Ireland Celtic Movie: John Doan

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Welcome to Irish Culture and Customs

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Poulnabrone

Perhaps the most iconic of Irish dolmens, it is one of over 70 megalithic tombs located in The Burren in Co. Clare.
With a name that literally means 'The hole of the sorrows", Poulnabrone features a capstone which sits on two 6ft high portal stones to create a chamber.
It was excavated in 1968 and found to contain the remains of "between 16 and 22 adults and 6 juveniles, including a newborn baby".
Radiocarbon dating suggests that the burials took place between 3800 and 3200 BC.

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The 'Harp' Flag

This was the unofficial national flag of Ireland from 1798 until the early years of the 20th century.
Since the 16th century, the gold harp had been on a blue field, but the United Irishmen changed the colour to green.

The Green Flag was widely carried during the rebellion of 1798 - often with the motto of the United Irishmen, 'Éire go Brágh' - Ireland Forever - included below the harp.
The banner quickly won popular acceptance and it was used by the followers of Daniel O'Connell, by most of the Fenians, and by the supporters of Home Rule from the time of Parnell until the collapse of the Irish Parliamentary Party in 1918.

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The Hill of Slane

It had long been known as sacred ground when St. Patrick visited the hill on the eve of Easter in 433 A.D.

He lit a Paschal or Easter fire which could be seen from the nearby hill of Tara, the royal seat of power.

There, a fire also burned to clebrate the pagan feast of Beltane.
Since it was against the law to light any fire in the area while this was taking place, Laoghaire, the king at that time, was furious and rode off with his retinue to arrest the mystery rebel.

Miraculously - some say through an earthquake, others by holding up a shamrock- St. Patrick convinced the king of his belief in Christianity and the power of the Holy Trinity. I

t was a power that St. Patrick thought would be useful to the king who only wished that his soldiers could be as brave as St. patrick and his followers.
He took the group prisoner and marched them back to the Hill of Tara.

The next day, they were spared and were allowed to preach Christianity to the pagan army.
Today, at the top of the hill are the ruins of a Franciscan Monastery built in 1512.

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Irish Brooches

From the third century on, brooches played an important role in the attire of the Irish.
The Tara Brooch is the most famous - and many of us think it was from Tara, hence the name.

Although it was discovered in County Meath, it was found in Bettystown.
A jeweler who studied the brooch is credited with the misnomer.
Brooches served much more than a decorative purpose.

They were used by both men and women to fasten their cloaks and two distinctive styles emerged: the pennanular featuring a gapped ring (shown) and the pseudo-pennanular, which had a closed ring.
Usually made of bronze in earlier times, and then often of silver and gold after the Vikings invaded, Irish brooches were famous for their intricately detailed engraving, enamel inlays and exquisite craftsmanship.


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Clonmacnoise

Founded in 545 AD by St Ciaran, Clonmacnoise monastery became between the 7th and 12th centuries a religious, literature and arts center for monks all over Europe.

They came to study and pray in the "Island of saints and scholars"
Dunguaire Castle

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Situated on Aughnish Bay, an inlet of Galway Bay, the castle was built by the O'Heynes in 1520. It was near this site that their ancestor, King Guaire Aidhne, the Hospitable, ruled Connaught in the 7th century.

In the 17th century, the castle passed to the Martyns of Tullira.
Edward Martyn, who, along with W.B. Yeats and Lady Augusta Gregory of Coole Park, founded the Irish Literary Renaissance Society and the Abbey Theatre, sold the castle in1912 to their friend and fellow writer, Oliver St. John Gogarty.

The castle was acquired in 1954 by Christobel Lady Ampthill who completed the restoration work started by Gogarty.

Medieval Banquets are held in the castle each night and celebrate the richness of its literary and musical past.

Hurling

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This game, which is often described as "the clash of the ash" is the oldest team sport in Ireland. It's played by two teams of 15 players to a side.
The girl's version of the game is called Camogie and there are 12 players to a side.
One player acts as a goalkeeper while the others try to hit a small leather ball called a sliotar past the goalkeeper.

The stick they use is made from the wood of the ash tree. It's shaped a bit like a hockey stick and is called a hurley or camán.
Even in ancient times, there were very strict rules about how the game should be played.
Throwing the ball is not allowed; it must be lifted off the ground with the hurley or foot; and to strike an opponent was punished with severe penalties.
In today's game, the player is sent off the field.

The Celtic High Cross

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As symbolic of Ireland as the harp and the shamrock, high crosses first appeared as early as the 7th century.
Originally, the designs were abstract, but gradually, they began to feature more spiritually-based themes.

Most of these ancient crosses were made of various types of sandstone, which is somewhat easy to carve.
Today, of the more than 200 that remain, many are in an eroded state and the details are barely discernible.

However, some excellent examples can be found, if you know where to look. Several can be seen at the Monastery of Monasterboice in Co. Louth, including the exquisitely sculptured Muiredach's Cross shown here.

The Round Towers

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The Round Towers of Ireland are remarkable among the world's ancient monuments; one author has called them 'Elegant, free-standing pencils of stone.'

Today, 65 survive in part or whole.
Hand-crafted in native stone and cemented with a sand, lime, horsehair and oxblood mortar - a technique imported from Roman Britain - it's said by many historians that they were built by monastic communities to thwart Viking invaders.
And yet, there's reason to believe that the towers were built long before Christianity came to Ireland.

Whatever their origins, monasteries did indeed flourish where the round towers existed.
And why not.
These imposing edifices provided a watch tower, a keep and a refuge.

The Ardagh Chalice

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One of the finest specimens of Celtic art ever found, the cup combines classic beauty with exquisite Celtic ornamentation.
It is composed of gold, silver, bronze, brass, copper, and lead and comprises 354 pieces, including 20 rivets.

A band running round the outside of the bowl is engraved with the names of the twelve Apostles.
Discovered near Ardagh in 1868, almost nothing is known of its history.
It is believed to date from the 8th Century and might be one of the cups stolen from Clonmacnois, in the year 1125.

The cup is on display at the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin and is part of the "National Treasures" collection which includes the Tara Brooch and the Cross of Cong.

St Patrick's Cathedral

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The National Cathedral and Collegiate Church of St. Patrick is the full official name and, according to tradition, St Patrick baptised several converts at a well in what is now a park adjacent to the cathedral.
To commemorate this event, a small wooden church was built. In 1901, the well was rediscovered and an ancient granite stone, marked with a Celtic cross which covered the well, was moved into the cathedral.

The parish church on this site was one of four Celtic churches in Dublin and was known as St Patrick's in Insula - on the island - as it was built on an island between two branches of the River Poddle which still flows under the cathedral.

To be Continued
The Donkey in Ireland

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The donkey was once a very important part of family life in Ireland.
Eggs and butter were brought to market every week by a donkey harnessed to a small cart, usually driven by the farmer's wife.

Donkeys were also used to move seaweed from the beaches to use in gardens and fields to help vegetables grow; and the donkey also carried peat from the bog back to the house where it was used as fuel for the fire.

You can still find working donkeys, mostly in the West of Ireland, but not like in the old days.
It's said that donkeys make the perfect companion because they are smart, patient and their gentle nature makes them very easy for both grownups and children to handle.


Irish Furze

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Called whin in the north and gorse in the east, furze was once a symbol of wealth and fertility of land as is emphasized by the saying: "gold under furze, silver under rushes and famine under heather."

As indigenous to the early summer landscape as rhododendrons, it is despised by farmers because of its invasive properties; but in the past, it had many good uses.

It ignites quickly, so it was used for starting the fire: it was also used for cleaning the chimney, tilling the soil, dyeing wool and fabric, and as a flavouring for whiskey (which may have improved its rating with the farmers!).

It had medicinal powers and its magical powers were undisputed in preventing the good people from stealing the butter on May day.
And, at mid-summer, blazing branches were carried round the herd to bring good health to the cows for the coming year.

Glendalough - the glen of the two lakes

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The location is spellbinding.
It encompasses two clear water lakes situated beneath the sheer cliffs of a deep valley which was carved out by glaciers during the Ice Age.
The perfect spot for a serene monastic settlement.

Today, Glendalough is one of the most important sites of monastic ruins in Ireland.
Fourteen centuries have passed since the death of its founder, St. Kevin, when the valley was part of Ireland's Golden Age.

The buildings which survive probably date from between the 8th and 12th centuries.
The famous Round Tower is in near perfect condition even though it is almost 1,000 years old.

Cantwell Fada Kilfane Church, Co. Kilkenny

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On the North Wall, inside the ruins of the 14th century Kilfane church is the above effigy of a Norman knight carved in high relief from a single slab of limestone.
Except for the face, the body is completely covered in a suit of chain mail.

Known as the Cantwell Fada (long man), its larger-than-life size makes it the tallest such effigy in Ireland and Britain.
The legs are crossed, the right over the left, and this is thought to signify that the knight took part in the crusades.

In the left hand is carried a large shield bearing the arms of the Cantwell family.
The Cantwells were Lords of Kilfane and adjoining areas from shortly after the arrival of the Normans.

The Irish Wolf

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Was the last Irish wolf killed in 1786 in Co. Carlow? Or was it in 1773 in Co. Wexford? No-one seems to know for sure.
What we do know is that not so long ago, there were many wolves in Ireland.
However, with the coming of the English settlers, there was a campaign to eliminate the wolf from the Irish countryside.

This was because it was thought the wolf would eat the farm animals.
Wooded areas were cleared, and farmland was created, so that wolf habitats were wiped out.

Bounties were also offered to professional hunters
By the early 1700s, wolves had retreated to a small number of places in Ireland as far away from people as possible.
When the last wolf was killed, it meant the loss of the only major carnivore to survive into relatively recent Irish history.

Ogham

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The Ogham alphabet is thought to be named after the Irish god Ogma.
The word is pronounced OH-am or OH-yam; the first pronunciation is most common, but a native Irish speaker has claimed that the second is most "proper."

While all surviving traces of Ogham are inscriptions on stone, it was most likely more often inscribed on sticks, stakes and trees.
Inscriptions generally take the form of a person's name and the name of a place and were probably used to mark boundaries.

Each letter is named after a tree or other plant and has a number of other associations.
Letters are linked together by a solid line, which represents the trunk of a tree, while the letters themselves represent branches or twigs.

From Bog Land to Turf Fire

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Ireland contains more bog land, relatively speaking, than any country in Europe, except Finland.
For people in rural areas, turf cut from the bog is still a natural source of heat. Turf cutting begins in spring and then the turf is spread and rickled .

Rickled means to pile the turf up in small mounds.
By summer, the turf is dry and it's time to bring it home.
Everything has to be prepared before the winter comes, or even earlier, because the rain would wet the turf too much. It has to be dry and in the shed before Autumn.
Then and only then, can an irish country family look foreword to the cozy warmth of "a turf fire in the cabin."

To be Continued
The idols of Boa Island

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Boa is at the lower end of Lough Erne in Co. Fermanagh. Here, in the ancient Caldragh cemetery are two pre-Christian stone figures - the Janus statue and a smaller statue, the Lusty Man.
Shown is the more famous of the two - a double-sided figure of two beings carved back-to-back. Interestingly, this type of figure is often referred to when the calendar year has just turned and we are glancing back even as we move forward.
Also, the month of January is named after Janus, the Roman god of doors and gates.
Often flowers and coins are left at the base of both statues - perhaps for good luck in the new year? Speculation as to what the idols represent continues.

Slemish Mountain

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Situated in the Braid Valley near Ballymena,Co. Antrim, Slemish Mountain is approximately 1,500 ft above sea level.
Ireland's patron saint is thought to have walked these slopes for six years after being taken into slavery at the age of 16.
He worked for a master named Miliucc, herding swine and sheep. And according to his writings, it was here that St Patrick turned to prayer as his only consolation.
He escaped, became a priest and began his mission to convert the Irish to Christianity.
Wild flowers, some rare, grow on the grassy slopes.
From the top, if you look north, you will see the ruins of Skerry Church on a hilltop where Miluicc"s fort once stood.
This was the ancient burying place of the O"Neill"s of Clandeboye.
Slemish is still a place of pilgrimage in memory of Saint Patrick on his feast day - 17 March.

Ireland's Most Haunted Castle

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South-east of Birr between Kinnity and Roscrea, in Co. Offaly are the remains of Leap Castle.
Originally an O'Carroll fortress, it guarded the pass from the Slieve Bloom into Munster. Said to have more than 50 ghosts, its dark and mysterious past includes the murder of a priest by his brother in the "Bloody Chapel" and the slaughter by their Irish employers of more than 50 Scots mercenaries in order to avoid payment.
It has always had a reputation of being haunted and locals have described seeing the windows at the top of the castle "light up for a few seconds as if many candles were brought into the room" late at night.

The Battle of the Boyne

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No Irish battle is more famous than William III's victory in 1690 over James II at the River Boyne.
It is recalled each July in the celebrations of the Orange Order, not on the first day but on "the Twelfth", for eleven days were lost with the change from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar in 1752.
By mid-afternoon on that fateful July 1st, the Jacobite army was in retreat, outpaced by James himself, who rode to Dublin to warn the city of William's approach.
He was in France before the month was out.
On July 6th, William entered Dublin, where he gave thanks for victory in Christ Church Cathedral.

Gaelic Football

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Gaelic Football has been played in Ireland for many, many years, but it wasn"t until the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) was formed on November 1, 1884 that it was played between county teams with proper rules.
It is a fast and exciting game that is unique to Ireland and it can best be described as a mixture of soccer and rugby.
There are 15 players on a team and the ball they use is round and slightly smaller than a soccer ball.
Today, the game is played in more than 3,500 primary Irish schools.

St. Colman's Cathedral

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Overlooking the harbour in Cobh, Co. Cork, it was one of the last images of Ireland that could be seen by emigrants sailing to America.
Designed by the architects Pugin and Ashlin, construction began in 1868 and it was completed in 1915.
One year later, a carillon of 47 bells was installed.
The biggest bell is 200 feet above the ground and weighs 3.5 tons. The carillon itself is the largest one in Ireland.

Playing Irish Music

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Music is very important to the Irish and many people, young and old, can play the tin whistle, fiddle, bodhrán, or the uillean pipes; these are the four leading instruments for creating the traditional music of Ireland.
The tin whistle (or pennywhistle) is very popular because it's cheap to buy and easy to learn.
The uillean pipes are another wind instrument, but they are very difficult to learn.
The bodhrán (pronounced bow-rawn) is a small drum which is made by stretching goatskin over a round frame.
It makes a lovely noise! The fiddle is the most popular of all instruments for playing Irish music, but it takes a long time to learn how to play it well.

Blennerville

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At the beginning of the 19th century, there were over 100 working windmills in Ireland. Now only 3 survive - Blennerville, in Co. Tralee, and its sister mills at Ballycopeland, Co. Down, and Tacumshin, Co. Wexford.
Blennerville was built about 1800 by Sir Rowland Blennerhassett and in its heyday,
it was used for grinding corn for both the locals and for export.
However, the introduction of steam power marked the end of traditional wind-powered mills and Blennerville fell into disuse.
Restoration was begun in 1984 and the site now comprises a Craft Centre, exhibition gallery, audio-visual presentation and a restaurant adjoining the now-working windmill.
It is a major tourist attraction in the region.


To Be Continued
FOTA Wildlife Park

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Only 10,000 cheetahs remain in their natural habitat and Fota Wildlife Park in Co. Cork, Ireland, is the world's leading breeder of this endangered species.

Fota is among the most modern wildlife parks in Europe.
It was opened in 1983 and has more than 70 species living in natural open surroundings with no obvious barriers.
Only the cheetahs are behind fences.

Another species which is being saved from extinction at Fota is the white tailed sea eagle.
It disappeared from Ireland in the early 1900's, but is now being bred at the park and re-introduced to the wild in Co. Kerry.
Fota is open to the public in the summer and is very popular with Irish families, as well as tourists.

The Easter Lily Pin

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Symbolic of the emergence and resurrection of a free Ireland, Cumann na mBan (the League of Women) led by Constance Markievicz, popularized the wearing of the Easter Lily pin in 1926 in remembrance for those who gave their lives for the cause of Irish independence during the 1916 Easter Rising.

In later years, wearing the pin began to fall out of favor as it became associated more with the IRA than with a symbol of rememberance.
However, there is now renewed interest in restoring the wearing of the pin to its original status as a mark of respect and in memory of the many young men and women who died during the rebellion.

Fleadh Cheoil - (Festival of Music)

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The first national festival of Irish traditional music was held in Mullingar, Co. Westmeath in 1951.
It attracted only a few hundred patrons.
Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann was founded in the same year and one of its aims was to make this an important annual event.

At its inaugural meeting, it came up with the title of Fleadh Cheoil - Festival of Music (flah KEE-ohl).
Within five years, the festival was attracting musicians, singers, and dancers from all parts of Ireland and overseas.

Today, Fleadh Cheoil is an annual weekend of non-stop traditional entertainment with thousands of performers competing in forty categories.

Reask - Early Monastic Site

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Reask is situated about a mile outside Ballyferritor on the main Dingle road.
It is one of the most thoroughly investigated sites of its type and consists of an enclosing wall, oratory, graveyard with slab shrine, several beautifully engraved cross-slabs and half a dozen circular cells or clochauns.

Carbon dating indicates construction began as early as the 4th and 5th century.
Finds show evidence of of iron, bronze and possibly glass-working, as well as wool-spinning.
The turn-off for the site is beside Brick's Pub, where one of the best pints of Guinness in Corca Dhuibhne can be consumed while mulling over the virtues of the simple monastic life.

Hook Lighthouse

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Ireland's coastline measures more than 3,000 miles , much of it ruggedly beautiful - and treacherous.
Protecting ships and sailors are many noble sentinels, including a medieval structure that is said to be be one of the oldest operational lighthouses in the world.

The 13th-century Hook Lighthouse in Co. Wexford was a major feat at the time of its construction.
Originally tended by monks, it it is still almost intact.
The present lantern was built in 1864, and converted to electricity in 1972. It soars 46 meters above high water and has a range of 23 nautical miles.

According to legend, Dubhán , a sixth-century Welsh monk, established the first light on Hook Head after discovering the bodies of shipwrecked sailors on the rocks.

The Giants Causeway

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Over the Causeway as a whole there are around 37,000 stone columns mostly 6-sided but some with 4, 5, 7 and 8 sides.
They were made about 60 million years ago by the cooling and shrinking of molten lava from a vast volcanic eruption which formed the Antrim Plateau.

One of Ireland's most famous attractions. there is a coastal path provided which stretches about 8km (or nearly 5 miles) long from the entrance to the Causeway to beyond Dunseverick near Whitepark Bay.

Holly and Ivy hanging up and something wet in every cup -
Old Irish Christmas toast


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Not so long ago, Irish Christmas decorations were much simpler than they are now.
The children gathered holly and ivy for adorning, windows, doorways, mantles and pictures, and the father would carve out a turnip in which would be placed a large red candle.
This would go in the window to light the way for the Holy Family on Christmas Eve.

Only in relatively recent times did an Irish family have a Nativity scene and a decorated tree in the house.
As for Mistletoe, it's quite rare in ireland and is generally associated with ancient Celtic and Druidic fertility celebrations; this is most likely where the custom of kissing under the mistletoe comes from.

To Be Continued
The Cork Butter Market

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The Market opened in 1770 and by 1892 it was exporting half million caskets of butter yearly.
Early every week-day morning, streets were busy with horse-drawn carts bringing butter from West Cork and Kerry along routes known as butter-roads, or carting it away to local factories and waiting steamships.

Butter was brought in wooden caskets called "firkins". Made of oak, sycamore or good hardwood. the best were Cork-made and they were compulsory for butter going to the tropics.

The Market closed in 1924 and the building became a hat factory; it was destroyed by fire and lay derelict for years . It has since been restored and has become a popular tourist attraction.

The Cork Butter Museum

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Have you ever seen a cask of butter that is over a thousand years old? It was found in an Irish bog and is now on display at the Cork Butter Museum.
The museum is a popular tourist attraction which celebrates one of the great success stories of Ireland, the butter trade.

Here, you can learn how butter is made, how important butter was to families in everyday life and the importance of the butter market in nineteenth century Ireland, especially in the city of Cork.

Through a combination of videos, implement displays, maps, documents and other artifacts, story of of butter in Irish history is vividly brought to life!

Trysting Stones

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Centuries ago, before wedding ceremonies moved from the bride's house to the church steps, and finally into the church itself, the joining of a couple was often conducted in a place of mystical significance.

On Cape Clear, Co. Cork, there is a townland called Comillane where you'll find a pillarstone known as Cloch na Gealluna - 'The Trysting Stone'. It has a hole right through it and in pre-Christian times, a couple would join hands through the stone and in the presence of the local king, they would wed.

Similarly, at Kilmaolcheader church near Dingle, Co. Kerry, stands a pillar with a circular opening near the top. It's said that a couple is engaged if they join hands through the opening.

The Kerry Blue Terrier

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Kerry Blue Terriers were developed over 300 years ago by Irish shepherds. Their name comes from the county of Kerry in south-western Ireland.
Gentle, lovable and intelligent they are very hard working.
They can herd sheep and cattle, hunt for rats and other vermin and they are good retrievers.

When they are born, they are black. As they get older, their curly coats change to red, brown or gray and then finally to bluish-grey.
Outgoing and friendly towards their family, they are known to give big, slurpy kisses.
But they are also very protective and make good guard dogs as well as excellent family pets.

Irish Seals and Selkie Tales

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Two types of seals live in Ireland - the grey seal, which has a long snout like a dog's, and the common seal which has a round head.
Grey seals live along the west coast; the common seal lives in inlets and on sandbanks. In medieval times, seal-hunting was common.

But, most Irish people refuse to kill seals.
One tradition says that after they die, fishermen turn into seals.
Another legend says that seals shed their skins at night and become human.

These are the Selkies; they have webs between their fingers and toes and must obey anyone who takes their oily skins; however, if they ever find their seal skins again, they will return to the sea.

But, so the story goes, a Selkie wife will not forget her husband and children and can be seen swimming close to the shore watching over them.

Hedgerow Schools

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Did you know that in Ireland, a long time ago, it was against the law under English rule for an Irish man or woman to be a teacher?
But, the Irish have always had a love of learning, so they did whatever they could to educate their children.

They created secret places where teachers could teach their students in safety.
These became known as "Hedge Schools" because they were often tucked away under hedges in the countryside.
Other secret places were under ruined walls, in dry ditches by the roadside, or in old barns.

Most of these schools didn't have books, paper or pencils, so the children learned their lessons by listening to the teacher and then repeating the words of the lesson.

In this way, many children learned Irish history, traditions, mathematics, even languages such as Latin and Greek!

Trinity College

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Founded in 1592, Trinity College was granted the lands of All Hallows monastery, a mile to the south east of the city.
For over 200 years, only Protestant students could attend, but then, in 1793, Roman Catholics were allowed in; however, they had to obtain the permission of the Bishop of Dublin.

Women were admitted to Trinity College for the first time in 1904.
The College library is the largest research library in Ireland.
It is entitled legally to a copy of every book published in Britain and Ireland, and contains 4.25 million books.
The Book of Kells is the library's most famous work.
Notable alumni include Swift, Goldsmith, Wilde and Beckett.

To be Continued
Annie Moore

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This statue of Annie Moore - the first immigrant to pass through Ellis Island - stands on the dock in Cobh. Co. Cork.
She looks back towards the home she is leaving while her brothers look out to sea and, beyond the horizon, the New World, three thousand miles away.
Annie set off for America from here aboard the S.S. Nevada, on December 20th, 1891.
Imagine how excited and nervous she must have been when she and her brothers arrived in New York on January 1, 1892. As the very first of 700 immigrants to disembark from her ship and two other boats that day, she was given a wondrous welcome - and also a $10.00 gold coin!

Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, Co. Antrim

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This unique span links the tiny island of Carrick-a-Rede with the dramatic Giant"s Causeway coast.
The name means ‘the rock in the road" and refers to the sea route salmon use to migrate to home waters.
Hundreds of years ago, while there was plenty of fish to catch, casting a net from a boat was perilous due to rough seas and rocky shores.
The solution was a simple rope bridge built by local fishermen.

Once a single-railed bridge with wide gaps between the slats, it is now double-railed gapless. However, crossing the bridge is not for the faint-hearted.
Downwards is an 80-foot panorama of sand, sea and surf.
If you can"t walk, across, there"s a special platform which also affords spectacular views.

Conkers!

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When the trees start to change colour in the Autumn, it means the "conker" season is upon us. "Conkers" are the seeds, in the form of nuts, of the Horse Chestnut tree.
A green spikey seed pod falls to the ground and eventually, this splits open to reveal a shiny brown nut.
This "conker"
Love this site, thanks for all the information. 
The Head of St.Oliver Plunkett



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For many of us it is hard to imagine the degree of persecution that the Catholic Church endured during the 17th and 18th Centuries in both England and Ireland. Oliver Plunkett was born into a noble family in County Meath, about thirty miles west of Drogheda, which is about 30 miles north of Dublin, in 1625. He studied for the priesthood in Rome, at the Irish College that had been co-founded by Father Luke Wadding and was ordained in 1654.

He returned to Ireland on his appointment as Archbishop of Armagh. By this time Cromwell had conquered Ireland it was against the law to be a practicing Catholic and priests were being executed when found. Sir Oliver Plunkett remained in Rome after his ordination and taught. Finally in 1669 he was appointed Bishop of Armagh and set foot on Irish soil again in 1670. At this time the persecution had subsided somewhat and he set about restoring the ravished Church, embarking on a plan of Confirmations, Ordinations and education--going so far as build a Jesuit college in Drogheda. Records show that he confirmed over 48,000 in a four year period.

He maintained his duties in Ireland in the face of English persecution but ran afoul of the government when he objected to certain parts of the so-called test act (which would have him pledging allegiance to the Anglican Church). As a result his college was leveled to the ground and he was forced in to hiding.

Trumped-up charges were produced implicating him in a non-existent plot to overthrow the government and was eventually arrested in 1679 in Ireland and then later sent to stand trial in England since the authorities naturally felt that could not get a guilty verdict in Ireland. It was, in fact, difficult to get one in England as well, since the first trial ended up in a no-bill. The second one, where he was not able to call witnesses or defend himself properly, was basically a kangaroo court and found him guilty of promoting the Catholic faith.

He was hanged, drawn and quartered at Tyburn on 1 July 1681, and became the last Roman Catholic martyr to die in England. Oliver Plunkett was beatified in 1920 and was canonized by Pope Paul VI in St. Peter’s Square in Rome on Sunday, October 12th, 1975, the first Irish saint in almost 700 years. In early autumn of 1979, Pope John Paul II spent three days in Ireland. One of the chief places he visited was St. Peter’s Church, and the Shrine of St. Oliver Plunkett, where he preached peace and forgiveness.
As one pilgrim told us: "upon entering the Church my eyes were immediately drawn to a glass case containg the head of St. Oliver Plunkett head, in remarkably good condition".

It is a place of pilgrimage for thousands each year. Mass is offered daily. On the first Sunday of July there is an annual celebration of Saint Oliver Plunkett.

Drogheda is in Northern Ireland (part of Great Britain), about 35 miles north of Dublin, which is in the Republic of Ireland. There is no problem traveling from the Republic to the North. Roadways are excellent and there is convenient and frequent rail service from Dublin (about one hour travel time).
Thank you All for the wonderful post. I feel I have again stepped on Irish soil.
Laurie
so much information on Ireland...reinforces my desire to come and explore your beautiful country...I have been exploring ancestry and have found many irish ancesters...amazing country...Nancy