Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Lucky Stone, Dublin

The Lucky Stone is to be found in the 12th century St Audeons Church, the oldest Church in Ireland, Dublin. Made of granite, it was probably a tombstone and is adorned with a Greek cross. It dates from around the 9th century. It was located at the start of the Slí Mhór, an esker which brought travellers to the west and was considered lucky to rub it over the centuries. The church in managed by the Office of Public Works(OPW) and entrance is free.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

The Unkempt buildings of Dublin

Although Dublin city has cleaned up its streets in recent years, many building in the city centre, north and south of the Liffey,  are in an unkempt state. The above building reminds me of Eastern Europe in the 1990s and it is lamentable that the city does compel the owners of such building to keep it in a presentable state. It is interesting to note that although there is a housing crisis in Dublin, there are apparently 20,000 empty dwellings in the capital. Sadly the city centre is becoming unaffordable to live in and it has been forecast that with in ten years Dublin city centre will be unaffordable to rent for anyone earning less than 70,000 Euro.   

The German Children Monument, Dublin

A monument, representing the three Norns of Nordic Mythology was presented to the Irish people by a grateful German government in recognition of the aid Ireland offered to young German citizens. Around 800 German children arrived in Ireland in the aftermath of the Second World war. Many were malnourished and had only the clothes on their back. They stayed for two years before returning to their native Germany. 50 of them remained here and made Ireland their home.The monument in St Stephen's Green, Dublin.

Famine Memorial Galway City

Unveiled only very recently and against the backdrop of Galway bay, is the city's only famine memorial. For decades the subject of the famine was a taboo topic and a sense of shame meant that very few monuments were ever erected to this tragedy in our history. The names of the ships which sailed west during the famine years are inscribed on the adjacent plaque. The monument is located on Grattan Road, Salthill. 

Late medieval bird catcher, Adare

The structure shown above served as a bird catcher in the medieval period. Birds could enter through the narrow opening in the roof but could not exit making them easy to catch for food. It is situated in Adare, county Limerick and is one of many interesting sites in the picturesque village 

Friday, November 17, 2017

Honour Bright Plaque, County Dublin

Honour Bright aka Lizzie O Neill was a prostitute. Her body was found in the Dublin mountains in 1925. She had been shot and both a Garda superintendent and a doctor were involved. The plaque is located a few metres from the start of Ticknock Road, imbedded in a garden wall on the left and flanked by two flower pots. More on the murder is available here:

Monday, November 13, 2017

A still from a documentary about Albert Cashier of County Louth, where I speak briefly about his time as a Union soldier. The documentary entitled "Saighdiúr Lincoln" was part of the Cogar series broadcast on TG4. For information on Albert Cashier, check out my book Fadó Fadó.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

St Finian's Well, County kerry

St Finian's Well, Kenmare, County Kerry

Bloody Sunday Victim 1920

The grave of Jane Boyle, shot dead by British soldiers when they invaded Croke Park on 21 November 1920 and fired into the crowd of spectators as a Gaelic football match was in progress. She is buried at Glasnevin.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Ghostly Spectre in County Kerry?

November is a time when we remember our dead. On a trip to county Kerry I stopped off at an old graveyard. I stuck my camera lens through the opening in the tomb and took the above picture. Granted it was raining and the spots in the picture may be simply raindrops but a physic who saw the picture claimed they were orbs and two people could be seen looking out from inside the tomb.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Cén mhaith í an Ghaeilge muna bhfuil daoine sasta í a labhairt?

Smaoineamh an lae:

Cén mhaith í an Ghaeilge muna bhfuil daoine sasta í a labhairt?

Friday, October 20, 2017

Good deals on my books

For very reasonably priced books check out   www.books.ie  .  Apart from buying directly from myself, this seller seems to have my books at the cheapest price.
Prices do not include postage.


Sunday, September 24, 2017

Early Irish medals

A selection of Irish medals awarded to men and women for fought for Irish freedom. 
From left:1916 medal, awarded to all those who fought in the 1916 Rising. The War of Independence service medal, with bar which means the recipient took part in the fighting. The 1916 Survivor's medal, awarded to all those still living in 1966 for the 50th commemoration. The Truce Anniversary medal awarded to survivors on the 50th anniversary of the truce in 1971. 

The above medals form part of the eyewitness History exhibition in the GPO, Dublin.
More information of Irish medals is available here:

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Rainbow on the Ring of Kerry

A rainbow at Glenbeigh, looking onto the Dingle Peninsula in County Kerry where I was recently with a great group of people from England.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Local Galway History Books

On a recent visit to my home town of Galway, I was pleased to see my last book, "Gone the Way of Truth" in a place of prominence in Easons on Shop Street. Glad to have the support of local bookshops.
It is a great book for someone who wants to get out and about and explore the countryside. Many of the graves featured within its pages are of interest to anyone interested in Irish history, not just local Galway history. The strange title of the book is a translation from the Irish euphemism for death, imithe ar shlí na fírinne.
I see I have been referenced on wikipedia


Some great tales behind the names of Irish rivers.

Friday, September 1, 2017

"...of the 56th regiment, who died accidentally by drowning, at Carrick-on-Suir, 17 July 1868, in his 28th year."
I feel that I know you, Job Wilks -
No imperial trooper swaggering
these servile Tipperary streets
before my grandfather drew breath,
but a country lad out of Hardy
drunk on payday and pining for Wessex,
flirting with Carrick girls
in fetid laneways after dark
out of step on parade to Sunday service
with comrades who loved you enough
to raise out of soldiers' pay this stone
which would halt my feet among nettles
now that jackdaws are free in the chancel,
Communion plate lies deep
in the dark of a bank vault,
and spinster daughter of the last rector,
in a home for the aged,
whispers all night to an only brother
dead these forty years in Burma.
How commonplace, Job Wilks, how strange
that this should be where
it would end for you, twenty-eight
summers after the midwife washed you.
With that first immersion
you took your part
in the music of what happens,
and an Irish river was flowing
to meet you, make you intimate clay
of my town.
On a July day of imperial sun
did your deluged eyes find
vision of Wessex, as Suir water
sang in your brain?
I know the same river you knew, Job,
the same sky and hill and stone bridge:
I hope there were Carrick girls with tears
for a country lad out of Hardy,
drunk on payday and pining
for Wessex.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

some of my publications as listed on irishinterest.ie


Thursday, August 24, 2017

Fadó Fadó Copies still available

I still have a few copies of Fadó Fadó available. As its self-published, it not readily available in shops. Its reasonably priced at 15 Euro including postage and packaging. If interested drop me a line on contact email on this site.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Folk Cures of North Galway

Between 1937 and 1939 the Folklore Commission began a unique and invaluable project to collect different aspects of Irish folklore. In order to do this they requested the help of primary school teachers throughout the Irish Free State. More than 50,000 school children from 5,000 schools took part in what became known as the Schools’ Project which is now being made available for public consumption on the internet.
In neat handwriting in both English and Irish, national school pupils, after consulting their relatives and neighbours, wrote about folktales and legends, riddles and proverbs, games and pastimes, superstitions and cures of their local area. They form a portal to another era and much of what they wrote down has long since being forgotten and highlight a time when people lived very closely with the land.  Today we go to the health food shop and buy overpriced goods to maintain our health but people a hundred years ago knew how to find these things in nature. Nettles were boiled and eaten during the month of March to purify the blood. Burdock or cradán as it was also known was boiled and drunk to do this as well. Wild carrot was used for kidney trouble. Chicken weed heated very hot was applied to swellings and sores. Bleeding was stopped with cobwebs and fine feathers.
One of the ledgers I consulted was compiled by school teacher Eibhlín Halliday of Knockroe, Dunmore, County Galway and the folk cures described in it interested me the most.  She had a keen interest in folklore and it is clear from the ledger that she had been collecting them for years and many of the cures were told to her by her grandparents. Reference is made to ‘long ago’ and writing in 1937 this would be going back to the first half of the 19th century. People were a lot more superstitious in the early 20th century and the ledger contains a description of a woman in Carrnagur who had the evil eye and still born children were believed to have been taken by the faeries.  We learn about the ailments people suffered from at the time. The most deadly one was consumption, otherwise known as TB, which was a major affliction in the country until Noel Browne tackled the problem in the 1950s. People suffering from consumption were encouraged to drink donkey’s milk. A child suffering from the whooping cough was placed under a donkey’s stomach. Another cure involved boiling a mouse in milk and having the child drink the milk. The soup from a boiled hedgehog was also believed to be a cure. Alternatively the advice of man on a white or grey horse was sought and followed. Those suffering from boils let a snail crawl onto the afflicted area. Turpentine was placed on loaf sugar and given to children suffering from worms. A toothache could be cured by boiling a frog and drinking the liquid. People with ankle sprains placed their leg under a waterfall and this eased the pain as indeed did goose lard rubbed on the afflicted area. There were healing men who would utter incantations as they performed their healing. Eibhhlín Halliday’s grandmother had turf mould in her eye and went to healer in Claddagh, Tuam. He placed a glass of water on a table and bade her sit close to it. He then muttered an incantation and the turf mould appeared in the glass and she was cured immediately.
Towards the end of the Great War Europe was ravaged by the Spanish flu.  Although not terribly well remembered, more than 20,000 Irish people died until it subsided in 1919. People carried garlic around with them which was believed would ward off the fatal flu. Though not mentioned in the project, another cure for the Spanish flu was whiskey.
In Kilkerrin, school teacher Caitlín, Bean Uí Chuimín described a cure for warts. The afflicted person wrote their name on a rag with a burnt tick and burnt the rag secretly.  It was believed that the warts would disappear as the rag burnt. A cure for a sore throat was believed to be found by heating salt and putting it on cloth tied around the neck or putting boiled potatoes in sock and tying it around the neck. Ring worm could be cured with a mixture of sulphur and unsalted butter. A herb known as buachaillí an tighe could cure sore eyes. A fox's tongue was used to remove thorns. A sprain could be cured by wrapping a snáithe leónta, a type of woollen string and accompanied by prayers wrapped around the afflicted area for nine days.  Those suffering from headaches would have their head measured three times on three different occasions as they believed that their head might have actually split. Warts could be washed before sunrise in the water found in a particular bullaun stone blessed by St Patrick. A bullaun stone was a hole in a rock, and its water was believed to have curative properties. Drinking water from a holy well before sunrise was believed to have general curative properties though some such a well in Boyounagh graveyard were believed to specifically cure warts. Boiled nettle juice was believed to cure measles.
Faith healers such as a seventh son of a seventh son were more common and could cure by merely touching the afflicted area. Some people believed that they only had curative powers if something was placed into their hand immediately after birth before being placed on their mother’s breast. A worm placed in his hand would ensure he could cure scurvy while a herb would give them the power to cure cancer.
The cures are to the modern world bizarre but would have been tried and trusted and passed down several generations. The power of belief is the most important cure. My own grandmother used to make an ointment which was known to cure burns, the ingredients of which were known only to the women of the family. At her funeral last year, I was impressed by the amount of people who proclaimed how the ointment had cured them of their affliction.
All of the above cures were taken from different ledgers of the schools project which is available to view free of charge on the dúchas website at www.duchas.ie.  More ledgers can be viewed at the folklore collection, stored at the UCD library in Dublin. 

Monday, July 24, 2017


The above picture shows a ringfort, of which there are several thousand on the island. It may also have been used as a cillín or cemetery for unbaptised children. They survived through the ages as they were regarded as sacred places and dwellings if the sí or faerie. The example shown here is in North Kerry and commands a view of six counties. 

Kenmare Stone Circle

Kenmare Stone circle with a rag tree. I am unsure however if a rag tree is an established tradition or something recently created by or for tourists? It is one of few stone circles located so close to a town. Admission to the site is two euros.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Farce of Irish

Irish is the original language of Ireland, a language that sets us apart from the English, but it is also a language that we can neither seem to completely embrace nor completely discard.   Irish is an official language of the EU but it is clearly not a working language in Ireland.

The farce of Irish comes to the fore when you try to do your business in the ‘country’s first official language’. My most recent experience with Irish as a farce was with the NCT, the authority responsible for maintaining road safety of motor vehicles. When booking the appointment online, you can choose between Irish and English, both official languages in Ireland. The NCT inspector will duly inspect your car but when it comes to printing out the report, often cannot hide their disdain when they realise the document they printed out is in Irish, a foreign language in places like Dublin. This is not a problem if you pass, but if you fail, you have to come back and show the inspector the report in Irish. They cannot read their own document and cannot access it in English. You can ring their customer service team and receive blasts of hot air. You can also contact the Irish language commissioner’s office, a watchdog on such breaches of the official language act, which though well meaning, will do the same.
Tourists like to see signs in Irish, even though the Irish written on the sign often makes no sense and whoever translated it obviously used google translate. Dublin airport has produced some dismal examples of this.  Signage in Irish is more often than not for decorative purposes only and serves no purpose for Irish speakers. Even in Galway city, the so-called the bilingual capital. I remember dining in a restaurant in the Bohemian Latin Quarter. The menu was bilingual but when I ordered in Irish, it quickly became clear that the Irish on it was just for show.

The Celtic culture of this land is being pushed to the fringes of society and Irish speakers are becoming strangers in their own country and even mocked for cultivating it. 
I believe a bilingual society is a more open society and it is lamentable that Ireland's attempt is nothing more than farce.

NB: this article is good:   https://whistlinginthewind.org/2015/08/20/why-dont-the-irish-speak-irish/

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The grave of Arthur Griffith

Arthur Griffith (1872-1922 ) was one of the founders of the Irish state and a founding member of Sinn Féin. He is buried at Glasnevin.

Graves of Glasnevin

Glasnevin is vast and it would takes several days to go through all the graves of which there are more than a million. The cemetery is run by a private company which has both advantages and disadvantages. A tour of the cemetery is well worth it and the guides are enthusiastic about what they do. The pictures below are a minute taste of the magnificent gravestones on offer there. More to follow.
If I recall correctly, this above headstone dates from 1860, meaning the stone was carved by hand. Its unusual to see a cherub from this time. 

Famine Memorial at Glasnevin, Dublin

Famine Memorial at Glasnevin, Dublin unveiled very recently by President Michael D Higgins. It was only in the 1990s that famine memorials started appearing in Ireland. The famine was for generations a mark of shame. 

Monday, July 10, 2017

Easter Rising Casualty, Galway.

I wrote about the death of constable Whelan in Gone the Way of Truth. He was Galway's first casualty of Easter 1916. He encountered armed rebels in the Carnmore area and was ordered by his superior to talk to to them as he knew many of them. It cost him his life. When I photographed it for the book, it was in an unkempt state but has recently been restored. Great to see the city looking after objects of historical interest of which there are many in Bohermore cemetery.

Galway Sea mine Victims

In 1917,  a sea mine washed ashore at Lochán Beag near Spidéal, county Galway. It may have been German or British, we don't know for sure but when it struck a rock, it cost the lives of 17 locals, the remains of whom are buried at Bohermore cemetery in Galway. It was recently the subject of a play by the theatre company Fibín. See also Gone the Way of Truth page 123.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

How to write Irish names properly

People might have noticed that some Irish surnames are written with an apostrophe and some are not, take for example O'Donnell and Ó Domhnaill. The apostrophe does not belong in Irish here and it is lamentable that Irish people do not know this. The 'ó' means 'descendant of' . Irish people greet the the Irish version with aversion and try to translate it as they cannot accept that other Irish people want their name in the original Irish.
Mac means 'the son of' an dis sometimes anglicized as "Mc" which loses all meaning. Several thousand Irish dropped the 'o' and  'mac' from their names when they went to America so their names would appear less Irish. the old families are believed to have a banshee attached to them. An old poem went as follows:

Per O' atque Mac, veros cognoscis Hibernos;
His duobus demptis, nullus Hibernus adest.

Which has been translates as

"By Mac and O' you'll always know
True Irishmen, they say:
But, if they lack the O' or Mac,

No Irishmen are they

Monday, June 26, 2017

Séamas Gralton

A plaque in Carrick-on-Shannon, county Leitrim commemorating Séamas Gralton, a man who did not quite fit in with the new Ireland. His story was recently made into a film by Ken Loach called "Jimmy's Hall" (2014). As sad and bizarre tale. 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Listowel Castle, County Kerry

Listowel Castle was built in the 15th century. It was restored in 2005 and is in the care of the OPW.  


Roger Casement Monument

The Roger Casement monument at Ballyheigue, county Kerry, unveiled by Dick Spring in 1986.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

British army grave near Ennis, county Clare.

Tarbert Bridewell Museum, County Kerry

I recently visited Tarbert, county Kerry and stopped off at the local museum. It is a great little place and I feel they do a good job, providing plenty of information and great reenacted scenes. The staff there are great and really enjoy what they do. Below are a few photos. Well worth the visit.


Ratoo Round Tower

Ratoo Round Tower, Ballyduff, county Kerry. The tower is currently being restored and cannot be accessed. Inside the ruined church beside it, I came across this interesting stone mason's mark from the 17th century.  The site is located about 1km from the main road, down a small country lane.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Ireland's Shame

The Georgian doorway in Dublin city, only fifty meters from the Dáil, where homeless man Jonathan Corrie died in December of 2014. the human cost of méféinism.

The grave of Santa Claus

Jerpoint, county Kilkenny contains the grave of St Nicolas Of Myra, otherwise known as Santa Claus. The saint died in the 3rd century and when his grave was threatened by Muslim occupation of Myra during the crusades, it was taken to Italy. To further ensure its safety, it was brought to County Kilkenny as Ireland was then at the edge of the world and relatively free of conflict at the time. It soon became one of many places of pilgrimage in Ireland.

Plaque on Church wall, Mallow, County Cork.

The inscription reads as follows:On 5th May 1799 the United Irishmen of Mallow and sympathizers in the Royal Meath Militia proposed to take over the town by razing St Anne's Church while the militia officers and congregation were attending divine service therein. The event was aborted when Fr Thomas Barry P.P.  and others discovered the plans and acquainted the local military authorities of them.For their parts in the affair Fr.Barry was given a government pension for life. Corporal Peter Reily of the militia was hanged at The Gallows Green, Cork on 16th May, 1799 and the United Irish Leader Walter Baker(an Anglican) was hanged near here on 17th May, 1799. 

Monday, May 1, 2017

Roscommon Jail

The above building was built as a jail in Roscommon town in the early half of the 19th century. It was from here that Lady Betty operated as a hang woman. Her tale is a good one and I wrote about her in Fadó Tales of Lesser Known Irish history. However, she may have never existed, but it makes for a good yarn to tell the tourists.The building was later a mental asylum and is today a shopping centre.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Irish Civil War monument Dublin

The following monument was erected outside the old graveyard in Killester, Dublin. It commemorates an IRA man, shot by Free State troops during the Civil War.
I found more information on the murder on the irishmedals.org site:

On the 22nd of September 1922 the body of Anti-Treaty Volunteer Michael Neville, a native of Lisdoonvarna County Clare, was found in a disused graveyard in Killester County Dublin. He was a member of the Dublin City Brigade and had been killed while in the custody of the Criminal Investigation Department (C.I.D.) of the Civic Guard in Oriel House. The C.I.D. were better known as the Oriel House Gang. Three men entered Mooney’s Public House Eden Quay Dublin and abducted the barman Michael Nevill aged 23. Mooney’s body was found the next day in a disused graveyard in Killester . Witnesses told the inquest that three men had entered the public house and ‘arrested’ Nevill, witnesses for the Civic Guard told the inquest that no one connected with the Civic Guard had anything to do with the shooting and Nevill was not arrested by them. Doctor G. Meldon told the inquest he found a number of bullet wounds on the victim including lacerations to the lungs, liver and brain and the victim also had a fractured skull, death was due to shock and haemorrhage.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Webley Bull Dog revolver

Introduced in 1872, it was popular among undercover agents as it's extremely short barrel (only 2.5 inches) made it easy to conceal. It is said that the IRA found one on Thomas Morris (see Gone the Way of Truth, page 208) before they executed him in Kinvara in 1921.

Graves of Irish Writers

"The End" by Ray Bateson. A very small but extremely well researched book. A handy size means it can be easily be carried about. Unfortunately, as it is self-published, it is not readily available in shops. A must for anyone interested in the final resting places if Irish writers.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Old Gravestone, North County Dublin

I stumbled across this gravestone recently. The winged children's heads are known as cherubs and are common on 18th century graves. This example was found in the old churchyard at Lusk, County Dublin.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Clochran Graveyard, North County Dublin

Not very far from Dublin airport is an old graveyard known as Clochran. Although the earliest burial there is from 1732, the site was used as  a burial ground long before this. It is a mixed graveyard i.e both Catholics and Protestants are interred there.  The above gravestone dated from 1813. The hand chiseled inscriptions were done to last.

The Galway Market

The Galway market is a special and intimate place. It does not try to be something that is not and the prices of the quality goods are reasonable. It has been a firm fixture for Saturday morning in Galway for several generations.The above plaque is a poem by Máire Holmes in homage to the market.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Cop Killing Dublin

A plaque in Temple Bar, amidst the tourist pubs and paddywhackery remind the visitor of  the slaying of two Dublin Metropolitan policemen.More to follow when I have researched the circumstances behind it.