The Old Corpse Road Folklore Collective
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The history of the Celtic people goes back many centuries. The Celts transmitted their culture orally, never writing down history or facts. This accounts for the extreme lack of knowledge about them prior to their contact with the classical civilizations of Greece and Rome. Having left no written records themselves, is not always easy to sort out. The bulk of what is written about them comes from observations made by their enemies or by those who would somehow rule them. To ascribe complete factuality to these accounts is, at best, fool hardy. Our best information comes from archeological research but even this is open to wide interpretation.
Translated as meaning 'hostels', the bruidne of ancient Ireland are depicted as centres of hospitality where all were welcome. A great cauldron maintained in each bruiden would feed everyone, no matter how many; feasting, drinking and general merriment were the order of the day. The bruidne were, in fact, temples and mystical centres of certain ancient religions.
An idol set up on the plain of Magh Slécht, 'Plain of Adoration', near the present village of Ballymagauran, in County Cavan. It was created by King Tigernmas. Known as 'Lord of Death', Tigernmas is credited with the introduction of gold mining and of silverwork to Ireland. Some authorities have it that Tigernmas was a renegade Roman legion commander; this may be supported by the nature of the cult of Crom which has strong Eastern connections. Crom is notable in that children ('first-born') were sacrificed to him at Samhain, amidst general mayhem and orgiastic activities. In a very old legend, found in the Dinnsenchus in the Book of Leinster, it is related that many centuries before the Christian era, King Tigerumas [Teernmas] and crowds of his people were destroyed in some mysterious way, as they were worshipping it on Samain Eve - the eve of the 1st November.
"Amergin" is the word as it has been written in English, but the actual spelling of this name is "Amhairghin". It means "Birth of Song". According to legend, Amhairghin was one of the leaders of the "Men of Míl", who battled the Tuatha Dé Danann (or the Faery Clan) for possession of Ireland. As you can see for yourself, the Song of Amergin is, in itself, a self-claiming by Amergin of this island, as well as a challenge to the Tuatha Dé Danann, who were considered to be the gods.
Up until 150 years ago a baby had only an even chance of living past its 5th birthday, because so much of child birth was bound to death there are many superstitions and magical practices linked to childbirth, also many omens were used to provide future well being for a child by its parents.
To resolve the paradox of the Celtic Birth Myths, they must be regarded as symbols of the transcendental meaning of birth, of what birth is from the point of view of the unseen world. From an earthly standpoint a child is conceived inadvertently during the course of its parents' conjugal relations, without the intervention of any other agency. But from the point of view of the supernatural world, the child's birth is destined, the parents are chosen, the time and place are ordained, and the earthly life of the child is 'pre-figured' before he is conceived.
Tir Nan Og is the land to which the Irish faeries known as Tuatha de Danann fled when their lands were taken by the Milesians. In Tir Nan Og they spend their days feasting, gaming, love-making and partaking of beautiful music. The faeries can even enjoy the thrill of battle, for anyone slain is resurected the following day. It is the paradise that mortals can only dream of.
Some accounts speak of how the Celts would roar and bang on their shield taunting their enemies prior to rushing into the battle. (The Celts believed in what was called "furor" or a spiritual frenzy while in battle) They were known to be barbaric but also excellent warriors. It was once said that the Celts could be seen going into battle naked. This can be found in Roman texts about the Celts.
Cú Chulainn is confronted by swans once again as a man, at the great feast of Samhain, which is being celebrated by the Ulster men beside a loch. A flock of beautiful birds alights on the water, Cú Chulainn demonstrates his skill by capturing all of them and giving them to the women, who desire to wear a bird on each shoulder. Only Cú Chulainn’s wife does not get any birds and she is greatly incensed by this. Her husband promises her two of the finest swans he can find.
Pronounced "manan-awn mak lir" (Barinthus) Manannan Mac Lir is one of the most popular deities in Celtic mythology. He is Lord of the sea and of the three great waves of Ireland. He was the son of the mystical god Lir and and the husband of Fand. His Welsh equivalent was Manawydan ap Llyr. Sons were Ilbhreach and Gaiar.
CUCHULAIN, THE BOYHOOD DEEDS OF
Among the most striking of the many narratives dealing with CuChulain is a group of episodes from his childhood. The incidents in the selection brought in Cross and Slover's ANCIENT IRISH TALES not only serve to illustrate his precocity, a trait which is widespread among heroes of the folk, but also to exemplify the conditions of child-fosterage among the ancient Irish. This and other tales of CuChu-lain's youth are incorporated in the great Ulster epic 'The Cattle-Raid of Cooley', where they are represented as told to King Ailill and Queen Medb of Connacht by several of the Ulster exiles enlisted in the Connacht army. They form a body of tradition which was probably old at the time when the epic was composed.