Culture & Reference
Dermot, Strongbow and the Invasion of Ireland
The Titanic and Ireland
The Vikings in Ireland
The Ancient Ogham language
Charles Stewart Parnell
IN THIS ISSUE
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NO BREXIT BREAKTHROUGH
Talks are continuing in an effort to resolve the main issue surrounding Brexit: the UK decision to leave the European Union.
One of the main problems with any deal is that the six counties in Ulster are still under UK rule. If Northern Ireland is to be dragged out of the EU along with Scotland and Wales then it will necessitate an actual physical border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland to the south. This is in direct contravention of the 'Good Friday Agreement' that saw the IRA ends its military campaign with the historic deal between Unionists and Nationalists.
In order to be removed from the EU 'customs union', (ie the economic trading element of their current membership of the EU), it will be necessary for some kind of border to exist.
Given that the DUP (Unionists), hold the balance of power in Westminster and are propping up the Government of British Prime Minister Theresa May it is very difficult to see how the UK can remain within the Customs Union while being outside of all of the other regulatory arrangements. The DUP of course, would be delighted to see a 'hard border' reintroduced in Ulster.
The proposed 'backstop' solution is that the six counties effectively remain within the Customs Union while the rest of the UK does not. This is unlikely to be accepted by hard-line Brexit Tories in Westminster or by the DUP in Ulster.
The stalemate continues.
MICHAEL D. HIGGINS RE-ELECTED IRISH PRESIDENT
In what will surely be remembered as one of the most anaemic and pointless elections in Irish political history Michael D. Higgins has retained his position as President of Ireland and will serve for a further seven years, despite originally saying that he would only serve one term of office. The largely ceremonial position of President was exposed during the campaign for what it clearly is: an exercise in futility and an utter waste of Irish taxpayers money.
Michael D. Higgins, President of Ireland
The main talking point of the entire affair occurred when candidate Peter Casey levelled some criticisms at Irish Travellers. Prior to his comments he had been propping up the bottom of the opinion polls but went on to achieve over 23% of the vote in the actual election, compared to nearly 56% for Higgins. The electoral turnout was just under 44%, displaying the dismal nature of both the entire event and the utter apathy of the Irish electorate.
HOUSE RENT IS NOW 30% HIGHER THAN BOOM YEARS
The continuing shortage of housing in Ireland has resulted in an incredible surge in the coast of renting. It costs more to rent a property now in Ireland than ever before with rents increasing for the twenty-fifth consecutive quarter. The increase in the last year alone has been 11.3% with the average cost of renting at 1334 Euro per month, and much higher in Dublin and other urban centers.
UFO SPOTTED HOVERING OVER KERRY
A British Airways trans-Atlantic flight was among several planes that reported seeing bright lights, UFOs, over County Kerry in the souther-western part of Ireland recently.
The BA flight crew enquired of Irish air traffic controllers if there were any military exercises occurring at that time. The pilot described a 'really bright light' that approached the aircraft before disappearing again at high speed.
The Irish Aviation Authority has opened a report on the sightings that were confirmed by two other aircraft at the time.
FIND YOUR NAME IN OUR
GALLERY OF IRISH COATS OF ARMS
'It looks like the war is turning against the Germans,' that's what the men said after Mammy read the paper last night.
They were talking in the firelight as Mammy blew out the lamp as soon as she finished reading in order to spare the paraffin oil. As always she stood up on a chair, put her hand sideways at the top of the globe and blew. It seemed very dark for a minute but when your eyes got used to the darkness you could see well enough by the flickering firelight.
Stories about the war were scarier in the dark but not as scary as ghost stories. As long as I can remember, Germany was always winning and they were able to run through other countries in a few weeks, isn't that very strange?
Or maybe James was right when he said 'Russia would stop them just like it stopped Napoleon.'
'Who the hell was Napoleon?' asked Jim,
'Or what has he to do with the war?'
'He was a French man who like Hitler thought he would take over the world. He was going great until he brought his army of over a million soldiers to Russia where most of them died with the cold. History repeats itself they say.'
'That was before the panzer car was invented, it would not happen now,' said Peter.
James was very old. He told me he was seventy-six years older than me and he remembered back to the eighteen sixties. Peter says that old man is doting half the time and not to give him any heed but he had good stories and he knew about the war.
'Your father, Larry, was a great orator' that's what James said. 'In nineteen eighteen after the British had executed the men of nineteen sixteen, the Sinn Fein party was formed to fight the general election. The party people at that time asked me and your father to write suitable speeches to convince everybody to take courage and vote out the British altogether.
All those standing were new people many of them were wanted by the police, indeed half of them were in jail, put there by the 'Sassenach'. When big meetings took place and they were very big, because the British had turned everyone against them with the 1916 executions, the speakers would be watched by the peelers and might be arrested or harassed some time later.
Many of them were arrested and held on some charge or other, just to keep them out of circulation until after the election. The peelers wouldn't dare step in while the crowd was there but a day or two later when all was quiet that's when they'd pounce. They were very sneaky that way.
After a while Sinn Fein got round this by sending their orators to other constituencies where they would not be recognized. Good speakers were scarce and the message had to be got to everybody in Ireland within a few weeks. This could only be done by orators speaking loud and clear to large crowds for up to an hour at a time to get the message across.
The whole idea was new. Only dreamer's thought of a free Ireland before this time and if Sinn Fein failed at this election while the people's blood was up they would never get the chance again. That's why speakers were prepared to go on the run in a strange part of the country and sleep in a different safe house every night.
O'Nael was involved in organizing this. His real name was William O'Neill but everybody called him O'Nael. He had a very fast pony and sidecar and on this he took your father on a three week speaking tour of Galway seeking votes for Kevin O'Higgins. He brought his little son Christy with him as well so that people would think they were local. They went the coach road through Ballinasloe. In Clonark they met the gentry, the Naghtens, taking the crown of the road and it went very hard on O'Nael to give way.
'Keep your cool William' Said Larry, 'After we win this election they will come to know
After the three weeks travelling through Galway the peelers were watching for them so they decided to come home by Ballyforan. A friend of theirs took the sidecar and child across the bridge together with a few of his own children, just to fool the watching peelers.
After dark the two men crossed by boat a mile downriver. From there locals led them through fields of rocks and ferns 'till they reached Fallons in Coolderry near Dysart where their sidecar and child and a great feed were waiting, served by Liza and Mariah. They stayed there for the night and came home very early the following morning, Election Day. They came through Drum to avoid the barracks in Bealnamulla.
Your father got off at Killians and came home the Mass path while O'Nael returned to Mounthussey. Later that day both men went to vote in Drum school as if they were there all the time.
Sinn Fein won the election and declared Ireland a free state and that's how we finally got rid of the British.
They still have the six counties but we will get them back as well, if not in my time, certainly in yours.'
'The Summer of '43' is one of sixty lyrical yarns from 'Original Irish Stories' by Pat Watson, Creagh, Bealnamulla, Athlone, Ireland. First published in May 2006.
Visit: https://goo.gl/nys6q9 or you can email the author here: email@example.com
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note: Eithne is pronounced 'ett-neh'. Balor is pronounced 'bal-ore'. Cian is pronounced 'keen'. 'Lugh' is pronounced 'loo'.
Eithne was the daughter of Balor of the Evil Eye, the King of the supernatural Fomorians. She was a fabulous beauty, sure to enchant any man who ever saw her. Yet her father was a formidable being, possessed of an evil eye that could fell entire armies when opened. Thus it was covered by seven cloaks, only to be revealed when Balor wished to cause mayhem.
Balor had imprisoned Eithne in a high tower on Tory Island so that she would never have a son, as it had been earlier prophesied that Balor himself would be slain by his very own grandson. She was locked away in the tower near to Balor's own castle so he could ensure that she never escaped. She was tended to by twelve other women who were instructed that no mention of a man was ever to be made to her and that she should in fact never even see a man!
Despite this instruction Eithne had long and powerful dreams where she envisioned the noble man that she might spend her life with, if only she could be free of her father. Eventually, events were to take a turn that would dramatically impact the life of Eithne.
Balor's greed in stealing a valuable cow called Glas Ghoibhneann caused Cian, a man of the Tuatha de Danann, to pursue the thief in search of the magical animal, an event that would have long-lasting consequences for Balor.
Cian was transported to Tory Island by the Druidess Birog, where he first laid his eyes on the beautiful Eithne, who in turn immediately recognized Cian from her many dreams. They became lovers, and escaped back to Ireland where their son Lugh was conceived.
Balor was outraged and became very fearful for his own safety. Such was his paranoia that he ordered that his grandson be killed. The evil Balor had the infant Lugh, one of a set of triplets, cast into the waves where the three souls were feared to be lost forever.
But fate intervened. The Druidess Birog, who had originally woven magic spells to bring Cian and Eithne together, cast another spell. Her magic brought Lugh out from the sea into the arms of his father Cian, saved.
Lugh was then fostered by Gavida, the Smith of the Tuatha de Danann and was taught all of the worldly and supernatural arts. His skill with a sword was so great and his reach so long and accurate that he acquired the name 'Lugh of the Long Arm'.
By the time Lugh became a grown man there was warfare afoot again in Ireland. Before the second battle of Moytura, Lugh had identified the special skill of all the leaders of the troops before going into battle, and was fearless.
It was at this moment that the ancient Prophesy that had haunted his family was fulfilled when Lugh killed his grandfather Balor. Balor had lifted his eye with the intention of poisoning all before him but was slain by Lugh with a slingshot that he had expertly fired into the Evil Eye, forcing the eye through the back of Balor's head, focusing its tremendous wrath for one final time on the advancing Fomorians to the rear, slaying countless numbers of them, ending the battle.
And so it was that the father of Eithne, Balor of the Evil Eye, was vanquished forever, unable to prevent the destiny of his daughter from prevailing, even by locking her away in a tower!
Read more amazing stories of Irish legends and mythology.
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