My somewhat quirky views as I gaze at the world around me!

Posts tagged ‘Irish people’



Years ago, as I anticipated my first trip to Ireland, I knew that I would enjoy the Emerald Isle.  After all, I’d been hearing about it, reading about it, studying all I could about Ireland for my entire life.  I remember saying to my daughter on our first day in Dublin (as we were crossing the O’Connell Bridge over the River Liffey, in fact) that I would come back and spend at least a week in Dublin itself, even if I had to come alone.  So, I was half in love with Dublin and Ireland already.  What a blessing to then meet the love of my life in Dublin, end up moving to Ireland, gaining Irish citizenship, and, hopefully, spending the rest of my life here!  Do you think it’s because St Valentine‘s remains are in a small church in the center of Dublin?

St Valentine is buried in a Dublin church! 

Believe it or not, but the mortal remains of St Valentine – the patron saint of all lovers – are held in the Carmelite Church in Dublin’s Whitefriar Street (Dublin 2). Every February 14 the church gets plenty of visitors – mostly couples wishing to receive St Valentine’s blessing or just take a photo in front of the saint’s tomb. So how did his body end up in Dublin? The legend goes that Valentine was a priest who lived in Rome at the time of Emperor Claudius II. The emperor thought that single men made the best warriors so he forbid his soldiers to marry, but Valentine had a different idea – and he continued to marry soldiers in spite of the emperor’s orders. When his superiors found out Valentine was thrown in jail, tortured and executed. He later became a patron saint of lovers. But in 1835 an Irish Carmelite priest Father John Spratt visited Rome. According to the legend, he was such a good preacher that Pope Gregory XVI decided to make Fr Spratt’s Church a gift of St Valentine’s body. So the remains of Valentine were dug up from the Roman Cemetery of St Hippolitus and transferred to Dublin’s Whitefriar Street Church in 1836.       THANK YOU!


And another bit……

Happy Lupercalia‘s Day!
Valentine’s Day derives from a Christianized version of a pagan holiday. Just as the Christians stole Christmas and Easter, from the pagans, they took this celebration from the Roman pagans.
If you do not adhere to Christology, then why would you want to celebrate to the name of a Catholic Saint who had nothing to do with the original festival?
The name “Valentine” comes from one of two Christian martyrs of the 3rd century. One describes a Roman Christian martyred during the persecution of Claudis II, the other, a bishop of Terni who got martyred in Rome. (Most Christian celebrations have a preoccupation with death and martyrdom.) There occurs several versions of the Christian legend but no one knows the truth for sure. Probably at least one of them did live and died, but we have little else to go on. But the celebration of giving notes and gifts to loved ones began long before the Christian version and no doubts exist about its historical practice.
In pre-Christian Rome, people celebrated “Valentine’s day” as Lupercalia, a Roman holiday that took place during the ides of February (the 15th). They believed that the goddess Juno Februata (where the name February comes from) inflicted her “love fever” on the young and unwary. The fertility festival of Lupercalia (in honor of the pastoral god Lupercus) involved an orgy and sexual excesses. Young men drew small “love notes” from a container composed by eligible young women. The men socialized with the women and attempted to guess who composed the note they had drawn. In this way, the festival brought young men and women together as sexual partners.
For years the Christian church tried to suppress the festival of Lupercalia. Interestingly, the Church did not object to the festival for its love celebrations but for the pagan beliefs that rejected the Christian god. In 496 C.E., Pope Gelasius changed Lupercalia from the 15th to the 14th and renamed it after the legendary St. Valentine in an attempt to stop the pagan celebration. Gelasius had hoped people would emulate the lives of saints. Even after the Church replaced Lupercus with St. Valentine and recast Cupid into a cherub, the Lupercalia festival continues much as it had before, but without the sexual excesses. The change of the name and the day of celebration serves as the only “contribution” that Christians brought to Valentine’s day.
To this day, men and women send love notes to each other. And in elementary schools across the country, children still put concealed notes or gifts in a box much as the ancient Romans did. So the idea of Valentine’s Day did not come from Christianity, but from the “heretic” Romans. Praise Juno!  THANK YOU…NO NAME ATTRIBUTED
So, if you come to Dublin, be sure to seek out the Whitefriars Chapel and be prepared to fall in love……………..
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It’s SPRING in Ireland!!!!!!


I love the Irish saints, especially the female ones.   They all seem to derive from pagan gods and goddesses. February 1st is St Brigid’s Day (or maybe Sunday is……’s Ireland, you know).  I’m reposting 3 articles from Irish that I really enjoyed reading and many thanks to the authors of them. The photo here is my St Brigid’s Cross that hangs on my kitchen wall.  It was made by a wonderful artist named Ciaran in Connemara. It is said to protect against kitchen fires and ensure harmony in the home.  Working very well so far!!!!

And February 3 is Saint Caoilfhinne’s Day ….very special to me as it is my daughter’s (Keelin) “saint’s day” and my Irish granny’s, Winifred Spellman Clark,  birthday (RIP).

St Brigid, a pagan goddess turned Christian saint in Ireland

\"SpringSpring in Ireland officially starts on St Brigid’s Day which is February the 1st in our calendar.Photo by: Wiki

Spring in Ireland officially starts on St Brigid’s Day which is February 1st in our calendar. However, this may not be accurate as this is a celebration that has its roots along way back in pre-Christian times, some 6,000 years ago actually when there was no written tradition.

Like many other cultures around the world female deities ruled supreme, the similarities between Egyptian mythology and Irish mythology being quite remarkable. For example, most people will be familiar with Egyptian ritual from “The Book of the Dead”, of Isis breathing life into the mummified corpse but many may not many know that the same scene is depicted in stone at the foot of a high cross in Ireland.

Similarly our Goddess had a sacred cow that suckled a king, the same as Queen Hatshepsut in Egypt. India, and many other cultures, rever the cow as a symbol of nurturing. In fact up until the 12th century children were baptized with milk in Ireland.

Fascinating or obvious, these ancient races relied on the land so it is no wonder they revered the female Goddesses that embodied and symbolized mother earth for them. She had to be appeased and celebrated to insure the fertility of the land, animals and people.

Celtic mythology holds that the chieftains slept with the goddesses in a mating ritual that crossed the boundaries of physical and metaphysical as these Goddesses could shape shift into birds and other mythical creatures. She could be ‘an old hag’ in human form standing at a crossroads, or the triple goddesses ‘Moriggan’ in the tale of the Tain or the ‘banshee’ in latter years foretelling death in a family.

Having infused tradition in Ireland with a mixture of reverence and fear, for thousands of years prior to Christianity creeping into Ireland, its highly understandable that our ancestors would have been a tad reluctant to banish her completely, which coincidentally is about the time she seems to have morphed into the Christian St Brigid we know about today? Although the signs were there from the start that this was no ordinary mortal woman?

Apparently or so the story goes and we Irish never let the truth get in the way of a good story, when St Brigid was trying to wrestle enough land on which to build her monastery in Kildare from the high king of Leinster, he said that she could have as much land as her cloak would cover. Where upon Brigid laid down her cloak and it magically spread out to cover several hundred acres….!

Beannachtaí na feile Bride

\"StSt Brigid is the female equivalent of St Patrick in Ireland, but there are no parades in her honor.Photo by: Wiki

St. Brigid is the female equivalent of St. Patrick in Ireland, but there are no parades in her honor, and apart from the St. Brigid’s Cross, her name is hardly known.

That really should change.

St. Brigid was a woman who was well ahead of her time. Born around 453, she was the daughter of a slave and a chieftain. Her feast day is celebrated on February 1.

She became one of the most-powerful women in Ireland. After refusing an arranged marriage, she went on to found many convents whose schools provided an education for thousands of young women who otherwise would have had none.

She was the lone female figure whose voice was heard in a male-dominated Church, but the stories of her good deeds and extraordinary acts ensured she was canonized well before most of her contemporaries.

She stands today as an example of an Irish woman who followed her heart and took on the powers-that-be in a male-dominated world. She was certainly a figure as extraordinary as Patrick himself.

Originally published 2011.

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The roots of St. Brigid and how to make her iconic cross (VIDEO)

Brendan Patrick Keane @irishcentral January 31,2011 03:30 AM


The St Brigid’s cross invokes the North Star and the pattern that the Big Dipper makes in the sky over the course off a year.Photo by: Photocall

Brighid means the “Exalted One” in Irish, and “the Woman” is a figure of intense power in Irish mythological and religious imagination.

February 1st or 2nd is a day claimed by Celtic seasonal thinkers, who called the holiday Imbolc to celebrate Bríd in the form of cailleach-becoming-maiden who collects kindling to make fire in the winter that will warm the spring and make her young again.

This holiday then is understood through the stories of the incredible Brighid. She was the inventor of the mourning songs called caoineadh “keening.” In the story, she keens to mourn the death of her son Ruadán and so invents the artform. Brighid’s is like the Tibetan ritual of ushering souls to nirvana in the Book of the Dead.

The Irish tradition of making crosses on Imbolc or Lá Fhéile Bhríde is remembered as a Christian ritual and has become that for most Irish people. The spiral of the Brighid cross invokes the North Star and the pattern that the Big Dipper makes in the sky over the course off a year. As the night sky turns around the North Star, the Big Dipper turns through the seasonal year like the hand of a clock.

Brigid is the fire-keeper of that flame of life that mothers tend to so that we don’t die in the winter, and so the lines of family are not broken by the trauma of the cold months. In the winter Brighid becomes the cailleach, the woman in agedness, and on Imbolc she collected the kindling of the fires that get her to the spring of regeneration.

Christian interpretation in Ireland makes Brighid into a nun, and children occupy themselves by taking bits of straw and weaving this potential-kindling into the shape of spiraling Brigid’s crosses.

Taking up the tradition in its many forms focuses the mind in the meditation of craft, and connects our winter minds mad at the cold to the great wheel that turns and is slowly bringing us into the spring of renewal.

Here’s a simple guide on how to make a traditional Brigid’s cross:

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The Ulster-American Folk Park, outside Omagh, Co.Tyrone, is a fascinating experience, portraying the lifestyles of Ulster men and women who lived in the area and emigrated to the United States in the early 1800s.  It is located on the grounds of the former Mellon Family farm, of Carnegie Mellon fame.  I loved the juxtaposition of the American farmstead rail fences with the Irish foliage.

Copy right 2013                                            Mary Jane E Clark

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On this Easter Monday, my thoughts go to the Easter Uprising of 1916, the main locale of which was the General Post Office  (GPO) on O’Connell Street in central Dublin.  Although it was ultimately unsuccessful, the execution (and martyrdom) of its leaders roused the sentiments of the general Irish populace to support independence from Britain.  This statue of Daniel O’Connell is at the bottom of O’Connell Street and commemorates the man who, in 1829, succeeded in the quest for Catholic Emancipation, ie Irish Catholics were granted the right to hold political office without swearing a Protestant Oath of Supremacy.

From “Easter 1916

William Butler Yeats

All changed, changed utterly

A terrible beauty is born

Copyright 2013                               Mary Jane E Clark



Banna Strand, on Tralee Bay in County Kerry, Ireland, is where the Irish patriot Sir Roger Casement was landed by submarine on April 21, 1916.  He had been promised 20,000 rifles by the German government to assist in what became known as The Easter Uprising.  Sadly, he was captured by the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) and the rifles were sunk offshore Cobh, in County Cork when the Aud Norge was scuttled after her capture.   Although the 1916 Uprising was not successful, the execution of its leaders by the British outraged the Irish and so garnered support for the rebels.  Irish Independence was declared in 1922.



This is the magical Newgrange Tumulus, a part of the Bru na Boinne (Palace of the Boyne).  It’s a Stone Age necropolis built around 3200 B.C., 600 years earlier than the Pyramids at Giza and 1,000 years before Stonehenge.  As well as being a final resting place for the ancient kings, it is also thought to have been a center for rituals.  The alignment of the tomb with the rays of the rising sun on the winter solstice indicate a deeper, astronomical/astrological purpose……………no one is sure.  The white quartzite exterior is NOT  a recent addition and the stones were quarried on County Wicklow, over 70 km away, during a time predating the horse, cart and even wheel.   The Stone Age people of Ireland in no way resembled the Flintstones!

Click on the highlighted words for more information and on the photo for a larger image.

Copyright 2012                      Mary Jane E Clark


Ireland is a land of Festivals!  One of the most popular ones is the annual Moynalty Steam Threshing,  held on a Sunday in   August.  This year, the weather held for most of the day (it only drizzled a bit) and there were over 10,000 visitors.  As well as being able to see wheat being threshed by scythe-wielding men on horse drawn wagons there were wonderful demonstrations of gone-by Irish farming techniques.  This photo shows the “old fashioned” way of loading the grain into the steam powered threshing machine.  There is a lovely museum of antique farm machines and implements as well as outdoor kitchens set up to prepare traditional Irish foods such as boxty, soda bread, pancakes, etc as well as sausages, burgers and hot dogs.  The attractions ran the gamut from watching a pig roasting on a spit, listening to one of 4 or 5 musicians, taking a raffle on a bull calf (no, I didn’t win him!), looking at or buying everything from flowers and plants to home baked cakes and jams,  rides, horseshoeing demonstrations, and so on.

As you can probably tell, I love living in my adopted home village of Moynalty, County Meath Ireland!  There’s always something new to discover.


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