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  • Bathing Mystery at Lahinch October 21, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Bathing Mystery at Lahinch

    In 1892 Laurence Gomme gave a presidential address to the Folklore Society. Gomme was particularly interested in the parallels between British (by which was meant at this date British and Irish) folklore and the folklore of the ‘savages’. If he could snap some branches from the golden bough while proving that the Aborigines and the […]

    The Greater Irish Rattlesnake? October 14, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    The Greater Irish Rattlesnake?

    Irish children are brought up with the attractive lie that St Patrick drove all snakes from the country when he arrived in Ireland in the fifth century. Certainly there are no indigenous snakes in Ireland, but over the years small snake populations have been established; not least in the Irish boom when snakes became prestige […]

    Faking History on the Internet: Romans Invade Ireland October 3, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Ancient
    Faking History on the Internet: Romans Invade Ireland

    ***Thanks to Louis for help with this story*** The following is a parable about how history is written on the internet. Let’s imagine you have a web page and you want people to visit it. How could you get the history scoop of 2014? Well you could go and bribe some doctorate students, ask for […]

    Swallowed by a Whale? September 8, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Swallowed by a Whale?

    In the late twentieth century whales became cool. They appeared in Star Trek films, people bought cds and listened to whales talking to each other and, of course, undergraduates walked around campuses with ‘No Way Norway’ signs while talking earnestly about boycotting sushi bars. But whales are not only cool but massive and even if […]

    Thumb-Kissing Irish-Style August 30, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Thumb-Kissing Irish-Style

    Thumb kissing was the legal equivalent of crossing fingers in nineteenth-century Ireland. The witness is given the Bible, that as a good Catholic, should be a moment of high religious importance. But what would happen if you kissed say your thumb holding the book rather than the Bible itself? Well, it wouldn’t count would it! […]

    Searching for the Author of ‘Do Not Stand at My Grave’ August 17, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Searching for the Author of 'Do Not Stand at My Grave'

    ‘Do not stand at my grave and weep’ is one of the most quoted twentieth-century poems in English. It is not Auden or Elliot or Ted Hughes or Geoffrey Hill. It is what Orwell called ‘good bad poety': and Beach says this without any sense of judgement having listened obsessively to Abba all week. What […]

    Watch Out for the Fairies Among Us! August 13, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Watch Out for the Fairies Among Us!

    In the long struggle to get a handle on fairies there have been claims that ‘the good people’ were simply a human race, kept apart from the rest of us, in the bogs and the mountains of the west and north of Europe: Buchan, Jenner, MacRitchie and many, many others made this argument and it […]

    Irish Colony in Medieval Spain!? July 24, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    Irish Colony in Medieval Spain!?

    ***Thanks to Invisible for this piece*** Not every day brings with it really bizarre history, but here is a cracker. An American and a Galician scholar, respectively, James Duran and Martín Fernández Maceiras have gone on record as claiming that a mysterious fourteenth-century inscription on a north-western Spanish church (Betanzos, Galicia) is Irish. Now really […]

    Migration, Inundation… Top Scorers July 23, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Migration, Inundation... Top Scorers

    Migration – seasonal, circular, forced, permanent… – is as old as history. Folks from one community cross the river and go and live with folks on the other side. They work together, live together and eventually have children together. This stuff has been going on for tens of thousands of years. However, in modern times […]

    Nobs and Plebs in Irish Courts July 22, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Nobs and Plebs in Irish Courts

    Nineteenth-century Ireland was a rum place. The vast majority of the population was poor, Catholic and uneducated. The ruling, largely Protestant minority also described themselves as Irish: and many died and fought in the cause of Ireland. But the gulf of communication between these two worlds was immense and this was rarely so evident as […]

    African Ape in Iron Age Ireland? June 19, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Prehistoric
    African Ape in Iron Age Ireland?

    So here’s a teaser. The Barbary ape is an African primate whose only toehold on the European continent is at Gibraltar, where a tiny population has survived into modern times. How, then, did a Barbary Ape get to Co Armagh in Northern Ireland in the Iron Age? Archaeologists have waxed lyrical over the find of […]

    Slaughter Hounds in Celtic Ireland May 21, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    Slaughter Hounds in Celtic Ireland

    A recent story on the supposed archaeological discovery of shuck – [sorry can’t give links, wordpress playing up] – has set me thinking about large violent dogs in history, the way that ancient and medieval peoples used these animals and one particularly evil-sounding example: the Irish archu or slaughter hound. First, though, some background. Dogs, of […]

    Facts, Myths and Jean McConville May 8, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary
    Facts, Myths and Jean McConville

    The Jean McConville case is now history in as much as it took place over forty years ago: but it is living, bleeding history and in the last days it has landed an important Irish politician in the cells and rocked the peace process in the six counties. For non-British and non-Irish readers, who may […]

    A Pre-Christian Custom in Eighteenth-Century Scotland? April 26, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    A Pre-Christian Custom in Eighteenth-Century Scotland?

    A recent article on Chris’  Haunted Ohio Books quoted an eighteenth-century source for an unusual form of Scottish divination: the whole passage (from Martin Martin, obit 1718) is well worth reading, as is Chris’ thoughts on the same. But one bit particularly stood out: it relates to the Hebrides. The second way of consulting the […]

    Migrating Birds and the Edge of the World April 3, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval, Prehistoric
    Migrating Birds and the Edge of the World

    Year in year out birds follow migratory routes from north to south and from south to north. These travelling birds have long intrigued humans who have looked amazed as waves upon waves of birds fly to destinations unknown. These birds have entered human legend: the storks going to Africa to fight the pygmies, the wild […]

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