Ireland’s Love of Leann Dubh and the Fame of Guinness

Irish language Guinness advert

Irish Pub’s around the world are known for selling Guinness. Seeing the Guinness sign when outside of Ireland is a reminder of home. This is very much known as an Irish tipple of choice. The beer is sold in over 100 countries worldwide and brewed in almost 50. There are other breweries associated with the dark Irish stout known in Irish as leann dubh (black beer), including the Murphy’s and Beamish beers from Cork (Irish: Corcaigh) in Ireland.

The history of Guinness, with its distinctive harp logo, goes back to the Irish brewer and founder of the Guinness brewery Arthur Guinness (1725 – 23 January 1803). He established the St. James's Gate Brewery (Irish: Grúdlann Gheata Naomh Séamuis) in Dublin in 1759 and started producing Guinness soon after. The symbol of the harp is associated with Ireland. It is on the coat of arms of Ireland (a gold harp against a blue background), on the Standard of the President of Ireland using the same combination of colours and the flag of Leinster (a gold harp against a green background). However, you will notice that the Guinness harp faces in the other direction.

Kingdom of Galloway a Gaelic Stronghold

Threave Castle

Dumfries and Galloway (Scottish Gaelic: Dùn Phrìs is Gall-Ghaidhealaibh) is a unitary council area in south-west Scotland. It is an area known for its natural beauty made up of forests, coastline, shores, hills, estuaries and winding rivers all with an abundance of wildlife. It has Scotland’s most southerly point, the Mull of Galloway (Scottish Gaelic: Maol nan Gal), from which can be seen clear views of the nations of Ireland and Isle of Man. The part of Dumfries and Galloway that is Galloway (Scottish Gaelic: an Gall-Ghaidhealaibh) is now made up the the historic counties of Stewartry of Kirkcudbright and Wigtownshire. The area  has a rich history and the remains of prehistoric monuments and carvings can be found, including the Drumtroddan Cup and Ring Carvings, Drumtroddan Standing Stones and neolithic chambered cairn of Cairnholy. It also has some  place-names derived from the Brythonic Celtic language and links to the Pictish people.

Kingdom of Galloway

At one time it was known as the Kingdom of Galloway. A Kingdom which at periods covered a much larger area than the present area that we know as Galloway. Including parts of southern Ayrshire (Scottish Gaelic: Siorrachd Inbhir Àir), Carrick (Scottish Gaelic: A' Charraig), Nithsdale (Scottish Gaelic: Strath Nid), The Stewartry of Kirkcudbright (Scottish Gaelic: Cille Chuithbeirt), Nithsdale; Scottish (Gaelic: Srath Nid) and beyond. The Gaelic origins of the name of Galloway gives an indication of the influence of Norse-Gaels (people of Gaelic and Scandinavian origin). As such, for a significant period it was associated with the other Norse-Gael lands of the Hebrides, Isle of Man, Dublin and the Kingdom of Man and the Isles.

Mysterious Stones under a Celtic Dome of Darkness


Ruined castles and ancient monuments can be mysterious places. Often their remote locations contribute to the sense of being in the presence of something beyond modern comprehension. Perhaps a feeling of something special, magical and unearthly, as if the stones themselves are trying to communicate with us. It is something as a Celt that touches you; that drags a memory from deep within. A secret message passed on to us by our ancient ancestors that remains in the hidden depths of our mind, struggling to emerge from our subconscious.

Around the Celtic world there are many cairns, stone circles, standing stones and carvings in rock from times of prehistory. Anyone visiting megaliths such as, to mention just a few, those found in Carnac in Brittany, Ring of Brodgar in Orkney, Newgrange in Ireland, Cashtal yn Ard in Isle of Man, Bry Celli Ddu in Wales, Hurlers Stone Circles/An Hurlysi in Cornwall, can feel the spiritual importance passed down through the centuries. Made by our ancestors in the dark Celtic lands of north-west Europe, we are their direct descendants. No surprise really then that the monuments that they created with such effort, care, skill and reverence should reach out to us from beyond the grave of their original creators, for we carry within us their genes.

Greetings on the Celtic Celebration of Halloween 2014

Halloween turnips

The Celtic festival Halloween is celebrated on the night of 31st October and 1st November every year.

In the six Celtic Nations, Halloween marks the end of the summer and the beginning of winter. The festival is associated with the Celtic feast of Kala-Goañv (Breton), Calan Gwaf (Cornish), Samhain (Irish), Sauin (Manx Gaelic), Samhuinn (Scottish Gaelic) and Calan Gaeaf (Welsh).

Entirely pagan in origin, Halloween was traditionally a time of year when the worlds of the living and the dead were seen to be at their closest. It is a time when the creatures of the 'Otherworld' make their presence known to the people of 'this world'.

Halloween is now a globally celebrated festival, particularly in the 'New World' where its traditions were brought by waves of Celtic emigration. The lanterns, fires, costumes and belief in the supernatural remain deeply rooted in Celtic culture and tradition. So greetings on this Halloween or Hop tu Naa as it is known on the Isle of Man. Remember to enjoy this festival, but take care, spirits and entities not of this world arise on this night as our ancestors knew only too well. Pay respect to the creatures of the 'Otherworld' or there maybe a heavy price to pay!

If you haven't already, we recommend reading our exclusive interview with Dr Jenny Butler on the Celtic Folklore Traditions of Halloween.

Mysterious Halloween in Ballantrae - A Scottish ghost story

Ardstinchar Castle

Ballantrae (Scottish Gaelic: Baile na Tràgha) is a village on the south-west coast of Scotland. It is in South Ayrshire (Scottish Gaelic: Siorrachd Inbhir Àir a Deas). Ballantrae is famous as the setting for the novel The Master of Ballantrae by Robert Louis Stevenson published in 1889. In the distance can be seen the magnificent uninhabited island of Ailsa Craig. Formed from volcanic remains it is some ten miles from the Scottish coast and rises to a height of 1,110 feet (338m).

As Robbie walked from his home in the village he looked out across the sea towards the Ailsa Craig, but the mist had shrouded the small island. It felt strange not to see it looming in the distance so dominant is it on this part of the Scottish coastline. Robbie had finished work early today the 31st October. He had arranged to meet up with some friends in the evening to celebrate the night of Halloween. However, with time on his hands until then, he decided to use this opportunity to take some exercise and wander around the many paths that made this area such a ramblers paradise. Ballantrae is sometimes referred to as the gateway to Carrick. Carrick is a name derived from the Scottish Gaelic word Carraig meaning rock or rocky place. It is a district that was part of the old Kingdom of Galloway. This Kingdom is associated with the same Norse-Gael world of Isle of Man, Hebrides and Dublin. These old Norse colonies and the Vikings that had settled there had been subject to Gaelicisation. They had integrated into Gaelic society and adopted the language and customs of the Gaelic people who lived in these lands.

The Thing Sites: A Norse - Celtic trail


A Thing or þing in Old Norse and Icelandic was the form of governing assembly found in the Scandinavian world that was also introduced into some Celtic societies. It is an assembly of the free men of a country or province and is located in specific sites identified for that purpose. At ‘the thing’, decisions were made  and disputes settled. Although presided over by a king or chieftain in theory it was a democratic assembly in that each person had a vote. The decisions made were recited by the speaker to everyone at the thing. Probably the most famous thing site in existence today is the Manx Tynwald (Manx Gaelic: Tinvaal) said to be the oldest continuous parliament in the world. The name Tynwald is derived from the Old Norse word Þingvǫllr,meaning the field of the thing.

The 1918 Irish General Election and formation of Dáil Éireann

Charles Stewart Parnell

The 1918 General Election was of crucial significance in the struggle for Irish independence. In 1918 Ireland was part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. The 105 Irish Members of Parliament sat in the British parliament (House of Commons). So at that time the Irish general election was held as part of the United Kingdom general election. Prior to 1918 the majority of Irish MP's sat in the House of Commons as the Irish Parliamentary Party (Páirtí Parlaiminteach na hÉireann). 

The Irish Parliamentary Party (IPP), which had been formed by Charles Stewart Parnell (27 June 1846 - 6th October 1891) in 1882, was the official nationalist party in the House of Commons. It superseded the Home Government Association formed in 1870 and the Home Rule League formed in 1873. The IPP under Parnell had became a very disciplined organisation that was an important factor in carrying forward pressure for Irish home rule.

The issue of Irish Home Rule dominated the politics between Ireland and England. The first Home Rule Bill in 1886 was rejected by the House of Commons. Seven years later came a second Home Rule Bill, which although passed in the House of Commons, was vetoed by the House of Lords. The third Home Rule Bill was eventually passed in 1914 but was formally postponed for a period of twelve months after the outbreak of the First World War.

Redruth Cornish Language Group Library Collection Boosted by Grant

Redruth Cornish Language Group Library Collection

Redruth Cornish Language Group Library Collection continues to thrive after another generous donation from the Redruth Charity Trust.

This grant will enable the group to purchase some more of the new books which are being published on a regular basis as the cost of books is prohibitive. In addition to new books, the group are constantly searching second hand book stores and even auctions for the sometimes rarer editions to add to their shelves.

The Group has been lucky in that some books have been donated from deceased persons’ estates and with the current contribution of money the number of their books will have risen to a figure in excess of 240 volumes.

Perhaps the public are unaware of the uniqueness of this library, its availability to the general public as a reference library, and the increasing use made by the public of this growing resource. The books managed are of three main types, and firstly these are the technical teaching books, dictionaries, grammars and detailed text books.

Magic moments on the East Neuk of Fife

On the East Neuk of Fife (Neuk is the Scots word for corner or nook) is the attractive village of St Monans, sometimes spelt as St Monance. It's name is taken from Saint Monan, also referred to in Ireland as Saint Moenenn. Little is known of this 6th - 7th century Saint, although a history of his life is recorded in the Aberdeen Breviary, which gives short accounts of various Scottish saints and was printed in Edinburgh in 1507. The feast day of St Monan is on March 1st. The Aberdeen Breviary is mostly the work of William Elphinstone (1431 - 25 October 1514). He was Bishop of Aberdeen from 1483 until his death in 1514. He was also the founder of the University of Aberdeen.

St Monans village with it's beautiful buildings gathered around a small harbour area was once home to a thriving fishing industry and a centre for salt production. The village is located on the Fife Coastal Path and looks southwards across the Firth of Forth towards North Berwick and the Scottish Natural Heritage run nature reserve Isle of May (Scottish Gaelic: Eilean Mhàigh). To the west of the village stands the Old Kirk of St Monans that originally dates from the thirteenth century. A beautiful building standing within it's kirkyard and overlooking the sea. King David II (Scottish Gaelic: Dàibhidh Bruis) of Scotland, who reigned from 7th June 1329 - 22 February 1371, had the church enlarged after his life was saved during a violent storm after he had offered prayers up to St Monan.

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