Celtic Culture & heritage

Owain Glyndŵr

Owain Glyndŵr (c.1349-c.1416) was the leader of a Welsh revolt against English rule between 1400 and 1409. Years of attempts to subordinate the Welsh to the English crown and harsh rule had created a climate ripe for popular revolt.  Owain Glyndŵr was well placed to lead this rebellion. He was charismatic and directly descended from Welsh aristocracy and royalty.

Owain Glyndŵr's dispute with his neighbour Lord Grey of Ruthin, a close ally of Henry IV, sparked the revolt. After Owain Glyndŵr’s attack on Ruthin and other towns in north Wales Henry led an army into Wales and Glyndŵr’s lands were confiscated.  Owain Glyndŵr and his forces embarked on a successful campaign of guerrilla warfare which developed into conventional battles. As he started to score ever more impressive victories Owain Glyndŵr’s fame spread throughout Wales. He drew increasing support from the Welsh eager to throw off the yoke of English rule.

The Thistle - Scotlands Proud Floral Emblem

Scottish thistle

The purple thistle has been Scotland's national emblem for centuries. Amongst the identifiable symbols of things associated with Scotland the thistle probably ranks alongside tartan. Heather is also thought of as a symbol of Scotland and wearing a sprig of heather is believed to bring good luck. However, the thistle is used by all kinds of organisations across Scotland as an emblem. It has also been seen as a royal symbol since James III used it on silver coins in 1470. James III (10 July 1451 – 11 June 1488) was proclaimed King of Scotland at the age of 8, following the death of his father James II. He was killed at the Battle of Sauchieburn in Stirlingshire on 11 June 1488. Common throughout the highlands, islands and lowlands of Scotland, the thistle has earned a special place in the heart of Scottish people.

The Manx General Strike 1918

Manx Nationalist Party Mec Vannin have announced that next year - 2018, they will commemorate the centenary of the Manx General Strike which took place in July 1918. The successful strike was a remarkable event in the history of the Isle of Man. It is excellent news and absolutely appropriate that Mec Vannin are giving this the recognition it deserves. As a result we have decided to publish again an article previously written on the Manx General Strike.

Laxey Mines

In 1918 the Isle of Man was rocked by a General Strike that predated the British General Strike by eight years. It resulted in the annual July 5th Tynwald Day ceremony being postponed. This was a major blow to what is said to be the oldest continuous parliament in the world. The strikers went on to win their demands and this is the story of the events that led to the strike. This important event in the Island’s history was never taught when I was at school, which was symptomatic of the absence of Manx history from the school curriculum and particularly anything relating to organised labour.

The Druids - The Intelligentsia of the Celtic World

Oak tree

In most people’s minds the image of a Druid, if they have an image at all, is a vague notion of Merlin the Magician, or a shadowy sinister practitioner of human sacrifice, perhaps an oddly dressed New Age Hippy.  But that image is far from the truth and the real story of the Druids is so much more than that.

You may ask yourself why you should care. What does it matter? It matters because the Druids were the caretakers of Celtic culture. They suffered at the hands of the Romans who were rightly intimidated by the depth of the knowledge and wisdom passed down from generation to generation in the Oral tradition of Druidic teaching. Later the conversion of the Celtic peoples to Christianity lead to the gradual erosion of the remaining vestiges of the Druidical order. The histories show that the Christian missionaries were adept at synthesising Druidical beliefs and practices with those of the Christian religion. These new beliefs were made to seem like extensions of the existing Celtic beliefs and practices rather than what they really were - a completely novel and foreign religion.

Druids were the repository of the immensity of Celtic culture, the culture that held sway over most of Western Europe before the Romans. Had it not been for the Celtic religious ban on committing the wisdom and learning of the Druids to the written word, it would be the legacy of the Celts, rather than that of Greeks, that would be hailed today as the basis of western civilization. The Druids deserve to have their story told and those of us who believe in a Celtic identity owe it to their memory and enduring spirit to attempt an understanding of  their role in our legacy whether Breton, Scot , Manx, Irish, Welsh or Cornish.

The Great Hunger: Ireland 1845-1849 by Cecil Woodham-Smith

Famine Memorial Dublin

The horror of what is casually referred to as the "Potato Famine" is meticulously chronicled in the superb and immensely readable "The Great Hunger: Ireland 1845-1849", by Cecil Woodham-Smith. The first paragraph sets the tone:

At the beginning of 1845, the state of Ireland was as it had been for nearly seven hundred years, a source of grave anxiety to England. Ireland had first been invaded in 1169; it was now 1845 yet she had been neither assimilated nor subdued. The country had been invaded not once but several times, the land had been conquered and redistributed over and over again, the population had been brought to the verge of extinction – after Cromwell's conquest and settlement only some half million Irish survived - yet an Irish nation still existed, separate, numerous and hostile.

Snaefell Mining Disaster 1897, Isle of Man

Snaefell Mine in 1870

Snaefell (Manx: Sniaull) is the highest mountain on the Isle of Man (Mannin), at 2,037 feet (621 m) above sea level. To the east the magnificent Laxey Valley sweeps down towards the coastal village of Laxey (Manx: Laksaa) where it meets the Irish Sea. Walking upwards along the track from Laxey, past the tiny settlement of Agneash, a gradual climb takes you alongside the river that flows along the floor of the valley. On a fine day the views are spectacular. As you approach Snaefell you eventually reach the remains of the old Snaefell Mine that lie in the shadow of the mountain. Just above the site nestling behind a group of pine trees there is a beautiful little waterfall. A peaceful and tranquil place to sit and take in the scenery. Nevertheless, there is an air of sadness here, often commented upon even by those without a knowledge of the events that took place at the Snaefell Mine on 10th of May 1897. As if a memory of the tragedy that happened here over a century ago is held within the clasp of the surrounding hills.

Horses in Celtic Mythology


Amongst Celtic peoples the horse has always been highly venerated and seen as a prized possession. Horses were viewed as status symbols, treated with great respect, treasured and well cared for. There was a great bond between Celts and their horses. The esteem in which they were held is not surprising when the impact of the animal on everyday life, survival and battle are considered. The Celts were known as very skilled cavalry fighters and charioteers. The Romans used mercenaries from Gaul because they were known to have these skills. The importance of chariots in battle is recounted in Irish medieval literature that draws on much older ancient folklore. Such stories are told in the Ulster Cycle featuring the legendary Irish warrior Cú Chulainn, son of the god Lugh associated with the pre-Christian Celtic pantheon of the Tuatha Dé Danann.

Dupath Well - the largest and most impressive Well House in Cornwall

Dupath Well

Dupath Well is an almost complete granite Well House built over an ancient spring. It is said to have been built in 1510 by the Augustinian canons of St Germans Priory. It is the largest and most impressive Well House in Cornwall, constructed from grey granite blocks, with a roof made from long stones that run the length of the building, overlapping each another.

Çhibbyr Maghal - St Maughold's Well

St Patricks Well at Maughold

Christianity was brought to the Isle of Man (Manx: Mannin) by Irish missionaries. According to legend, Saint Patrick came to the Island first setting foot on a small island off the Isle of Man that still bears his name, St Patrick's Isle (Manx: Ellan Noo Perick). There are a number of early churches (Keeills) dedicated to Patrick (Manx: Pherick) and two parish churches. There are also a number of holy wells named after him. Although the patron saint of Ireland, Saint Patrick is very important in the Manx Christian tradition.

St Patrick & Maughold

St Maughold

As we approach the feast Day of the Patron Saint of Ireland, the mind reels at the immensity of Patrick's presence in the English Speaking world. No doubt it is rooted in Irish emigration, but what explains this phenomenon? How is it that a Roman Briton came to be an icon of the modern Celtic world?

Revellers who participate in St Patrick's Day celebrations are measured in the tens of millions. Based on published attendance records for Manchester, Dublin, New York City, Philadelphia, Toronto and Sydney, approaching 5 million people will either participate in or attend the parades in these cities alone. The first "official" St. Patrick’s Day Parade took place in New York City in 1848, as the Great Famine raged in Ireland (1845-1852).  The first parade was organised by a consortium of Irish Aid Societies which had sprung up in New York in response to the increase in Irish immigrants to the city, many of whom were survivors of the Coffin Ships. Today New York's St. Patricks Day Parade has the distinction of being the world’s oldest civilian parade and the largest such event in the United States.


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