Sep 25 2014

Irish Heritage Survey results


The Mound of Hostages
Pic: Dunechaser
The Irish people have just undertaken a survey whose results were released to coincide with National Heritage week. The results are somewhat surprising. Chief among the Irish heritage locations and landmarks respondents were most embarrassed at not having yet visited was the Hill of Tara. Listeners to our stories know how central and important the Hill of Tara is to the Heritage of the Irish Celts. The three most important sites voted for were Newgrange, the Burren and Glendalough in Co. Wicklow.

The Irish Times

The Irish Times – Friday, August 26, 2011, reported:

The three most popular heritage sites are Newgrange Co Meath, the Burren in Co Clare and Glendalough in Co Wicklow.
That is according to a new survey released to coincide with National Heritage week.
However, while 450 of the 600 people interviewed claimed heritage was important for tourism, many respondents expressed some shame at not having visited popular sites.
Chief among the Irish heritage locations and landmarks respondents were most embarrassed at not having yet visited was the Hill of Tara. In second place was the Rock of Cashel and in third position came Newgrange.

When asked to choose the heritage property that most closely depicts Ireland’s history, participants chose round towers and monastic locations as the structure most in fitting with Ireland’s rich historical past. Ancient settlement sites ran a close second.
However, more than one-third of respondents (37 per cent) were unable to say whether sufficient efforts were being made to protect sites and properties.
Almost the same percentage of respondents believed more could be done (36.8 per cent) to preserve our properties. Meanwhile, the remainder, 26.2 per cent, believed that enough was being done to maintain heritage landmarks. In order of historical importance as deemed by respondents, the GPO was the only 20th century site mentioned, and came in in second place. Newgrange was top.
The survey was commissioned by Keane public relations, acting for the Ecclesiastical insurance company to mark heritage week. Ecclesiastical donates a significant proportion of its profits to charity.

The Irish Times 

The Irish Examiner

Fergus Black, in the Irish Examiner, repiorted that:

IT is 5,000 years old, famously sees the light once every year, and has now been voted Ireland’s top heritage site and most important historical landmark.
The Neolithic passage tomb in Newgrange — lit up by the winter solstice sunrise in December — has been crowned the nation’s favourite, knocking the iconic GPO in Dublin and the Burren in Co Clare off the top spots for the most historically important and favourite heritage site in the country.

The Entrance at Newgrange
Pic: Kevin Lawver

Yet despite its ‘top of the spots’ popularity, almost one in ten people say the Meath attraction is the one that they are most embarrassed to admit having not yet visited.
Kerry is also given the thumbs up, topping the public’s preference as the most scenic county with just one eastern county, Wicklow, featuring among the country’s top six county beauty spots.
The findings are revealed in a nationwide survey which shows that three out of four people believe our heritage is vital to Irish tourism. More than 600 adults were polled as part of a nationwide survey by the Ecclesiastical insurance company to assess the public’s views on Irish heritage. Up to last week, the most up- to-date figures show there were more than 157,000 visitors to Newgrange, its visitor centre and to the nearby megalithic site of Knowth.
The Office of Public Works which manages Newgrange and other heritage sites said that last year’s ash cloud disruption had adversely affected visitor numbers across many attractions but this year’s figures were well up and had been boosted by the “free first Wednesday” initiative at many of its sites.
According to the survey, Newgrange headed the top 10 list as Ireland’s favourite heritage site ahead of the Burren, Glendalough and the Cliffs of Moher. It was also voted number one favourite heritage structure over such landmarks as the Rock of Cashel, — visited by Queen Elizabeth during her recent trip — Dublin Castle, Trinity College and the GPO.
Embarrassed
And it came out on top again in the favourite historical site category, beating the GPO and Hill of Tara.
Despite its apparent popularity however, Newgrange is ranked third of the top ten Irish heritage sites and landmarks people are most embarrassed at having not yet visited.
The Hill of Tara tops the list with one in eight of those surveyed saying they were most embarrassed about not having visited it yet, followed by the Rock of Cashel (9.93pc) and Newgrange (9.30pc).
While almost three in every four people believe heritage is critically important to Irish tourism, the survey also revealed that more than a third were not satisfied with the level of work being done to preserve heritage sites and a similar number were unaware of the work being done to preserve them.
Irish Independent

Read more:

http://www.irishexaminer.com/ireland/newgrange-tops-heritage-site-poll-165466.html#ixzz1W7TOn3qU

http://www.irishexaminer.com/ireland/newgrange-tops-heritage-site-poll-165466.html

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You can now also find an Android version of the App which works identically to the iPhone version. You can find it on Appbrain at http://www.appbrain.com/app/celtic-myth-show/tv.wizzard.android.celticmythpodshow841 or by using the QR code opposite.

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Originally posted 2011-10-22 08:46:00. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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Sep 07 2014

Whiskey Poteen and Faeries


The distilled spirit Whiskey has been associated with Scotland and Ireland for Hundreds of years. Whiskey is brewed in both countries and regularly drunk in homes and Pubs. In Ireland Whiskey is often drunk as a “chaser” to Irish Stout, and an Irish Coffee made with Irish Whiskey and fresh cream is a drink not to be missed.

The earliest record of distilling Whiskey in Scotland appeared in the Exchequer Rolls as long ago as 1494.

“Eight bolls of malt to Friar John Cor wherewith to make “aqua vitae”-water of Life (Latin)

This was sufficient to produce almost 1500 bottles. By this time distilling was almost certainly an established practise among the Scottish peoples.

According to Legend St Patrick introduced distilling to Ireland in the fifth century AD. It is believed that the secrets of the distilling process were introduced to Scotland some 1500 years ago when settlers from Ireland began to populate the west coast of Scotland which they named Dalriada – which is now Argyll.

Known as “Usque Baugh” in Scotland and “Uisce Beatha” in Ireland, in both languages the names translate as “Water of Life”. Whiskey was commonly made in monasteries, and chiefly used for medicinal purposes, being prescribed for the preservation of health, and a general cure-all. There were monastic distilleries in Ireland in the late-12th century.

The spirit’s perceived medicinal benefits were formally endorsed when, in Edinburgh in 1505, the Guild of Surgeon Barbers was granted a monopoly over the manufacture of “aqua vitae” – reflecting the practice of barbers undertaking minor medical procedures.

In 1661 all private distillation not specificlly licenced by state was outlawed. This law included Scottish and Irish moonshine. To evade the authorities many stills were set up in ancient cairns; burial chambers known as Faerie hills. Others took their equipment to islands in the middle of lakes, the better to see the authories coming.

Meanwhile the brewing of beer was becoming a major buisness. The English then introduced a penal law at the begining of the 18th century, that stopped breweries importing hops from anywhere but England, which mean’t that suppiers could charge whatever they liked. Higher taxes were levied on Irish beer exported to England, while English beer sold to Ireland got a reduced rate.

In response to these new laws the Irish, paricularly the poor began to distill more their own Moonshine (Poteen). It provided income for the distiller and solace for the community. In the face of their misfortunes the Irish poor had a continued appetite for music and dancing, their exuberance fueled by the sudden availabilty of Poteen.

In 1770, the Crown tried once more to clamp down on this spirited trade. By kingly writ of George III, the making of Poitin became illegal. With the flourish of a pen, most of the inhabitants of Eire became instant criminals.

Scotch whisky distilleries could become officially licensed in 1822 (re: licensed by the British government under the Illicit Disillation (Scotland) Act), many refused to do so simply because they felt they were being taxed against their will. The highlanders at this point were mostly gaelic speakers who kept out of the way of government agents and revenue collectors. As distillation was outlawed by the English government, “sheep dip” became slang for Scottish moonshine.

Folklore and Faeries

Leprechaun are frequently to be found in an intoxicated state, caused by home-brew Poteen. However they never become so drunk that the hand which holds the hammer becomes unsteady and their shoemaker’s work affected. Occasionally, especially after a wee bit too much Poteen, he will offer a human not only a drink but some of his treasure.

Poteen made in faerie hills was seen as magical. It was used as a cure for painfull rheumatic joints, one half cup given to the ill person morning and night was said to cure all ailments.

Poteen was said to especailly potent if a housewife left fresh cream and bread by the fairy mound at night and petitioned the faeries for a cure for illness, More often than not a cup of Poteen would be found outside the door,left by the faeries to heal the sick. Whiskey or Poteen made from water from faerie springs or wells also gave the spirit healing properties and was widely used by wise women in medicinal cures.

Be cautious about leaving Faeries your own whisky or Poteen…Traditionally faeries love alcohol, but can become rowdy and dangerous when drinking.

Drinking Whiskey on a Faerie Knoe in Scotland is said to call the faeries to you, and they’ll give you a wish in return for a sip of your whisky, Allow them too much and you’ll end up a permanent guest in Faerieland.

If you would like to know more about Whiskey, join our friends Jeff, Chip, & Michael at The Scotchcast as they discuss and taste “The Water of Life”

Source

Originally posted 2008-05-19 13:02:32. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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Aug 26 2014

Episode 39 Prophecy of the Druid is now available for you!

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Celtic Myth Podshow LogoPic: Celtic Myth Podshow The latest episode in the First Branch of the Mabinogi – Prophecy of the Druid – is now out and available for you to download or listen to. This is Episode 10 of the First Branchi: Pwyll, Prince of Dyfed. Pwyll and Rhiannon are finally married and enjoying the feasting in the Halls of the Otherworld. It is not too long before Pwyll and his Companions get homesick for Dyfed, the land of their Birth. Pwyll and Rhiannon decide to head back to Dyfed where they are faced with an unexpected prophecy!

How to Listen

The Episode is available for subscribers on the feed, or you can download it or listen to it from our Episodes page. You’ll also be able to listen on Stitcher! You can find the Shownotes for this episode in the Shownotes section. If you come to the site and listen or listen from one of our players – have you considered subscribing?

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We hope you enjoy it and wish you many blessings :D

Gary & Ruthie x x x

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Jul 18 2014

An Excerpt From True Irish Ghost Stories By St. John D. Seymour and Harry L. Neligan (1914)

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Pic: Brothersoft

Banshees, and other Death-Warnings

Of all Irish ghosts, fairies, or bogies, the Banshee (sometimes called locally the "Bohēēntha" or "Bankēēntha") is the best known to the general public: indeed, cross-Channel visitors would class her with pigs, potatoes, and other fauna and flora of Ireland, and would expect her to make manifest her presence to them as being one of the sights of the country.

She is a spirit with a lengthy pedigree—how lengthy no man can say, as its roots go back into the dim, mysterious past.

The most famous Banshee of ancient times was that attached to the kingly house of O’Brien, Aibhill, who haunted the rock of Craglea above Killaloe, near the old palace of Kincora. In A.D. 1014 was fought the battle of Clontarf, from which the aged king, Brian Boru, knew that he would never come away alive, for the previous night Aibhill had appeared to him to tell him of his impending fate.

 The Banshee’s method of foretelling death in olden times differed from that adopted by her at the present day: now she wails and wrings her hands, as a general rule, but in the old Irish tales she is to be found washing human heads and limbs, or bloodstained clothes, till the water is all dyed with human blood—this would take place before a battle. So it would seem that in the course of centuries her attributes and characteristics have changed somewhat.

Very different descriptions are given of her personal appearance. Sometimes she is young and beautiful, sometimes old and of a fearsome appearance. One writer describes her as "a tall, thin woman with uncovered head, and long hair that floated round her shoulders, attired in something which seemed either a loose white cloak, or a sheet thrown hastily around her, uttering piercing cries." Another person, a coachman, saw her one evening sitting on a stile in the yard; she seemed to be a very small woman, with blue eyes, long light hair, and wearing a red cloak. Other descriptions will be found in this chapter. By the way, it does not seem to be true that the Banshee exclusively follows families of Irish descent, for the last incident had reference to the death of a member of a Co. Galway family English by name and origin. Continue Reading »

Originally posted 2009-07-04 08:08:00. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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Jun 14 2014

The mystery of the Fulacht Fiadh or Burnt Mound

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Reconstruction of a burnt mound being used as a sweat house

Reconstruction of a burnt mound being used as a sweat house

Pic: Irish Archaeology

Excavation started on the burnt mounds at Rathmore, Co. Wicklow back in 2012 reports the Irish Archaeology websiteBurnt mounds are a type of archaeological site whose defining characteristic is large quantities of heat shattered stone. These sites commonly date to the Bronze Age, although examples from the Neolithic through to the medieval period are known. Burnt mounds are also known as fulacht fiadh and have been primarily interpreted as cooking places. The term fulacht fian is found in the early Irish literature from at least the 9th century AD (Waddell 1998, 174) and refers to open-air cooking places in which a water filled pit was made in which to cook meat.

The early Irish literature also shows that the word fulacht is not only applied to a water filled pit for boiling meat but also to an outdoor cooking pit where meat was roasted on a spit or over an open fire (Kelly 1998, 337).

In the field extant burnt mounds are noted as low grassy mounds which can be circular or crescent shaped. Size varies from sites which are only a few metres in diameter to those which can be upwards of thirty metres. The usual location of burnt mounds is close to a water source, such as a stream or lake, or simply in low-lying boggy ground. Due to the extensive agricultural activity which much of Ireland has seen, burnt mounds are often ploughed-out and leave no trace on the ground surface. In this case if the land is topsoil stripped the remains of the burnt mound will be seen as a shallow deposit of heat shattered stones which lie within a charcoal rich black soil.

Pit for holding Water into which Hot Stones were placed

The general sequence of events observable at these sites is the digging of a pit or pits into the subsoil, which functioned as troughs for holding water, followed by the build up of heat shattered stones and the residues of fires. Sometimes hut sites were located beside the sites. Excavated troughs are generally found to be rectangular or sub-rectangular in shape. Some excavated troughs contained a timber lining to keep the sides from collapsing, or a clay lining, to keep the water in. A fire was set near to the trough upon which stone was heated and the heated stones were subsequently dropped into the water. 
A timber lined trough, Rathmore, Co. Wicklow

A timber lined trough, Rathmore, Co. Wicklow

Pic: Irish Archaeology

The resultant boiling water was then used for a variety of purposes. Once the water heating process was complete the trough was cleaned out and the stones were cast aside giving rise to the characteristic shaped mounds present in today’s landscape. The stones did not always shatter in the process and could be re-used.

As well as the occurrence of troughs and deposits of burnt stone, burnt mounds have another common characteristic – the use of certain types of stone. In general sedimentary rocks such as sandstone are very common and experiments have shown that sandstone can be heated and cooled around five times before splitting into unusable fragments (Buckley 1990, 171).

Different Theories on how Burnt Mounds were used

The most common explanation for the function of burnt mound sites is as cooking sites, although a number of other theories have been postulated to explain the nature of these sites. It has been demonstrated that they could have been covered by light structures and used as saunas or sweathouses such as that at Rathpatrick, Co. Waterford (Eogan & Shee Twohig 2012, 179). Industrial uses such as the washing or dyeing of cloths and hides have been postulated (Waddell 1998, 177), and it has also been argued that they were used to brew beer (Quinn & Moore 2009). What is clear is that large quantities of hot or boiling water were produced and the sites often had long periods of use as attested by the large mounds of stone. The absence of animal bone does not preclude cooking activities as carcasses may have been prepared elsewhere and brought to the site and, once the meat was cooked it may have been taken elsewhere to be eaten. The damp soil conditions associated with burnt mounds do not generally favour the preservation of animal bone.

Burnt mounds appear to have a long period of use in Ireland. Excavations at Clowanstown, Co. Meath, revealed the presence of five upstanding Neolithic burnt mounds (Archaeology Ireland, winter 2007, p.12), and examples are known from this period through to the medieval period, giving a span of use of some five thousand years.

Along with Colm Moriarty, the original  host of this news article, we’d like to thank Catherine McLoughlin for this excellent article on burnt mounds/fulacht fiadh. Catherine is joint owner of the well-known Wexford based archaeological company Stafford McLoughlin Ltd and she has over ten years experience as a licenced archaeologist.

References

Archaeology Ireland. Wordwell, Dublin.

Buckley, V. 1990 Burnt Offerings. Wordwell, Dublin.

Hore, P.H. 1900-1911 History of the Town and County of Wexford. London.

Eogan, J., & Shee Twohig, E. 2012 Cois tSiuire – Nine Thousand years of Human Activity in the Lower Suir Valley. NRA Scheme Monographs 8, Dublin.

Kelly, F. 1998 Early Irish Farming. Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies.

Quinn, B., & Moore, D. 2009 ‘Fulacht fiadh’ and the beer experiment’ in Stanley et al (eds) Dining & Dwelling. NRA Monograph Series No. 6, 43-53, NRA, Dublin.

Waddell, J., 1998 The Prehistoric Archaeology of Ireland, Galway University Press.

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May 30 2014

Béal Beo: The Cylinder Project, Gobán Saor and the Fairy in the Sea

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Recording onto a Wax Cylinder

Recording onto a Wax Cylinder

Pic: Béal Beo

The audio archive of the National Folklore Collection, University College Dublin, houses some 1,100 wax cylinder recordings of folk narratives, folk song and folk music. The earliest of these date from the 1890s on the occasion of the first national Feis Ceoil competitions, which were held in Dublin and Belfast. This unique collection spans almost sixty years of folklore recording up to the mid 20th century. A selection is now available online at Béal Beo.

Among the amazing records and stories that have been captured – along with tgranscipts or English translations –  are some superb tales about Gobán Saor – the  highly skilled smith or architect in Irish history and legend. 

Gobán Saor

Gobban Saer (Gobban the Builder) is a figure regarded in Irish traditional lore as an architect of the seventh century, and popularly canonized as St. Gobban. The Catholic Encyclopedia considers him historical and born at Turvey, on the Donabate peninsula in North County Dublin, about 560.

In literary references, he was employed by many Irish saints to build churches, oratories, and bell towers, and he is alluded to in an eighth-century Irish poem, preserved in a monastery in Carinthia. In the “Life of St. Abban” it is said that “the fame of Gobban as a builder in wood as well as stone would exist in Ireland to the end of time.”

In Gobán Saor can be seen elements of Goibniu, the Old Irish god of smithcraft. His name can be compared with the Old Irish gobae ~ gobann ‘smith,’ Middle Welsh gof ~ gofein ‘smith,’ Gallic gobedbi ‘with the smiths,’ Latin faber ‘smith’ and with the Lithuanian gabija ‘sacred home fire’ and Lithuanian gabus ‘gifted, clever’. [Wiki]

A portable Ediphone recording machine used by folklore collectors until the 1950s.

A portable Ediphone recording machine used by folklore collectors until the 1950s.

Pic: Béal Beo

A variety of tales are recorded about the Gobán Saor, the mythical master builder of Irish tradition. This particular account was recorded from the 77 year-old Mícheál Mac an Mháistir, from Lettera, Kilcommon, Co. Mayo by Proinnsias de Búrca, Irish Folkore Commission, on the 29 November 1937. The story goes like this:

“Sixty five years ago this Christmas, my grandfather was telling me a story about Gobán Saor. Gobán Saor was in this country in Ireland and he was the best craftsman in the seven kingdoms. No castle could be built anywhere that was of high quality but that Gobán was the master and looking after it. He went up making Dublin castle and was long years on that castle.

” He came down to Sligo and married a respectable handsome woman. He had a large holding of land and he went up to Dublin again. And when he married this woman he stayed with her six months. He had to go up to Dublin castle again looking after his craftsmen and men. Well, the King of England sent him a letter asking him and pleading with him to go across to himself to make a big palace for himself in England. And he didn’t go as far as him at that time.”

There are many more tales of legend, folklore and history recorded on these fabulous wax cyulinders and you can listen to them all on this superb website. You can hear the story of the four-leaf clover, songs like the Vagabond Song and Seoirse Chonamara as well as stories of the fairies.

A Fairy in the Sea

Three men went out fishing one day. They weren’t long out when they saw fish swimming around the boat… They were out about an hour and they were looking at the net, and one of the men said to another to throw his knife at the net, and the man took his knife out of his pocket and he threw it out into the sea, and it wasn’t long after that before the water was full of blood.

That was all very well, but the three [of them] went home that night, and about eleven o’clock, or about then, the man who threw the knife heard a noise outside the house, and he got up and went to the door, and who was there but a man on the back of a white horse. The man spoke to him, and he said:

‘You were fishing today, and you threw a knife, and you must come with me now and pull out that knife.’

‘Very well!’ said the man, and he went up onto the horse behind him, and as they were going on their way, the man on the white horse said to him: ‘When you go to this house, do not eat anything that they give you.’ They were travelling on and they came to the sea, and the horse walked under the sea until she came to a big house, and they knocked on the door, and a woman opened the door. And when the man went in, there was a woman standing by the fire and there was a knife stuck in the top of her head. The man went in and he pulled out the knife. The people inside said to him to drink tea, or eat something, and he said he wouldn’t eat it.

He went out again, and he went up on the horse with the man of the white horse. When they were going home, the man said to him never to go out fishing again. The man went to America for a few years. He came home, ten years later, and he said one evening, he was at the house and he was looking out at the sea, and he said to himself he would go out fishing. He went out in a boat, and nobody saw or heard anything about him since.

[Source]

This website is a wonderful resource of early Irish lore and Story as told on the earliest recordings we have. Well worth checking out at http://www.bealbeo.ie/index.html

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Apr 23 2014

Grainne Uaile the Movie – The life of the 16th Century Irish Pirate Queen

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Grace O’ Malley – a prelude to a war’, trailer from the short prequel to the movie.

This summer “Grainne Uaile – The movie” will be released from its ship in Ireland and sailing the festival circuits. A 3 hour epic, written and directed by Ciaron Davies and starring Fionnuala Collins as the infamous pirate queen, the movie was shot on location all over Ireland, North and south.

A violent and gritty retelling of the life of Grainne Uaile, the 16th century Pirate Queen from Ireland. She was a fighter, a pirate and a tough woman, carving her mark in a man’s world. This exciting film is violent, dark, brutal, exciting and often darkly comic. The ultimate female action hero steeped in ancient Irish history.

“Grainne Uaile-The movie”, is an epic historical adventure based on the real life of 16th Century Irish Pirate queen, Grainne Uaile. It is a savage, brutal and gritty film exploring the life of this extraordinary women, who made a huge impact in the ‘16th century man’s world’ and also left a large imprint in Irish and world wide history, her name became infamous, and her life the stuff of legends. It follows her life from her early childhood, her youthful years as a clansman’s wife, her subsequent career in piracy, politics, intrigue, double dealings, her fight against the powers of the English state and her famous meeting with Queen Elizabeth.
Grainne Uaile on Ship

Grainne Uaile on Ship


Pic: Loose Gripp Films
The Villains of the Piece!

The Villains of the Piece!

Pic: Loose Gripp Films

Often violent, intense, with moments of dark comedy, Grainne Uaile has the look of a ‘moving Caravaggio painting’. The fighting is closer then any other film you will see, fast paced and fierce. We wanted to create battle sequences where the audience feels involved. Grainne, her self is presented as a very strong women, fiercer then the men around her, played beautifully by Fionnuala Collins, who exudes a mixture of charisma, style and intensity.

It also stars Peter Cosgrove, Robin Twist, Leonard G. Tone and Ciaron Davies.

Grainne Uaile

Grainne Uaile


Pic: Loose Gripp Films
We wanted to make a movie like the old epics of times gone by, brimming with story, life and characters. It was also important that all the actors performed their own stunts and sword fights. The battles them selves are often elaborate and full of tension. Filming was gruelling for the actors and daily shooting was tough and physically demanding.

Grainne Uaile – the movie is a roller coaster of a ride, set against the rich and complex tapestry of 16th century Ireland, and spanning 70 years of intrigue, drama and violence on both land and sea.

The pirate queen her self, is a tough, highly intelligent and hard woman, one of the toughest we have scene in cinema. Her enemies are equally as tough and her nemesis, Richard Bingham is a suitably twisted villain, somewhere between Genghis Khan and Hannibal Lector.

Thrown into the mix is an incredibly diverse and interesting set of characters who will make you laugh and cry in equal measures. Grainne and her crew of pirates will fight their way through hordes of English villains, whilst her keen wit and mind plots the demise of their foes and keeps their ship afloat in a sea treachery and skulduggery. Grainne Uaile – The Movie will be released this summer.
Riding into the History Books

Riding into the History Books


Pic: Loose Gripp Films

Find out more on their Facebook page and visit the Loose Gripp studios website to find out more about the Studio making the film or see the details on IMDB. Also keep your eyes peeled on the Grainne Uaile website where exciting things are soon to be revealed!

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Apr 19 2014

Largest Living History re-enactment ever in Ireland for the Battle of Clontarf

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Brian Boru of Clontarf Festival

Brian Boru of Clontarf Festival

Pic: Brian Boru Millenium

Dublin City Council proposes to stage the largest Viking village and living history battle re-enactment ever produced in Ireland. The Viking village will contain static and interactive displays of Viking life and include demonstrations of Viking Skills and Crafts such as weapons displays , storytelling, Blacksmith, Leather working, Pole Lathe, Coin Striking, Silversmith, Hnefatafl (Viking Chess), Archery Display and Viking Long Boat, Falconry Displays & Mounted Viking Displays.

For Event Details see below….

Brian Bóraime [Brian Boru] (c.941–1014)

Brian Boru is the most famous Irishman before the modern era who, from fairly modest beginnings, rose to be king of Ireland, dying a heroic death at the battle of Clontarf on 23 April 1014.He got his nickname Boru from the Old Irish bóruma, ‘of the cattle tribute’, or more likely ‘of Bél Bóraime’, a ringfort near Killaloe, Co. Clare where he had a royal residence. He was born about 941, at or near Killaloe, one of the twelve sons of Cennétig (d. 951), king of Dál Cais.The earlier history of Dál Cais is obscure but under Brian’s father and older brother Mathgamain the family grew rapidly in importance and by 967 Mathgamain was described as king of Cashel (i.e., Munster), the first member of Dál Cais to win the title, and perhaps the first king of the province in five centuries who didn’t belong to the great dynasty called the Eóganachta.

In 1011, Brian’s army marched north again and forced the one remaining independent power in the land, the king of Cenél Conaill in Donegal, to become his vassal. At this juncture Brian had reached the apogee of his power.

It wasn’t long, however, before the power structure which Brian had laboriously built up began to crumble. A rebellion broke out led by Sitric Silkenbeard of Dublin and the king of Leinster, Máelmórda mac Murchada, and Brian spent from 9 September until Christmas 1013 attacking them but without restoring the peace.

Vikings land in 'Dublin'

Vikings land in ‘Dublin’

Pic: Vikings land in ‘Dublin’

The inevitable consequence was Brian’s attempt to force Dublin and Leinster back into submission, and this culminated in the famous battle of Clontarf, on Good Friday, 23 April 1014. It was a bloody affair, the Dublin and Leinster armies being reinforced by troops from Man and the Western and Northern isles while Brian had only limited support from Munster, south Connacht, and perhaps Mide. Nevertheless, they won the day, although Brian himself was killed.

Later accounts portray the elderly and saintly King Brian, while praying in his tent, being brutally assassinated in the hour of victory by the fleeing Viking leader, Bródir. This is not mentioned in contemporary accounts, although they do report that after the battle the bodies of Brian and of his son Murchad were brought ceremoniously to Armagh by its clergy, and there waked for twelve nights, before being buried in a new tomb.

Something about the battle of Clontarf and its hero has never failed to hold the imagination of the Irish nation and it seems that Clontarf will remain an important landmark. As it was Brian Bóraime’s ultimate victory (however Pyrrhic) over his opponents, it can be said with justification that his career ended in glory, that he broke the Uí Néill monopoly of the high-kingship, and thereby shaped the course of Irish history for the next 150 years.

What is more, renewed Scandinavian attacks on England and Ireland in the run-up to Clontarf suggest that Brian’s victory may have averted a large-scale Scandinavian attack on Ireland, such as that which the Danish King Knut and his family successfully mounted against England at this time.

He was succeeded by his son Donnchad (d. 1064), then in turn by the latter’s more successful nephew, Tairdelbach (d. 1086) and by the latter’s son, Muirchertach (d. 1119), the family by then sporting with pride the surname Ua Briain (O’Brien).

Event Details

  • The Battle of Clontarf Festival is a Public Transport supported event.
  • Parking is available in the general area but is limited.
  • Dublin City Council would encourage anyone attending the event to use public transport.
  • Transport

    Visitors are strongly advised to utilise the public transport systems to access the festival.

    On Saturday Dublin Bus routes 29a, 31a, 31b, 32 and 130 will be running services from Abbey Street Lower, which will drop passengers off on Mount Prospect Avenue, a short walking distance to the entrance of St. Anne’s Park, at the Red Stables.On Sunday Dublin Bus routes 29, 31a, 31b, 32 and 130 will operate as usual with an additional Festival shuttle bus every 15 minutes on the 31 route from Eden Quay (between 10am-2pm) and from Abbey Street after 2pm. Normal fares will apply.Dart will be running services to Killester Dart Station which is the closest station to the event on Easter Saturday only. No DART service will run on Sunday April 20th.
    Map of Site Activities

    Map of Site Activities


    Pic: Map of Activity Sites

    See all of the activities in Ireland for the Brian Boru Millenium on the Heritage website.

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    Apr 18 2014

    Connla of the Fiery Hair and the Faerie Maiden

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    Connla of the Fiery Hair

    Connla of the Fiery Hair


    Pic: Marcel Borowiec
    Connla of the Fiery Hair was son of Conn of the Hundred Fights. One day as he stood by the side of his father on the height of Usna, he saw a maiden clad in strange attire coming towards him.

    “Whence comest thou, maiden?” said Connla.

    “I come from the Plains of the Ever Living,” she said, “there where there is neither death nor sin. There we keep holiday alway, nor need we help from any in our joy. And in all our pleasure we have no strife. And because we have our homes in the round green hills, men call us the Hill Folk.”

    The king and all with him wondered much to hear a voice when they saw no one. For save Connla alone, none saw the Fairy Maiden.

    “To whom art thou talking, my son? ” said Conn the king.

    Then the maiden answered,

    “Connla speaks to a young, fair maid, whom neither death nor old age awaits. I love Connla, and now I call him away to the Plain of Pleasure, Moy Mell, where Boadag is king for aye, nor has there been complaint or sorrow in that land since he has held the kingship.

    Oh, come with me, Connla of the Fiery Hair, ruddy as the dawn with thy tawny skin. A fairy crown awaits thee to grace thy comely face and royal form. Come, and never shall thy comeliness fade, nor thy youth, till the last awful day of judgment.”

    The king in fear at what the maiden said, which he heard though he could not see her, called aloud to his Druid, Coran by name.

    “Oh, Coran of the many spells,” he said, ” and of the cunning magic, I call upon thy aid. A task is upon me too great for all my skill and wit, greater than any laid upon me since I seized the kingship. A maiden unseen has met us, and by her power would take from me my dear, my comely son. If thou help not, he will be taken from thy king by woman’s wiles and witchery.”

    Then Coran the Druid stood forth and chanted his spells towards the spot where the maiden’s voice had been heard. And none heard her voice again, nor could Connla see her longer. Only as she vanished before the Druid’s mighty spell, she threw an apple to Connla.

    For a whole month from that day Connla would take nothing, either to eat or to drink, save only from that apple. But as he ate it grew again and always kept whole. And all the while there grew within him a mighty yearning and longing after the maiden he had seen.

    But when the last day of the month of waiting came, Connla stood by the side of the king his father on the Plain of Arcomin, and again he saw the maiden come towards him, and again she spoke to him.

    “’Tis a glorious place, forsooth, that Connla holds among short lived mortals awaiting the day of death. But now the folk of life, the ever-living ones, beg and bid thee come to Moy Mell, the Plain of Pleasure, for they have learnt to know thee, seeing thee in thy home among thy dear ones.

    When Conn the king heard the maiden’s voice he called to his men aloud and said:

    “Summon swift my Druid Coran, for I see she has again this day the power of speech.”

    Then the maiden said

    “Oh, mighty Conn, fighter of a hundred fights, the Druid’s power is little loved; it has little honour in the mighty land, peopled with so many of the upright. When the Law will come, it will do away with the Druid’s magic spells that come from the lips of the false black demon.”

    Then Conn the king observed that since the maiden came Connla his son spoke to none that spake to him. So Conn of the hundred fights said to him,

    “Is it to thy mind what the woman says, my son?”

    “’Tis hard upon me,”

    then said Connla;

    “I love my own folk above all things; but yet, but yet a longing seizes me for the maiden.”

    When the maiden heard this, she answered and said

    “The ocean is not so strong as the waves of thy longing. Come with me in my curragh, the gleaming, straight-gliding crystal canoe. Soon we can reach Boadag’s realm. I see the bright sun sink, yet far as it is, we can reach it before dark. There is, too, another land worthy of thy journey, a land joyous to all that seek it. Only wives and maidens dwell there. If thou wilt, we can seek it and live there alone together in joy.”

    When the maiden ceased to speak, Connla of the Fiery Hair rushed away from them and sprang into the curragh, the gleaming, straight-gliding crystal canoe. And then they all, king and court, saw it glide away over the bright sea towards the setting sun. Away and away, till eye could see it no longer, and Connla and the Fairy Maiden went their way on the sea, and were no more seen, nor did any know where they came.

    Celtic Fairy Tales, by Joseph Jacobs, [1892], at www.sacred-texts.com

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    Mar 27 2014

    Ancient Butter found 2,500 years later in a Bog at Shancloon in Ireland

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    Bog Butter in Wooden Urn

    Bog Butter in Wooden Urn

    Pic: Cork Butter Museum

    Experts from the National Museum of Ireland believe that the ‘Bog Butter’ found in the bog at Shancloon, north of Galway, could be 2,000 to 2,500-years-old. The butter was found when Ray Moylan from Headford was having his annual turf supply cut by contractor Declan McDonagh. Moylan, a bus driver, contacted the Office of Public Works, Headland Archaeology in Galway and the National Museum of Ireland when he made the discovery.

    The butter which was found in timber keg, made from the trunk of a tree, weighed almost 28 pounds. The keg was built using Iron Age implements. It was buried three to four-foot away.

    An assistant keeper with the National Museum of Ireland, Padraig Clancy, said that the butter could be up to 2,500 years old. Clancy along with Karena Morton conservator at the National Museum of Country Life, removed the butter from the bog. It will be brought to the National Museum’s facility in Lanesboro. Clancy said:

    The type of vessel it is in usually helps us to date the period the butter is from, and this one could date back to the Iron Age.

    Archaeologist Ross MacLeod commented on the quantity of butter discovered in Galway. Speaking to the Irish Times he said:

    It would have been a substantial loss to the family that buried the butter in the bog that they never recovered it. Perhaps the person who buried it died or forgot where it was left… That might have been stored up by a family during the summer and put into the bog for use during the cold winter months. Its loss could have been a tremendous one for some family a long, long time ago.

    Bogs were used as a primitive form of refrigeration by people in the past. The peat creates a vacuum around buried material.

    Read more: http://www.irishcentral.com/news/bog-butter-find-believed-to-be-2500-years-old-121769889-237387291.html#ixzz2x9uRgxF3

    Votive Offerings

    Another theory that is sometimes seen with the discovery of Bog Treasures like this, is that the object would have been a votive offering – an offering to the Gods. Butter, no doubt seen as a highly valuable and prized commodity, would have been ideally suited as an offering and 2,500 years ago the Butter would have been placed in watery marsh, and probably not buried. Bogs tend to develop as the marshland dries out. Rather than thinking that this Buttery treasure had been forgotten by its owner, it seems far more likely to me that the churn was gifted to the Gods in the hopes of gaining their favour, much as other votive offerings have been found throughout Celtic Europe. Jane McIntosh, Handbook to Life in Prehistoric Europe, p. 256 refers to…

    packages or pots of “bog butter” (that) have been found, probably placed in bogs or lakes in the Bronze or Iron Age. These may have been votive offerings or simply placed in water to keep cool in summer months and never retrieved.

    Rubicon Heritage continues. Theories about the origins of Bog Butter deposits are divided between two schools. The first suggests ritual `votive offerings´ – the deliberate deposition of the casks in honour of/supplication to a deity. The second school proposes `human error´ – accidental deposition either as a result of forgetfulness or the death of the owner. Bogs would have acted as a reliable form of refrigeration for a winter stock of butter surplus and the unfortunate owners of the butter failed to adequately mark the stockpile.

    The IPCC (Irish Peatland Conservation Council) lists a reference to a recipe for Bog Butter from an account of Irish food written by Dinely in 1681: ‘Butter, layed up in wicker baskets, mixed with a sort of garlic and buried for some time in a bog to make a provision of an high taste for Lent’.

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