves.”

The circular pattern is approximately 150 metres (492 ft) in diameter, with an interior space stretching up to 120 metres (393 ft) in diameter.

Archaeologists estimate the structure and surrounding features of interest to be somewhere around 5,000 years old, with the henge circle capable of holding a few thousand people during ancient ritual events – although the exact purpose of such get togethers is still debated.

However, since the site is on private property, it’s unclear whether any future excavations will be conducted to allow archaeologists to investigate the structure in detail.

Nonetheless, these kinds of structures are so rare and so valuable to archaeologists and historians that even finding where such a mound lies is a significant scientific event.

“In all honesty, it’s going to take some time to process this,” Murphy explains on his blog.

“Archaeologists are calling it a once-in-a-lifetime find. The last time drought conditions like this might have allowed such features to be visible was in 1976.”

Already, preliminary aerial surveys carried out in the wake of the discovery have detected additional sites of interest near the henge, which will now be mapped.

RTWT

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