We are featuring all Irelands Eye Knitwear and Keith Jack Jewelry starting Monday, February 18 through Saturday, March 16. Make a purchase and get 10% off any item from these fine crafters. Like most of the items we carry, our support of these makers is as much about their story as it is about the quality of their product.
Few topics have flared tempers in pubs more than the question: Who invented whiskey? Was it the Irish, the Scots, or someone you'd least expect, like the Chinese or Arabs? Whisk(e)y is sunshine in a glass. Uisge baugh, or water of life in Scots Gaelic, and uisge beatha, water of life in Irish Gaelic. It's the cure for what ails you, and the Celt's gift to the world. It's now distilled and bottled on nearly every continent, with a variety of regional grains.Interested in attending a Whiskey Tasting? The origins of distillation are pretty murky. Some say it first started with ancient Babylonians, or possibly ancient Greeks, or maybe it was the Chinese... at this point in my research, I'm willing to say it was anyone but aliens... The origins of whisk(e)y are just as obscure. The Irish claim that they have been making whiskey for anywhere between 1000 and 1600 years, depending on who you ask, and frankly, who are we to argue? Excuse me, sir, can you tell me if the Vikings invented whisk(e)y? One story tells of Irish monks bringing the secrets of distillation back to Ireland from the Middle East. Another story claims that the Vikings had learned to distil while raiding in Greece or Syria, or possibly Turkey and brought the technique to Scotland when they built villages on the West Coast of Scotland. I could go on because there are many more stories of the origin of whisk(e)y. So many more stories... So, we're left to draw our own conclusions, dear reader, at least until someone smarter than I, with access to some arcane tome that definitively sorts this matter once and for all. I, for one, conclude that just as the Irish and Scottish histories, people and culture are intertwined, so are the origins of whisk(e)y. Maybe we should just be content not to know and just enjoy the magic that is whisk(e)y. Slainte! Check out The Whiskey Cowgirl's videos here.
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.