Homesick Dreams and a Place to Stand

Years ago when I was living in France, I experienced a series of amazingly detailed dreams of West-Cork, mostly involving travels around the Beara peninsula, Schull or Glandore.  Although I knew where I was in the dream, the odd thing was that I kept ending up on side roads I didn’t recognise, following twisting botharín to sights and views… Read more »

What Irish Mythology Is Not

[I had a fascinating, if somewhat surreal, conversation about two weeks ago with someone (not Irish) asking me about elements of Irish mythology for a book he was writing. This is a summarised version of that discussion.] HIM: ‘So there’s no vampires in Irish mythology, then?’ ME: ‘No.’ HIM: ‘But what about Bram Stoker?’ ME:… Read more »

Magic Roads in Ireland

The Magic Hill up in Louth (or ‘The Angel’s Highway’ as it’s sometimes called) is one of a number of magic roads in Ireland where, if you park at the ‘bottom’ of the hill, turn of the engine and shift it out of gear, your car will actually run back uphill. Magic roads are, in fact,… Read more »

(Irish Folklore and Mythology): The Flight of the Outraged Corpses

Shournagh River at Fox’s Bridge near Courtbrack, Cork (David Hawgood) / CC BY-SA 2.0 The Flight of the Outraged Corpses The townland of Matehy is a pretty discreet and unimposing place but it has a surprisingly macabre story associated with its graveyard. Located to the north-west of Blarney, its focal point today consists of a… Read more »

(Irish Folklore) The Souls of Butterflies

Some elements of Irish folklore refer to butterflies as ‘souls of the dead’, making their way from the physical world into the Otherworld. You can actually see why this might occur. The transformation of the caterpillar into a butterfly provides a perfect model to explain the concept of changing states (i.e. from life to death) and… Read more »

Giggling Stones near Beara

MVI_0060 There really are few activities more fun than skimming stones with your kids. In Irish, to skim stones is ‘sciotar uisce a dheanamh’ which is where the anglicised word ‘skittering’ comes from (i.e. sciotar). What I really love about the Gaelic though, is that ‘sciotar‘ is also the word for ‘giggle’ or ‘titter’. In my head whenever I… Read more »