Ceann Bhinn Éadair or Howth Head is the suburbanised peninsula overlooking the northern half of Dublin Bay, a headland that is geographically dominated by three tall peaks, Binn Éadair or the “Summit of Éadar” (anglicised as the Ben of Howth), Sliabh Mhártain or the “Mountain of Mártan” (rendered into English as Shielmartin Hill or Shelmartin) and Dún Aill “Fortress of the Cliff” (variously called… Read More Uaigh Éadaoine, Éadaoin’s Grave, Hill Of Howth
Over the last two decades relatively few studies have been published analysing the cosmological traditions of the Celtic-speaking peoples, at least by academic authors. There was a lot of interest in such matters in the 1980s and early ‘90s, coupled with tentative suggestions about the composition of native Irish or Welsh beliefs in the composition of the… Read More Celtic Cosmology, Perspectives from Ireland and Scotland
It’s a rather overcast and muggy day in BÁC but I’ve still followed my own little traditions for Lúghnasa, the festival of Lúgh that marks the harvest time in the Irish and Celtic calendars. A climb to the summit of Binn Éadair to watch yesterday’s sunset over the capital that marks the commencement of the… Read More Festival Of Lúgh
As if the dreadful loss in human life and untold misery inflicted upon tens of thousands wasn’t enough the internecine struggle in Syria now rivals the conflict in Iraq for the irreparable damage it has caused to the physical heritage of the Middle East and its many peoples. A thoroughly depressing report from the BBC:… Read More Syria’s Other War
What other nation in Western Europe would tolerate a senior member of a regional government using his personal blog to publicly list individuals and their home addresses when those persons are at risk of a terrorist attack? Yet that is the very situation we have in Ireland with Nelson McCausland, the minster for social development… Read More Nelson McCausland, The Tea Party Escapee
When religious fundamentalism combines with politics to create a cultural and societal norm that “the people” are expected to conform to it must also create enemies and victims in order to justify and propagate that norm, whether they are real or not. From the Huffington Post: “The First Minister of Northern Ireland Peter Robinson has said he would not trust… Read More Fundamentalism Hates Fundamentalism
A pale yellow sun has sunk below the grey horizon here in Baile Átha Cliath and the Feis Shamhna is upon us, the sunset-to-sunrise festival of Samhain which marks the start of the winter in the ancient Celtic calendars of Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man (and probably the rest of the Celtic world too). The event gives us the Christianized All Saints’… Read More Oíche Shamhna Shona Daoibh
I’ve always been interested in clandestine military, political or religious groups, be they revolutionary movements, secret societies or arcane cults. Growing up in Ireland one is imbued in a culture where such organisations are integral to the social history of the nation, at least from the 18th century onwards (and arguably much earlier if one… Read More The Fatal Strain: Cultism
Militant atheist and secularist though I am I still respect religious beliefs as a vital component to the cultural heritage and identity of countless peoples and nations around the globe. Far too often non-believers find it necessary to denigrate the practices of faith adhered to by believers. This is simply a form philistine atheism. There… Read More An Creideamh Sí
One of the more mysterious mentions of the legendary hunter-warrior Fionn mac Cumhaill in the indigenous literatures of Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man is “Finn and the Man in the Tree”, a short 8th century Old Irish text containing several Latin words or phrases. It is found in the Seanchas Mhór, an important… Read More Fionn And The Man In The Tree
For those of you with an interest in early, middle and early modern indigenous Irish literature and post-Medieval folklore (Irish and Anglicised-Irish), here is a collection of my articles, long and short (though two are unfinished). Naturally it covers the national traditions of Scotland and the Isle of Man too. Tuatha Dé Danann Na Fomhóraigh Lucharacháin An… Read More Seanchas – Irish, Scottish And Manx Mythology And Folklore
When most people speak of racism against the Irish they automatically think of Britain and more specifically England. The history of anti-Irishness in our Anglo-Celtic neighbour is a long one, with Medieval roots. It was the Norman-French invasion and conquest of Britain in the 11th and 12th centuries that gave it real impetus. Up to that time… Read More A Resurgence Of Anti-Irish Racism In The United States – Or Harmless Stereotyping?
Its the first of February and the first day of Spring in the Irish calendar so happy Lá Fhéile Bríde to you all. Or as some of us prefer to say, happy Iombolg! Above is the image of a Crosóg Bríde, “Bríd’s Cross”, a traditional Christianised Iombolg symbol formed from rushes or more rarely straw. Below is a slightly less Christianised symbol that may have been associated with the goddess-turned-saint, Bríd.… Read More Lá Fhéile Bríde Shona Daoibh!
The great and informative Irish History Podcast carries a piece on the Knights Templar in Ireland… When we think of the Knights Templar, we picture the Middle Eastern Crusades or Dan Browne’s fantasy novel the The Da Vinci code. However this fascinating organisation were very much part of European society in the 12th and 13th… Read More The rise and fall of the Knights Templar in Ireland. (via Irish History Podcast)
I was going to write something about this inanity but I really became too annoyed. ‘A controversial conference promoting a therapy that claims to help people “turn away” from homosexuality…’ Seriously? Yes, people have a right to their beliefs, religious or otherwise, and also the right to promote them (I suppose – democracy an’ all that). But… Read More Bugger And Bedamned!