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  • Fairies and Potatoes September 21, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Fairies and Potatoes

      A curious story from the beginning of that most slaughter of the innocents, the Irish potato famine. Dr Edgar, an Ulsterman is out and about with his friend Mr Brannigan, who later recalled the episode. ‘On the day after the examination of the Irish schools,’ continues Mr. Brannigan, ‘[Dr Edgar] took a walk with […]

    Hooping Cough Cures September 11, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Hooping Cough Cures

    We are in 1862 A correspondent transmits the following account of a superstitious ceremony which took place the other day at Neilston [Lowland Scotland]. The jolly blacksmith there is in possession of a fine young she ass, which, with her frolics, has caused great amusement amongst the boys of the town, while some calculating old […]

    Strange Fairy Encounter, Co Limerick 1939 August 25, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Strange Fairy Encounter, Co Limerick 1939

    This story comes from an Australian newspaper though it relates to distant Ireland, September 1938. The nature of newspaper digitization is that the nineteenth century is now far better covered than the twentieth century and so all too often getting the right source can prove a problem. Anyway what was going on in Ireland as […]

    Eaten by Rats? August 11, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Eaten by Rats?

    ***Dedicated to Chris C*** A short post to ask a very simple question: can rats kill homo sapiens? Of course, given the bubonic plague the answer is yes. But what about in a more simple and straightforward fashion. Can a big enough group of rats attack and overpower a weak enough human being or are […]

    Colonialism and Burying the Irish Under Buildings July 18, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Colonialism and Burying the Irish Under Buildings

    Luise White published, in 2000, her Speaking with Vampires: Rumor and History in Colonial Africa. Very crudely – the book is difficult to reduce to a simple core because it recognizes complexity on the ground –White shows how colonial anxiety was played out through what she chose to call ‘vampire’ legends. Europeans and their agents […]

    Evans-Wentz and a Missing Thesis July 16, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Evans-Wentz and a Missing Thesis

    Walter Evans-Wentz (obit 1965) was an American mystic who wrote, as a young man, before his interests went eastwards, the most important twentieth-century book about fairies: The Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries, published at Oxford in 1911. That book, available in many places on the web, can be broken down into three parts. The first […]

    Transvestite Protestors: Why, When and Where? June 23, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Transvestite Protestors: Why, When and Where?

    ***Dedicated to Chris*** Modern and early modern social movements are not normally Beach’s thing. He’ll let the likes of Eric Hobsbawm salivate over those. But just yesterday an email brought a peculiar Irish American phenomenon to his attention: the Molly Maguires, previously known to this author only from Conan Doyle’s Valley of Fear.  The Mollys […]

    Magonia #4: Sky Ships and Moebius Strips June 3, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Magonia #4: Sky Ships and Moebius Strips

    Back to Magonia. Agobard leaves no space for doubt: in early medieval popular tradition there are sky boats and these sky boats are connected with a magical land named Magonia. Now after reviewing the evidence for Agobard himself, a crusty old sceptic, and looking too at the folklore traditions about European hail medicine (Beach would […]

    Halley’s Comet and the Generations! May 12, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
     Halley's Comet and the Generations!

    ***Dedicated to Larry who got me interested in this and provided, through his emails and forwards, much of the information*** It recently struck Beach that Halley’s comet would be a perfect measure of the continuity of knowledge in ancient and medieval civilizations. After all, here is a comet that returns every 75 (and a bit) […]

    Review: Secret of Kells March 31, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
    Review: Secret of Kells

    Part of being a twenty-first century parent involves the ability to watch cartoons repeatedly with your children (discuss). Most of these cartoons are trash. A minority are witty: Mega Mind, Toy Story… And a  handful – Shrek, Bambi, Totoro, Kiki the Witch… – make modern art house films look like third-rate romantic comedies: they really […]

    Irish Ghosts and Irish Judges: the House on the Marsh March 13, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Irish Ghosts and Irish Judges: the House on the Marsh

    Its always satisfying when the legal system and the paranormal come crashing together. Take this case from late nineteenth-century Ireland. The report appeared in a British newspaper and the writer just couldn’t hide his delight. We could have edited this down but the style is very Victorian and most splendidly supercilious. Most people are familiar […]

    England’s First Anomalist and A Missing Manuscript? March 4, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    England's First Anomalist and A Missing Manuscript?

    Matthew Poole (obit 1679) was an English Biblical scholar from an age and a place when that meant simultaneously the most mind numbing parsing and sensationalizing of God’s word. He wrote tracts, he preached sermons and he would generally have made rather dull if hell-fire warm dinner company: perhaps the only really interesting thing that […]

    The Celtic Church: A Defence of Kinds February 10, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    The Celtic Church: A Defence of Kinds

    The ‘Celtic Church’ is the phrase commonly used to describe the version of Christianity that triumphed in much of Britain and Ireland throughout the early Middle Ages, say 400-800. Historians of the calibre of Patrick Wormald (RIP), Wendy Davies and Kathleen Hughes (RIP) have argued or even railed against it. What follows is a half-hearted […]

    Review: Running with the Fairies January 28, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary
    Review: Running with the Fairies

    Scholarly fairy books are rare indeed: they average at about one every four years. Not many at all when you think that a score of volumes on Vietnam are published each month. This infrequency means that it is always extremely exciting when a new member of the fairy family shuffles onto the stage. So, with […]

    Irish-speaking Argentinean Indians!! January 8, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Irish-speaking Argentinean Indians!!

    One of the weaker proofs of Pre-Columbian contacts with Europe is the legend of the ‘white Indian’. Typically, a pioneer in the sixteenth or seventeenth or eighteenth or even the nineteenth century comes upon an Indian who by his appearance or his actions shows that he is really of European descent. Prior to today Beach […]

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