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Irish Fairies in New Hampshire August 29, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Irish Fairies in New Hampshire

About ten days ago Beachcombing put up a post celebrating funny fairy stories, a way, he noted, ‘to kill the fairies with kindness’. Since then he has come across a further fairy story from the other side of the Atlantic. As he is particularly interested in American fairies at the moment – a long and […]

Funny Fairy Stories August 23, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Funny Fairy Stories

Beachcombing wants to start this post with an apology. He has been writing madly on fairies the last few days, hoping to get some ‘real’ work done before term begins and while Mrs B and the kids are away at the sea. The result is that he has not had time to deal with emails […]

Fairies Investigated in Irish Court August 16, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Fairies Investigated in Irish Court

Beach has been enjoying himself with fairies these last few months, looking at late eighteenth- and nineteenth-century news-reports from Britain and Ireland. What is curious is that fairies very often appear in the law pages of the newspapers. They do so typically in one of two guises: (i) child abuse because parents believe the child […]

Changelings and the Law August 11, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Changelings and the Law

‘Changeling’, as noted in a recent post, was the name given by country folk on the Celtic fringe prior to children who were bewitched (i.e. ill): they were called ‘changelings’ because it was believed that fairies had come and had exchanged the child with a fairy. Parents’ reactions on having their children spirited away and […]

Forgotten Anglo-Irish Inventor Anticipates the Modern Age July 21, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Forgotten Anglo-Irish Inventor Anticipates the Modern Age

A remarkable piece of dream engineering from the latter half of the eighteenth century, the creation of the obscure but fascinating Richard Lovell Edgeworth (obit 1817), one of those men cursed to have ideas that his day could not possibly understand or produce: an Anglo-Irish Leonoardo da Vinci though with more circumspection.

Mid Atlantic Frogs? July 10, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval

  Beachcombing has visited before the kamikaze Irish monks who explored the north Atlantic in the early Middle Ages refusing to steer but trusting the winds (‘God’) to take them where they would. Today he wanted, instead, to focus on an Irish encounter in the vast expanses of that ocean with a group of tiny […]

Bad Ass One-Liners from the Epic Tradition May 21, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
Bad Ass One-Liners from the Epic Tradition

There is, across the world, an epic literature, sometimes in prose more often in poetry, celebrating the deeds of men who lived, in happier times, caught between the gods and the earth. The ‘shapers’ who sang the heroic ages of the world – in pre-Christian Scandinavia, Homeric Greece, prehistoric India… – had none of our […]

Origins of the Two-finger Insult May 19, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
Origins of the Two-finger Insult

The sun is in the heaven, term is over and with the good luck that characterises him Beachcombing has come down with a cracking summer cold. Indeed, as he walks up and down the stairs he feels as if his head is banging on the walls on either side. In this emergency situation he thought […]

Black Cats: Unlucky for Some May 3, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Modern
Black Cats: Unlucky for Some

Beachcombing’s mother has flown in from the Dominions to visit her grandchildren and generally cause confusion – arguments over restaurant bills, dietary controversies and black cats… On the last point Beachcombing has to admit though that his mater has a point, one worth sharing with a wider audience. It would hardly be worth worrying about […]

Kamikaze Exploration Irish Style April 11, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
Kamikaze Exploration Irish Style

  An entry from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles for 891 claims that in that year three Irish men set out from Ireland in a boat. An everyday event you might think – certainly Beachcombing was unimpressed. But what made their voyage special was that the three travelled without oars. In effect, they decided to give up […]

Irish Werewolf Cub-Scouts from Hell? January 26, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
Irish Werewolf Cub-Scouts from Hell?

Irish werewolf cub-scouts from hell… Sounds like a bad slasher film doesn’t it? But actually Beachcombing is about to introduce a genuine all singing, all dancing early medieval Irish institution. His first reading is from the  Annals of Ulster for AD 847 ‘the sack of the island of Loch Muinremair by Mael Sechnaill [Irish High King] […]

Irish hang-women January 17, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Irish hang-women

Richard Clark in his remarkable Capital Punishment in Britain has a story that has been buzzing around and around in Beachcombing’s head for the last six months. In his chapter on hang-men RC notes, in a final short section, that ‘Ireland allowed women to be involved with executions and two were’. He records a female assistant executioner who […]

Fire from the Heavens in Early Medieval Ireland December 26, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
Fire from the Heavens in Early Medieval Ireland

Beachcombing has been cursing his internet provider today that has managed, with characteristic incompetence, to deprive the Beachcombings of their connection to the world wide web – no joke when you live in a rural idyll and make most of your phone-calls by skype. In any case, Beachcombing will do his best to smuggle this out […]

Saint Patrick’s Sinning Past December 17, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
Saint Patrick's Sinning Past

Most saints begin life as, well, saints. They help their parents with chores; they annoy more normal brothers and sisters; and they make discreet enquiries into career prospects for monks and nuns. However, there are some – Beachcombing likes to think of them as ‘the rogues’ – who have more colourful pasts. Typically these men […]

Arthur’s Grave at Glastonbury Revisited: The Irish connection November 16, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
Arthur's Grave at Glastonbury Revisited: The Irish connection

Beachcombing thought that today he would return to Arthur’s remains at Glastonbury, that extraordinary moment in the late twelfth century when the monks of Britain’s oldest monastery ’discovered’ Arthur’s body just outside their church: diggings revealed a trunk tomb and giant bones. True, Beachcombing looked at this matter several months ago, when he suggested that the bones might […]

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