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  • Medieval Whaling Account from Ireland? June 19, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Medieval Whaling Account from Ireland?

    Beach was very excited to find this reference yesterday from the works of al-`Udhri an eleventh-century Arab writer in Spain (thanks to Caitlin Green). Al-‘Uhdri was quoted by another author (al-Qazwini) in the thirteenth-century. This passage allegedly shows a glimpse of Ireland through Arab eyes. The Norsemen have no capital in all the world save […]

    The Baby and the Fairy Bush June 17, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Baby and the Fairy Bush

    This is a heartbreaking notice from one of the Irish papers, 1862. First a little background. The Irish countryside had literally hundreds of ‘fairy trees’ (particularly thorns) and ‘fairy bushes’, which were associated with ‘the good people’: one such Fairy Bush appears here, though Beach has found no trace of it in other records. Second, […]

    Irish Horse Whispering in Co. Cork May 26, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Irish Horse Whispering in Co. Cork

    A lovely story from New Market in Co Cork in the wild west of Ireland and another episode from the series on horse charming. Not least interesting is the fact that this seems to be the origin of the modern phrase ‘horse whispering’. Among the curiosities of this district [New Market, 1810] may be properly included […]

    Irish Phoenix (1897)? May 20, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Irish Phoenix (1897)?

    Beach likes to think that he presents an interesting series of monsters to the international anomalist, folklore horror and ghost community. But he has one regret. In largely limiting himself to British and Irish newspapers the range of fauna is often fairly modest, certainly when compared to the marvelous stuff that appears in some American […]

    Neither Ghosts, Nor Bogeys, Nor Heat, Nor Gloom: Postoffice Workers and the Paranormal May 18, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Neither Ghosts, Nor Bogeys, Nor Heat, Nor Gloom: Postoffice Workers and the Paranormal

    Beach came across this reference to postal messengers being delayed the inference being that this was because of a fear of Derbyshire bogeys: we are near the ivy-covered village of Longnor in the deep Peaks (UK 1874). For the guidance of our friends and neighbours we learn that our post-messenger will for the future be […]

    Black Rock Knocking Ghost December 15, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Black Rock Knocking Ghost

    Lots of ghosts knock, but this one was monotonous in technique and timetable. We are in Black Rock just outside Dublin. During the last four or five weeks, the residents in Blackrock have been kept state of excitement the constant nocturnal visitations of a rival of the ancient spectral denizen of Cock Lane. The place […]

    Fairy Human Relations: Dangerous Reflections October 29, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Fairy Human Relations: Dangerous Reflections

    ***Dedicated to Chris with question marks*** There is a modern idea that fairies are the spirit of vegetation, the spirits of the land. Human beings, meanwhile, are their polluting, urbanizing neighbours. The two represent, respectively, the forces of life and entropy and are on a permanent collision course. Traditional views of European fairies were rather […]

    The Smith’s Ghosts October 24, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Smith's Ghosts

    This account from 1838 is interesting in combining obituary and folk story. We are in the deep, dark Irish west. Blacksmiths are always slightly tainted figures in traditional societies, muttering charms to the ferrous lumps on their forges. On Friday, the 7th instant, the remains of Patrick Cormack, a blacksmith, were borne through Nenagh, from […]

    Ghost Pills! October 6, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Ghost Pills!

    How do you get rid of supernatural worries: call the priest, the alienist or the local bobby? Why no, you buy a tube of nineteenth-century vitamin pill, of course! This at least was the solution offered by one Irish newspaper in 1840. The belief in supernatural appearances has generally prevailed during the superstitious ages has […]

    Last Magic Spell Cast in Battle? September 6, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Last Magic Spell Cast in Battle?

    For many years this blog has run a weird wars tag, some of the most bizarre story from humanities adventures on the battlefield. Beach has recently got a sniff of one story that has greatly excited him, but he can’t track down the details. He throws open the problem to readers hoping that someone will […]

    British and Irish Wild Men August 9, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    British and Irish Wild Men

    There follow nineteenth-century reports of wild men from Britain and Ireland: can anyone add to the list, drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com (fiction is good too) 1851: Co Limerick (Ireland), a rumour was doing the rounds that a wild man with no clothes lived in the wood there. He had been carrying off and killing […]

    The Tower Monster #6: Shoe Polish Devil at the Tower July 20, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Tower Monster #6: Shoe Polish Devil at the Tower

    This poem appears as part of the Tower Ghost series. It appeared in an Irish paper in 1825 and was an advert for Warren’s shoe Blacking! Beach includes it because it looks very much like an outer ripple from the events of 1816. The problem is the story, which has escaped this careful reader. A […]

    Ghost Cars July 13, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Ghost Cars

    There is lots of interesting burbling about technology and ghosts. How long does it need for a new technology to become hauntable? When will the first call centres or internet hubs get their poltergeists? To us today that wonderful Dickens story ‘The Signal Man’ is a straightforward ghost tale. But part of its daring back in […]

    Irish Sheep Boy June 18, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Irish Sheep Boy

    Many years ago Beach ran a post on an Irish cow man, which seemed to have come out of a ‘Celtic’ wonder tale. What though about the Irish sheep boy, reported by the Dutch doctor Nicholas Tulp (pictured) (obit 1674)? The sheep boy had somehow ended up in Amsterdam. Note that in what follows Beach […]

    The Longest Snake in the World June 16, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    The Longest Snake in the World

    British newspapers gave a couple of acres of space between 1800 and 2000 to ‘monster snakes’ discovered in this or that corner of the Green & Pleasant land. Typically a vicar in Devon had found an adder that measured two and a half feet long… However, leaving the shores of Britain behind there were better […]

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