Ker Ys (Breton: Kêr-Is)

In the Celtic mythology of Brittany Ker Ys (Breton: Kêr-Is) was a City lost under the sea. The City was said to have been built by Gradlon, legendary 5th century King associated with the area of Cornouaille in Brittany. King Gradlon was said to be a great warrior and was engaged in warfare against lands in the far north. He had many ships which he used to conduct his attacks. Although successful his sailors became tired of fighting and decided to return home leaving Gradlon alone in the north. It was then that Gradlon met the magician and Queen of the North, Malgven.

Impressed by his prowess as a warrior, she persuaded Gradlon to join her in killing her husband, the King of the North. The pair then took Morvarc'h, Malgven’s magical black horse, who is described as being able to ride on the sea and breathed fire from his nostrils, One version say’s that they caught up with the fleet of boats carrying Gradlon’s sailors, but that a storm separated them from the main fleet. Another says that the fleet scattered out of fear of the site of Morvarc'h. The result of either was that Gradlon and Malgven were adrift for many months. On the long journey Malgven gave birth to their daughter, Dahut. In some versions of the story Malgven died during childbirth. In others, she did not die but decided to return to her own land having established that Gradlon loved and cared for the child. She asked Gradlon to drop her off on an island and told him that Dahut would always have Malgven’s face to remind him of her.

Auld Lang Syne - The Song That Welcomes New Year

'Auld Lang Syne' is the song traditionally sung at midnight  on New Year’s Eve. Known as Hogmanay in Scotland the name is derived from a Goidelic Celtic linguistic root.

Robert Burns

The song is a Scottish poem by Robert Burns, also known as Robbie or Rabbie Burns (25 January 1759 – 12 July 1796) Scotland’s national poet. It is set to the music of a traditional Scottish folk tune.

Robert Burns was born in the village of Alloway (Scottish Gaelic: Allmhaigh) in South Ayrshire (Scottish Gaelic: Siorrachd Inbhir Àir a Deas). He died at the age of 37 and his Mausoleum is at St Michael’s churchyard in Dumfries (Scottish Gaelic: Dùn Phris). The cottage in which he was born is now the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum.

 

Bliahdhna Mhath Ùr (Happy New Year)

Sláinte Mhaith  (Good Health)!

The Celtic Roots of Christmas Traditions

Celtic Christmas

The roots of the Christmas traditions that we recognize today can be traced back to pre-Christian celebrations of the Winter solstice. The solstice is the twice yearly event when the sun appears to be at its highest or lowest point above the horizon. In the northern hemisphere the Winter solstice usually occurs annually between December 20 and December 23.

The Winter solstice was seen by the ancient Celts as one of the most significant times of the year. The Neolithic monuments of Newgrange in Éire, Maes Howe in Orkney, Scotland and Bryn Celli Ddu in Ynys Môn,  Wales are examples of burial chambers scattered throughout the Celtic nations constructed to capture the full impact of sun’s rays during the solstices.

Druids, the priestly class in ancient Celtic society, celebrated the festival of Alban Arthuan (also known as Yule) at the time of the Winter solstice. It was on this day that they ceremonially gathered mistletoe from oak trees. A practice described in the writings of Roman historian Pliny the Elder (Gaius Plinius Secundus AD 23 – August 25, AD 79).

Giants Causeway - the stepping-stones created by an Irish giant

Giants Causeway (Irish: Clochán an Aifir or Clochán na bhFomhórach) is a remarkable and beautiful place that is recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a nature reserve. Located on the northern coast of County Antrim (Irish: Contae Aontroma) in the northeast of Ireland (Irish: Éire). The area is made up of about 40,000 interlocked basalt columns resulting from a volcanic eruption some 60 million years ago. The majority of the columns are hexagonal, but others have a different number of sides.

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.

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.

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