Folklore: Messing with the Past

I’ve always been a bit fascinated by the prehistoric structures around Aghabullogue (there’s an ancient bivallate ring fort to the south-west, sacred saint stone and of course the Ogham stones etc.). Although the prehistoric remnants there are quite cool, what I find particularly fascinating is the way that later communities of that region have actually interacted with them. In present day Ireland there’s, generally, a pretty decent respect… Read more »

Irish Folklore: Beware the Black Pig

The mythical ‘Black Pig’ features in many folklore stories through Ireland, a reflection of both the respect and fear in which this animal was held by our ancestors. In its most positive sense, the pig was prized for the taste of its meat and this is reflected in the many legends where mythological Gods and… Read more »

Irish Stories: Survival in Beara

  In 1602, Donal Cam (also known as The O’Sullivan Beara) was caught between a rock and a hard place.  In actual fact, he was caught between many rocks and many hard places, trapped as he was in the bleak valleys around Glenn Garbh (Glengarrif) on the Beara peninsula. Having played his hand and backing… Read more »

Folklore: Big Fairy, Small Fairy, Good Fairy, Bad Fairy!!

Yesterday afternoon, I had two fairy-related incidents within a few minutes of one other. The first – a somewhat laboured and exaggerated incident, I admit – was listening to Michael O’Súilleabháin’s traditional music piece “Sí Beag, Sí Mór” (Small Fairy, Big Fairy). Shortly afterwards, leaving the house for a reflective walk around the Wilton Bush, I… Read more »

Folklore: Sexuality in an Irish Graveyard

St Olann’s Cap is the name given to another station in the St Olann’s pattern (held on September 5th), located in the graveyard at Aghabullogue. Although the site where the graveyard is currently located was originally an important pre-Christian site (in other words, it existed pre-5th century) and records show two successive Church of Ireland churches located there… Read more »

Satire and ‘Practical’ Magic

According to legend, the Irish poet Cairbre was the original ‘inventor’ of satire.  This ancient narrative ‘The Second Battle of Moytura’ describes how, during a visit to Bres – the Formorian king of the Túatha Dé Danann – Cairbre was hosted in a miserly hut without any furniture or a fire in the hearth. As… Read more »

Folklore: A Great Leap of Faith

Down on the Beara peninsula in West Cork, if you look hard you’ll find this beautiful spot called ‘The Priest’s Leap’ (although you’ll have to try hard as it’s poorly signposted). According to local tradition, a priest on horseback was being chased across these mountain by English soldiers and, from this particular rock, his horse… Read more »

Folklore: Stone Confessions

Actually, I have a bit of a confession to make. I am not proud … But the truth is … I am a closet stone freak, a Dolmen nerd. Oh, yes! Stone circles, standing stones, cairns, barrows, hillforts. If I had my way, I’d be out there clambering all over them every weekend, grabbing photos,… Read more »