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.
At the turn of the Twentieth Century, with anti-Irish sentiment running high in both America and Britain, Irish Olympic athletes faced a choice of either competing as British athletes, for a crown and flag that they resented, or emigrating to America or Canada, where they were not wanted nor welcomed. The world did not yet recognize Ireland as a nation and these Irish athletes, who came to be known as The Irish Whales, became unlikely heroes as they set and broke records in track and field events between 1896 and 1924, competing under British, American and Canadian flags. Irish Whales Team[/caption] The Irish Whales were so named because they were large men, both in stature and in character. They were known for their fiery spirits, showmanship, and were the first Olympic heroes of the modern era. Pat McDonald, Simon Gillis, Con Walsh, John Flanagan. Matt McGrath, James Mitchell, Paddy Ryan and Martin Sheridan took the world by storm and did much to earn the Irish diaspora respect around the world. All told, the Irish Wales won some 25 gold medals between the Athens Olympics of 1896 and the Antwerp Olympics of 1920, mainly in the shot-put, hammer and discus events. During the 1906 Intercalated Games in Athens, the Irish Whales won the bulk of Britain's medals and the anger and resentment among the Irish athletes was starting to peak. After winning the gold medal for the hop, step and jump event Peter O'Connor ripped the Union Jack from the flagpole that had been raised above his head and replaced it with the green flag of Erin, making quite the statement to all who witnessed such a bold act of Irish patriotism. In 1908, the Summer Olympics were held in London and by then, most of the Irish Whales had joined the American Olympic team. There were countless diplomatic failures at these games, notably, the United States flag went missing and was not displayed in the Olympic stadium with the flags of all the other nations. According to Roger McGrath writer for Irish America, "As the music of Grenadier Guards filled the stadium, King Edward settled into the royal box with Queen Alexandra and Princess Victoria at his side. At the Bugler’s signal, the gate leading to the athletes’ quarters was flung open and the parade of national teams began. One by one, they marched and dipped their flags to the King of England. It was a glorious moment for the host nation. Even the hard rain that had drenched the stadium earlier in the day had stopped. God seemed to be smiling on the empire. Then came the Americans, including the world-record hammer thrower and New York City cop, Matthew J. McGrath. When they approached the royal box, the County Tipperary-born McGrath, a six-foot, two-inch, 245-pound human bull of a man, stepped beside the team’s flag bearer and is rumored to have said, “Dip that banner and you’re in hospital tonight.” Old Glory went unbowed past the King of England. The English were left in shock. London newspapers lashed the Americans with the severest criticism they could muster and called for an apology. Veteran Olympian and world-record discus thrower Martin J. Sheridan, another New York City cop, spoke of “Mighty Matt” McGrath and the other American team members when he answered the English by pointing to the flag and saying, “This flag dips to no earthly king.” The precedent had been set. To this day the United States does not dip its flag at Olympic ceremonies." The Irish Whales forever changed the Olympics, and inspired Irish and American athletes for years to come. They raised the standards of competition in track and field and gave Irish people around the world a sense of pride and encouragement that would help embolden Ireland to fight for freedom and independence. These mighty men will forever be our Irish Whales.
The Puck Fair in Ireland is one of the island's oldest festivals thought to date back to the 4th century and was originally part of the Celtic harvest festival, Lughnasa. From Slate.com "During this ancient celebration, a wild male goat (known as a puck) is crowned king of the town for three days before being returned to his normal life in the Irish hills, his royalty all but ignored by his fellow goats. The festival begins each year on Aug. 10, when the captured goat is brought to the town square where he is crowned by the “Queen of Puck,” who is not another goat, but a young girl from the town. His worldly station raised, “King Puck” is then put in a cage on a high scaffold where he may survey his kingdom for the duration of the festival. The bars are allowed to stay open extra-late during the fair, so his majesty generally gets to see some drunkenness. At the end of the three days, the king goat is deposed and led back to into the wilderness." -Sounds like fun, right? The Puck Fair is celebrating 403 years of documented festivals and although some animal welfare groups have called for an end of the tradition of crowing the goat king, the festival, which runs from August 10-12, is more popular than ever with more than 10,000 people gathering in the small town of Killorglin for the festivities. The first day of Puck Fair is called The Gathering and includes the Coronation Ceremony. The Goat King and the Maiden Queen are paraded through town, before being crowned, kicking off 3 days of festivities. The Gathering is also the oldest running horse fair in Ireland. People travel from all over the country to show, buy and sell horses and tack. Photo by dochara.com[/caption] The second day of Puck Fair is called Fair day and it's a full blown carnival complete with cotton candy, crafts, and a Cattle Fair. The third day is called The Scattering. The Goat King is lead back up the mountain to rejoin his herd and is followed by a grand parade. The festivities conclude with a massive fireworks display. I think that we can all agree that if you're going to be in Ireland in August, you're going to go the The Puck Festival, right? It's not every day that you can meet a goat king.
When you think of Irish Food, do hearty dishes like mutton stew, shepherd's pie and coddle come to mind? While most of us love these Irish classics, they are not fit for a hot summer day in America, or even a warm, rainy day in Ireland. So what do the Irish eat in the summer months? Summer food in Ireland isn't all meat and potatoes, although you're still likely to see both on an Irish table. Summer food in Ireland tends to be on the lighter side, with fresh ingredients like salmon, trout, berries, mussels, crab and summer greens, along with staples like lamb, beef, and chicken. Additionally, Ireland has all the same global influences as America, so modern Irish food tends to have exotic notes of far away lands, such as Greece, India, Spain, North Africa, Southeast Asia, Mexico and even The United States. So, it's not surprising that you might find lamb kabobs, beef burritos, or even hot wings at an Irish picnic. Some of the more traditional Irish summer food that you might find are simple, delicious and wholesome dishes like steamed mussels, smoked salmon, Irish potato salad, assorted Irish cheeses, grilled or roast lamb and of course, or a simple sandwich and a bag of crisps. Here's the perfect traditional Irish Potato Salad Recipe courtesy of Irish Central The Perfect Irish Potato Salad Recipe from Irish Central[/caption] Preparation time: 25 minutes Serves 5 / 6 people (as a side) Ingredients 500g/1 lb small new potatoes 1 tbsp butter 1/2 cup mayonnaise Salt and a little freshly ground black pepper 1 tbsp. chopped fresh chives to garnish Method - Put the potatoes on the boil for 20 to 25 minutes. Until they fall off the knife when you stab them - Strain them and cut them into bite-sized pieces if needed. Pour into bowl - Add butter and stir until melted - Add mayo, and salt and pepper and stir until potatoes are coated - Garnish with chives - Clean off the side of the bowl and add a spoon to serve Enjoy!
Have you heard of Irish Road Bowling? Irish Road Bowling is a sport played, quite literally in the middle of the road. According to Wikipedia: Road bowling (Irish: Ból an bhóthair) (also bullets or long bullets in Armagh) is an Irish sport in which competitors attempt to take the fewest throws to propel a metal ball along a predetermined course of country roads. The sport originated in Ireland and is mainly played in Counties Armagh and Cork. Spectators often bet on the outcome and proffer advice to their favoured competitor in the course of a match or "score". Road bowling in Ireland is governed by the voluntary Irish Road Bowling Association (Irish: Ból Chumann na hÉireann). The 2016 All-Ireland Series will take place in Madden, County Armagh [caption id="attachment_773" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Irish Road Bowling. Image courtesy of The Telegraph UK[/caption] The rules of the sport are surprisingly simple and delightfully Irish. -The game is played with an iron and steel cannonball, three inches in diameter, called a bowl or a bullet on a predetermined course, which is usually a country lane, which may or may not be paved, and can be curvy or straight, flat or hilly of more than a mile length. -Competitors can be individuals or teams, but will most likely have a "road shower" giving advice and another person down the road to give the bowler something (I told you it's delightfully Irish) to aim at. -The player who bowls or throws the ball is called the thrower and while there are two styles of throwing, Cork style and Armagh style, both are versions of an underhand, cricket style throw. The thrower runs up to his mark and throws the bullet before stepping over the mark. -A chalk dish called a butt, is placed wherever the bullet lands on the road to mark where the next shot will be bowled from. -On intersections, curves and corners, the bullet may be thrown overhand or lofted, but must land on the road. If the bullet lands off-road, then it counts as one shot and the shot is taken again from the same spot. -The bowler or team with the fewest shots taken wins, but if both bowlers reach the end line with the same amount of shots, the one who's bullet travelled the farthest past the finish line wins. Sounds simple enough, right? It's also so much fun to watch. [embed]https://youtu.be/i5_GNAWNwSs[/embed] So if you find Irish Road Bowling to be a fascinating sport (how could you not) and would like more information, I will refer you to The Irish Road Bowling Association. If you are in the Kansas City area, you can contact the Kansas Ancient Order of Hibernians for more info. They had a tournament in April, but perhaps if we pester them enough, they will let us have another soon!