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  • Buying Flying Rocs and Sailing Ships December 15, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Buying Flying Rocs and Sailing Ships

    There is always a joy in imagining yourself in those fabulous nineteenth-century pantomime production where glitz, technology and spectacle came together and left audiences in London, New York, Chicago and Manchester speechless. It is only rarely though that we get to look behind the magician’s curtain, to see how things really worked, with very few exceptions […]

    Binoculars, Wanted Posters and Green Dresses: Irish-British Relations Post Independence December 14, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Binoculars, Wanted Posters and Green Dresses: Irish-British Relations Post Independence

    By the end of 1916 the British establishment and the establishment in waiting of a future Irish state had come to loathe each other. The cause for this was not only the long history of rebellion and suppression (‘Ireland, through us, summons her children to her flag…’), nor was it just the fighting of the Easter […]

    A Dead American and A Riot in County Cork December 12, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    A Dead American and A Riot in County Cork

    This one’s a gem and reminded Beach of that great Limerick custom of beating up families who dare to bury their dead on the same day. Here we are a bit further to the south, near the normally more sensible Cork, but the problem is still a death. The year is 1867. A riot, originating […]

    Faking History on the Internet #2: Fairies Dug Up in Ireland! December 7, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Faking History on the Internet #2: Fairies Dug Up in Ireland!

    Beach is really getting into all these fake history news-stories on the internet: the champions of which are the generic sounding worldnewsdailyreport, the malodorous yet strangely attractive offspring of National Enquirer rutted with the History Channel. We have reported one of their previous fictions and have an especial joy now in spreading the word that […]

    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 […]

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