Friday, September 4, 2015

The Free Mason Hall in Molesworth Street, Dublin

Located just across the the Dáil, a visit here is a learning curve and reveals a world unknown to most Dubliners. I went along when they opened their doors as part of heritage week. We were given a two hour talk, where all manner of questions could be asked, though not all were answered.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Saint Attracta's Well, Roscommon

St Attracta's well at Monasteraden,  near Ballaghdareen, County Roscommon has been frequented for centuries by women looking to become pregnant. As part of the ritual, stones, known a serpent's eggs, were taken home and returned once they became pregnant.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Sir William Wilde's Grave

While his famous son Oscar is buried in Paris, Sir William Wilde is buried at Mount Saint Jerome Cemetery in Dublin. The grave is in front of the chapel to the right.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

James Kirkland

Read about how a Longford man served in an elite Prussian regiment of tall soldiers in Fadó Fadó More Tales of Lesser Known Irish History.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Ballymanus Disaster

Check out "Fadó Fadó More Tales of Lesser-Known Irish History". Read about the sea mine, which exploded in the tranquil village of Ballymanus, County Donegal, during the Second World War (known in Ireland as The Emergency) and claimed the lived on several villagers. 

Sunday, March 15, 2015

River Corrib Artefacts

Some items recovered from the River Corrib and now in Galway City Museum. Top to bottom: iron axe, circa 100 AD, bronze sword 500 BC and a bronze sword dating from around 800 BC.

For more information check out:

Friday, March 13, 2015

Clonfert Cathedral, County Galway

Perhaps the most magnificent doorway in all of Ireland, the 12th century doorway of Clonfert Cathedral. For those who cannot view the real thing, there is a copy in the National Museum in Dublin.

Kyteler's Inn Kilkenny

The restored home of Alice Kyteler, the Kilkenny witch. She was married several times and her husband's seem to die soon afterwards. She may have been Ireland's first female serial killer and had friend's in high places who helped her escape the Norman colony to Dublin, where she vanished from the pages of history. Her maid, Petronilla of Meath, was less fortunate and was burned at the stake in 1324.  For more check out my chapter on Irish witches in my latest book "Fadó Fadó More Tales of Lesser-Known Irish History".

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Anchoress Grave Slab Kilkenny

A late Medieval Grave slab of an anchoress,  a holy woman who was bricked into her cell and never left it. Read about them, and their male equivalents, anchorites, in my latest book, "Fadó Fadó More Tales of Lesser-Known Irish History".

The above grave slab is on view in St Canice's Cathedral, Kilkenny City.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Fadó Fadó- out soon!

I hope to get the first printed copy of Fadó Fadó this week. Hopefully it will turn out okay. It should be available to order from all good bookshops by the end of March.  For those not familiar with my books Fadó Fadó is the sequel to Fadó. Again it is a collection of lesser well known episodes from Irish history from home and abroad.The chapters are long enough to inform and short enough to hold your attention. The advantage of this book is that you can pick it up and start reading from anywhere. In terms of style it is a cross between telling a story and an academic work. I will be promoting it wherever I can over the next few months. I hope you enjoy it.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Sir John Gray

Sir John Gray ( 1815-75) from Claremorris, County Mayo is credited with supplying the city of Dublin with a clean supply of water when he established the Vartry Reservoir. He died in Bath and his body returned to Dublin for burial at Glasnevin. He is commemorated both at Glasvevin and with a statue on O'Connell street.

Daniel O'Connell Mausoleum

On a recent visit to Glasnevin, I went into the Daniel O'Connell Mausoleum, easily distinguishable by the round tower. I believe it was closed until recently, but is now open to the public again.
His heart may have been in Rome, but it s current whereabouts are unknown. Below: the coffins of his relatives and the tomb itself.

Monday, February 16, 2015

"Fadó Tales of Lesser Known Irish History" a review

Fadó was reviewed by The Tuam Herald recently. This is what they had to say:

FADÓ Ronán Gearóid Ó Domhnaill Matador €14

HAVE you ever wondered what it is like to be a tour guide? Most of us have done our share of it as we proudly or reluctantly shepherd visitors from one beauty spot to another, desperately trying to remember the significance of whatever pieces of Irish history we pass along the way. We have all experienced hospitality in other places, and when the favour has to be returned, it’s handy to have a set itinerary. One of my favourites is the road through Headford to Cong, past the back gate of Ashford and along to the spectacular viewing point that provides the first glimpse of Lough Corrib, stretched out to the south with the first of its many islands punctuating the glistening waters. Glistening, that is, if you are lucky enough to get a fine day. I remember once bringing some French friends there on a damp, drizzly day in June when the mist shrouded everything, and telling them what they would see if they had time to come back another day. They didn’t, of course … Even if it’s damp, you can still stop at Cong to admire the superb Harry Clarke windows in the parish church, and visit the ruins of the abbey where Turlough O’Connor spent his last years. But start trying to remember the precise details of Turlough’s career, and that of his son Ruairi, and you may find yourself in trouble. So it’s no surprise to learn that these days, tour guides have to pass an exam before they can be accredited. It’s not an easy exam — I know of one teacher who failed it the first time. I’m sure Rónán Gearóid Ó Domhnaill passed his tour guide exam first time around. He has a passion for history, and his book Fadó is subtitled “Tales of lesser known Irish History”. It’s a real mixthrum-gatherum of tales from around the country and far beyond, and is the kind of thing you can dip into for a mental break from time to time. Hardly any chapter is longer than 1,000 words. While in no way is this a history of Ireland, the chapters are roughly chronological, starting with Crom Cruach, the idol attacked with a sledge hammer by St Patrick. I’d heard of Crom Cruach, but knew nothing of it. Apparently it was at the centre of a cult of human sacrifice. Not the kind of thing we like to associate with our Celtic ancestors. Skip forward a few chapters and a few centuries and you come to Dunmore Cave in Co Kilkenny, in which 1,000 people were massacred in the year 928. Human remains have been found there, as well as a hoard of Viking coins. Another skip in time brings you to Roscommon and the hangwoman known as Lady Betty. A Kerrywoman originally, she moved north to Roscommon in search of a better life but was condemned to death for the murder of her son. (She didn’t know he was her son, but that’s another story.) She was sentenced to hang and her execution was due to take place on the same day as that of 25 Whiteboys. When the hangman did not turn up, she volunteered to do the job in exchange for her own life, and spent the rest of her life as the executioner, living in Roscommon jail until her death in 1807. She was a nasty piece of goods. Also from Roscommon was one James Brady, born in Strokestown in 1920. He joined the British army and was stationed in Guernsey, and was in jail there when the Germans invaded. Taken prisoner of war, he joined the German army (which was trying to set up an Irish brigade) and ended up a sergeant in the SS. There are over 50 chapters in this highly diverting book, and even if you don’t have a bus to catch, there are many other situations closer to home in which a short read would be useful.

David Burke’s Bookshelf, The Tuam Herald , 5 February 2015

Friday, February 13, 2015

Roundtower, in ruins, County Galway

This example of a Round Tower was visited at Kilbannon, Tuam, County Galway.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Holy Well, Kilbannon, Tuam, County Galway

The ancient Holy well at Kilbannon, just outside Tuam, embraced by an ancient oak tree. It does not appear to be venerated anymore.  It is interesting to see how the well is encircled by trees.

Fairy Tree, Tuam County Galway.

Located beside they busy N17, the road may and times may have changed but this solitary tree has not and is left undisturbed; a testament to a bygone era and superstition.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Cavendish and Burke Cross, The Phoenix Park, Dublin

It is a little known white pebble cross which marks the exact spot where the newly appointed Chief Secreatry for Ireland Frederick Cavendish and the Permanent Undersecretary Thomas Henry Burke were assassinated in 1882 by a group calling themselves the Invincibles. It was a murder which shocked the British establishment. The ghost of Cavendish is said to still haunt the area.
The cross is very discreet and there does appear to be any political motivation for the lack of a proper monument. It is difficult to find. As you enter drive along the main thoroughfare through the main entrance it is on the left hand side just across from Áras an Uachtaráin, very close to a distance stone, bench and a tree.

My most sincere thanks to the park ranger who helped me track down this forgotten monument.

Below: The Vicregal Lodge, home of the Lord Lieutenant, Britain's representative to Ireland and today called Áras an Uachtaráin, the home of the Irish president.

Martello Tower, Portmarnock

The Martello Towers were built along the Irish coast in the Napoleonic era as watch towers for a  potential French invasion. There are several in Dublin, some of which have been converted into residential homes,  such as this example at Portmarnock in County Dublin. 

Friday, January 30, 2015

James Joyce

James Joyce (1882-1941), who immortalised Dublin in his writings, most of which he penned while living abroad. Ignore in Ireland during his lifetime, he has recently become cherished and though William Butler Yeats’ remains were repatriated there was never any interest in doing the same for Joyce.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

George Bernard Shaw Quotes

"A life spent making mistakes is not only more honourable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing."

" You see things; and you say 'why'? But I dream things that never were; and I say 'why not?' "

George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)

Born in Dublin. He was the only person ever to win the Nobel Prize for Literature (1925) and an Academy Award (1938).

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

"Critics are like eunuchs in a harem; they know how it's done, they've seen it done every day, but they're unable to do it themselves."

                                                                  Brendan Behan

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Magdalen Laundry Monument, Galway City

It is an awkward monument, a reminder to a disturbing part of the history of the city, which many would prefer forgotten. For decades unmarried women and single mothers were incarcerated at the Magdalen Laundry- delivered there by their own families. Society was happy to have them swept under the carpet. Located close to the site of the former Magdalen Laudry and across from the tourist office, plans are afoot to have it removed to a less prominent location.

Make visible the tree
its branches ragged
with washed out linens
of a bleached shroud

Patricia B.Brogan

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Connaught Rangers Memorial Window

The Connaught Rangers, an Irish Regiment of the British army were based in Galway, until they were disbanded in 1922. Though many Galwegians served in the regiment, it was considered that they had fought on the wrong side and their history was largely suppressed. When the cathedral was built in 1965, a discreet window was dedicated to 'The Devils Own' as the regiment was nicknamed. According to local lore, shots were fired at it soon after. It is  a little known part of our city's cultural heritage. It depicts David and Goliath and the inscription 'In memory of all ranks who served in the Connaught Rangers "Quis Separabit" 88th 94th.

Holy Well,Galway City

St Augustine's Well in Loughatalia (Loch an tSáile=salty lake) is located on the shores of Galway Bay, close to the Radisson Hotel. The county has hundreds of wells but this particular one is the city's most well known and most accessible. In the past it was known for providing a cure for eye and ear ailments. Note the coins, a votiv offering, in the well.


Friday, January 9, 2015

Kiltullagh House

Kiltullagh House, County Galway. Located near Athenry, it numbers among one the county's 'Big Houses', a remnant to a bygone era. It was the home of the D'arcys, descendants of the Tribes of Galway and was built around 1786. By the end of the 19th century it had fallen into ruin. Its two chimneys make is distinctive and attracted my attention when driving past. Scaffolding was erected within the structure recently either with a view towards possible restoration or preventing it from further decay.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Red Hugh O'Donnell

Red Hugh O'Donnell statue in Donegal Town. He preceded the more famous Red Hugh who broke out of Dublin Castle.