Story Archaeology

Uncovering the layers of Irish Mythology through a regular podcast and related articles.

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Fochard Bríde

According to the early hagiographies, St. Brigid was born at Fochard Muirtheimne, a few miles north of Dundalk, about 450 CE. Though  of the strength of this tradition, the place  later became known as Fochard Bríde. On the hill nearby, are the remains of an Iron Age fort, a Norman motte-castle and a medieval church. St Brigid’s …

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Lassair and Her Well

Every parish in Ireland has its holy well, with specific healing properties and a “pattern day” (Patron Day), where Mass is said and pilgrims perform rituals by the well.  In the Arigna area of South Leitrim / Roscommon, one of the best known of these is St. Lassair’s Well in the parish of Killronan, between …

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The Story of Rúadán from Cath Maige Tuired

from Cath Maige Tuired, The Battle of Moytura edited by Elizabeth Gray translation and notes by Isolde Carmody [Terms in bold have notes and discussions below]   544] Tánic didiu frisna Fomore annísin, go tudciset-som fer n-úadaibh de déscin cathai & cosdotha Túath nDéa .i. Rúadán mac Bresi & Bríghi ingene in Dagdai. Ar ba mac-side & ba úa do Thúaith Déa. 124. Things were going against …

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Brig and Rúadán

It was the first time keening had been heard in the green land of Ireland.  The poetry of mourning, the ritual of the eulogy.  Brig keened for her lost son, her impetuous red-headed boy, Rúadán. Rúadán was dead, killed by the spear of Goibniu, and the smithcraft of the Dé Danann, killed as a spy …

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Heapstown Cairn ~ The Well of Octriul

Heapstown cairn is not impressive; well, not at first view.  Not far away, high on the slopes of the Bricklieve hills, set against the skyline are the bald, one-eyed heads, like ancient Formoire giants.  There are so many cairns, each evoking mystery and speculation. Then there is Heapstown, the greatest of all cairns outside the Boyne …

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A Pilgrimage to Abydos

Getting to Egypt had always been the goal of a pilgrimage for me. This had been the case since my uncle, a very scholarly man, with a wonderful sense of humour and a gift of teaching, first took me to the British museum. I was ten and putting together a school project on 12th century illuminated …

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John Barleycorn

John Barleycorn is the titular character of a popular English and Scottish  folk-song,  found in a number of versions  going back, at least, to the sixteenth century. John Barleycorn is given as  the personification of  ‘the nut brown ale’ (or the uisce beatha) and all the process the grain goes through in order to provide the welcome drink.  The …

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The Story of Airmed from Cath Maige Tuired

from Cath Maige Tuired, The Battle of Moytura edited by Elizabeth Gray translation and notes by Isolde Carmody [Terms in bold have notes and discussions below]   133] Boí dano Núadae oga uothras, & dobreth láim n-argait foair lioa Díen Cécht go lúth cecha lámha indte. Meanwhile, Núada was debilitated.  A silver hand / arm was set on him by Dían Cécht, with the power of every …

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Airmed’s Story

The green grey morning is soft with mist. Airmed sits on the soft earth of the mound, her yellow cloak spread empty before her covering the damp earth. All around her lie green herbs, no longer fresh and growing for they were harvested in hope and are now scattered in sadness. Airmed gathers the measure …

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Many Shades of Darkness

Irish colour words and concepts In primary school,  I was very confused to learn two different Irish words for “green”: glas and uaithne.  I knew there was a difference, but I wasn’t clear what that difference was.  As my schooling continued, more confusion arose: black people were referred to as daoine gorma, “blue people” (according to the dictionary) and …

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