The Norwegian Princess who controlled Skye’s strait of Kyle Akin

Lochalsh

Loch Alsh is a sea inlet between Skye (Scottish Gaelic: An t-Eilean Sgitheanach) in the Inner Hebrides (Scottish Gaelic: Na h-Eileanan a-staigh) and the Northwest Highlands of Scotland. The strait of Kyle Akin is a narrow stretch of water at the entrance of the loch with the village of Kyleakin (Caol Àcain) on the Skye side and opposite on the northwest Scottish mainland is the town of Kyle of Lochalsh (Caol Loch Aillse). The strait takes its name from Acain, which derives from the name Haakon after King Haakon IV of Norway. It was here that King Haakon IV of Norway, supported by Gaelic forces from the Western Isles, anchored his fleet prior to engaging in battle with the Scottish King Alexander III, at Largs in 1263 AD.

Roche Rock, Roche, Kernow

The settlement of Roche sits on a prominent ridge on the northern edge of the St Austell Downs, close to the headwaters of the Fal River, Cornwall’s longest river. The area appears to contain a large number of local springs, river sources and holy wells, as well as a supposedly magical pool near Roche Rock, itself a striking rocky pinnacle of tourmalinised granite, and a geological Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Sgáthach the legendary Scottish warrior queen

Scottish warrior

In Gaelic legend, Sgáthach, or Scáthach, is a Scottish warrior. She features in the Ulster Cycle (Irish: an Rúraíocht) one of the four cycles in Irish mythology along with the Mythological Cycle, Fenian Cycle and the Historical Cycle (also known as the Cycles of the Kings). Sgáthach was said to be a warrior queen whose fortress, Dún Scáith or Dùn Sgàthaich (Fortress of Shadows) is named after her and is on the Isle of Skye (Scottish Gaelic: An t-Eilean Sgitheanach). The remains of  Dunscaith Castle now stand on the site where her fortress was once said to be located.

Sgáthach trained the legendary Irish hero Cú Chulainn, who also appears in Scottish and Manx folklore. He is said to be the son of Lugh, a god in Irish mythology and member of the pre-Christian Gaelic pantheon the Tuatha Dé Danann. In the Ulster Cycle, Lugh fathered Cú Chulainn with the mortal maiden Deichtine who was the sister of Conchobar mac Nessa the king of Ulster. The instruction of Cú Chulainn by Sgáthach is described  in Tochmarc Emire (The Wooing of Emer), one of the stories in the Ulster Cycle. Cú Chulainn had fallen in love with Emer, daughter of Forgall Monach, who opposed to the match. He suggested that Cú Chulainn should complete his training as a warrior with Sqáthach in the land of Alba (Scotland) before marrying Emer. Forgall’s expectation was that Cú Chulainn would be killed in the process.

Interview with Dr. Jenny Butler: The Celtic Folklore Traditions of Halloween

Dr. Jenny Butler

By popular demand, we are re-featuring this exclusive interview with Dr. Jenny Butler, originally published in October 2013.

The ancestry of modern Halloween, which needs no introduction here, leads on a straight line back to Samhain, the Celtic feast day of the Dead. One of the four annual feast days of the Celtic world, Samhain was such an important feast day that it did not escape the notice of Julius Caesar as he ravaged Celtic Gaul who remarked that the Celtic god of death and winter was worshipped on this day.

Samhain was the principal feast day of Celtic Ireland prior to the arrival of Christianity. Over time, the Christianisation of Celtic religious belief re-made Samhain into All Saints Day, a principal Holy Day of the Catholic Church, which as the name of the Holy Day suggests, gives a nod to its roots as the Celtic feast of the dead. The smooth transition from Celtic Samhain to the Christian holiday honouring dead Christian Saints is just another example of how expert were St. Patrick’s missionaries in weaving Celtic myth into Christian belief making it seem as if the new religion was really an extension of the existing faith in the Gods of the Celtic Pantheon.

Transceltic are honoured to have had the opportunity to interview Dr Jenny Butler on her insights into the origins of Halloween. Dr Butler is a folklorist based at University College Cork's Folklore and Ethnology Department with a PhD thesis on the topic of Irish Neo-Paganism. Dr Butler’s principal interests are in the areas of mythology, belief narratives, folk religion, ritual and festival. A member of The Irish Society for the Academic Study of Religions (ISASR), she has numerous articles to her credit. Dr Butler is currently working on a book about Irish contemporary Paganism.

Ankou: Breton Halloween Story

Ankou

The night's celebration of Kala Goany (the Celtic festival of Halloween) had been good. A walk home on this crisp autumn night on the outskirts of Belle Isle en Terre, Brittany gave the opportunity for Morgyn to clear her head. The wine had flowed freely all night and everyone had entered into the spirit of things, dressing in costumes and of course, it being Halloween, the more gaudy and macabre the outfit the better. Midnight had arrived; people had listened attentively to the ghost stories being told around the crackling log fire, alternately frightened and amused. That was the way of things on Kala Goany, a traditional celebration with an undercurrent of respect for the supernatural. Morgyn loved Halloween; there was a special magical atmosphere on this night that gave her a feeling of closeness to her Breton ancestry and Celtic identity.

Levant Mine Disaster, Cornwall 20th October 1919

Levant Mine

A member of 'Kernow Matters To Us' (KMTU) lost two ancestors in the Levant disaster. Their wives were evicted within a couple of weeks being unable to pay the Bolitho Bank of Cornwall the rent for their cottages and ended up in the Penzance Union Workhouse. 

Here's the background to that fateful day:

The cliffs of St Just provide a dramatic backdrop the for the scene of one of Cornwall's worst mining disasters in recorded history.

Perched on the edge of the cliffs remain several buildings which offer insight into the work of the men and women who risked their lives at Levant Mine; commonly known as 'Queen of Cornwall's submarine mines'.

Hidden beneath the sea is a labyrinth of tunnels which stretch a mile out, once used to extract tin and copper from the earth.

The mine was operational between 1820 and 1930 and produced 130,000 tonnes of copper, 24,000 tonnes of tin and around 4,000 tonnes of arsenic. The earliest records of copper being mined at the site date back to 1670. It was a lucrative business, with some £2.25 million returned.

The Remarkable Irish Monastery of Sceilg Mhichíl

Skellig Islands (Irish: Na Scealaga)

Ireland's Skellig Islands (Irish: Na Scealaga), are two small spectacular pinnacles rising out of the Atlantic Ocean just over 12 km (7 miles) southwest of Valentia Island, County Kerry (Irish: Dairbhre, Contae Chiarraí). The largest of the islands is Skellig Michael ((Irish: Sceilg Mhichíl). The smaller is Little Skellig (Irish: Sceilg Bheag). The islands each have their own beauty and significance. Sceilg Bheag for its significant and important bird population. Skellig Michael, also an important site for seabirds, for its early Christian monastery that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Skellig Islands (Irish: Na Scealaga)

Given that the Skellig Islands are such significant features, rising as they do so dramatically out of the Atlantic Ocean close to the Irish coast. It is difficult to imagine that they did not play a part in the mythology of pre-Christian Ireland. Although there is no record of the islands being inhabited prior to the construction of the monastery, folklore has it that Ir, son of Míl Espáine, was buried on the island. In Irish ancient legend, Míl Espáine is the ancestor of early inhabitants of Ireland, the Milesians. In the collection of writings in the Lebor Gabála Érenn, the earliest version of which was compiled in the 11th century, the Milesians agree to divide Ireland with the Tuatha Dé Danann, a supernatural race in Irish mythology. They take the world above, while the Tuatha Dé take the world below known as the 'Otherworld'. There is also a text dating from the 8th or 9th century which states that Duagh, King of West Munster, escaped to "Scellecc" after a feud with the Kings of Cashel.

Kindrochit Castle And The Mystery Of The Kindrochit Brooch

The remains of Kindrochit Castle (Scottish Gaelic: Caisteal Ceann na Drochaid) are in the centre of the village of Braemar (Bràigh Mhàrr). A Castle was built here in the second half of the 11th century by King Malcolm III of Scotland (Malcolm Canmore). Malcolm (Gaelic: Máel Coluim; c. 1031 – 13 November 1093) was King of Scots from 1058 to 1093. The castle's Gaelic name Ceann-drochit can be translated into English as Bridge Head and a bridge was built here across the River Clunie. The stronghold held a strategically important position as the meeting point of the great passes across the Mounth, crossing Glen Cova east of the Clunie water and Spital of Glenshee on the west.

County, Duchy, Nation or Country? The Case For Cornwall

Porthcurno

Introduction

FOR many decades, Cornwall has been the poor relation in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.  It vies with the west of Wales as being the poorest region of northern Europe, has the UK’s lowest average income and among the UK’s highest domestic overheads.  Although its citizens pay the same proportion of their income in taxes as anyone else, Cornwall has been scandalously underfunded by London for far too long.  In 2002, it was reliably calculated that the UK Government takes £300 million a year more from Cornwall than it gives back (‘Business Age’ magazine).  Cornwall was once a proud independent Celtic kingdom but through historical events which lay outside both democratic and legal process, it has been counted, by London, as part of England since the mid 16th century; its people labelled as “English” and, since 1889, it has been administered as though it were a mere county of England.

Cornwall is much more than that.  It is still home to an indigenous people with a 12,000-year history – with the Welsh, the oldest peoples of Britain - and who are genetically distinct from the inhabitants of England.  It has an ancient and surviving language whose history can be traced back for 5,000 years.  It also has a unique and quite remarkable constitutional status within the UK, which has long been subjected to official and media concealment.  It retains, intact, a legal right to govern itself (also, for the most part, concealed from the public eye); and, for some 700 years, it even has a separate Head of State.

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