Story Archaeology

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

Category Archives: Related Material

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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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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Texts of Ethliu

From Tocmarc Étaine, “The Wooing of Étain” Edited O. Bergin & R. I. Best, Translated with endnotes by Isolde Carmody.  Terms with related notes are in bold. View Bergin & Best’s edition on CELT While this text is included here in relation to “Tales of Eithliu”, we dealt with the whole of Tocmarc Étaíne in 3 episodes in Series 3, “Dindshenchas …

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Cows as Currency

As with many ancient societies, the early Irish did not use coinage.  They still had a complex system of value, which may welll have changed over time or from area to area.   One unit of value was cattle,which were used as currency up to around 1400 CE, long after the introduction of coinage.  This could …

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Noínden Ulad – The Story of Macha

Edited by Vernam Hull, Celtica 8 (1968), pp 1-42. Translation by Isolde Carmody. Annotated terms are marked in bold, with the notes at the end of the text. §1 Cid dia mboí in ces for Ultaib? Ni ansae From what [cause] was the debility on the Ulstermen? Not hard.

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Navan Fort – Stories and Archaeology

Emain Macha, known as Navan Fort, is one of the main settings for the great heroic tragedies of the Táin Bó Cullainge, as well as many other stories of great feats and tragic losses. Here we find Conchobar mac Nessa, the legendary king of Ulster, the poison-tongued Bricriu, Cathbad the druid who foretells the fate of Deirdre …

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The Mabinogion and the story of Rhiannon

Our podcast Macha – revisited refered to similarities between the tale of Rhiannon and Macha.  . You can read the full story of  Pwyll, son of Dyved and the story of Rhiannon  in a translation by Will Parker,  on his ecxcellent site  Mabinogi.net. A brief  background  to these medieval Welsh texts The stories, now known as …

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