13 Jul Citations S – Z
Seven Wonders of Fore
1The "information boards" in the VR tour feature some photographs not made by the author. Links are provided here for the sources:
The ruins of the mill (photo by de Burgo):
The cloisters of the Benedictine Abbey (photo by Sarnia G.): http://www.tripadvisor.ie/LocationPhotoDirectLink-g186639-d1184051-i18604847-Fore_Abbey-County_Westmeath.html
The Doaghfeighin Holy Well: (photo by Louise Nugent)
The mausoleum and anchorite chapel: http://desertofmyheart.blogspot.com/2012/11/a-medievel-style-anchorite.html
The cross-inscribed lintel stone (photo by Camino de Santiago): http://wandering-woman.blogspot.com/2006/06/7-wonders-of-fore-part-2.html
2Piers, Henry. A Chorographical Description of the County of West-Meath. Written A.D. 1682. Tara, Co. Meath, Ireland: Meath Archaeological and Historical Society, 1981. 63.
After the Ordnance Survey in 1837, John O’Donovan maintained that the Irish name is Baile Fobair, which means the town of Fore, and not the Town of Books. "It is stated in the life of St. Fechin that the place was anciently called Gleann-Fobhar,—Fobhar is supposed to have the same signification as Tobar, a well." (The Irish Ecclesiastical Record. Dublin: Browne and Nolan, 1888. 437-441. Google eBook. Web. <http://books.google.com/books?id=U6Q9AAAAYAAJ&pg=PA440&focus=viewport&dq=Life+of+St.+Fechin+of+Fore&output=text>.)
3Coyle, John B. The Life of Saint Fechin of Fore, the Apostle of Connemara. Dublin: Gill, 1915. 22. This text may be read in its entirely here.
It is unlikely that 300 monks and 2,000 students were in residence at any one time at St. Féichín’s original monastic foundation. The early "Lives…" often make such statements exaggerating the importance of the saint due to the political concerns of the foundations that commissioned the text.
"Féchín of Fore." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 12 Jan. 2013. Web. 08 Dec. 2013. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Féchín_of_Fore>.
The saint’s name is also spelled "Féchín." Some sources say St. Féichín’s death was in 665. Most sources give his feast day as January 20, the day of his death, but some sources say he is celebrated in Ireland on the 14th of February.
His name may mean "little raven." "His name is explained in this manner in a note added to the Félire Óengusso, which says that he received this name when his mother saw him gnawing on a bone and exclaimed ‘my little raven!’" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Féch%C3%ADn_of_Fore)
The "Yellow Plague" In England was known as Pestis Flava, and in Ireland as Buide Connaill. It coincided with an eclipse of the sun. Some suggested it may have been smallpox. ("Thread: Yellow Plague." British Genealogy Forums RSS. Web. 08 Dec. 2013. <http://www.british-genealogy.com/forums/showthread.php/4415-Yellow-plague>.)
4Stokes, G. T. "St. Fechin of Fore and His Monastery." The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland Fifth 2.1 (1892): 4-5.
The full quotation from Stokes reads: "He established island monasteries on islets lining the Galway coast, where he was the first man to preach the Gospel, and baptize the inhabitants, showing us, as his earliest Lives do, that Paganism prevailed in the extreme west of this country, even after St. Columba had converted the Highlanders of Scotland. These monasteries continued in the islands of Ardoilen and Immagia tilI the time of Colgan, and from them Colgan obtained the most ancient manuscripts connected with our saint’s life."
5The Irish Ecclesiastical Record. Dublin: Browne and Nolan, 1888. 437-441. Google eBook. Web. <http://books.google.com/books?pg=PA440&dq=Life+of+St.+Fechin+of+Fore&id=U6Q9AAAAYAAJ#v=onepage&q&f=false>.
6"Turgenius." Irish Folk Tradition. Web. 08 Dec. 2013. <http://lookingatdata.com/t/286-turgesius.html>.
7Woods, James. Annals of Westmeath, Ancient and Modern. Dublin: Sealy, Bryers & Walker, 1907. 276-78. This text may be read in its entirety here.
The initial de Lacy construction in the valley was a motte with a rectangular bailey on the slope of the Ben of Fore to the east of the village. (Duigan, Michael V., and Lord Killanin. The Shell Guide to Ireland. London: Edbury Press, 1967. 144-45.)
8Duigan, Michael V., and Lord Killanin. The Shell Guide to Ireland. London: Edbury Press, 1967. 144-45.
9Nugent, Louise. "Medieval Pilgrimage in Honour of St Féichín and the Seven Wonders’ of Fore, Co Westmeath." Pilgrimage In Medieval Ireland. 20 Jan. 2013. Web. 08 Dec. 2013. <http://pilgrimagemedievalireland.com/2013/01/20/medieval-pilgrimage-in-honour-of-st-feichin-and-the-seven-wonders-of-fore-co-westmeath/>.
According to the author, "The earliest written evidence of pilgrimage dates to AD 1607 when Fore is listed among the 12 Irish sites granted a plenary indulgence to the faithful, by Pope Paul V."
10G. B. "Fore Abbey, County Westmeath." The Dublin Penny Journal 3.152 (1835): 380-81..
12Apprently there is one other remnant of an Irish medieval Benedictine foundation yet to be seen: St. John’s Benedictine Priory in Youghal, currently (2013) a tapas restaurant called "The Priory." If you look closely at the photograph on this page, you will note the Gothic doorway.
13Nugent, Louise. "Medieval Pilgrimage in Honour of St Féichín and the Seven Wonders’ of Fore, Co Westmeath." Pilgrimage In Medieval Ireland. 20 Jan. 2013. Web. 08 Dec. 2013. <http://pilgrimagemedievalireland.com/2013/01/20/medieval-pilgrimage-in-honour-of-st-feichin-and-the-seven-wonders-of-fore-co-westmeath/>.
14Smythe, William B. "On the Bell from Lough Lene in the Academy’s Museum." Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy. Polite Literature and Antiquities 2 (1879-1888): 165.
16Brenneman, Walter L., and Mary G. Brenneman. Crossing the Circle at the Holy Wells of Ireland. Charlottesville: University of Virginia, 1995. 53-54.
17Ó Cuinneagáin, Liam. "The Tobernacogany Holy Well." Message to the author. 7 Dec. 2013. E-mail.
Due to this part of Ireland’s incorporation into the English Pale during the late Middle Ages, when the Irish language was largely eliminated, it is difficult to state the meaning of "Tobernacogany" with any certainty. According to Ó Cuinneagáin, the name of the well (Tobernacogany) is likely derived from an long-corrupted Irish name, perhaps Tobar na Cogarnaigh, meaning "The Well of the Whispers [or Whispering]." Other possibilities include "The Poppy Well," or "The Well of War."
(Weir, Anthony. "The Tobernacogany Holy Well." Message to the author. 5 Dec. 2013. E-mail)
18"The Fore Valley." Rough Guides. Web. 08 Dec. 2013. <http://www.roughguides.com/destinations/europe/ireland/midlands-westmeath-longford-offaly-laois/northern-westmeath/fore-valley/>.
"Greville-Nugent Mausoleum, Fore, County Westmeath." National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. Web. 08 Dec. 2013. <http://www.buildingsofireland.ie/niah/search.jsp?type=record&county=WM®no=15400405>.
The date of Beglin’s death is given in various online resources as 1616. His name is also spelled "Begley," (National Inventory of Architectural Heritage), or "Biglin" (Stokes, G. T. "St. Fechin of Fore and His Monastery." The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland Fifth 2.1 (1892): 5-11.)
19Piers, Henry. A Chorographical Description of the County of West-Meath. Written A.D. 1682. Tara, Co. Meath, Ireland: Meath Archaeological and Historical Society, 1981. 63-4.
The full text of Piers’ discussion of the anchorite: "The religious person at his entry maketh a vow never to go out of his doors all his life after, and accordingly here he remains pent up all his days, every day he saith Mass in his chapel, which is also a part of, nay almost all his dweliing-house, for there is no more house but a very small castle wherein a tall man can hardly stretch himself at length, if he laid down on the floor, nor is there any passage into the castle but thro’ the chapel. He hath servants that attend at his call in an out-house, but none lyeth within the church but himself. He is said by the natives, who hold him in great veneration for his sanctity, every day to dig or rather scrape, for he useth no other tools but his nails, a portion of his grave; being esteemed of so great holiness, as if purity and sanctity were entailed in his cell, he is constantly visited by those of the Romish religion, who aim at being esteemed more devout than the ordinary amongst them; every visitant at his departure leaveth his offering or (as they phrase it) devotion on his altar; but he relieth not on this only for a maintenance, but hath those to bring him in their devotion whose devotions are not so fervent as to invite them to do the office in person; these are called his proctors who range all the counties in Ireland to beg for him whom they call the holy man in the stone: corn, eggs, geese, turkies, hens, sheep, money, and what not; nothing comes amiss, and no where do they fail altogether, but something is had, insomuch that if his proctors deal honestly, nay if he return them but the tenth part of what is given him, he may doubtless fare as well as any priest of them all; the only recreation this poor prisoner is capable of is to walk on his terras built over the cell wherein he lies, if he may be said to walk, who cannot in one line stretch forth his legs four times."
20Moore, Fr. Patrick. "The Tobernacogany Holy Well." Personal interview. 3 July 1998.
Whether or not the holy wells of Ireland inherited their Christian sanctity from earlier pagan practices at the wells is a matter of some controversy. Some authors consider the evidence to the affirmative "very meager." (Carroll, Michael P. Irish Pilgrimage: Holy Wells and Popular Catholic Devotion. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins UP, 1999. 55-57. A differing perspective is offered by other authors: "Ancient rituals – among them the cult of wells, trees and stones – were allowed to continue much as before, though now under a Christian label, with the lore and venerations of saints replacing the cult of deities." (Zucchelli, Christine. Stones of Adoration Sacred Stones and Mystic Megaliths of Ireland. Doughcloyne, Wilton, Cork: Collins, 2007. 69.)
21Allcroft, A. H. The Circle and the Cross, a Study in Continuity. London: Macmillan, 1927. V. 2, 75.
Another author wrote in 1971: "The leaders of the Church thus abandoned the struggle against superstition whenever it seemed in their interest to do so. Throughout the Middle Ages their attitude to the credulities of their simpler followers was fundamentally ambivalent. They disliked them as gross and superstitious, but they had no wish to discourage attitudes which might foster popular devotion." (Thomas, Keith. Religion and the Decline of Magic. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1971. 49.)
22Carroll, Michael P. Irish Pilgrimage: Holy Wells and Popular Catholic Devotion. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins UP, 1999. 191-92.
23Cambrensis, Giraldus. The Topography of Ireland. (originally published 1187) in The Historical Works of Giraldus Cambrensis, Thomas Wright, ed. London: George Bell and Sons, 1882. Pt. 2, 95.
24Zucchelli, Christine. Stones of Adoration Sacred Stones and Mystic Megaliths of Ireland. Doughcloyne, Wilton, Cork: Collins, 2007. xiv-xv.
Generations of Irish clergy, both Catholic and Protestant, attempted to suppress the folk practices at holy wells and other sites. John O’Donovan quoted an earlier 1815 source regarding a well in Co. Monaghan: "It is even now visited by many of the poorer class of the R.C. Religion whose votive rags suspended on the over-hanging thorn attest their unshaken faith in its miraculous virtues. Strange! that a custom decried by the ministers, unpracticed by the more enlightened ranks of their religion should continue unsupported by precept or example. The mist of superstition which clouds the intellect can only be dispersed by the powerful rays of a widely diffused system or education. It is worthy of remark that to the many superstitious rites which have been or are yet in use in this island some corresponding superstition may be found practiced in the most distant ages and in the most remote quarters of the Globe." (O’Donovan, John, Eugene O’Curry, Thomas O’Connor, and George Petrie. Letters Containing Information relative to the Antiquities of the Counties of Armagh and Monaghan, Collected during the progress of the Ordnance Survey in 1835. Ed. Michael O’Flanaghan. Bray: Reproduced under the Direction of Rev. Michael O’Flanaghan, 1927. 27-28.)
Other authors were less charitable regarding these practices: "…when I pressed a very old man, Owen Hester, to state what possible advantage he expected to derive from the singular custom of frequenting in particular such wells as were contiguous to an old blasted oak, or an upright unhewn stone, and what the meaning was of the yet more singular custom of sticking rags on the branches of such trees, and spitting on them – his answer, and the answer of the oldest men, was, that their ancestors always did it; that it was a preservative against Geasa-Draoidacht, i. e. the sorceries of Druids; that their cattle were preserved by it from infections and disorders; that the daoini maethe, i.e. the fairies, were kept in good humour by it; and so thoroughly persuaded were they of the sanctity of those pagan practices, that they would travel bare-headed and bare-footed, from ten to twenty miles, for the purpose of crawling on their knees round these wells, and upright stones, and oak trees, westward, as the sun travels, some three times, some six, some nine, and so on, in uneven numbers, until their voluntary penances were completely fulfilled." (Hardy, Philip Dixon. The Holy Wells of Ireland: Containing an Authentic Account of Those Various Places of Pilgrimage and Penance Which Are Still Annually Visited by Thousands of the Roman Catholic Peasantry. With a Minute Description of the Patterns and Stations Periodically Held in Various Districts of Ireland. Dublin: Hardy, & Walker, 1840. 100. Dixon is here quoting the Rev. Charles O’Connor.)
25"Big Turnout for Fore Pilgrimage of Hope and Healing." Westmeath Examiner. 27 May 2010. Web. 08 Dec. 2013. <http://www.westmeathexaminer.ie/news/roundup/articles/2010/05/27/3997364-big-turnout-for-fore-pilgrimage-of-hope-and-healing>.
Unfortunately the 27 degrees (81 degrees F) temperatures adversely affected some of those parading on the shadeless route. "Meath based civil defence were also concerned for people attending the pilgrimage and stewards had to gather water from people attending to bring to the ambulance when water ran out and people and children began to feel unwell and required medical assistance."
26Smythe, William B. "On the Bell from Lough Lene in the Academy’s Museum." Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy. Polite Literature and Antiquities 2 (1879-1888): 164.
The half-size reproduction of the bell was presented to Dáil Éireann in 1931 by the widow of a former member of the House, Major Bryan Cooper.
The illustration of the original bell on our page is from the Smythe article. The half-size reproduction of the bell may be seen here.
1Shaw, Bernard. Collected Letters [of] Bernard Shaw, 1898-1910. Ed. Dan H. Laurence. London: M. Reinhardt, 1972. 941.
From Shaw’s letter to Frederick Jackson: "Parknasilla Hotel, Sneem, 18th September 1910."
2Kravis, Judy. "Skellig." Books Ireland 196. Summer (1996): 183-84.
3Harbison, Peter. "John Windele’s Visit to Skellig Michael in 1851." Journal of the Kerry Archaeological and Historical Society 9 (1976): 125-26.
4Allen, J. Romilly. "Notes on the Antiquities in Co. Kerry Visited by the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland and the Cambrian Archæological Association, August, 1891 (Continued)." The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland 2.3 (1892): 278.
The trip (from Ventry Harbor) took four hours. Romily wrote of his group’s excursion: "The members, sixty in number, soon assembled on the beach, and were rapidly rowed across the harbour to the ship, which was lying close to the entrance, nearly a mile off. Here a terrible disappointment awaited the ladies, for the Commander, Lieut. Hugh B. Rooper, declined to undertake the responsibility of risking their valuable lives by taking them on the voyage, and so they were sent ashore without more ado."
5In the 1990s, teaching at Bradley University, I took groups of students on "Photosafari" excursions to Ireland. In 1998, on our boat returning from Skellig Michael we endured a downpour the entire way home. Students posted on the web their diary entries. On student David Knape’s page for that day he noted that "the rain was interrupted for a time by harder rain, but we didn’t notice because of the freezing winds."
6Harbison, Peter. "John Windele’s Visit to Skellig Michael in 1851." Journal of the Kerry Archaeological and Historical Society 9 (1976): 125-26.
7"New York Tourist Dies after Fall on Skellig Michael." The Dingle News. (via Radio Kerry) 21 Sept. 2009. Web. 27 Aug. 2013. <http://www.dinglenews.com/news.asp?id=2841>.
57-year-old Christine Danielson Spooner of Rochester, New York fell on September 20; in May, 77 year old Joseph Gaughan from Pennsylvania was the fatality. Another tourist, Carola Korte, was killed in 1995.
In 1851 John Windele wrote of his conversation with the lighthouse keeper: "His life whilst here has not been without unpleasant events, having lost a son by· being ‘clifted,’ that is, falling down a cliff. This fatal spot he showed us. It is in the blue cove. The narrow roadway winds round it towards the upper light house, and having the security of a stout parapet wall we were able to inspect a cliff-guarded bay bristling with rocks beneath, over which the waves chafed as they came in from countless miles of ocean. A foot of the unfortunate young man was all that was ever found." (Harbison, Peter. "John Windele’s Visit to Skellig Michael in 1851." Journal of the Kerry Archaeological and Historical Society 9 (1976): 144.)
In the 1820s an assistant lighthouse keeper was killed by falling over the cliff while cutting grass for his cow. (Lavelle, Des. Skellig: Island Outpost of Europe. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s UP, 1976. 58-9.)
Another lighthouse keeper disappeared in 1957. (Byrne Ó Cléirigh Ltd. Safety Review: Skellig Michael World Heritage Site; Final Report. Dublin: National Monuments Division, Office of Public Works Ireland, 2010.)
8Byrne Ó Cléirigh Ltd. Safety Review: Skellig Michael World Heritage Site; Final Report. Dublin: National Monuments Division, Office of Public Works Ireland, 2010.
The Safety Review concluded that it would be inconsistent, and potentially confusing to tourists, to have a safety railing in one place and not in others. Furthermore, it stated that there was a danger that if a safety railing were installed at the place where the two fatal accident occurred in 2009 then that location might become a desirable place to stop and take photographs, making the area before and beyond the proposed safety railing more dangerous due to a queue forming at those places. Other concerns were centered upon the aesthetic and heritage impacts of any potential railings. The complete report may be read here.
9Skellig Michael World Heritage Site Management Plan 2008 – 2018. Rep. Dublin: Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government: Office of Public Works, 2008.
This report may be read in its entirety here.
According to Charles Smith, "In the spring and beginning of summer the country people resort hither in small boats, when the sea is calm, to catch these birds. They eat the flesh, which is fishy and rank; but the principal profit is made by the feathers. The birds are exceeding fat, and the persons who take them, carry on a kind of traffic with them, by exchanging two salted puffins for a peck of meal. They eat them in lent, and on their fast days as well as fish." (Smith, Charles. The Ancient and Present State of the County of Kerry. Containing a Natural, Civil, Ecclesiastical, Historical and Topographical Description Thereof. Dublin: Printed for the Author, 1756. 112, footnote x.)
11Skellig Michael World Heritage Site Management Plan 2008 – 2018. Rep. Dublin: Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government: Office of Public Works, 2008. 11.
The death of the monk is recorded in The Martyrology of Tallaght, written near the end of the eighth century by Mealruain. The Annals of Ulster provides the account of the plunder of the monastery by the Vikings. The Annals of Inisfallen refer to the death of Flann, son of Cellach, abbot of Scelec in 882.
It is clear that St. Michael’s Church is of a later date due to its mortared straight walls and large stones, unlike the dry-stone corbeled oratories and beehive cells, the earliest structures of the monastery. (Horn, Walter, Jenny White Marshall, and Grellan D. Rourke. The Forgotten Hermitage of Skellig Michael. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990. 10-11.)
According to archaeologist Michael Gibbons, who has claimed the discovery of traces of previously unknown, and possibly earlier sets of steps on the island, the monks could have moved into a "pre-existing citadel." ("Skelligs Settlement May Predate Monastery." Clerical Whispers. 11 Aug. 2010. Web. 28 Aug. 2013. <http://clericalwhispers.blogspot.com/2010/08/skelligs-settlement-may-predate.html>.)
Skellig Michael is not alone as a monastic site named for the saint of high places. St. Michael’s Mount in Cornwall and Mont St. Michel in Brittany come to mind, both Celtic in origin and both homes to monasteries.
12Smith, Charles. The Ancient and Present State of the County of Kerry. Containing a Natural, Civil, Ecclesiastical, Historical and Topographical Description Thereof. Dublin: Printed for the Author, 1756. 112-118. These pages may be read in their entirety here.
13Lavelle, Des. Skellig: Island Outpost of Europe. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s UP, 1976. 11-12.
Some of the mythology of the Skelligs may have originated with much later political propaganda indented to enhance the reputations of different ruling families. (Bourke, Edward, Alan R. Hayden, Ann Lynch. Skellig Michael, Co. Kerry: the monastery and South Peak: Archaeological stratigraphic report: excavations 1986–2010. Rep. Dublin: Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government: Office of Public Works, 2008.)
14Dunraven, Earl of. Notes on Irish Architecture, Volume 1. London: George Bell & Sons, 1875. 30.
15Horn, Walter, Jenny White Marshall, and Grellan D. Rourke. The Forgotten Hermitage of Skellig Michael. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990. 10-11. The volume may be read in its entirety here.
The term Corcu Duibne has survived in the name of the Dingle Peninsula.
According to Bourke, Hayden, and Lynch, "No evidence for this association with Fionán has thus far been identified in early medieval texts…Skellig Michael is not recorded as one of the sites founded by Fionán, which is a curious omission, given the likely proposed regional significance of the site (Ó Carragáin). 2008).The earliest identified instance of the association is the assertion by Smith (1756, 61) in his account of the site that it was originally founded by Fionán. Subsequent scholarly work on the site derives the association with Fionán from Smith’s account." (Bourke, Edward, Alan R. Hayden, Ann Lynch. Skellig Michael, Co. Kerry: the monastery and South Peak: Archaeological stratigraphic report: excavations 1986–2010. Rep. Dublin: Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government: Office of Public Works, 2008. 19-21.)
The early Irish church had two different St. Fionáns: Saint Finian the Leper, and St. Finnian of Clonard.
The mentions of Viking raids are found in the text "War of the Gaedhil with the Gaill," the first in an entry of 821–823 is the one about Etgal, the other (undated) occurs after the Etgal entry and before another dated 850.
Bourke, Hayden, and Lynch offer further details regarding the second Viking raid: "A single Norse raid is recorded in annals, in 824, resulting in the death of Étgal, possibly the abbot but certainly an important cleric. A record of a further raid is preserved in the Cogad Gáedel re Gallaib (CGG). CGG is a problematical text, as it is primarily a work of political propaganda (though early scholars mistakenly viewed it as a historical treatise), but it does draw directly on the contemporary annalistic records (Ní Mhaonaigh 1996), many of which do not survive to the present. So it is likely that the reference to the additional raid on Skellig Michael is authentic." (Bourke, Edward, Alan R. Hayden, Ann Lynch. Skellig Michael, Co. Kerry: the monastery and South Peak: Archaeological stratigraphic report: excavations 1986–2010. Rep. Dublin: Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government: Office of Public Works, 2008. 21-22.)
Among other sources, the Viking practice of
"tossing of infants on top of their lances to and from each other" is mentioned in The Vikings: A History by Robert Ferguson (2009). (Skaar, Freydis. " Ranvaik Owns This Box: The Vikings: A History." Open Letters Monthly an Arts and Literature Reviews. Web. 28 Aug. 2013. <http://www.openlettersmonthly.com/ranvaik-owns-this-box/>.)
Of course, it may be that this account of the Norsemen’s brutality is hyperbole. There is always this possibility.
19Lavelle, Des. The Skellig Story: Ancient Monastic Outpost. Dublin: O’Brien, 1993. 15.
Other sources, however, maintain that Olaf I was baptized by Ælfheah, Archbishop of Canterbury, who was himself later murdered by the Vikings.
20Bourke, Edward, Alan R. Hayden, Ann Lynch. Skellig Michael, Co. Kerry: the monastery and South Peak: Archaeological stratigraphic report: excavations 1986–2010. Rep. Dublin: Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government: Office of Public Works, 2008. 22-23.
The Ballinskelligs monastery may have been founded as early as the 12th century, but was clearly well established by the late thirteenth century.
Although removed to their new foundation at Ballinskelligs, it is probable that the Augustinians continued to maintain the structures on Skellig Michael, use it for periods of penance, and promote and managing pilgrimages there.
The lighthouse, in 1914, began using explosive fog signals. In 1936 a gigantic explosion resulted when some 300 of these charges went off simultaneously. "’It nearly lifted the island out of the sea, but no harm ensued and this type of signal remained in use until 1953."
According to Crofton Croker (via his boatman) "when the light houses were being constructed that on moving up powder to be stored in the chapels one of the crosses was broken, in consequence of which no Protestant would be allowed to work there afterwards…" (Harbison, Peter. "John Windele’s Visit to Skellig Michael in 1851." Journal of the Kerry Archaeological and Historical Society 9 (1976): 146.)
23The area known as the "Monks’ Garden" was found to contain some peaty soil, giving rise to the speculation it was used for cultivation. Here, as in other maritime regions with poor soil—or no soil— seaweed was mixed with sand to create a base for cultivation.
24De Paor, Liam. "A Survey of Sceilg Mhichíl." The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland 85.2 (1955): 180-185.
In addition to the church, oratories, and beehive huts there are three leachta (stone altars) in the monastic enclosure. The two most highly decorated stone crosses are believed associated with these altars. (Skellig Michael World Heritage Site Management Plan 2008 – 2018. Rep. Dublin: Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government: Office of Public Works, 2008. 81-5.)
The monastic enclosure also had two wells, unusual at such a high elevation. According to Des Lavelle the wells were said to "become dry in the case of cursing, swearing or blasphemy." (Lavelle, Des. Skellig: Island Outpost of Europe. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s UP, 1976. 48-52.)
25Skellig Michael World Heritage Site Management Plan 2008 – 2018. Rep. Dublin: Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government: Office of Public Works, 2008. 92.
The authors reported that a number of small, crudely made stone crosses were among the approximately 110 artifacts recovered during the excavations. Those from the Early Medieval period included part of a lignite ring/amulet and a perforated lignite disc, a small iron knife with wooden handle, part of a decorated bone comb plate, and a bronze ring-pin.
26Smith, Charles. The Ancient and Present State of the County of Kerry. Containing a Natural, Civil, Ecclesiastical, Historical and Topographical Description Thereof. Dublin: Printed for the Author, 1756. 115.
Smith here is referring to a section of the pilgrimage path known as the "Eagle’s Nest."
The cross-etched stone at the end of the Spit was last noted in 1977 and is presumed to have fallen into the sea. It may be seen here in a 1977 photograph. The Spit has also been referred to as the Spindle. Some have speculated that the upright slab (now lost) as the end of the Spit was the Stone of Don, reputed to commemorate one of the Milesians lost in the legendary 1400 BCE invasion.
The explorers initially did their exploration on their own time, using mountaineering equipment and calling in helicopters when necessary.
It was the workers from Ordnance Survey who first noted possible structures on the South Peak in 184 (pp. 15-16).
32"Report on the Mission to Skellig Michael, Ireland, 25– 29 November 2007." UNESCO World Heritage Centre. 28 Nov. 2007. Web. 02 Sept. 2013. <http://whc.unesco.org/en/documents/10056>.
The South Peak was surveyed in 1984 and 1985, with the technical assistance of mountaineers, who often used harnesses and climbing ropes, as well as zip lines for their supplies and equipment.
33Skellig Michael World Heritage Site Management Plan 2008 – 2018. Rep. Dublin: Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government: Office of Public Works, 2008. 20.
Summing up the site’s qualifications to be listed as a World Heritage Site, the Plan states: "The dramatic topography of the island and the integration of the various monastic elements within this landscape reinforce the uniqueness of this site. The presence of the monks on the island for such a long period of time has bequeathed us more than just physical remains. They have imbued the place with a strong sense of spirituality, which is palpable to anyone who has had the opportunity and privilege of spending time there. The physical remains bear testament to the remarkable achievements of the monks, which cannot fail to invoke a sense of wonder and awe. The sense of remoteness and removal from everyday life is further reinforced by the island’s distance from the mainland and its frequent inaccessibility due to the unpredictable Atlantic Ocean."
In defended their decisions regarding conservation, the Plan noted: "In the case of Skellig Michael, one of the most fundamental issues is that of structural stability. Until structural stability is achieved, no other conservation works can be undertaken, except for temporary remedial or holding works. Only when stabilisation has been achieved can final consideration be given to detailed conservation and presentation."
The lighthouse workers also were responsible for building some of the modern walls at the monastic site, where they were temporarily housed. (Lavelle, Des. Skellig: Island Outpost of Europe. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s UP, 1976. 36.)
On Inishmore in the Aran Islands, the Iron Age fort of Dun Aengus has massive stone buttresses that are entirely the work of 19-century Board of Works architects.
35"Restored to Death? Skellig Michael’s World Heritage Status Under Threat." History Ireland. Web. May/Jun 2007. <http://www.historyireland.com/20th-century-contemporary-history/restored-to-death-skellig-michaels-world-heritage-status-under-threat/>.
Gibbons quoted from an unpublished 2000 MA thesis: "The damage was being inflicted by the OPW rather than by tourists; it described a reconstructed monastic toilet as a ‘work of fiction’; it noted that the intact small oratory has been virtually rebuilt; and it criticised the layout as a work of imagination rather than being based on any surviving evidence."
Gibbons maintained that "The potential value of Skellig Michael for future researchers is being destroyed. Genuine archaeological remains have been replaced by faux-monastic twenty-first-century imitations."
36Rourke, Grellan D., and Ann Lynch. "Skellig Michael Restored to Death?: A Response." History Ireland 16.1 (2008): 8-9.
37"Report on the Mission to Skellig Michael, Ireland, 25– 29 November 2007." UNESCO World Heritage Centre. 28 Nov. 2007. Web. 02 Sept. 2013. <http://whc.unesco.org/en/documents/10056>.
In reaffirming the listing of Skellig Michael as a World Heritage Site, the report seemed to strike a balance between fully endorsing the restoration work and fully accepting the critique of Michael Gibbons: "The island has very particular management issues brought about by its isolated and exposed position in the Atlantic, the fragility of the remains, and the importance of the sea birdlife. The long and expensive campaign to conserve and reconstruct the monuments has been mirrored by the vigour of criticism. All those who are connected with the island have a strong emotional attachment and commitment to it."
38Chatterton, Georgiana. Rambles in the South of Ireland during the Year 1838, 1. London: Saunders and Otley, 1839. 290.
Windele suggests that a man named Maurice O’Connell was the ‘gentleman in the neighbourhood’ who supplied the account of the Skelligs for Lady Chatterton. (Harbison, Peter. "John Windele’s Visit to Skellig Michael in 1851." Journal of the Kerry Archaeological and Historical Society 9 (1976): 90.) The text from Chatterton may be read in its entirety here.
Harbison explains Windele’s remarks about Skellig Michael’s pagan use for dragon worship: "Why, Windele argues, would Christians have ever adopted such a place if they had not the motive of alienating the minds of the people from pagan causes of pilgrimage? Any such attraction could not have been left to pagans, and he finishes up by speculating about how the pagans handed it over to the Christians." According to Harbison, Wendele was apparently influenced by an 1834 article in Archoeologia, "Observations on Dracontia."
40Cambrensis, Giraldus. The Topography of Ireland. (originally written in 1187) in The Historical Works of Giraldus Cambrensis, Thomas Wright, ed. London: George Bell and Sons, 1882. 134.
According to Bourke, Hayden, and Lynch: "Giraldus Cambrensis’s account of the site is not particularly informative. He does not name Skellig Michael, but describes how a hollow stone situated outside a church miraculously produces wine for the celebration of the Eucharist each day. This miracle occurs ‘in the south of Munster near Cork’ on a ‘certain island which has within it a church of Saint Michael, revered for its true holiness since ancient times’ (O’Meara 1982, 80). Despite the dubious geography of the reference it is unlikely that any location other than Skellig Michael would fit the broader description; in addition, the miraculous tale recounted occurs in a later document, which definitely confirms Skellig Michael as the location." ((Bourke, Edward, Alan R. Hayden, Ann Lynch. Skellig Michael, Co. Kerry: the monastery and South Peak: Archaeological stratigraphic report: excavations 1986–2010. Rep. Dublin: Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government: Office of Public Works, 2008. 23.)
41Dunraven, Earl of. Notes on Irish Architecture, Volume 1. London: George Bell & Sons, 1875. 36.
Stokes (Dunraven’s editor) credits "Mr. W. M. Hennessy for the folk belief about birds, "found by him in a MS account by Thaddeus Moynihan, furnished to Edward Llhwyd.""
Smith reports the same folk belief derisively: "…but this seems to be the remains of some monkish legend; and many others of the fame kind are related of this place, with an account of which, I will not tire the reader’s patience.
The author tells of another island legend, that of "Eliza’s Corner," a spot so named in the 19th century, but now lost due to fallen rock:. "Eliza Callaghan, after whom the place was called, was a beautiful young woman who used to sit out at this corner for hours on end knitting in the sunshine. But was she a lighthouse daughter, much admired by the Portmagee men, or was she the mourning mother of the two children, Patrick and William Callaghan, who died in 1868 and 1869, aged two and three years, and who are buried in the mediaeval church ruin in the monastery?" (p. 60)
43S.M. "The Skelligs." Kerry Archaeological Magazine 2.11 (1913): 170-71.
Another article provides further detail: "Say that one Paddy Leary had dallied unduly before taking his mate: the party, holding a rope, would watch for his approach, and then divide, and half would go one way, the rest on the other side round their victim, to wind him in the rope. Meanwhile a song would be improvised, to the effect that ‘Paddy Leary is an old man and ought to be married,’ setting forth the merits and demerits of the accused, his worldly possessions, and the reasons why he ought to marry. This in rough rhyme would be chanted, and the doggerel sent round to the neighbours that they might sing and laugh him into matrimony." (Moutray Read, D.H. "Some Characteristics of Irish Folklore." Folklore 27.3 (1916): 265-67.)
John Windele described the Shrove Tuesday practice as a "kind of carnival:" "The approach of this period was heralded for weeks by the noisy and incessant announcement of Bays and Hawkers and Venders of Ballads through the streets of Printed lists for sale of ‘all the dashing young ladies and sporting young gentlemen’ who were to go together to Skellig on the above-mentioned Shrove Tuesday evening. The composition of these Skellig lists in doggerel rhyme was generally of the lowest character often scurrilous and abusive and at other times fulsomely laudatory…All these preparatory announcements were wound up on Shrove Tuesday evening by a tumultous procession or rather rushing through the streets of the whole bachelor population of the lanes and suburban ramifications, and a roaring. noisy and boisterous affair it always was, tattered but buxom wenches formed the larger proportion of these motley and excited gatherings." (Harbison, Peter. "John Windele’s Visit to Skellig Michael in 1851." Journal of the Kerry Archaeological and Historical Society 9 (1976): 140-42.)
The author concludes: "Skellig Lists…some of them containing up to forty verses – humorous, satirical, vicious – were common throughout Munster from Dingle to Cork for at least the past 140 years, but perhaps it is just as well that the custom has died out recently, or libel actions would be widespread."
45McKennitt, Loreena. "Skellig." The Book of Secrets. Quinlan Road Ltd., 2004. CD.
1Paterson, T. G. F. Country Cracks; Old Tales from the County of Armagh. Dundalk: W. Tempest, Dundalgan, 1939. Note, p. 44.
2Gribben, Arthur. "Táin Bó Cuailnge: A Place on the Map, A Place in the Mind." Western Folklore 49.3 (1990): 285
The author describes interviewing a native to the area when a British military helicopter came into sight just a few miles away above The Gap of the North. As the aircraft flew along toward the British garrison the local said that "the nationalist community could do with a modern Cuchulainn equipped with a bazooka. Clearly, he saw Cuchulainn as a symbol of resistance to the British presence in Northern Ireland."
3Killanin, Michael Morris, and Michael V. Duignan. The Shell Guide to Ireland. London: Ebury P. in Association with George Rainbird, 1967. 423.
4Collins, A.E.P., and B.C.S. Wilson. "The Slieve Gullion Cairns." Ulster Journal of Archaeology Third 26 (1963): 35.
The large destroyed cairn on Slieve Donard (852 m or 2,796 ft) in the Mourne Mountains of Co. Down probably contained a passage grave.
5Brooke, Charlotte. Reliques of Irish Poetry: Consisting of Heroic Poems, Odes, Elegies, and Songs, Translated into English Verse: with Notes Explanatory and Historical; and the Originals in the Irish Character. To Which Is Subjoined an Irish Tale. By Miss Brooke. [Dublin]: George Bonham, Printer, South Great George’s-Street, Dublin, 1789. 88.
"During excavations in 1961 it was discovered that the burial deposits had been badly disturbed by treasure-seekers…"
(Cunningham, Noreen, and Pat McGinn. The Gap of the North: the Archaeology & Folklore of Armagh, Down, Louth, and Monaghan. Dublin: O’Brien, 2001. 41-43.)
6Ross, Anne. "The Divine Hag of the Pagan Celts." The Witch Figure. Ed. Venetia Newhall. London and Boston: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1978. 155-56.
7Gregory, Isabell Augusta (Persse). Gods and Fighting Men. London: J. Murray, 1904. 306-09.
This book may be read in its entirety here.
This story is not one of the earlier elements of the Fenian Cycle; it is likely of late medieval origin. However Fionn’s ability to use his magical powers to recover treasure is mentioned in an eighth century text. In another version of this story the antidote, in addition to restoring Fionn’s youth, also gives him wisdom. (Ó hÓgáin, Dáithí. Fionn Mac Cumhaill: Images of the Gaelic Hero. Dublin: Gill and Macmillan, 1988. 23, 134.)
8MacCana, Proinsias. Celtic Mythology. London: Hamlyn, 1970. 111.
Ó hÓgáin lists three basic late medieval sources for Fionn: Acallamh na Senorach (the Colloquy of the Old Men) was written around 1175, but is best known from an early thirteenth century copy. More material was added in the thirteenth century, in which Oisin is the narrator. A second source is the body of narrative poems about the Fianna written from the twelfth to the fifteenth centuries. The third source is Feis Tighe Chondin (the Feast at Conan’s House), written around the fifteenth century. (Ó hÓgáin, Dáithí. Fionn Mac Cumhaill: Images of the Gaelic Hero. Dublin: Gill and Macmillan, 1988. 114-15.)
9Murphy, Gerard. The Ossianic Lore and Romantic Tales of Medieval Ireland. Dublin: Three Candles, 1961. 5.
10Zucchelli, Christine. Stones of Adoration Sacred Stones and Mystic Megaliths of Ireland. Doughcloyne, Wilton, Cork: Collins, 2007. 53.
11Ó hÓgáin, Dáithí. Fionn Mac Cumhaill: Images of the Gaelic Hero. Dublin: Gill and Macmillan, 1988. 12-13.
When Fionn was grown he avenged the death of his father by challenging his grandfather to “single combat,” or demanding compensation. The grandfather surrendered his fortress (Aimhu) to Fionn, who used it for his principal residence thereafter.
12Ó hÓgáin 22.
13Ó hÓgáin 3-4.
The action of Fionn is sometimes described as "biting" rather than "sucking" the thumb to gain his special knowledge.
According to Ó hÓgáin (p. 52), "The magical knowledge of seers and poets was known as fios, which is the root used to designate Fionn’s gift, as well as to describe his celebrated ‘thumb of knowledge.’"
14Ó hÓgáin 52-3.
15Ó hÓgáin 9.
16Ó hÓgáin 104-05.
The list of feats required of a warrior who wished to join the Fianna included a number of elements. Nine warriors would together toss their spears at the candidate while he was in a hole in the ground up to his waist, with only a hazel rod for defense. If he suffered any wound, he was disqualified. While running through the woods with braided hair, if a branch of wood disturbed his braid he could not be accepted. If, while running, he found a thorn in his foot he must be able to draw it out without slackening his pace. In addition, he had to memorize “the twelve books of poetry.”
17Ó hÓgáin 34.
The Church denounced these groups of “pagan brigands” as outlaws and “desperate men who preyed on society and who organised themselves into groups in order to pursue their purposes."
18Ross, Neil. Heroic Poetry from the Book of the Dean of Lismore. Edinburgh: Oliver & Boyd for the Scottish Gaelic Texts Society, 1939.190-92.
Cited in Ó hÓgáin 34.
19Ó hÓgáin 120.
Cited as "Zeitschrift für celtische Philologie, 3, 453. Celtica, 8, 72."
21"The Cairn on Slieve Gullion." Journal of the County Louth Archaeological Society 5.3 (1923): 165. Extracted from Statistical Survey of Co. Armagh, by Sir Charles Coote, 1804.
24Collins, A.E.P. "The Slieve Gullion Passage-Grave Cairn." Journal of the Armagh Diocesan Historical Society 5.1 (1969): 180-82.
25Waddell, John. The Prehistoric Archaeology of Ireland. Bray: Wordwell, 2005. 77.
26Collins 31, 33.
In all, 172 pottery sherds were collected in the north tomb. Most were tiny crumbs, but the few base sherds had outer pot surfaces with continuous decoration. These may be seen here in a drawing by the excavators.
From p. 31: “Often I started up the mountain to see the lake but I cud never head the whole road I wus so afeared for ye know a wedding party went into the Cally Berry’s house once, and they were turned to stone. Her house goes down an’ down, an’ in the bottom chamber sits Cally Berry herself till this very day. Ay, and will, to the end of time. But where Finn is I know not, or if I do I disremember.”
The text of this quotation has been altered to eliminate some of the author’s pidgin-Irish-English renderings of dialogue.
29Ó hÓgáin 108-09.
30Ó hÓgáin 316.
31Ó hÓgáin 315.
32In 1999 former "Riverdance" lead Tony Kemp portrayed Fionn in "Dancing on Dangerous Ground,” a modernized version of "The Pursuit of Diarmuid and Grainne." A punk-rock musical “Finn McCool” debuted in 2010 in Washington, D.C. at the Capitol Fringe Festival. There is a band named “Finn McCool." And there are many local examples of “Finn McCool’s Irish Pub.
33Ó hÓgáin 322.
St. Patrick’s Chair and Well
1Murray, Margaret A. The Witch-Cult in Western Europe. Oxford UP, 1921. 22.
2"Archaeological Study| Millennium Forest Location." Millennium Forests Ireland. Web. 06 Mar. 2011. <http://www.millenniumforests.com/location_archfav.html>.
3The meaning of the term “places of power” can change according to the context and the communication intended. The term has even proven useful to agencies considering the cultural value, and potential landmark status, of sites in the United States. According to individuals involved in such deliberations, a good source for a discussion of the animistic beliefs underlying the term would be Malinowski, Bronislaw, and Robert Redfield. Magic, Science and Religion: and Other Essays. Boston: Beacon, 1948. A website promoting a series of books dealing with specific “Places of Power” in different countries, including Ireland, can be found here.
4Altadavan Forest Walk. 19 June 2010. Information sign at the site. Altadavan Glen.
5"County Tyrone – Selected Monuments." Irish Megaliths: Field Guide & Photographs by Anthony Weir. Web. 06 Mar. 2011. <http://www.irishmegaliths.org.uk/tyrone.htm>.
6Livius, T. "The Glen of Altavadan." The Irish Ecclesiastical Record, 4th Series, V. 3 (1898). 220.
7"St. Patrick’s Chair and Well." The Megalithic Portal, and Megalith Map. Web. 06 Mar. 2011. <http://www.megalithic.co.uk/article.php?sid=6333353>.
8The Blackwater Region Heritage Guide. Web. 06 Mar. 2011. <http://www.visitblackwaterregion.com/HeritageGuide.pdf>.
9Bonwick, James. Irish Druids and Old Irish Religions. London: S. Low, Marston & C., 1894. 12-13.
11Carleton, William. Traits and Stories of the Irish Peasantry. Vol. III. New York: P. F. Collier, 1881. 686.
1Bland, F.C. "Description of a Remarkable Building, on the North Side of Kenmare River, Commonly Called Staigue Fort." The Transactions of the Royal Irish Academy 14 (1825): 17.
The author began with, "It stands upon a hill comparatively low, between four and five hundred feet above the level of the sea, in a kind of basin or rather amphitheatre of lofty mountains; open to the sea on the south, with a gradual descent to it, and distant about a mile and a half from the coast. When the appearance of the country, which is barren and uninviting, is considered, it must create surprise…" The "lost and bewildered…" phrase in the quotation is from a popular eighteenth-century play entitled Cato a Tragedy, by Joseph Addison.
Bland, who was an author of scriptural commentaries, was described in a biography as "…devoting himself in part to the management of the estate, which, under his care, emerged from the barbarism in which many parts of Ireland were sunk at the time of the potato famine, and in part to the amusements and hospitalities of an Irish country gentleman in a county as noted then for its social pleasures as it is famous at all times for its extraordinary natural beauties. A man of commanding presence and charming address, Mr. Bland was a special favourite with his fellows, and among the tenantry his word was law. Throughout the estate, indeed, his rule was a ‘benevolent despotism.’"
3Harding, James D. Picturesque Views of the Antiquities of Ireland. From the Sketches of Robert O’Callaghan Newenham, Esq. 2 vols. London: Thomas and William Boone, 1830.
The authors claim that Bland, the owner of the property, "…with a laudable zeal and good taste, has preserved this singular and interesting structure…" This might indicate that some restoration had occurred. Archaeologist Peter Harbison indicated that was the case in his 1992 Guide to the National and Historic Monuments of Ireland. However Harbison partially retracted that interpretation in a 2006 journal article. (Harbison, Peter. "An Architectural Enigma." Irish Arts Review 23.3 (2006): 100-01.)
4Harbison, Peter. Guide to the National and Historic Monuments of Ireland. Dublin: Gill and Macmillan, 1992. 185.
In a later publication Harbison concludes, "it is now widely accepted that it probably belongs to the early centuries of Christianity in Ireland."
(Harbison, Peter. "An Architectural Enigma." Irish Arts Review 23.3 (2006): 100-01.
5Westropp, T.J. "Ancient Forts of Ireland: Part II – The Kerry Coast." The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland 27 (1897): 316.
Westropp also cites another local name for Staigue, Pounda-na-Staigue, indicating its use as an enclosure for cattle, a cattle-pound. (Westropp, Thomas Johnson. The Ancient Forts of Ireland: Being a Contribution towards Our Knowledge of Their Types, Affinities, and Structural Features. Dublin: Printed at the University, by Ponsonby and Weldick, 1902. 60-63.)
6Harbison, Peter. "An Architectural Enigma." Irish Arts Review 23.3 (2006): 100-01.
The author states, "The various etymologies suggested for the word Staigue do not tell us anything about the fort’s origins, though we do know that it was used as a cattle·pound in the 18th century. Even local folklore enlightens us little, and all that John Windele was able to glean in 1848 was that the fort was once occupied by a stranger named Ruanoch, the ‘Brown Shuler’, who so tyrannised the natives that they rebelled and killed him. Was Staigue, then, a barracks, or the home of some affluent farmer or tourist/intruder some fifteen hundred years ago, or could it even have been built as a protective hostel for pilgrims on their way to and from Skellig Michael? Who knows? Like Chesterton’s donkey, it keeps its secret still, and its very mystery will doubtless help to fuel speculation and discussion about it for many generations to come."
This speculation about Staigue continues with modern authors. In Secret Sights: Unknown Celtic Ireland, (2003) author Rob Vance writes, "It may have been used for ritual, as their god, Bolg (the god of lightning) was venerated during storms and the fort would have been a suitable amphitheatre for such observations…"
7General Charles Vallancey came to Ireland c. 1770 to work in the military survey, and made the country his adopted home. He was fascinated by the history, philology, and antiquities of the country at a time when such studies in Ireland were not fashionable. He published a number of books with theories regarding the non-native origin of Irish prehistoric monuments, theories later judged to be fanciful and without foundation. Although he never himself visited Staigue, he sent William Byers, his assistant on the Military Survey of Ireland, there to do the first known drawing of it in 1787. This is included in the gallery on the page. (Harbison, Peter. "An Architectural Enigma." Irish Arts Review 23.3 (2006): 100-01.)
8Vallancey, Charles. An Account of the Ancient Stone Amphitheatre Lately Discovered in the County of Kerry, with Fragments of Irish History Related Thereto, etc. etc. etc. Dublin: Graisberry and Campbell, 1812.This pamphlet may be read in its entirety here.
Most of Vallancey’s
pamphlet was devoted to his theories regarding the non-Irish origin of the builders of the monument. From p. 2: "Before I enter into further description, it appears necessary for the information of the reader, to say something of the ancient inhabitants of Ireland, who were all Scuthae:, as stiled by the Greeks, but of very different stocks. One, rude, ignorant, and unlettered; the other, a polished and lettered people since the invention of letters." From pp. 56-57: "I do not aver…that there never was a Druid in Ireland: when they and the Bards were expelled by the Britons, a few may have secreted themselves in this country; but I mean to aver, that Druidism was not the established religion of the pagan Irish, but Budhism." Vallancey was not alone in his generation of antiquarians in harboring a prejudice that regarded the native Irish as unsuitable candidates for the construction of the great monuments of prehistoric Ireland.
Regarding his evidence that the builders of the fort may have been ancient miners, Bland writes, " I have been led into this conjecture from the circumstance of there being two excavations made into the solid rock, obviously attempts in quest of ore, in the neighbourhood of this fort; both of them executed before the art of mining was understood. One of these…is sunk about eight feet into a rock of quartz, decidedly in search of ore, and is situated within a mile of [Staigue]. The other is within four hundred yards of it, and is an indentation made into a hard silicious rock…These attempts seem to have been made in the first and rudest period of the art of mining ; and most likely by the occupiers of this fort."
11The sign explains, "This is one of the largest and finest stone forts in Ireland and was probably built in the early centuries AD before Christianity came to Ireland. It must have been the home of a very wealthy landowner or chieftain who had a great need for security."
12Harbison, Peter. "An Architectural Enigma." Irish Arts Review 23.3 (2006): 100-01.
The author writes, "Comparisons with other Kerry stone forts indicate the likelihood that there would have been no more than two or three houses inside Staigue originally, accommodating scarcely enough people to necessitate the building of the ten sets of steps." However NUI-Galway archaeologist Michelle Comber writes,
"The stairs clearly reflect a need or desire for easy access to the top of the enclosing cashel wall. This is common at all large stone cashels along the western seaboard of Ireland. Accessing the wall-top may relate to defence and/or communications. The wall terraces would also have allowed the viewing of activities within the enclosure, if such occurred. A high-status settlement, like Staigue, would have been concerned with all of these – defence, control of communications, and social/political events that may have taken place within the cashel on occasion" (email, February 14, 2012)
13O’Shea, Paddy. "Underground Passages at Staigue Fort." Personal interview. 18 June 1979.
14O’Farrell, Jackie. "Bombardment near Staigue Fort." Personal interview. 18 June 1979.
In the same interview O’Farrell told of a visitor who was brave enough to spend the night alone in Staigue Fort. ""There were few people who would take a night’s sleep inside the fort. There was an artist once, a man not from these parts, who wanted to spend the night there. Everyone around here thought he was a brave man for doing that, to sleep there inside by night alone. That’s because when we were young, there were so much fairies put in our heads, that it was haunted, you know. But that was just handed down, it didn’t happen for real you see. That was just the entertainment, before they had television or radio."
In 1920 Lady Gregory was told by a miller that, "’…if anyone was to fall asleep within the liss [fort] himself, he would taken away and the spirits of some old warrior would be put in his place, and it’s he would know everything in the whole world."’ (Gregory, Augusta, and W. B. Yeats. Visions and Beliefs in the West of Ireland. New York and London: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1920. II, 211.)
15Croker, Thomas Crofton, and Sigerson Clifford. Legends of Kerry. Tralee, Ireland: Geraldine, 1972. 21-22.
"Fortunately it stands in a wild and desolated part of the country, where no gentleman or wealthy farmer has thought proper to settle; or, like all the ancient buildings of this country, there would not now have been left one stone upon another."
17In the decades following the publication of these books of engravings, some of them were unbound so that their pages might be sold separately as antique prints. Some engravings have been reprinted with color applied, sold as antique prints in some Irish bookstores. We have not seen the Newenham Staigue engraving in a colored version, but as an experiment, we created one ourselves. This may be seen here.
18Harding, James D. Picturesque Views of the Antiquities of Ireland. From the Sketches of Robert O’Callaghan Newenham. London: Thomas and William Boone, 1830. v.
1Geoffrey of Monmouth. The History of the Kings of Britain. Lewis Thorpe, trans. London: Peguin Books, 1966. 172-75.
2Loomis, Laura H. A. "Geoffrey of Monmouth and Stonehenge." PMLA 45.2 (1930): 400.
The story of the Irish origin of Stonehenge was repeated a generation after Geoffrey by Giraldus Cambrensis in his Topographia Hibernica (1187). Loomis adds, "Chroniclers repeated the tale and successive generations believed, to borrow Spenser’s wording, that they could ‘Th’eternall marks of treason… at Stonheng vew.’ (F. Q.,II, x, 66)." The earliest known mention of Stonehenge was by Henry of Huntingdon in 1130: ""Stanenges, where the stones of wonderful size have been erected after the manner of doorways, so that doorway appears to have been raised upon doorway; and no one can conceive how such great stones have been so raised aloft, or why they were built there." Thomas Arnold (ed.) Henrici Archidiaconi Huntendunensis Historia Anglorum. Rolls series, London: Longman & Trübner, 1879. 11-12.
3Grinsell, L. V. "The Legendary History and Folklore of Stonehenge." Folklore 87.1 (1976): 17.
Not a "survival" but a "revival" of the legend may be noted here, in a site promoting the novel Merlin Built Stonehenge.
According to Loomis, this story was first printed in 1724 and repeated in an 1821 publication. E. H. Wood (1924) thinks that it may have originated from a tale told to the author of the 1724 book, John Wood.
6 O’Donovan, John, Thomas O’Connor, P. (Patrick) O’Keeffe, and Michael Herity. Ordnance Survey Letters Letters Containing Information Relative to the Antiquities of the County of Kildare Collected during the Progress of the Ordnance Survey in 1837, 1838, and 1839. Dublin: Four Masters, 2002. 180-81 (orig. ms.).
7Burl, Aubrey. The Stone Circles of the British Isles. New Haven: Yale UP, 1976. 14.
9Chippindale, Christopher. Stonehenge Complete. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1983. 186.
10Wood-Martin, W.G., The Rude Stone Monuments of Ireland: Co. Sligo and Achill Island. Dublin: Hodges, Figges and Co., 1888. 130.
According to Loomis, "Geoffrey’s Historia implies or states the following more or less factual elements: (1) Stonehenge was a great stone circle called the Giants’ Dance; (2) it was used for a funerary monument though not originally erected for that purpose; (3) it was built of stones that were Stones of Worship, Mystici Lapides, (4) stones that were brought from afar; and (5) it was related in some way to the stone circles in Africa and Ireland. Since these statements or implications can now be shown to correspond to other megalithic legends or to certain facts known only in modern times in regard to megaliths in general and to Stonehenge in particular, it is evident that they could not have been invented by Geoffrey but must have been known to him through antecedent tradition." Loomis, Laura H. A. "Geoffrey of Monmouth and Stonehenge." PMLA 45.2 (1930): 401.
11Stukeley, William. Stonehenge, a Temple Restor’d to the British Druids. London: Printed for W. Innys and R. Manby, 1740. 12.
13"William Stukeley." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 17 Apr. 2011. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Stukeley>.
14Mortimer, Neil. Stukeley Illustrated: William Stukeley’s Rediscovery of Britain’s Ancient Sites. London: Green Magic, 2003. 11.
17Voss, Jerome A. "Antiquity Imagined: Cultural Values in Archaeological Folklore." Folklore 98.1 (1987): 82.
As Voss puts it, ".. the public mind, having been conditioned by generations of authorities to see Stonehenge as a temple of the Druids, could hardly be blamed if it were somewhat less agile than that of the professors in turning against the Druid image."
Before it was bequeathed to the state in 1918 the Stonehenge property went through a succession of private hands, last selling for £6,600 in 1915. For a 50-year period in the mid-seventeenth century Sir Lawrence Washington, an ancestor of the American president, owned the property.
20"Stonehenge Summer Solstice Tour 2011. Private Access." The Stonehenge Tour Company. Daily Sightseeing Tours From London. Web. 17 Apr. 2011. <http://www.stonehengetours.com/html/summer-solstice-tour.htm>.
21"Inigo Jones’ Stone-heng Restored." St John’s College. Web. 17 Apr. 2011. <http://www.joh.cam.ac.uk/library/special_collections/early_books/pix/stonehenge.htm>
Jones died in 1652. The book was published posthumously in 1655 by his assistant John Webb.
22Allcroft, A. H. "The Modernity of Stonehenge." Nineteenth Century 88.1 (1920): 678.
The 2010 Nova program (PBS), "The Secrets of Stonehenge," has information on more recent archaeological discoveries. It may be viewed online here.
24Ray, Benjamin C. "Stonehenge: A New Theory." History of Religions 26.3 (1987): 232.
29Hawkes, Jacquetta. "God in the Machine." Antiquity 41 (1967): 175.
As defined by Wikipedia, archaeoastronomy is "..[A] field with academic work of high quality at one end but uncontrolled speculation bordering on lunacy at the other."
35Hadingham, Evan. "Astronomy at Stonehenge?" Nova. Prod. David Levin. PBS. Nova Podcasts. 30 Sept. 2010. Web. 17 Apr. 2011. <http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/ancient/astronomy-stonehenge-au.html>.
36Michell, John. Megalithomania: Artists, Antiquarians, and Archaeologists at the Old Stone Monuments. Ithaca, NY: Cornell UP, 1982. 31.
37Wordsworth, William, Selincourt Ernest De, and Helen Darbishire. The Poetical Works of William Wordsworth. 2nd ed. Vol. 1. Oxford: Clarendon, 1952.
1MacNeill, Maire. The Festival of Lughnasa. London: Oxford University Press, 1962. 68-70.
The author explains, ""A remarkable feature of these Lughnasa celebrations is that so many survived into the nineteenth and twentieth centuries without having been taken over by Christianity. Of course they had shed all obvious connections with pagan rite and lived on as festive outings, as annual occasions for meetings, sports, dancing, courting, and faction-fighting."
2Swan, Leo, and Matthew Stout. Teltown: An Ancient Assembly Site in County Meath. Bray: Archaeology Ireland, 1998.
Archaeologist Michael Herity has identified Rath Airthir as the Tredua or triple rampart fort at Tailtú, as noted in the Metrical Dindshenchas: "The Tredua of Tailtiú, famed beyond all lands, where the Kings of Ireland used to fast that no disease might visit the land of Erin."
3"An Outstanding Meathman Dedicated to Uncovering the Past." Meath Chronicle. Web. 27 June 2012. <http://www.meathchronicle.ie/opinion/roundup/articles/2012/06/27/4011079-an-outstanding-meathman-dedicated-to-uncovering-the-past/>.
4Quinn, Billy, and Nigel Malcolm. "Teltown Impact Assessment." Eirgrid Northeast Projects. Moore Archaeological and Environmental Services Ltd., Oct. 2009. Web. 9 July 2012. <http://www.eirgridnortheastprojects.com/media/14.8%20Telltown%20Impact%20Assessment%20Report.pdf>.
Of the artificial lakes, O’Donovan wrote, "The tradition in the Country is that the loughs were formed by an old race of men called the Firvolg, but for what purpose they know not, unless it was for watering their cattle." O’Donovan noted that one of these lakes was known as "Dubh-Ioch," another use of "dubh," (black) which may have originated in the site’s connection to Crom Dubh, the "Black Crooked One," a pagan fertility god later demonized by Christianity.
5Ferguson, Samuel. "On Ancient Cemeteries at Rathcroghan and Elsewhere in Ireland (As Affecting the Question of the Site of the Cemetery at Taltin)." Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy. Polite Literature and Antiquities 1 (1879): 127-28.
6Morris, Henry. "Where Was Aonach Tailtean?" The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland Sixth 20.2 (1930): 113-29.
8The photograph of the "fairy bushes" at Teltown was made by Matty O’Brien’s daughter Nora, one of the 13 O’Brien siblings. Nora lives in Australia but was visiting her mother, then 88, at Teltown in 2012.
9O’Brien, Matthew. "Tradition in Ireland." Personal interview. 1 July 1979.
12Lughnasa is also the Irish word for the month of August. The Metrical Dindshenshas describe Tailtiu ‘s labor: "When the fair wood was cut down by her, roots and all, out of the ground, before the year’s end it became Bregmag, it became a plain blossoming with clover. Her heart burst in her body from the strain beneath her royal vest; not wholesome, truly, is a face like the coal, for the sake of woods or pride of timber." ("Metrical Dindshenchas, V. Four: Taltiu." Mystical Ireland: Mythology. Web. 9 July 2012. <http://www.mythicalireland.com/mythology/dindshenchas/taltiu.html>.)
13Downey, Clodagh. "The Life and Work of Cúán ua Lothcháin." Records of Meath Archaeological and Historical Society XIV.5588 (2008): 61-63.
14Ettlinger, Ellen. "The Association of Burials with Popular Assemblies, Fairs and Races in Ancient Ireland." Etudes Celtiques 6 (1952): 42-43.
Another source quotes the Annals of the Four Masters as dating the establishment of the Oenach Tailten to the "year of the world 3370." Subsequently it was reported occurring in "A.D. 539, 594, 715, 806, 825, 847, 855, 887, 894, 903, 914, 915, 925, 1001, 1004, 1006, 1120, & 1168." (Petrie, George. "Aspects of George Petrie. V. An Essay on Military Architecture in Ireland Previous to the English Invasion." Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy. Polite Literature and Antiquities 72 (1972 (read 1834): 236.)
According to D.A. Binchy, "…so far as the earlier historical period is concerned, other references in the annals…make it quite clear that the Fair of Tailtiu, far from being an invention of the pseudo-historians, was an ancient institution intimately connected with the Tara monarchy. The only question at issue is whether it had at any time the ‘nation-wide’ constitutional functions…" The author concludes: "Oenach Tailten, while undoubtedly the most important gathering of its kind in Ireland, had never been more than the principal fair of the Ui Neill confederation of dynasties and their vassal tribes.(Binchy, D.A. "The Fair of Tailtiu and the Feast of Tara." Ériu 18 (1958): 113-38.)
15Gwynn, Edward. The Metrical Dindshenchas: v. 4, Tailtiu. Dublin: Hodges, Figgis, 1913.
The Oenach Tailten, ostensibly pagan in origin, were acknowledged to have approval of the Church authorities. One story illustrates this well: "Of Saint Guaire it was said that he was the most generous man that ever lived in Erinn, and, also, it was said that it was never known of him to refuse anything within the bounds of possibility that anyone would ask. Once he went to the Fair of Tailtean, and a great bag of money with him to bestow on the men of Erinn. But Diarmuid, the King at that time, put the men of the country under geasa not to ask Saint Guaire for anything at the Fair.
Now, Tailtean (‘Teltown) in the County of Meath was, after Tara, one of the most celebrated spots in all Erinn. In the old Annals it is recorded that in the year of the world 8,870, in the reign of Lugh Lamhfada (Lugh of the Long Hand), the Fair of Tailtean was established in commemoration and in remembrance of his foster-mother, Tailte, the daughter of Maghmor, King of Spain, and the wife of Eochaidh, son of Ere, the last King of the Fir Bolgs. The great Fair continued down to the time of Roderick O’Connor, the last monarch of Ireland.
And, so, to this great Fair of Tailtean Saint Guaire went, and with him his bag of money. Up and down and in and out through the Fair he went, among the great crowds, and to his surprise not a man of all the men of Erinn that were there asked him for a penny piece.
Two days went over like that, and on the third day Saint Guaire went to the King and asked him to send for a Bishop for him, so that he might be shriven and anointed.
" What ails thee, then?" asked King Diarmuid.
" Death it is that is near me," said Saint Guaire.
" How do you know that?" asked the King.
" I know it well," said Saint Guaire, " for here are the men
of Ireland all gathered together and not one of them asking aught of me."
After that the King gave Saint Guaire permission to bestow alms, and it is said of him at that time that the hand with which he used to give to the poor was longer than the hand with which he gave to the poets. (O’Byrne, Cathal. "The Road of the Dishes." The Irish Monthly 64.758 (1936): 548-49.)
The author lists some of the "pagan rites" of the Lugnasa festival: "…a solemn cutting of the first of the corn of which an offering would be made to the deity by bringing it up to a high place and burying it; a meal of the new food and of bilberries of’ which everyone must partake; a sacrifice of a sacred bull, a feast of its flesh, with some ceremony involving its hide, and its replacement by a young bull; a ritual dance-play perhaps telling of a struggle for a goddess and a ritual fight; an installation of a head on top of the hill and a triumphing over it by an actor impersonating Lugh; Another play representing the confinement by Lugh of the monster blight or famine; a three-day celebration presided over by the brilliant young god or his human representative. Finally, a ceremony indicating that the interregnum was over, and the chief god was in his rightful place again." (p. 426)
18Allcroft, A. H. The Circle and the Cross a Study in Continuity. London: Macmillan, 1927. 20-21.
19Wilde, William Robert. The Beauties of the Boyne, and Its Tributary, the Blackwater. Dublin: James McGlashan, 1849. 149-155.
In 1168 the last ancient Teltown Fair was convened by the High King Rúaidhrí Ó Conchobhair after his inauguration in Dublin.
Folklorist Estyn Evans provides an 1845 account of Dublin’s infamous Donnybrook Fair: "During the week, beginning on the 26th August, is held the notorious Donnybrook Fair, professedly for the sale of horses and black cattle, but really for vulgar dissipation, and formerly for criminal outrage and the most revolting debauchery. It was for generations a perfect prodigy of moral horrors – a concentration of disgrace upon, not Ireland alone, but civilized Europe. It far surpassed all other fairs in the multitude and grossness of its disgusting incidents of vice; and, in general, it exhibited such continuous scenes of riot, bloodshed, debauchery, and brutality, as only the coarsest taste and the most hardened heart could witness without painful emotion.’ This was by day; ‘the orgies of the night may better be imagined than described." (Evans, E. Estyn. Irish Folk Ways. New York: Devin-Adair, 1957. 255-56.) The quotation is taken from The Parliamentary Gazetteer of 1845.
O’Donovan wrote, "They say that the Fair of Telton was transferred to Orestown, where it was held till thirty years ago. Orestown is set down in old Almanacks as a fair-town. The sports of Telton were transferred to Martry, opposite the Rath on the south side of the Blackwater River."
23O’Donovan, John, and Michael O’Flanagan. Letters Containing Information Relative to the Antiquities of the County of Meath, Collected during the Progress of the Ordnance Survey in 1836. Vol. 19. Bray, 1927. 12+.
O’Donovan wrote, "The narratives of Telton think that there was a great deal of fair play in this marriage, for which opinion Paley would condemn them as savages, and Milton would applaud them as men of sound ethical principles!"
Maire MacNeil makes it clear that O’Donovan, in explaining the folk memory of Teltown Marriages, considered them an element of the pagan Lughnasa celebrations and not a modern activity. (MacNeill, Maire. The Festival of Lughnasa. London: Oxford University Press, 1962. 317-18.)
Wood-Martin described the "Teltown Divorce" thusly: "…If a couple who had been married for a twelvemonth disagree, they returned to Teltown, to the centre of a fort styled Rathdoo, placed themselves back to back, one facing the north, the other south, and walked out of the fort a divided couple free to marry again. (What numbers would now take advantage of this simple ceremony were it but legally efficacious!)" (Wood-Martin, W. G. Traces of the Elder Faiths of Ireland. Vol. 2. London: Longmans, Green, & Co. 1902. 39.)
According to the report made in 2009 by Moore Archaeological and Environmental Services ,"… according to Cormac’s Glossary… a hillock there had the name of Tulach-na-Coibche, "the hill of the buying," where the bride-price was paid. All this is remembered in tradition to the present day: and the people of the place point out the spot where the marriages were performed, which they call "Marriage Hollow." (Quinn.)
In his report, O’Donovan identified the site by its Irish names, Cnocan a Chrainn or Tulach na Coibche. "Knockauns" is from the former term, meaning "the little hill of the tree" while the latter term suggests a word which in early Irish "varies in meaning from ‘a temporary bride’ to ‘a lady of easy virtue’." (Swan, Leo, and Matthew Stout. Teltown: An Ancient Assembly Site in County Meath. Bray: Archaeology Ireland, 1998.)
Trial marriages such as the Teltown Marriages, an imitation of a sanctioned wedding ceremony, may generically be termed "handfasting."
24Cullen, Paul. "Bulldozers Knock down Important Historical Site." Irish Times. 14 May 1997. Web. 10 July 2012. <http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/1997/0514/97051400015.html>. Read here.
From the excavation report: "The double-banked monument known as the Knockans at Teltown, County Meath, was partly destroyed in May 1997. Excavation (on behalf of the National Monuments Service) was undertaken there in 1997 (Excavations 1997, 143), and a second season, of nine weeks’ duration, took place in July and August 1998.
The focus of this excavation was the eastern side of the southern bank, in order to complete the recording of the archaeological layers exposed by machine in 1997. Excavation revealed that there was a much greater depth of deposit in the central organic core (the burnt deposit) of the monument than the 0.8m recorded in 1997. The core, buried beneath 1-2m of redeposited gley, was made up of layers of deposited silts with some large stones revetting their southern side. Over these, and on the northern side, were many lenticular deposits of silt with pointed stakes driven into them.
Because of machine destruction the relationship of the organic core to what appeared to be a ditch between the two banks was not resolved in 1997, the old ground surface not being clearly identified. Excavation of a greater depth of this organic core in 1998 clarified this issue and demonstrated that the banks were constructed without an intervening ditch, the gap between them containing a considerable depth of silts and clay resting on the original ground surface. Although it was not possible to complete the excavation of this year’s cutting to sterile ground across its entire length, it was possible to recover secure samples for dating and analysis from undisturbed contexts.
The reinstatement and grass planting of the northern bank was completed, but the final reshaping of the upper eastern slope of the southern bank was not finished as additional topsoil was required; the reconstruction of this small area will now have to wait until dryer weather in spring 1999.
Finds consisted of post-medieval pottery and modern material from the plough zone at the southern end of the southern bank. Flint and a fragment of bronze were recovered in the lower layers of the bank construction material, while fragments of leather, wood, a small amount of bone and one sherd of glass came from contexts within the organic core. John Waddell and Madeline O’Brien, Department of Archaeology, National University of Ireland, Galway."
26"Tailteann Games." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 07 Mar. 2012. Web. 10 July 2012. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tailteann_Games>.
A dystopian view of the modern Tailteann Games concludes, "As to historical correctness – the games were influenced more by the zeitgeist than academic excellence. Very similar to "recreations" of ancient life in 1930s Germany and Italy, more a crude caricature than a historic achievement. Pictures of mock castles and round towers at the entrance to Croke Park speak their own language. ("The Tailteann Games – An Olympic Event for the "Celtic Race"" About.com Ireland Travel. Web. 10 July 2012. <http://goireland.about.com/od/historyculture/qt/gg_tailteann.htm>.)
In 2012 there was an unsuccessful bid to have the Olympic Torch make a stop at Teltown prior to its arrival in London. Nora O’Brien, brought up alongside the Teltown Mound, wrote about the modern games in a blog posting.
1Sayers, Peig. Peig: the Autobiography of Peig Sayers of the Great Blasket Island. [Syracuse, N.Y.]: Syracuse UP, 1974. 13.
2"Peig Sayers." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 22 June 2011. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peig_Sayers>.
In his diary accounts of his collection session with the author, Seosamh Ó Dálaigh describes the scene at Sayers’ home as the seanchaí (storyteller) was about to begin: “When the visitors arrived (for all gathered to the Sayers house when Peig was there to listen to her from supper-time till midnight) the chairs were moved back and the circle increased. News was swapped, and the news often gave the lead for the night’s subject, death, fairies, weather, crops. All was grist to the mill, the sayings of the dead and the doings of the living, and Peig, as she warmed to her subject, would illustrate it richly from her repertoire of verse, proverb and story…” ("Peig Sayers (1873-1958)." Home. Web. 22 June 2011. <http://www.askaboutireland.ie/reading-room/history-heritage/folklore-of-ireland/Folklore-of-ireland/tellers-and-their-tales-i/peig-sayers-(1873-1958)/>.)
3Westropp, Thomas J. "Promontory Forts and Similar Structures in the County Kerry. Part IV. Corcaguiny (The Southern Shore) (Continued)." The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland 40.4 (1910): 265-66.
4Killanin, Michael Morris, and Michael V. Duignan. The Shell Guide to Ireland. London: Ebury P. in Association with George Rainbird, 1967. 265.
5Cuppage, Judith. Archaeological Survey of the Dingle Peninsula: a Description of the Field Antiquities of the Barony of Corca Dhuibhne from the Mesolithic Period to the 17th Century A.D. Ballyferriter: Oidhreacht Chorca Dhuibhne, 1986. 345-46.
According to the authors, "The name Tigh Mhoire, applied to the site in much of the literature, refers to a cabin located about 60m to NE."
6Ó Conchúir, Doncha. "Mor’s Ditch." Letter to the author. 30 Jan. 1981. MS.
Ó Conchúir wrote a comprehensive 1977 guidebook to the Dingle Peninsula and its monuments, Corcha Dhuibhne its Peoples and their Buildings.
7Ó Siochfhradha, Pádraig. Thirty Hundreds of Gree. Unpublished manuscript. Read in translation by Doncha Ó Conchúir, 22 July, 1980.
8De Mórdha, Mícheál. "Doncha Ó Conchúir21." Message to the author. 21 Dec. 2010. E-mail.
Mórdha is the director of the Blasket Island Heritage Center (Blascaod Centre) in Dún Chaoin.
10Curtin, Jeremiah. Hero-tales of Ireland. London: Macmillan and, 1894. xli – xliv.
From the text: "Mor was enormously bulky, and exerted herself to the utmost in climbing the mountain. At the top, certain necessities of nature came on her; as a result of relieving these, a number of deep gullies were made in Mount Eagle, in various directions. These serve to this day as water-courses; and torrents go through them to the ocean during rainfalls.
News was brought to Mor on the mountain that her sons had been enticed away to sea by magic and deceit. Left alone, all her power and property vanished; she withered, lost her strength, went mad, and then disappeared, no man knew whither. ‘All that she had came by the sea,’ as people say, ‘and went with the sea.’ She who had been disagreeable and proud to such a degree that her own husband had to leave her; the woman whose delight was in her children and her wealth, – became the most desolate person in Erin, childless, destitute, a famishing maniac that disappeared without a trace."
This book may be read in its entirety here.
11Ó Conchúir, Doncha. "Mor’s Ditch." Letter to the author. 30 Dec. 1980. MS.
12Ni Dhomhnaill, Nuala. "Traveling in Style : SURVIVAL OF THE IRISH : On Ireland’s Dingle Peninsula, the Landscape and the Language Are Revered, And You’ll Hear More Poetry Than Can Be Found in Most Books" Featured Articles From The Los Angeles Times. 05 Mar. 1995. Web. 23 June 2011. <http://articles.latimes.com/1995-03-05/magazine/tm-39910_1_dingle-peninsula>.
The author is an Irish-language poet and author of the collection The Astrakhan Cloak, with English translation by Paul Muldoon. A long poem in that volumn is entitled "The Voyage." Part 8 of that poem, "The Testimony of the People of Dunquin," contains a verse that echoes the theme of Mór’s loss of her children:
‘…There was a man and his wife living in this vicinity
one time who had two children, a boy and a girl.
The mother died and the father
and son would be out fishing every day
while the girl kept house.
They came home one day and there was no sign of her.
She’d disappeared without trace.
Years later they were out fishing
when a mist fell on them and once it cleared
they came upon an island where nothing had been before.
There was the daughter, who welcomed them warmly.’
‘She came home with them, but?’
‘I don’t think so. She had to stay put.’
Ní Dhomhnaill, Nuala, and Paul Muldoon. The Astrakhan Cloak. Winston-Salem, NC: Wake Forest UP, 1993. 89.
13Ní Dhomhnaill, Nuala, and Michael Hartnett. Selected Poems = Rogha Dánta. Dublin: Raven Arts, 1988. 33.
Tobernaveen Holed Stone
1Wood-Martin, W. G. Traces of the Elder Faiths of Ireland. Vol. 2. London: Longmans, Green, & Co. 1902. 228-29.
2Frazer, W. "On "Holed and Perforated Stones in Ireland." The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland Fifth 6.2 (1896): 165-66.
While modern sources state the height of the stone to be 2 m (6.6 ft), older writers such as Frazer and Petrie wrote of it as being up to a meter taller. It is unclear what would explain the discrepancy. Has the stone sunk into the waterlogged ground? Has the bog grown up at its base? Or has the top part of the stone been somehow removed?
3O’Donovan, John, Michael Herity, and David McGuinness. Ordnance Survey Letters, Sligo: Letters Relating to the Antiquities of the County of Sligo Containing Information Collected during the Progress of the Ordnance Survey in 1836 and 1837. Dublin: Fourmasters, 2010. 137.
Letter, to Lieut. Thomas A. Larcom, Superintendent of the Ordnance Survey, from George Petrie, head of the Survey’s Topographical Section, written from Rathcarrick, Co. Sligo, concerning his examination of sites of archaeological interest in the county, with particular reference to the ‘sepulchral circles’ and cromleacs at Carrowmore, Kilmacowen, Co. Sligo. 12 August 1837.
William Wakeman wrote of the Tobernaveen Stone, "Unquestionably some of the holed-stones are of doubtful character, inasmuch as they may be classified either as prehistoric, or belonging to an early period of Christianity. We may perhaps assign to one of the finest monuments of this class remaining in Ireland a degree of antiquity equal at least to that acknowledged to be possessed by the cromlechs, circles, and other megaliths of Carrowmore, immediately adjoining."
(Wakeman, William F., and John Cooke. Wakeman’s Handbook of Irish Antiquities. Dublin: Hodges, Figgis, 1903. 18-19.)
4Weir, Anthony. "County Sligo – Selected Monuments." Irish Megaliths: Field Guide & Photographs. Web. 15 June 2012. <http://www.irishmegaliths.org.uk/sligo.htm>
"Through this stone babies were passed to ward off the many infant maladies that for so many centuries afflicted Ireland with a child mortality greater than almost anywhere else in Europe."
5Hutton, Ronald. The Pagan Religions of the Ancient British Isles: Their Nature and Legacy. Oxford, UK: B. Blackwell, 1991. 294-95.
6Grinsell, Leslie V. Folklore of Prehistoric Sites in Britain. London: Newton Abbot, 1976. 16.
As an example of the medicinal efficacy associated with prehistoric tombs, Grinsell writes of "The activities of Dr. Toope of Marlborough (c. 1670) in concocting medicines from human bones dug up at the Sanctuary or barrows near it, and at the West Kennet long barrow in Wiltshire."
Author Thomas Keith describes this recourse to magic as being resorted to by earlier cultures "to explain misfortune and to mitigate its rigor." (Thomas, Keith. Religion and the Decline of Magic. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1971. 21.)
7The well which makes the trip to the stone so difficult, Tobar na bhFian (the Well of the Warriors) provided the ancient name of the townland, Tobernaveen. One blogger was aided in his trip to the stone by a villager who provided a plank to be deployed as a bridge.
Tullaghan Hill Holy Well
1Rattue, James. The Living Stream: Holy Wells in Historical Context. Woodbridge, Suffolk, UK: Boydell, 1995. 10-11.
The initial quotation is from Baker, R., "Holly Wells and Magical Waters in Surrey." 1985. 25.
2Wakeman, William F. M. "On Certain Wells Situate in the North-West of Ireland; With Remarks on the Occurrence of the Croix Grammée, or Swastica, as Found at St. Brigid’s Well, near Cliffony, Co. Sligo." The Journal of the Royal Historical and Archaeological Association of Ireland Fourth 5.44 (1880): 368-69.
3Farry, Michael. Killoran and Coolaney: a Local History. Trim, Co. Meath (33, Avondale Drive, Trim, Co. Meath): [Michael Farry], 1985. Read online: http://www.michaelfarry.com/files/killoran.pdf
The quote is from the Book of Ballymote, compiled in 1391.
6"The Holy Wells of Ireland." Library Ireland: Irish History and Culture. Web. 27 Apr. 2011. <http://www.libraryireland.com/HealyEssays/Wells2.php>.
7"The Holy Wells of Ireland."
Aligning with a different popular St. Patrick legend, the Tullaghan Hill well was thought to be the home of the last snake to live in Ireland. (Brenneman, Walter L., and Mary G. Brenneman. Crossing the Circle at the Holy Wells of Ireland. Charlottesville: University of Virginia, 1995. 83.)
8"Tullaghan." Ask About Ireland. Web. 27 Apr. 2011. <http://www.askaboutireland.ie/reading-room/environment-geography/physical-landscape/the-wakeman-drawings/tullaghan/>.
10Wilde, Lady Jane Francesca, and W. R. Wilde. Ancient Legends, Mystic Charms & Superstitions of Ireland: with Sketches of the Irish past. London: Chatto & Windus, 1902. 238-39.
12Evans, E. Estyn. Irish Folk Ways. New York: Devin-Adair, 1957. 264.
14"At the Hawk’s Well" Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 27 Apr. 2011. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/At_the_Hawk’s_Well>.
15Yeats, W. B.: "At the Hawk’s Well" Selected Plays. London: Penguin Books, 1997. 113-14.
Tullylin and Carns
1Wilde, Lady Jane Francesca, and W. R. Wilde. Ancient Legends, Mystic Charms & Superstitions of Ireland: with Sketches of the Irish past. London: Chatto & Windus, 1902. 142.
Lady Wilde made use of her husband’s field notes as the source of her renditions of Irish folklore. But, as
Maire McNeill put it, "She used them more romantically than critically." (MacNeill, Maire. The Festival of Lughnasa. London: Oxford University Press, 1962. 34.)
2"Our Lady of Carns." History Around You. Web. 18 June 2013. <http://resources.teachnet.ie/vmcmahon/history/carnsApp.htm>.
3"25th Anniversary of Sligo Apparition." 25th Anniversary of Sligo Apparition. Web. 18 June 2013. <http://www.cinews.ie/article.php?artid=7624>.
Remembering the event 25 years later, Mary McGuinness continued ""I think at that age, you would not expect to see what we saw but we are totally convinced about what we saw ad there is no doubt in our minds." She said that the majority of people who have heard their story believes them and "if there are some who don’t believe is that is their choice."
4"Thousands Flocked to West Sligo Site." The Sligo Champion. 31 Aug. 2005. Web. 18 June 2013. <http://www.independent.ie/regionals/sligochampion/news/thousands-flocked-to-west-sligo-site-27523139.html>.
5"Our Lady of Carns"
The text was taken from the booklet "Faith and Hope" which is available at the Carns shrine.
6"Our Lady of Carns."
7"It’s 26 Years since Carns Apparition." The Sligo Champion. 11 Aug. 2011. Web. 18 June 2013. <http://www.independent.ie/regionals/sligochampion/news/its-26-years-since-carns-apparition-27583659.html>.
8Clark, Sheila, Tony Hallinan, and Sheila Howley. "Tullylin Fairy Fort." Personal interview. 16 June 1999.
9Gregory, Augusta, and W. B. Yeats. Visions and Beliefs in the West of Ireland. Vol. 1. New York and London: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1920. iii.
10Grinsell, L.V. "Some Aspects of the Folklore of Prehistoric Monuments." Folk-lore 48 (1937): 248.
The author states that "…monuments erected during the Neolithic and Bronze Ages bespeak a very strong cult of the dead, so strong that it has even been said that the prehistoric races spent the best part of their lives erecting tombs for their dead, and it is almost only these tombs that have survived to the present day. It seems most likely that the cult in question was one of ancestor-worship."
11Evans-Wentz, W. Y. The Fairy-faith in Celtic Countries. London: H. Frowde, 1911.
Likely borrowing its name from the Evans-Wentz book, a modern neo-pagan tradition called "Faerie Faith" evolved in Atlanta in 1979 from the earlier work of Mark Roberts and Morgan McFarland in Texas. The Faerie Faith made use of poet Robert Graves’s idiosyncratic interpretation of the ogham alphabet to create a calendar. More here.
12Scott, Sir Walter. "Songs of the White Lady of Avenel" (1820). The Poetical Works of Sir Walter Scott. London and New York: F. Warne &, 1882. 503.
This poem may be read in its entirety here.