"He nothing common did or mean
Upon that memorable scene:
But with his keener eye
When St. Brendan got back from his travels discovering America in a small wooden and leather boat around 564 AD, he wrote a book in Latin, 'Navigatio Brendani' or 'The Voyage of Brendan', which, some 900 years later (1477) convinced Christopher Columbus that there might just be something out there beyond the western…Continue
'You look like the wreck of the Hesperus' was a much-used phrase in our house in Loughrea, 20 miles from the sea at Galway Bay. Boys, well you know boys, they never comb their hair, never wash their hands, wear the same clothes forever. . . . You know the type, and obstinately oblivious of their appearance. In Ireland,…Continue
I was reminded of what little credit I give sometimes Ireland's forgotten writers and poets, especially those who wrote in Irish, 'as Gaeilge'. This struck home when I read again Galway's blind…Continue
Cuireadh do Mhuire was composed by Máirtín Ó Direáin (1910 – 1988), the great Irish language poet from the village of Sruthán, on Inis Mór (Inishmore), the largest of the Aran Islands, in Galway Bay.
Ó Direáin penned this beautiful and delicate verse at Christmas 1942, when the whole world was at war and his…Continue
Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut, has just published four new folios of research into the period of The Irish Famine under the collective title Famine Folios.
These compelling essays take a fresh and…Continue
O! farmer, strong farmer!
You can spend at the fair
But your face you must turn
To your crops and your care.
And the crowds at the fair,
The herds loosened and blind,
Loud words and dark…
The Irish, while extremely fond of their horses, tended to walk everywhere, most of them not having the means nor the land to support a horse. Public transport was inefficient, to say the least. The railways had only just arrived in Ireland but were confined to short…Continue
Every couple of years this man would come to Loughrea, County Galway and set up shop on the footpath outside Molloy's Harp Bar on Main Street. He was an itinerant blade grinder, or knife sharpener.
Folks would get wind he was in town and quickly a queue would…Continue
This farthing coin was recently sold on eBay for $102.50. When it was minted in 1842, as a trading token by James O'Flynn it was worth only a quarter of one penny. James O'Flyn(n) was listed under 'Linen and Woollen Drapers…Continue
My dad, Guard John Murphy (Killimor, Ballinasloe) died in Our Lady’s Hospice (Harold’s Cross, Dublin) aged forty-four, leaving my mother, aged thirty-nine, with ten children aged two and a half to eighteen years old.
On Christmas Eve of 1945, we spent most…Continue
On a sunny afternoon in the early 1960s, a Canadian sea-plane touched down on the silvery-grey waters of Loughrea lake, taxied to a jetty and tied off. The children swimming at Long Point were distracted for a while but quickly returned to doggy-paddle and soccer on that…Continue
With nine million chocolate Easter eggs being eaten in Ireland over Easter, I wondered if our children have any idea what life was like for our parents and grand-parents.
My grandfather, Michael Brody, operated a general store, grocery, hardware,…
Eugene Daly was dreaming, in a deep sleep. In the dream, he was playing his uileann pipes to a rapturous audience of dancers in the ship's sumptuous main ballroom. He played like a man possessed, jigs and reels, in perfect pitch. The audience were thrilled. All of a sudden he panicked and woke. He had woken up to the sound of water lapping under his bunk. Unused to…Continue
Can you imagine how hard life was in the 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th century here in…Continue
'Oiche na Gaoithe Moire' - The night of the big wind! That phrase usually refers to one of the most devastating hurricanes that ever hit Ireland, which made land during the night of Little Christmas, on the 6th of January 1839, almost 174 years ago, just before the outbreak of the…Continue
Over most of Western Europe, particularly in those areas connected with the ancient Celts, December 21, the shortest day of the year fell during the Druidic festival of 'Yule'. Today it is better known as the festival of the ‘Winter Solstice’.
‘Thoul’, an ancient word for…Continue
While yet a teenager, I collected most of these clay pipes around Loughrea, in county Galway, some from the lake shore, some from under the water using a snorkel and mask, the smallest ones from the bottom of a hole I was digging in Elephant and Castle, while working as a student in…Continue
On the Galway's Horrible Histories Walk, I weave the Brendan Voyage tale into the stories I tell, explaining how in 929 AD the Vikings raided the Priory Abbey of Annaghdown, 4 miles up the Corrib River from Galway city, which was founded by St. Brendan for his sister, Briga, and where he died in 577 AD.…Continue