Dublin is an iconic city, where the Liffey meets the Irish sea. It's a city that's full of monuments, beautiful architecture, art, and bridges. It's the seat of Irish culture, music, textiles, and all things Irish. In fact, ask anyone to name a city in Ireland and chances are that Dublin is the first city they think of. Dublin is undeniably Irish, but that hasn't always been the case. Ha' Penny Bridge in Dublin From Wikipedia: "The earliest reference to Dublin is sometimes said to be found in the writings of Claudius Ptolemaeus (Ptolemy), the Egyptian-Greek astronomer and cartographer, around the year 140, who refers to a settlement called Eblana. This would Boru Wood Quay Warrior pendant from The Celtic Ranch[/caption] seem to give Dublin a just claim to nearly two thousand years of antiquity, as the settlement must have existed a considerable time before Ptolemy became aware of it. Recently, however, doubt has been cast on the identification of Eblana with Dublin, and the similarity of the two names is now thought to be coincidental. It is now thought that the Viking settlement was preceded by a Christian ecclesiastical settlement known as Duiblinn, from which Dyflin took its name. Beginning in the 9th and 10th century, there were two settlements where the modern city stands. The Viking settlement of about 841 was known as Dyflin, from the Irish Duiblinn (or "Black Pool", referring to a dark tidal pool where the River Poddle entered the Liffey on the site of the Castle Gardens at the rear of Dublin Castle), and a Gaelic settlement, Áth Cliath ("ford of hurdles") was further upriver, at the present day Father Mathew Bridge at the bottom of Church Street." Viking Lion Figurine. Photo courtesy of National Museum of Ireland[/caption] It's widely accepted that Viking Dublin was a thriving city by 840 AD, with trading outposts scattered throughout the Island. For those of you who watch the hit series Vikings, **SPOILERS** Ragnar's son, Ivar The Boneless was one of Dublin's Viking Kings, and his brother, Sitrygg Snake In The Eye, briefly reigned in Waterford. Vikings reigned in Dublin until 1014, when they were defeated by Irish High King, Brian Boru and the Battle of Clontarf. Norse Alphabet Runes Keith Jack Norse Forge Dragon Weave Bracelet from The Celtic Ranch[/caption] It's believed that in the two centuries of Viking expansion in Dublin, Viking and Celtic cultures began to meld, and they even developed a hybrid Gael-Norse language. In fact, there are still remnants of Norse in modern Gaelic. Religions were combined as well, with Roman Catholicism, Celtic Christianity, and Viking Paganism all being practised in ancient Dublin. But just as quickly as the Vikings arrived, they left, taking most of their culture, language and descendants with them. In fact, only around 1.4% of Irish people have Viking DNA, where the numbers are significantly higher in Great Britain, with some areas, like Orkney and Shetland, where 25-29% of men were found to have Viking DNA. Viking Artifacts courtesy of The National Museum of Ireland[/caption] So, Is Dublin a Viking or a Celtic city? Yes. It's both. The bones of the city are undoubtedly Viking, even if you'd have to dig pretty deep to find them.
St. Patrick's Day is more than just a celebration of all things Irish, it's the celebration of the spirit of the Irish people, embodied in a single man. St. Patrick was born in Britain to wealthy parents near the end of the fourth century. He is believed to have died on March 17, around 460 A.D. Patrick was taken prisoner around the age of 16 by a group of Irish raiders who were attacking his family’s estate. They brought him to Ireland and sold him into slavery where he spent six years as a shepherd, and during which time he learned the Irish language, and prayed, becoming immersed in his Christian spirituality where he found solace. He had two visions, one which told him to return to his home, the second told him the boat was ready. He walked 200 miles to the coast, boarded the ship and returned to his native land. After he returned home he traveled to Gaul and joined the priesthood, studying under St. Germanus, he was consecrated as a bishop, and sent to Ireland. He was sent to succeed St Palladius, who had not had much success converting the Irish, but Patrick had a dream of the voices of the Irish , entreating him to return. His depth of faith enabled him to return to the land of his enslavement where he worked diligently to convert the Irish to Christianity. It took much work, because the Irish were unwilling to convert, and had trouble relating to the "new" religion. Patrick kept his faith, and through his teachings of Christ on the cross, and by using the three leaves of the native shamrock plant to explain the Holy Trinity he was able to convert much of the country and earned the nickname " enlightener of Ireland" Patrick's great love of the Irish, despite his slavery at their hands early in his life enabled him to save them, this noble cause is why we celebrate him and he has become a symbol of Ireland representing not just the religious faith of the Irish, but also the perseverance of the Irish people against seemingly great odds. His humility in his mission is widely known, and the following quote attributed to him. “I owe it to God’s grace that through me so many people should be born again to Him.” Perseverance, grace, humility. It doesn't get more Irish than that.
Ireland is well known for its remnants of past societies. Ancient Celtic crosses, stone ruins, pottery, metalwork, and monuments speak of a people whose rich culture and spirituality blossomed in even the harshest of times. Newgrange, located in the Boyne Valley of Ireland, is a neolithic monument that is a favorite of tourists as well as historians. The Encyclopædia Brittanica Describes the Neolithic Period, also called New Stone Age, as the final stage of cultural evolution or technological development among prehistoric humans. It was characterized by stone tools shaped by polishing or grinding, dependence on domesticated plants or animals, settlement in permanent villages, and the appearance of such crafts as pottery and weaving. The Neolithic followed the Paleolithic Period, or age of chipped-stone tools, and preceded the Bronze Age, or early period of metal tools. What is it? Previously considered a passage tomb (tomb with passages leading into a chamber or chambers), Newgrange is now thought to be more of an ancient temple. The passage and chamber is built to align with the sun on the winter solstice, so that the sun shines through and illumines the chamber. Because of this, it is believed that Newgrange had greater astrological and religious significance than originally believed. Who built it? The neolithic people of the Boyne Valley were farmers, raising crops and animals (such as cattle) in their settlements. Their tools were made of stone, wood, antler or bone, as they had not yet developed metal. The carvings done on Newgrange were done without metal tools. What are the symbols? No one is entirely sure what the symbols on Newgrange mean, or their purpose. Some believe that they are decorative, while others think they have a greater significance, because they are on areas of the monument that aren't visible. Newgrange is more than a popular tourist destination, along with the similar mounds nearby at Knowth and Douth, it is a deeply spiritual connection to the past. Visit the Boyne Valley Tours website to get more information on Newgrange and touring the area.