Tuesday Trivia: The Land of Saints and Scholars

Ireland is often referred to as The Land of Saints and Scholars. During the Dark Ages in Europe, much of the continent was overrun by barbarian tribes. Irish priests and scholars were responsible for keeping many ancient texts intact, and for creating new art and literature. Of primary note is the Book of Kells, an … Continue reading Tuesday Trivia: The Land of Saints and Scholars

an Gorta Mor (or The Great Irish Famine, 1845-1852)

Reposting this today in honor of Mick Mulvaney, who stood in his green tie and shamrock pin yesterday to assure us all that feeding the hungry was an unnecessary luxury.

Cowboys & Irishmen

Most of the time I find history boring. But every once in awhile, I stumble over something fascinating. And usually, that something makes me cry.

I’d heard quite a bit about the Irish Famine at different places along the way, like in English class in high school when we read Jonathan Swift’s essay A Modest Proposal (if you haven’t already read it, I highly recommend it. It gives an incredible satiric look at the British government’s feelings on “the Irish problem.” The problem, in short, was that there was such a thing as “the Irish”.)

At any rate, the subject cropped up now and again. But it wasn’t until I started writing my Donovan series that I realized how closely related I was to it. My father’s family emigrated from Ireland in the early 20th century, chased out by the British Army (or so the story goes). As I started…

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1998 – Paddy Clancy, Irish folk musician dies.

A great singer with a great song…

Stair na hÉireann | History of Ireland

Paddy Clancy, was an Irish folk singer best known as a member of the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem. In addition to singing and storytelling, Clancy played the harmonica with the group, which is widely credited with popularising Irish traditional music in the United States and revitalising it in Ireland. He also started and ran the folk music label Tradition Records, which recorded many of the key figures of the American folk music revival.

Clancy was one of eleven children and the eldest of four boys born to Johanna McGrath and Bob Clancy in Carrick-on-Suir, Co Tipperary.

Clancy died at home of lung cancer at the age of 76. He was buried, wearing his trademark white cap, in the tiny village of Faugheen, near Carrick-on-Suir.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dilis.

‘The Wild Rover’

I’ve been a wild rover for many’s the year
I’ve spent all me money…

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St Patrick & the Slave Trade

This post first appeared on giffordmacshane.com on 3/17/15

Cowboys & Irishmen

Read any biography of Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, and you’ll find that he was born in the late 4th century somewhere on the island of Britain. Patrick was kidnapped while still in his teens, and sold as a slave in Ireland. Some histories place the blame on Irish pirates, while others blame the Romans who had conquered the island centuries earlier. Whoever was responsible, for six years Patrick was a slave, and then he escaped back to Britain.

Twelve years after his escape, having studied at a monastery and being ordained, Patrick returned to the Emerald Isle as a bishop and missionary. After twenty years, he left behind an organized church under the authority of the See of Armagh, and an island that was nearly completely converted to Catholicism.

Little did Patrick know that, over a thousand years later, those conversions would be the justification for a new…

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Tuesday Trivia: The Transatlantic Crossing

In the mid-19th Century, most transatlantic crossings were still done by sailing ship, although steamship passage was available for those who could afford it, primarily through the Cunard Line of Britain and the Inman line of the US.  A steamship would routinely make the voyage in 11 to 13 days, but until 1860, most steamships … Continue reading Tuesday Trivia: The Transatlantic Crossing

Tuesday Trivia: The History of Potato Crop Failures

Many people consider the Great Irish Potato Famine of 1845-1852 to be an unprecendented occurrence, and believe it caught the country's government by surprise. However, the failure of the potato crop that began in 1945 was no stranger to Ireland's inhabitants. Crop failures had plagued Ireland in both the 18th and 19th centuries prior to … Continue reading Tuesday Trivia: The History of Potato Crop Failures

The Quakers and The Great Irish Famine

I’ve mentioned before that The Society of Friends (also known as the Quakers) provided an immense help to the native Irish during the Great Potato Famine in the mid-19th century by running soup kitchens to feed the starving populace. However, once the British Government took over that job, the Quakers continued giving support to those … Continue reading The Quakers and The Great Irish Famine