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Bringing the Tales and Stories of the Ancient Celts to your Fireside

Tag: Ireland

The Midwife and the Fair Folk

A long time ago, there lived a woman in a tidy little cottage tucked away between two hills. She was well known in those parts for being skilled in the art of midwifery, having helped in the delivery of just about every child within a day’s walk of her little cottage.

One night she was just getting ready to go to bed when she heard a knock on the door. She opened the door but saw nothing but the faint glimmer of a lantern on the roadway, perhaps a late night traveller making for the warmth and comfort of the village inn. She was about to close the door when the person with the lantern called out, imploring her to throw on her coat and follow him, for his wife was in labour and needed assistance.

She hesitated at this request, for it was dark and cold outside, but she shouted at him to wait and went to fetch her coat and bag. She followed him down the road and past the annagh, or cut-away bog, and down into the wood. The man kept up a blistering pace, close enough for her to walk by the light of the lantern but too far away to get a proper view of him.

The Midwife enters the Fairy Mound

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Brigid from Goddesses and Heroines By Patricia Monaghan

Probably the clearest example of the survival of an early goddess into Christian times is Brigid (pronounced “breed”), the great triple goddess of the Celtic Irish who appeared as Brigantia in England, Bride in Scotland, and Brigandu in Celtic France.

So entrenched was the devotion of the Irish to their goddess that the Christians “converted” her along with her people, calling her Bridget, the human daughter of a Druid, and claiming she was baptized by the great patriarch St. Patrick himself. Bridget took religious vows, the story went on, and was canonized after her death by her adoptive church, which then allowed the saint a curious list of attributes, coincidentally identical to those of the earlier goddess.

The Christian Bridget, for instance, was said to have had the power to appoint the bishops of her area, a strange role for an abbess, made stranger by her requirement that her bishops also be practicing goldsmiths. The ancient Brigid, however, was in one of her three forms the goddess of smithcraft. Brigid also ruled poetry and inspiration, carrying for this purpose a famous caldron; her third identity was as a goddess of healing and medicine. Not surprisingly, the Christian Bridget was invoked both as a muse and as a healer, continuing the traditions of the goddess.

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First Ancient Irish Human Genomes Sequenced

The First Ancient Irish human genomes have been sequenced Stonepages reported this month.

Geneticists from Trinity College Dublin and archaeologists from Queen’s University Belfast have sequenced the first genomes from ancient Irish humans – an early farmer woman who lived near Belfast some 5,200 years ago, and those of three men from around 4,000 years ago in the Bronze Age.
Ireland has intriguing genetics. It lies at the edge of many European genetic gradients, however the origins of this heritage are unknown.

Opinion has been divided on whether the great transitions in the British Isles – from a hunter-gatherer lifestyle to one based on agriculture and later from stone to metal use – were due to local adoption of new ways, or derived from influxes of new people.  

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The Cauldron of the Dagda – new Celtic book for December 2015

It was with great pleasure that we heard from one of our dear French friends, an author and Bagpiper, Valéry Raydon, when he let us know that he was going to release a book about the famous Cauldron of the Dagda. It is scheduled for release this Christmas by Terre de Promesse. The author was born in Nimes in 1973 and has a doctorate in Ancient History. As well as being an independent researcher, he is the author of several books of illustrated stories, as well as scientific articles and essays on the relationship between the Celtic and Indo-European Mythologies. Errors and inaccuracies in the following translation are purely mine and not those of the author of the book.

“The Cauldron of the Dagda” is the first major study of its kind

The Irish Druid-God the Dagda’s Cauldron of Abundance has long piqued the curiosity of amateurs, Celtic scholars and even professional academics. The scarcity of original sources, as well as the lateness and Christian overlay of any mythological sources that refer to the Cauldron, have meant that no major study has been devoted so far to its divine attributes and meaning as could have been encountered in Gaelic and pre-Christian religious thought, especially about the theology of the god, the Dagda.

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New statue of sea god Manannán Mac Lir ready for replacement

A replacement for the sculpture of a Celtic sea god that was stolen from Binevenagh mountain is ready to be installed.

The BBC reported that the Manannán Mac Lir was taken from its spot on the mountain near Limavady, County Londonderry, in January.

It was later found by a rambling group who then sought the help of soldiers on a training exercise.

A date has not yet been set for the new statue to be erected. Game of Thrones artist John Darren Sutton said the new 9ft sculpture is ready to be installed

Manannán Mac Lir will now stand proud again!

A spokesperson for Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council said:

“We are delighted that Mr Sutton has completed the new sculpture of Mannanán Mac Lir. We look forward to the return of the artwork at Gortmore viewpoint in the very near future.”

The sculptor John Darren Sutton told the BBC he was “delighted”.

“It takes a while to get these things right so I’m happy that he is ready.

“He’ll be on his way to Limavady and the mountain soon.”

The statue installed in 2014 was a popular tourist attraction

The original sculpture, which had been badly damaged, was found about 300m from Gortmore viewpoint.

Thieves left a wooden cross in place of the statue with the words “you shall have no other gods before me”.

The fibre glass statue sparked an online campaign and a missing persons appeal by police.

Former Limavady Borough Council agreed to replace the statue, at a cost of £10,000.

SDLP councillor Gerry Mullan said:

I’m very excited at the prospect of Manannán Mac Lir returning home. People from all over the world came to get photographs with it. Lets hope that happens again.

“I urge people to take care of him and we hope a similar act doesn’t happen again.

“Santa may even stop by to see him.”

[Source: BBC News]

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Ancient Irish Horn brought to life by 3D Printing

Billy Ó Foghlú is a PhD student studying archaeology at the Australian National University (ANU) reports the All3DP website. After 3D printing a replica of a Bronze Age artefact, long believed to be a spear butt, he uncovered evidence that it was actually a mouthpiece from an ancient Irish horn.

The artefact, known as the Conical Spear Butt of Navan and found in Ireland in the early 1900s, was likely to have been crafted between 100BC and 200AD.

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Burren and the Cliffs of Moher designated UNESCO site

The Burren and Cliffs of Moher Geopark was designated as a UNESCO site following a vote at the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) General Conference in Paris on November 17, Irish Central reports. The designation means that the Clare County Council managed Geopark, along with Ireland’s two other Geoparks – the Copper Coast Geopark and Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark – is now a UNESCO Global Geopark and is now at the same level as other UNESCO designated sites in Ireland such as Newgrange and the Giant’s Causeway.

UNESCO’s new site designation – the Geopark

The Cliffs of Moher and the Burren, Co. Clare’s lunar-looking landscape dotted with limestone karst, are among the most popular tourist attractions in Ireland.

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Pagan Portals: Irish Paganism by Morgan Daimler

Once in a Blue Moon a book comes along that truly opens your eyes. Pagan Portals: Irish Paganism by Morgan Daimler and published by Moon Books is just such a book. It is a short book that covers a lot of ground in explaining Irish Reconstructionist Polytheism with one foot firmly planted in solid research and the other in personal spiritual experience. Celtic Reconstructionism (or C.R.) is one of those “hot potatoes” in modern neo-pagan circles with heated arguments and misunderstandings being tossed back and forth with great passion. This book is one of the few books on the subject that faces these issues head-on and stands out as a well-thought out, well-written and cooling breeze that makes the subject clear, vibrant and exciting. As far as we are aware this may be the first introduction and reference work for reconstructing Irish Paganism as a modern day study and practice.

The author, Morgan Daimler, is renowned as both a scholar of Old Irish and the ancient Irish texts as well as a modern priestess and devotee of the Irish Gods. Her relationships with the Morrigan, Brighid and the Sidhe (the Fairy Folk) have lead her to write excellent introductory texts on each (see the links below) and this book is a very informative introduction to the world of Irish Paganism. Morgan Daimler has given us an excellent, honest approach to reconstructing Irish Paganism, dispelling common misconceptions and explaining the path in simple easy-to-read terms.

So What Is Reconstructionism?

In the words of the author:

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Grainne Uaile, the toughest Pirate Queen strides out of Irish History

This winter “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, on land and sea.

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 mans world. Director Ciaron Davies said:

We wanted to create a strong female driven movie. Often women in film are seen as the victim or the love interest. This movie is different. Grainne is
tough, brutal, uncompromising and intelligent. She is also feminine and stylish. This is a very empowering female. The men in the world around her are all uniquely interesting, helping to create a rich tapestry of life in 16th century Ireland.

Bring a sword, your going to need it!

This exciting film is violent, dark, brutal, exciting and often darkly comic. The ultimate female action hero steeped in ancient Irish history.

Real life 16th Century Irish Pirate queen

“Grainne Uaile – The Movie”, is an epic historical adventure based on the real life of 16th Century Irish Pirate queen, Grainne Uaile.

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