The Acallam na Senórach: Wisdom of Irish Elders

Feb 7, 2014 by

Is ó mhnáib do·gabar rath nó amhrath.

It is from women that fortune comes, good or bad.

~from Acallam na Senórach, author unknown

 

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The Acallam na Senórach (Tales of the Elders) is a Middle Irish narrative from the late 12th century and is one of the most important surviving manuscripts of original medieval Irish literature.  Set long after the death of  Fionn macCumhaill, it is framed around the aged fianna heroes, Oisín andCaílte mac Rónáin , who are traveling the country with Saint Patrick, newly arrived in Ireland.

 

Some of the stories involve the interactions between the Fianna and the mythical and mystical Túatha Dé Danann; the above quote  from the Acallam na Senórach is spoken in the council of the Túatha Dé Danann by Midir Mongbuide, son of the Dagda, the king of the Túatha Dé Danann and a main figure in Irish mythology.

 

To read the Gaelic text of the Acallam na Senórach, click hereThe English translation is available  in Maurice Harmon’s book, The Dialogue of the Ancients: A New Translation of Acallam na Senórach,  available here on Amazon.

 

You can also purchase a lovely choral interpretation of the Acallam na Senórach, sung in English, Middle Irish and Latin and with sixteen voices, guitar and bodhráin (Irish frame drum), HERE.

 

 

 

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Imbolc and the Feast of Saint Brigid

Feb 1, 2014 by

February 1st is celebrated by Christians as the feast day of Saint Brigid of Kildare (Irish: Naomh Bríd; c. 451–525), one of the patron saints of Ireland.  Her name is spelled in various ways, including Brigit, Bridget, Bridgit, Bríd, and Bride, and she is sometimes called “Mary of the Gaels” in Ireland.   The Irish refer to the day as St Brighid’s Day or Lá Fhéile Bríde ( Irish Gaelic), but the pagan origins of the feast lie in the ancient Gaelic festival of Imbolc or Imbolg (pronounced i-MOLK or i-MOLG ), an event that was connected to the goddess Brighid, the daughter of the Dagda and one of the Tuatha Dé Danann.   Today, pagans and Christians still observe this special day at the beginning of February, a feast marking the midway point between winter and spring.

St. Bride by John McKirdy Duncan; 1913; National Galleries of Scotland (Scotland); tempera on canvas.

St. Bride by John McKirdy Duncan; 1913; National Galleries of Scotland (Scotland); tempera on canvas.

The goddess Brigid is considered the patroness of poetry, fertility, smithing, medicine, arts and crafts, cattle and other livestock, and spring.   Along with these attributes, she also is associated with fire and light, and is frequently depicted holding a flame or candle.   Arrows, bells, thresholds and doorways are also included in Brigid symbolism.  After Ireland was Christianized, many people refused to give up their ancient reverence for the goddess, despite pressure from church authorities.   Eventually, a sort of combined festival emerged, with elements from both the pagan and Christian influences.  Brighid’s crosses (usually handwoven of rushes) and a doll-like figure of Brighid, called a Brídeóg, would be carried from house-to-house.   To receive her blessings, people would make a bed for Brighid and leave her food and drink, while items of clothing would be left outside for her to bless.   Holy wells were visited at Imbolc and it was seen as an opportune time for divination.

I have several Saint Brigid’s crosses in my home, some made long ago that have been handed down.   To learn how to make a simple Brigid’s cross, try this video:

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The Stolen Child

Oct 26, 2013 by

 

"The Stolen Child"

“The Stolen Child”

 

William Butler Yeats, Ireland’s most famous and beloved poet of the 20th century, was intrigued by the Celtic myths and legends of his homeland, a fascination instilled at an early age by his mother, Susan Mary Pollexfen Yeats.   His early poem, “The Stolen Child”, first appeared in the Irish Monthly  in December 1886, and was published in 1892 in his first book of poetry,  The Wanderings of Oisin and Other Poems, as well as Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry.

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Oct 1, 2012 by

In Irish mythology, Danu is the mother goddess of the Tuatha Dé Danann (Old Irish: “The peoples of the goddess Danu”)the fifth group to settle Ireland, conquering the island from the Fir Bolg. She is a water goddess, who watches over the streams and rivers of Ireland.

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