Just when you thought we had enough patriotic celebrations, there’s a different patriotic celebration that happens in Northern Ireland one week after our own. The Twelfth (also called The Glorious Twelfth or Orangemen's Day) is the annual Protestant celebration held on the 12th of July. Originating in Ireland during the 18th century, it celebrates the 1688 Revolution and victory of Protestant king William of Orange over Catholic king James II at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.
On a recent evening walk, I saw the first flicker of summer fireflies. With only my canine companion, I remembered a childhood wonder. The memory stirred thoughts about Celtic fairies.
Today, when we think of fairies, we often think of them as tiny, supernatural beings with wings; glowing with uncommon light. They also possess magical powers, like Tinkerbell in the story of Peter Pan or the Fairy Godmother in Cinderella. The modern fairies, as in most myth related culture, come from oral tradition.
In honor of the upcoming Mother’s Day; I’m going to share some information about a particularly ancient symbol. Sheela na gigs are figurative carvings of naked women found on churches, castles, and other buildings, particularly in Ireland and Great Britain.
Such carvings are said to ward off death and evil, like other grotesques, such as gargoyles and were frequently part of church decorations all over Europe. It is commonly said that their purpose was to keep evil spirits away. They often are positioned over doors or windows, presumably to protect these openings.
Ceili dances were enjoyed at house parties and corner road gatherings in the rural country sides. Decades later, they are still danced in Ireland and have moved to the United States – and even here in the Lehigh Valley. These traditional country folk dances have a follow the leader pattern that new dancers can pickup on their first attempt. At any ceili, the dance caller will teach the basic 3's, 7's, jig step, and ceili swing steps at the start of the event. After the basic steps are covered, a dance pattern is walked through slowly at first.
We are entering into Spring with expectations of warming suns; yet we still have a chill in the air. Early March is the perfect time to curl up with a great radio program such as Celtic Faire and a nice warming glass of whiskey at our side. The question is: Do you spell whiskey with an “E”
No matter how you spell it, whiskey is an umbrella term for a type of spirit distilled from a mash of fermented grains.
Saint Patrick, who lived during the fifth century, is the patron saint and national apostle of Ireland. Born in Roman Britain, he was kidnapped and brought to Ireland as a slave at the age of 16. He later escaped, but returned to Ireland and was credited with bringing Christianity to its people. In the centuries following Patrick's death (believed to have been on March 17, 461 A.D.
The Great Kilt is also known as the "breacan an fheilidh" or "feile mor". The first known reference to this mode of dress was made in 1594 in The Life of Red Hugh O’Donnell in a description of a corps of Hebrideans who had come to The O’Donnell’s assistance: “They were recognised among the Irish soldiers by the distinction of their arms and clothing, their habits and language, for their exterior dress was mottled cloaks of many colours with a fringe to their shins and calves, their belts were over their loins outside their cloaks."