“Ten thousand years of history crammed into 50 minutes..”

If the first programme was likely to offend the young-Earthers, and the second the not necessarily mutually exclusive grouping of neo-creationists, the third might work for everyone else. The BBC NI natural history series Blueprint ends tonight by tackling People, BBC1 9pm. Those more easily digested clips will be online later. As presenter Will Crawley says it on his blog

“The programme starts at Mountsandel, near Coleraine, the site of the earliest [known] human settlement in Ireland. We use computer imaging technology to rebuild the Mountsandel settlement, then follow the story of our Bronze Age ancestors as they made their home here. From Mountsandel, the story widens to take in a great sweep of history, including the ancient kings of Ireland, the arrival of Christianity, the Plantation, the Famine, and the urbanisation of modern Ireland. Ten thousand years of history crammed into 50 minutes of television.”

There might be some earlier supernatural beliefs mentioned.. and they might even attempt to explain why there is no Celtic section in the National Museum of Ireland. Oh, but don’t expect an apology for what the Vikings did 1,000 years ago.. Adds Well it certainly benefited, in comparison with the first two programmes, from dealing with a relatively short period of history. Still a bit thread-bare in parts though. But amibitious. And that’s worth applauding.

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  • Dewi

    Peter – waht’s with your thing about not calling things Celtic – surely it’s as good a word as any? Have you a better one?

  • Pete Baker

    My thing, Dewi?

    It’s the National Museum of Ireland’s thing. ;op

  • Dewi

    Pete – but they ain’t got a better word – it’s a bunch of people with linguistic connections – what’s the big deal?

  • Pete Baker

    It’s about scientific principles, Dewi.

    The term is a modern invention.

    So call yourself celtic by all means.

    But it’s a term that doesn’t apply, and would not be recognised, by any of the people in our history – to whom some seek to apply it.

  • Dewi

    Wrong Peter – languages of these islands have connections established by Edward Llwyd in C17 – he termed those people Celtic – for want of a better word. The connections apply whatever the word. And this ain’t a political point believe it or not – merely factual.

  • Pete Baker

    Dewi

    I’ll just add that the programme didn’t deal with that objection.

    Instead they just pointed out that there is the complete absence of any evidence for an invasion by the Celtic tribes of Europe.

    And then outlined the development of what is now termed Celtic artwork in Ireland.

    In particular the influence of Germanic animal art and Viking knotwork.

  • Pete Baker

    Dewi

    “he termed those people Celtic”

    Indeed. See the link in the original post.

    17th Century = modern invention.

  • Dewi

    Pete – you are preaching…it’s just a descriptive word – Llwyd used it to describe a bunch of closely connected languages – a fantastic bit of scholarly study at the time. My only point is that “Celtic” will do as well as any other word.

  • Dewi

    …and believe it or not he would have rather have used the word “British” (which before that we used to use) but it had got hijacked by a bunch of Prod planters……Sorry

  • Pete Baker

    “My only point is that “Celtic” will do as well as any other word.”

    To describe those languages in the modern age, probably.

  • Pete Baker

    “…and believe it or not he would have rather have used the word “British” (which before that we used to use) but it had got hijacked by a bunch of Prod planters……Sorry”

    No need to apologise, Dewi. That’s a similar point to the one made in the links in the original post.

  • gaelgannaire

    Dewi,

    Actually I thought the linguistic elements were something that wasnt done too well in the show.

    I mean they could have got a linguist in rather than an archaelogist.

    They should have pointed out that a brythonic celtic tongue has been overlaid (or radically altered) with a q-type tongue.

    PS the original political conoctation of the word ‘celtic’ was perjorative, no?

    PPS, I have never thanked ye Welsh men for the nice nick-name, Goidel. Thanks, I’ll keep it anyway!

  • Dewi

    “PS the original political conoctation of the word ‘celtic’ was perjorative, no? ”

    No – academic – in the good sense of being scholarly. My only point in all above was that it was as good a word as any other – Nos Da…. and why does everyone on Slugger speak Welsh?

  • Brian Boru

    This has been on of the greatest disasters in BBC NI history, given the fortune spent on it and promo. Week 2’s viewing figures were half of those for week 1. Make of that what you will.

  • Dewi

    http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=TKX4m_l1_Qk&feature=related

    Can’t help it – and apologise – but Cerys is home!

  • Helen Roddy

    Loved this series and everyone I know is talking about it. More of this please BBCNI. I am no fan of the tv license fee, but this is worth it. Unlike quiz shows which are best left to commercial tv.

  • Helen Roddy

    p.s., a comment on your use of square brackets Peter. You add the word [known] to the description of Mountsandel. Fair enough, it is the earliest known human settlement. Let’s not get pedantic here though. You could just as easily add the world [known] to every archaeological or historical fact.

  • Charles in Texas

    “PS the original political conoctation of the word ‘celtic’ was perjorative, no?”

    The term “American” was also a British perjorative that British colonials never called themselves at the time.

    Pete is right that we should be careful about applying modern names to people who wouldn’t have used the word themselves.

    PS, Yes, I’m sure that “American” is still a perjorative! 🙂

  • abucs

    Isn’t the problem with using the word ‘Celtic’ was that it properly applied to a different set of people from middle Europe who created the Hallstat culture ?

    And that the Irish (and other Atlantic Isles peoples :o) ) were lumped in with the Celts when really, they weren’t ?

    Because no-one in the middle europe survives calling themselves Celtic anymore, it is easy for the Irish, who were designated that from outside incorrectly, to use the term Celtic, especially when no other word exists to designate the pre anglo/saxon/jute invasions ?

    after so much usage the term sticks, even if, technically, it is incorrect. IMHO.

  • gaelgannaire

    Bore Da Dewi.

    Well, as you say I think celtic (

  • Gréagóir O’ Frainclín

    There are two very good accesible and user friendly publications that are on sale now for all to read and learn about our ancient past…

    ‘THE ATLANTEAN IRISH’ by Bob Quinn.

    ‘BLOOD OF THE ISLES’ by Bryan Sykes.

    Briefly, conclusions drawn by modern archaeologists and geneticists say that we, in these Isles including Northern France and Northern Spain are all basically comprised of the same genetic material. The ‘Celts’, the Picts, etc … all have the same bedrock of genes. There is only a ‘dent’ as such in this genetic makeup of England from the successful waves of invasions.

    Piecing the bits of the jigsaw together, it may be the case that the very first people came to these shores from Spain via the Atlantic seaboard as well. There is strong evidence proving that Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, Britanny, and the Basque region has had seafairing connections that date back thousands of years. Hence, the common bond with language, music and culture etc… These bonds can be linked too with North Africa, hence in the programme last night it was mentioned that a skeleton of a Barbery ape was found in the ancient Navan Fort or Emain Mhaca as gaeilge, at Co Armagh.
    Also similar ancient stone constructions can be found in all these places, ie similar spirals carved on the ancient stones at Newgrange, Co Meath can be found in North Africa.
    So the myth of the Milesians could have some truth.

    Recently Europes oldest human was unearted in a region in Spain.

    http://www.smh.com.au/news/science/europes-oldest-human-unearthed-in-spain/2008/03/27/1206207257660.html

    It is the case too, that the Irish language did not just arrive with these assortments of people called the ‘Celts’ but evolved over time from a much older language that was established here already thousands of years ago. So the ‘Celtic’ languages of these islands may have have derived from an older language.

    Pardon the plug, but all this and more is explained in both books I mentioned.

  • Kellys_Eye

    Celtic schmeltic. What about the genocidal cull of Irish people in Ireland, better known as the famine? You’d think it was all a problem with the potato, when it was a problem with the english.

  • Quaysider

    It was a problem with the potato. You’re the one with an English problem.

  • manichaeism

    The one pertinent fact to me about the famine and English failings is that when there were crop failings prior to 1801 and the act of Union the Protestant Parliament in Dublin suspended all food exports. The Westminster parliament couldn’t be bothered doing this.

  • kellys_Eye

    Well said mani. There was a great hunger but no famine. An english cull.

  • Pancho’s Horse

    Couple of small points. Talking about Movanagher, Crawley said one of it’s advantages was a nearby commercial port (Coleraine) which linked it with the ‘rest of Britain’ Who writes this cr*p? Also states that ‘lios’ was the Irish for ‘rath’. Is this true?

  • abucs

    Gréagóir O’ Frainclín,

    do the books you mention make any guess to the percentage of English that derive genetically from this ancient common British isles/Northern French/Spanish people ?

    And if they do, do they state the process they use to come to that result ?

  • manichaeism

    Abucs,

    I have read heard about this. 70% of people in England and I think about 90% of people in Scotland and Ireland.

  • abucs

    Thanks manichaeism.

    Gordan Brown might have something new to work with ? :o)

  • Observer

    Pancho’s Horse

    I think “rath” is the Irish for “rath”.
    The programme was groundbreaking in many ways.
    Linguistic, cultural, religious and historical references don’t mean a damn thing when compared to a drawing on a wall in Belfast.
    No horned helmets found in Ireland. Expensive items. Roman reports suggest most Gauls didn’t wear helmets. When they did they were usually skullcap types.
    Very few examples of stiffened linen corslets found in Greece, but it’s pretty certain they used them.
    The Irish never called themselves Celts.
    The Gauls didn’t either. The bloody Greeks used the name to describe a bunch of marauders who trampled them on the way through to Asia Minor and who they had previously used as mercenary troops in the Peloponnesian war.
    Irish art strays from traditional Celtic in that it includes elements of Norse! Of course it does. No other autonomous Celtic society lasted long enough to adopt elements of other cultures.
    The Vikings never conquered the North!
    Does that mean they conquered the South?
    Just how far back does the border go?
    Were the Vikings stopped at a customs post and turned back?
    The BBC were OK when they stuck to birds, bees and lava flows. People and history, now that’s never really been their strong point, has it.

  • Jeremiah Jones

    Rath indicates a ringfort accroding to the programme. I believe that is accurate. Celtic identity is is complex according to historians, an any simpleminded attempt to describe a discrete Celtic people group is not backed up by the evidence. The name keltoi was indeed used by the greeks, but that doesn’t answer the question of irish identity. The vikings didn’t conquer the north – what part of that statement is inaccurate? The prob didnt stop in the north because they were repelled and found more interesting ports along the coast. I will be using the history programme when I teach an overview of irish history. It was a superb effort. Precisely, by the way, what our license fee should be spent on!

  • RG Cuan

    The show was good – many in the north probably learned more about the plantation from the last prog. than they were ever taught in school – but it was extremely general.

    Far too much emphasis was placed on the lack of a fullscale ‘Celtic’ invasion. It’s common knowledge that genetically the population of Ireland and western Britain has hardly changed in the last few thousand years. It’s as if the BBC went out of their way to play down a ‘Celtic’ past, when poeple realise it’s simply a term.

    Linguistically, the term Celtic is very valid as no other term exists to describe the existant indigenous languages of Ireland/Scotland/Man/Cornwall/Brittany.

    Also, i’ve never heard of horned Celtic warriors.

    For those interested:
    Lios is Irish for Ring Fort or Fairy Mound.
    Rath is Irish for Ring Fort or Earthen Rampart.

  • RG Cuan

    Dewi, edifar!

    Just noticed i missed Cymru from the list above.

  • gaelgannaire

    RG,

    Should point out that Lios can mean ‘enclosure’ as well, for ewample, Lios na Searrach ‘enclosure of the foals’.

    It is not unheard of also for a rath to lie within a lios.

  • RG Cuan

    Aye, i take it they basically mean the same thing, with a Lios sometimes probably being a bit bigger and having a fairy connection the odd time too.

  • Gréagóir O’ Frainclín

    “The show was good – many in the north probably learned more about the plantation from the last prog than they were ever taught in school – but it was extremely general.”

    One of the reasons why Unionists are rather aloof and unsympathetic about Irish culture and history. England’s exploits are more of a concern!

  • Observer

    “Rath indicates a ringfort accroding to the programme. I believe that is accurate.”

    The programme stated “..lios, which is the Irish for fort.”?

    “The vikings didn’t conquer the north – what part of that statement is inaccurate?”

    I think the statement is misleading.
    The Vikings didn’t conquer Ireland. They raided and established colonies.
    Eventually the autonomous colonies were brought under indigenous control.

    “Celtic identity is is complex according to historians, an any simpleminded attempt to describe a discrete Celtic people group is not backed up by the evidence.”

    A particular viewpoint. Many historians would disagree. The Celtic Dept. of QUB, for example, devotes quite a lot of it’s modules to this “simpleminded” view.

    “The name keltoi was indeed used by the greeks, but that doesn’t answer the question of irish identity.”

    Wasn’t meant to. The programme presented the fact that the Irish didn’t call themselves “Celts” as in some way significant.

    “The prob didnt stop in the north because they were repelled and found more interesting ports along the coast.”

    Where and when?
    Incidentally, the monasery under discussion in the part of the programme was at Strangford. Ring any bells?

    “I will be using the history programme when I teach an overview of irish history.”

    Dear God!

  • Observer

    Above should read “..lios, which is Irish for rath”.
    Oh dear. Back to school.
    Not yours, hopefully.

  • longlake

    lios , rath

    the lios is often surrounded by the rath although the two terms are often used to denote a fort with earthen walls. Around Crossmaglen there is Liseraw, Corliss, Rathkeeland, Liscalgot to name a few of many. Either lios or rath is found in folklore denoting a fairy fort. W.B. Yeats once asked an old man in Sligo if he knew anything about the fairies and the old fella replied, “Amn’t I annoyed with them!”

  • gaelgannaire

    longlake,

    “the lios is often surrounded by the rath”

    I assure you it is the other way round.

    Observer,

    “..lios, which is Irish for rath”.

    They were in error.

  • Peto

    You dont think the Celtic department at queens might have a dog in this race?!

  • gaelgannaire

    Hope not!

  • NP

    Lios is larger than a rath & generally has some stone work involved. A Dun is generally bigger that both of them & is Iron Age in pedigree, thus being of later construction. Thats what they told us when I was studying archeology. Although its not always as cut & dry as that.

    As to the “Celtic” thing it was a perjorative phrase used by the Greeks “Keltoi” in the same way the Saxons refered to the peeople of Cymru, cumbria & cornwall as “Welsh” ie “the strange ones”

  • Dewi

    “Welsh” i.e “the strange ones” – “Foreigners” more appropriate than “stange ones” surely – LOL.
    GG – you said before that u thought the Gaels had no idea language was related to Brythonic. – I wonder – I’m away but when I get home I’ll do some research on it. From my prejudiced ~Celtic nationalist viewpoint I’m firmly of the view that we shared a common Celtic culture and politic even then……..

  • Greenflag

    Observer,

    ‘The prob didnt stop in the north because they were repelled and found more interesting ports along the coast.” ‘

    Where and when?

    . Dublin, Limerick , Cork, Waterford , Wexford (Viksfort) , Wicklow (Vickingelow) , Dundalk, Arklow , Longford , and many others were all Viking established towns , ports , trading centres etc . The Vikings arrived circa 798 AD and we are told departed 1014 AD Good Friday (no agreement apparently) following defeat by Brian Boru and his army of Munster Irish clan plus assorted Connaughtmen and some other ‘Vikings’ from Cork and Waterford . The Vikings allied with the Leinstermen and the Danish King of Dublin were defeated . Any decent history book will give you the detail .

    As for the Northern ‘role’ . They concocted some kind of excuse to slink back up North and avoid the battle . Apparently they had a row with Brian and Maolseachlain the Ulster King may have been hoping that Brian would have been defeated and given the Vikings such a bating that he could climb over both set of bones and reclaim the High Kingship of Ireland from the Boru upstart !

    Alas not the first or the last time the Northmen got their strategy wrong !

    After the battle Brian Boru allowed many of the Vikings to remain and continue trading and as long as they paid the annual tribute (protection money) they were allowed to do business 🙂

  • NP

    Dewi : i always got the impression, during study, that the true sense of “Welsh” to your average Saxon was not “foreigner” but closer to modern usage of the word “weirdo”. 😉

  • NP

    Green Flag :

    “After the battle Brian Boru allowed many of the Vikings to remain and continue trading and as long as they paid the annual tribute (protection money) they were allowed to do business :)!

    Which battle ? surely brian Boru was killed at the battle of Clontarf…. was he granting protection via a Ouija board ?

    BTW. i don’t think the Irish had any choice, but to allow the vikings to remain, after all as metioned above they founded & held all the major settlements & were the military power behind B. Boru

  • Dewi

    “…but closer to modern usage of the word “weirdo””

    NP – I really did laugh out loud!!!

  • Northsider

    I prefer the sister programme, Off The Beaten Track.

    Although I do declare an interest, as a walker, I just think Blueprint, ambitious and all as it is, is too ‘templated’ i.e. slavishly follows the Alan Titschmarsh formula, to truly distinguish itself.

    It just seems too much like trying to ape what the main BBC network do and do much better. It’s like in cinema when you get a remake of a classic film; they are generally poorer and seem poorer because you are constantly reminded of how it is was done much better before.

    And I find the main presenter slightly tiresome, as he flits between the dread presentation killers known as patronising and smug.

    There are certainly times when he strays dangerously way too close to the latter for comfort.

    But I forgive, as he is not a natural broadcaster in the same way as someone like Joe Lindsay, who would have been perfect for this.

    The tone is wrong: if it had decided to strive less for dour authoritiveness, and aim more for I-never-knew-that-well-knock-me-down innocent punter on tour then the somewhat shouty tone of the programme would have been leavened. And I dare say ratings would have reflected that.

    Smart-arses ‘explaining things’ can put the punters off, and re Brian Boru’s comment on audience figures, this seems to have been borne out here.

    Some might argue that the controversial elements i.e. the creationist objections and the sequence on the lack of evidence for a Celt invasion would not have been served by this approach.

    But really, the leavening of the tone would have allowed the rather mild ‘there is an unmistakeable Celtic influence rather than an actual invasion’ message pass without any real comment.

    It is the driving home of this message as gospel, even while there are historians who disagree which invites trouble and resentment.

    Furthermore, it would have seen the creationists off at the pass, if they had a few lines from a slightly irreverent presenter acknowledging their views and then moving on.

    Amazingly, there hasn’t been a word on here about the radio programmes which are ace…

  • Greenflag

    NP,

    ‘Which battle ? surely brian Boru was killed at the battle of Clontarf…. was he granting protection via a Ouija board ? ‘

    My mistake -the successor high king and from what I recall the 1020 to the time of the Norman invasion was called ‘High Kings with opposition’ meaning the title was effectively just that and the real power remained with about a dozen or so provincial/regional kingdoms etc .

    ‘after all as metioned above they founded & held all the major settlements & were the military power behind B. Boru ‘

    The Vikings who supported Brian would have been very much a minority in his alliance . He had in earlier years defeated the Vikings of Limerick , cork and Waterford . These towns continued to pay tribute and probably joined up with Brian knowing that if he won without their backing or had they fought with their ‘kinsmen’ they’d have had to flee the country after the battle.

    Brian was crowned Imperator Scotorum at Armagh IIRC and probably represented Ireland’s best chance of establishing a longer term ‘dynasty’ which could have resisted the later Norman invasion.

    Had King Harold of England not been betrayed by his brother he might well have won at Hastings and Britain and Ireland’s histories would have been very different . Again had Charlemagne been able to maintain his Holy Roman Empire and pass it on to his eldest son then France would not have been such an easy target for the Vikings and they would never have established their Normandy Duchy andd thus no William the Conqueror . But Charlemagne was a Frank and they did not go in for ‘primogeniture’ thus on his death the Kingdom of the Franks was divided East and West and that essentially was the ‘birth’ of France and Germany .

    Had Paisley not been born 🙂 etc etc etc

  • Donnacha

    Greenflag, regarding the town of Wexford it’s Waesfjord, not Viksfort. It means the inlet of the mud flats, so little has changed in the intervening 1200 years. Not that any of that distracts from the substance of your post, it’s just my inner pedant emerging blinking into the light.

  • Observer

    Greenflag

    ‘The prob didnt stop in the north because they were repelled and found more interesting ports along the coast.” ‘

    The where and when referred to the Vikings being repelled by the northerners and settling in the south.
    I’m not aware of any evidence that the Vikings got a kicking up here and settled for snatching land of the softies in the south.
    They’re more likely to have been put off by the accents and the potato farls. Enough to make any self respecting berserker go sane.
    Perhaps you know different?

  • Greenflag

    ‘I’m not aware of any evidence that the Vikings got a kicking up here and settled for snatching land of the softies in the south.’

    Neither am I. The ‘commercial travellers’ wanted the booty to be found in the rich monasteries of the south. Henry VIII (he of the 6 wives and Tudor dynasty later followed their example ) The ‘commercial travellers’ were not interested in land holdings more in trade , including slaving, pillage, extortion etc . The ROI (return on investment) was much higher in the latter business sectors. Farming in Ireland at that time would have been too much like hard work and after all they remembered why they had left their homelands i.e to get rich quickly . Far easier to raid the surrounding countryside for the requisite calories or set up a protection racket with the ahem ‘cooperation’ of nearby local Irish chieftains in return for goods filched from around the coasts of these islands and even further afield .

    Potao farls I think not . At this time 8th to 11th centuries our national ‘vegetable’ was still native to the Andes by which I mean the South American mountain range not the fingered extension at the end of your arm . (cockney joke geddit )

    But you have a point re the commercial travellers tending to avoid the North apart from perhaps Armagh . Which is strange when they had a very strong presence in the western isles of nearby Scotland . Dublin appears to have been the centre of their ‘commercial’ activites with York another centre . The Orkney’s , Isle of Man and other ‘strategic’ locations appear to have been staging posts or places of refuge to escape to when they had to beat a hasty retreat on the few occassions when they upset the Irish so much that the latter summoned up enough unity to temporarily boot them out for over extortion etc etc .

    ‘They’re more likely to have been put off by the accents ‘

    Good point – I did’nt think of that but now that you mention it – at the first sound of the dreaded ‘whine’ it’s not unknown for even non berserkers to find urgent business elsewhere 🙂

    But we can ‘thank’ the Vikings for establishing the first real trading ‘towns’ in Ireland . Prior to their ‘arrival’ the monasteries were the main ‘urban ‘ developments and centres of commercial activity . Had the Vikings not arrived it’s possible that Clonmacnoise might today be the ‘capital’ of Ireland ?

    It is wrong to believe that it was only the Vikings who raided the monasteries . Various Irish Chieftains muscled in on the act when it was opportune and times were hard. Perhaps the local ‘chieftains’ were more avid in their monastery pillaging in Ulster given it’s more marginal ‘agricultural ‘ status , poorer weather etc which might have disheartened the ‘clergy’ and also reduced the potential for capital accumulation thus encouraging the ‘commerical travellers’ to look elsewhere for a better return ?

    And when you think about those times in that light one is struck by some present day return on investment ‘similarities ‘ 🙂

  • Flint101

    I am not sure what is meant by the mention of the “Celtic department” in QUB. I’m not aware of its existence. I do know however that the archeology department there is very against the use of the term “Celtic”! This is currently the view point of the majority of archaeologists/historians within Europe.

    Brian Boru’s army actually included many “vikings”
    most of whom had married Irish women and become integrated into Irish society, so I don’t think there is any question about them being “allowed to stay”.

    Vikings also most likely settled the south as the land there is better for farming then the less fertile north. However Irish agriculture at this time was heavily focused on livestock, especially cattle. It is unlikely that they lived through raiding, as Irish records show that viking raids were a fairly uncommon event when compared to raids by Irish groups on one another.

    This is evidence for the point that despite having a high-king, Ireland was never a truly untied as a single “state” as such until the English arrived. Before hand it was just a collection of different tribes that hated each other most of the time. Hence different dialects, especially in Ulster which has some Gaelic words that are in fact closer to Scottish Gallic.

    It is also important to remember that Irish archeology has been heavily affected by its politics, especially in the past. Firstly it is important to remember that the Normans first arrived in Ireland due to an invitation to Richard de Clare from Dermot MacMurrough, who let him marry his daughter and so become King of Leinster.

    During the plantation a number of Irish lords made a profit and received a lot of land as well. Further more as the program showed, most of the land that Planters were given was bog or poor quality land that hadn’t been farmed and was of not much use.

    Thirdly the English did NOT cause the famine. A reliance on one food source did this – albeit the English did not do all they could to help. It is often forgotten that Armagh (a protestant county) was one of the most heavily affected.

    Rath as I understand it is an anglicized Ulster term for a ringfort, and so lios is another more widely used term.

    It is unlikely that this program would have got its facts wrong as Peter Woodman is one of the most respected Irish archaeologists of recent times. It its likely that confusion about facts presented in Blueprint have arisen due to the dumbing down of information to make the program more suitable for family viewing.

  • NP

    Green Flag…. What IF ….. eh ?

  • Dewi

    The thing is that all of you are only here on our invitation – and unless you behave we’ll send u back to your Bavarian caves where you belong.

    “Thirdly the English did NOT cause the famine. A reliance on one food source did this – albeit the English did not do all they could to help. It is often forgotten that Armagh (a protestant county) was one of the most heavily affected”

    Serously that is true which is why I’m astounded that modern Unionists completely ignore the famine.

  • Observer

    Flint

    “I am not sure what is meant by the mention of the “Celtic department” in QUB.”

    From the Subject Review Report, October 2001, QUB, Celtic Studies.

    “The study of Celtic began at Queen’s in 1849. Today, ICS teaches five Celtic languages (Irish, Scottish Gaelic, Welsh, Manx and Cornish) with an emphasis upon modern Irish language and literature. It currently has 104 full-time and three part-time undergraduate students, as well as four full-time and six part-time postgraduate students. ICS has four full-time and five part-time academic staff, and a writer-in-residence jointly appointed with the University of Ulster. They are supported by one half-time secretary, a language laboratory administrator based within the School, and a computer officer shared with the Faculty.”

    “I’m not aware of its existence.”

    How disappointing.

    “It is also important to remember that Irish archeology has been heavily affected by its politics, especially in the past.”

    Which makes Ireland different from elsewhere in what way?

    “Rath as I understand it is an anglicized Ulster term for a ringfort, and so lios is another more widely used term.”

    Not an “Ulster” term and only anglicised in that the fada has been dropped.

    “This is currently the view point of the majority of archaeologists/historians within Europe.”

    Currently the view of a faction.

    “It is unlikely that this program would have got its facts wrong as Peter Woodman is one of the most respected Irish archaeologists of recent times.”

    I wonder is he aware of the Celtic studies at QUB, Oxford, Cambridge, Trinity, UCD, Ottowa for God’s sake!

    “Before hand it was just a collection of different tribes that hated each other most of the time.”

    As was the rest of Europe before the enforcement of the fuedal system.

    “Hence different dialects, especially in Ulster which has some Gaelic words that are in fact closer to Scottish Gallic.”

    And “Scottish Gallic” is close to what?
    Your starter for 10.

  • Gréagóir O’ Frainclín

    “Thirdly the English did NOT cause the famine. A reliance on one food source did this – albeit the English did not do all they could to help. It is often forgotten that Armagh (a protestant county) was one of the most heavily affected.”

    And how was it then that a majority of peasant folk became so dependant on the spud? Was it coz it became the fashionable gourmet choice of a poor and landless people?

    An easy way of understanding this is to see the variety of indigenous dishes that each culture throughout the world has produced, ie paella, moussaka, grattin, ghoulash, spaghetti, tagine, etc…All mainly derived by the peasants of the land, eventually becoming ‘haute cuisine’ and each nations ‘national dish’. Each country having many dishes too, not just one and all individually prepared in their own unique way with herbs and spices and alcohol etc…to enrich the flavours.
    And then we have Ireland’s national dish…the spud – introduced by the planters and becoming the staple diet for the masses. The spud – the basis of an ‘exotic’ Irish stew or bacon and cabbage! And this from an agricultural and fertile land where almost anything can be grown and teeming with game, fish and fruits.
    Any ‘exotic’ grub that was produced was soley for the toffs or exported for the toffs consumption across the water.
    So basic and rudimentary was the peasants stew – just put anything you have that’s edible in a pot of boiling water and stew it. There is no loving preparation of adding herbs and spices or marinading for hours to enrich the flavours to delight the palate as what can be seen in other cultures. If there was it was all somehow lost. No baking, no roasting, no sauces, no licquors. Evidence that a people were so damn poor and hungry that they were happy to immediately eat whatever they got, cooked or raw. It was a basic subsistence that the masses of Irish peasants endured and mainly all the time. So where do we put the blame for creating such conditions? Where do we put the blame for curtailing the development of a people? Our ruling masters at the time of course. No wonder the famine was so detrimental.

  • Flint101

    Observer,

    I apologise for not knowing the department of Celtic Studies. All I can say in my defence is I knew of it as the Irish Studies department, and was unaware of its full title. Its very small size in comparison with other departments of QUB which has allowed it to slip under my radar.

    Scottish Gaelic (as I should have said)at the time of the English Plantation was actually probably more influenced by Middle English than Gaelic. This can still be seen with Ulster Scots.

    However I still believe you will find that the “Celtic” idea is disapproved of now by more than just a “faction” of people.

    O’Frainclin,

    Some modern beliefs now state that the potato was actually introduced into Ireland from Spain by the fishermen who frequented our waters. This is due to documents from the 16th century that mention the “Spanish potato” and that the fact that the varities grown were different from those grown in England. The date that the potato arrived in Ireland is also several hundred years earlier than the Planters.

    ‘And this from an agricultural and fertile land where almost anything can be grown and teeming with game, fish and fruit’

    Before the invention of modern farming techniques much of Ireland was hard land to cultivate. Potatos were grown as they took up little space, and could be grown in poor soils. This was worse as Irish subdivision of the land between sons made farms smaller and smaller, and the land got worse and worse. Hence people got poorer and poorer Therefore potato farming became increasingly important as nothing else can be grown. This was made worse by overpopulation caused by a tradition of having a large number of children, which was an idea promoted by the Catholic chuch – NOT the protestant English.

    Ireland has no history of a fishing culture. Many reports of the famine do talk about shellfish being eaten but people did not have the skills or knowledge to go on large scale fishing trips. We also do not have a climate suitable for growing large amounts of fruit (bar perhaps blackberries and apples), while game such as vension was likely owned and controlled by landowners (Irish and English).

    However I am in now way denying that the English did not help the Irish productivly during this troubled time, and it is obvious they could have contributed more to saving lives if they had desired.

  • Gréagóir O’ Frainclín

    “Some modern beliefs now state that the potato was actually introduced into Ireland from Spain by the fishermen who frequented our waters. This is due to documents from the 16th century that mention the “Spanish potato” and that the fact that the varities grown were different from those grown in England.”

    • Indeed, quit possible, considering the west of Ireland’s age old seafairing links with Spain. However, the programme stated that the planters introduced the potato to Ireland. Maybe someone trying to take the credit.

    “Before the invention of modern farming techniques much of Ireland was hard land to cultivate. Potatos were grown as they took up little space, and could be grown in poor soils.”

    • Hard to believe then that Normans ever arrived and settled here, bringing their ‘modern’ agricultural methods with them.

    “Before the invention of modern farming techniques much of Ireland was hard land to cultivate.”

    • This was solely in the west of Ireland, was it not? What about the rich lands of Leinster, Munster and Ulster.

    “Therefore potato farming became increasingly important as nothing else can be grown. This was made worse by overpopulation caused by a tradition of having a large number of children, which was an idea promoted by the Catholic chuch – NOT the protestant English.”

    • Yep indeed, the poor peasant folk were more concerned paying their dues to the landlords. All they had in their ignorance was their popish faith.

    “Ireland has no history of a fishing culture. Many reports of the famine do talk about shellfish being eaten but people did not have the skills or knowledge to go on large scale fishing trips.”

    • hard to believe then think that the seafairing Norse settled here in Ireland. Perhaps they were’nt fish eaters.

    “However I am in now way denying that the English did not help the Irish productivly during this troubled time, and it is obvious they could have contributed more to saving lives if they had desired.”

    • Indeed, peasant popish paddy was expendable. So much for the Union being a union of equal nations.

  • Greenflag

    Dewi,

    ‘Serously that is true which is why I’m astounded that modern Unionists completely ignore the famine.’

    And Irish History also the ‘native version’ anyway 🙂 It would not sit well with their ‘heroic mythology’ and of course vice versa for us Nationalists 🙂

  • Greenflag

    flint 101,

    ‘Scottish Gaelic (as I should have said)at the time of the English Plantation was actually probably more influenced by Middle English than Gaelic. This can still be seen with Ulster Scots.’

    Scottish Gaelic was a dialect of Irish ‘introduced ‘ into Scotland from Ireland around 100 AD or so . The languages remained very similar until the English/Normans subdued Scotland and cut off/reduced contacts between NE Ireland and Scotland . By about the 17th century Scots Gaelic had diverged enough from Irish to be called it’s own language . Even so any modern Irish speaker can probably understand about 90% of Scots Gaelic as it’s written down.

    Ulster Scots is mostly a variant of border’s english i.e the language which was spoken across the Anglo Scots border since ancient times. It probably has adopted a few Ulster Irish words just as all neighbouring languages do.

    ‘However I still believe you will find that the “Celtic” idea is disapproved of now by more than just a “faction” of people.’

    What do you mean by the Celtic idea ? How about the Anglo Saxon idea ? the Norman idea ? the Roman idea ? the American idea ?

    Linguistically Celtic languages did and do exist . There was a ‘Celtic’ culture in central Europe prior to and after the birth of Christ .

    As the average American sits down to his ‘idea’ of an all American i.e USA meal of chicken , peas and mashed potatoes he or she might wonder where the food on his/her plate originally came from.

    The Chinese were the first people to domesticate the ‘chicken ‘ -the people of the Fertile crescent were the first to cultivate and ‘domesticate ‘ the ‘pea’ and the Incas were the first to grow the potato. Nothing American about it at all at all . Not that it’ll matter when it’s down the hatch time 🙂

  • gaelgannaire

    “Scottish Gaelic (as I should have said)at the time of the English Plantation was actually probably more influenced by Middle English than Gaelic. This can still be seen with Ulster Scots.”

    I think that is the silliest thing I have ever read on Slugger, oh wait wait ..

    “Ireland has no history of a fishing culture.”

    I think stunned silence is enough to answer this.

    I am no famine expert but I think if Irish people actually owned their own land 1. they would not have been dependant on the potato and 2. they would have had enough land to grow other crops even if they were.

    The fact that people had to pay rent to absentee English landlords for the land their people lived on for a very long time before the English set foot in Ireland also explains a few things.

  • Greenflag

    Greagoir Frainclin

    • hard to believe then think that the seafairing Norse settled here in Ireland. Perhaps they were’nt fish eaters. ‘

    Not the cleverest I’m afraid those early norse . Apparently they insisted on taking their dairy cattle to Greenland to replicate the life at home in good old Norway /Denmark . They refused to eat ‘fish’ or whale blubber like the local Inuit /Eskimos . Too good for them 🙂 only skraeling food not fit for ‘christians’ .

    We know what happened to the Norse colony in Greenland . Refusal to adapt or learn from the ‘natives’. It happens .

    As for the ‘potato’ the Irish took to it with some alacrity . For it was ideal for Irish growing conditions . In terms of energy expended to grow the crop as compared to the energy derived from eating it the potato was far more productive than any other staple food at that time in europe . Thus the population expanded from about 2 million in 1700 to almost 8.5 million by the the mid 1840’s .

    Ireland had suffered earlier famines but none had the impact that the 1840’s one had . When the Irish had their own Parliament up to 1800 the local administration cut off food exports to England e.g circ 1740 to assist in the relief . By the 1840’s England’s population had reached 35 million and Ireland’s non potato agricultural exports had to be exported to Britain to keep John Bull’s huge new industrial army of coalminers , factory workers ‘fed’ . And as you say Ireland had to go the end of the line and starve.

    Today in the USA there are ‘tomato ‘ pickers in Florida (immigrants) who haven’t had a pay increase in 20 years . The growers supply tomatoes to the big American fast food companies such as Burger King , McDonalds etc etc . As Americans sit down to enjoy a big MAC they don’t want to know that their fast food lunch is only possible at the price they can afford to pay by paying ‘slave’ wages to fellow americans .

    Who said life had to be fair ?

  • Greenflag

    ‘Gaelgannaire’

    ‘The fact that people had to pay rent to absentee English landlords for the land their people lived on for a very long time before the English set foot in Ireland also explains a few things.’

    True but not the whole truth . The rent had in many cases to pass through seven levels of parasites /middlemen/ agents / landlords representatives etc before what was left of it could be given to the absentee landlord at his West End Club or at his debauched gambling palace . Each ‘level’ had to receive a cut of the rent . The poor Irish ‘cottier’ had to support seven layers of parasites above him before he could look after his own family 🙁

    The ‘intervening’ levels of this huge pyramid were of course mainly staffed by Irish people themselves as the ultimate ‘owner’ in distant London was not able to speak to his ‘tenants’ As Gaeilge (in Irish ).

  • Greenflag

    gaelgannaire’

    ‘I think stunned silence is enough to answer this.

    True enough such ignorance is appalling but understandable given it’s origin 🙁

    ‘I am no famine expert but I think if Irish people actually owned their own land 1. they would not have been dependant on the potato and 2. they would have had enough land to grow other crops even if they were’

    I would say they would still have been dependant on the potato but perhaps not as much . Ownership of the land is a moot point . Land ownership in England was in the hands of a small minority and had been so since the Norman conquest in 1066 . The early industrial revolution saw ‘commons land’ being enclosed so that those english who were having a ‘marginal’ agricultural like existence were forced off these lands and into the new cities . Growing industrialisation and new wealth allowed England to import cheap food and Ireland happened to be one of it’s nearby suppliers .

  • Prince Eoghan

    >>Scottish Gaelic was a dialect of Irish ‘introduced ‘ into Scotland from Ireland around 100 AD or so . The languages remained very similar until the English/Normans subdued Scotland and cut off/reduced contacts between NE Ireland and Scotland .< http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lord_of_the_Isles

    I believe that the reformation and subsequent plantations stopped the flow of the Gallowglasses, thus gradually lessening the ties between Scotland and Ireland.

  • Dewi

    ” am no famine expert but I think if Irish people actually owned their own land 1. they would not have been dependant on the potato and 2″

    Actually the Potato a wondeful source of nutrients, vitamins etc. Brfore the Famine the Irish people the healthiest people in the Islands

  • Observer

    gaelgannaire

    “I think that is the silliest thing I have ever read on Slugger, oh wait wait ..”

    Stick around.

  • Greenflag

    ‘An oft used quote I use is that the seaways were as the motorways of our ‘Celtic’ lands’

    Historically true and it makes just common sense . Believe it or not it was easier and faster to get from Wexford to Dublin by boat 150 years ago than by road . Those Wickla mountains and no coast road would have made for a rough trip.

    ‘I believe that the reformation and subsequent plantations stopped the flow of the Gallowglasses, thus gradually lessening the ties between Scotland and Ireland.’

    Thats true if you are referring to contacts between the Gaelic speaking areas of the west ofscotland and Ireland but less true of the contacts between the new ‘planters ‘ and Scotland particularly during the industrial revolution and in educational matters. Many Ulster ‘prods’ including the great Lord Kelvin were educated at Scotland’s universities . Many northern Irish catholics from the poorer west of Ulster also emigrated to Scotland in the 18th and 19th centuries .

    The ‘gallowglasses’ ran out of remunerable activites following the battle of Culloden . After a suitable interval the gaelic speaking highlanders were formed into the Black Watch Regiment which was soon following in a mannerof speaking the ancient highland tradition of ‘gun for hire ‘ .

  • Prince Eoghan

    Greenflag

    Actually in retrospect I believe that I may have done your original point regarding the Normans a disservice. When King Malcolm III took the throne of Scotland his wife was Margaret sister of the then Norman English king. She revolutionised religion in Scotland away from our ‘Celtic’ church and looking more to Rome. Mass stopped being said in Gaelic ect. She was sainted, and her sons who became known as the margaretsons continued her work of de-gaelicising Scotland, indeed steering Scotland on a more European course. Considering that we know from the experience of religion and language in Wales this must have been a big blow to Gaelic.

    >>gaelic speaking highlanders were formed into the Black Watch Regiment<

  • gaelgannaire

    “Ahhhh the Scottish version of the UDR, some clans valued ancient enmities over their neighbours as being of more importance than being known as traitors to their nation”

    Eoghain,

    Do ye refer to the twisted mouths of Argyll?

    Sure it back fired, its a Big Mac, not the Big C!

  • Greenflag

    Dewi,

    ‘Actually the Potato a wonderful source of nutrients, vitamins etc. ‘

    Indeed Dewi nothing beats the taste of the first crop of new potatoes cut in half then split through the middle and dolloped over with parsley butter . I recall eating 37 in one sitting as a teenager 🙂 The sin of boiled gluttony I know for which I’m destined for the hot place 🙁

    Nowadays we import most of our potatoes from Holland. It’s a crazy world.

  • Greenflag

    ‘some clans valued ancient enmities over their neighbours as being of more importance than being known as traitors to their nation.’

    There were ‘clans’ before ‘nations’ and all politics is local as the man said . Sometimes it can get a little too local for comfort as some residents of Derry and Belfast have found to their cost these past 40 years or more.

  • Prince Eoghan

    >>Do ye refer to the twisted mouths of Argyll?

    Sure it back fired, its a Big Mac, not the Big C!<

  • gaelgannaire

    A Phrionsa Eoghain,

    It is of this reason that I do not lament the ‘flight’ of the earls as much as poets of old.

    They would have gone down the same road.

  • Greenflag

    Prince Eoghan ,

    The ancient clan system was anachronistic to the development of a property owning industrial and commercial based economy . The Highland clearances whereby the indigenous gaelic speakers were forced out to Canada especially the MacFarlanes , McGregors and the other more recalitrant clans .

    ‘ Several generations of marrying outsiders and living apart from their people led to the situation whereby they could happily force their people off their land. Sheep and the profits on promise ensured the clans either went to their death or boarded coffin ships to the new world.’

    I don’t know about the Scots clans boarding ‘coffin ships’ . I know that some of the Irish famine emigrants boarded ‘coffin ships’ so called because in close confined spaces diseases like dysentery, cholera etc could spread easily . The fact that ‘millions’ made it to the new world is testimony to the fact that an effort was made to get the people to the farther shore alive.

    In today’s world we see elements of the same movement of people/peoples around the globe again forced into migration for a variety of reasons primarily economic . I read the German government is giving unemployed Germans a grant to go elsewhere (anywhere) for a job -germany has 8% unemployment . Poor third world countries like say Zimbabwe don’t have the money the Germans have .

    People in today’s western world have of course some protection against political or financial tyranny but only if they exercise their democratic rights and demand that their elected politicians represent their interests rather the interests of the major corporations and financial houses . A tall order of course but the present upcoming recession should purge people in the west of the notion that an economy based primarily on financial services is going to deliver an increased standard of living . Quite the contrary . All it does is increase the amount of private debt with the kind of consequences now being seen in the USA and UK and to a lesser extent in Ireland/Northern Ireland (but that will come )

  • Observer

    “The fact that ‘millions’ made it to the new world is testimony to the fact that an effort was made to get the people to the farther shore alive.”

    Well, they certainly made an effort to get the ship and crew there and back.
    The cargo really wasn’t that important or they wouldn’t have gained the nickname Coffin Ships.

    Prince Eoghain

    Get your own coffin ships;)

  • Phrionsa Eoghan

    Phrionsa Eoghain

    Aye, i like half of it. I feel that I have just been reborn.

    >>The ancient clan system was anachronistic to the development of a property owning industrial and commercial based economy.< >I don’t know about the Scots clans boarding ‘coffin ships’.< >The fact that ‘millions’ made it to the new world is testimony to the fact that an effort was made to get the people to the farther shore alive.< >Get your own coffin ships;)<

  • Observer

    Phrionsa Eoghan

    Always room on a coffin ship for another Celt.
    Didn’t know when they were well off;)

  • Sorley

    From my point of view of someone from a Cape Breton highland family, the clearances were frankly the best thing that could have happened. My ancestors went from being basicly slaves to the whims of a man simply because he was born “chief” to being able to make their own future. The fact that the most common mother tounge of the fathers of confederation was Gaelic, that our first Prime Minister was a MacDonald and that most of the rich merchants in Montreal were highland men shows that we did pretty good. Sorry, bit off topic, but I’ve lived in the highlands, and they’re great, but man I’m glad I was born a Canadian.

  • Phrionsa Eoghan

    Sorley

    I refer you to;

    “Highlanders have proved adaptable in all fields wherever they went”

    Fair do’s you are a product of what truthfully may be called an ill wind, many good things have come of the bad. my own background is due to an ill wind also.

    I had cause to be working in the highlands last month, Oban to be exact. I was asked my family background by a family I had cause to mix with. I related an old story of a Highland tradition which included having children brought up in the families of close relations, eg an uncle and auntie would bring up a nephew and this led to ever more strengthened family ties, handy in warfare. The family I was with spoke Gaelic but had not heard of this tradition, a tradition that only died out about probably 200 hundred odd years ago. They were embarrassed that they had not heard of it. Cut a long story short, we had all learned about Norman motte and Bailey castles, King Henry and Queen Lizzie in school. Our own Scottish history and native languages were sadly neglected, to the extent that we may as well belong to a foreign country.

    Moral of the story is one familiar to those wishing to enliven and strenghthen the language and culture of Ireland. If there is no-one left to tell the story, or interpret the meaning of things properly. Then we miss out on a huge chunk of things that academia, no matter how they try cannot replace/replicate.

    Obs

    Good to have another comrade on board this coffin ship 😉

  • Greenflag

    prince eoghain,

    ‘To suggest as you seem to be doing that the Highlanders were not put on or forced by circumstance to take coffin ships is beneath you.’

    I was not suggesting that the Highlanders were not forced out . The same trend was happening all over the UK to a greater or lesser extent . What was different about the highlands as was the case with the South and West of Ireland was that there was no ‘other’ local economy to employ the people . Those forced off ‘commons land’ in England were able to make their way to nearby cities to make a living in the new industries .What was also different about the Scottish Highlands was the ‘destruction’ of it’s traditional way of life which of course also effected the gaelic language . Just as in Ireland 100 years later many Scotsmen were only too glad to see the ‘ships’ take hundreds of thousands ‘ away to a new life elsewhere. It was an age of ‘raw capitalism ‘ as the phrase goes . If sheep paid more than people then sheep it was .

    The Highlands also suffered during the 1840’s famine but not to the same extent as Ireland and the First World War killed off disproportionately a lot of Gaelic speakers from Argyll and the Highlands . When I say disproportionately I mean in terms of the population of the areas they came from as oposed to say the number of casualties from the densely populated parts of England and Wales .

    Perhaps a more ‘independent ‘ Scotland can try to revive the Scots Gaelic language but as we have learnt in Ireland the harsh fact of life is that if ‘sheep’ provide a better return than people then ‘sheep’ it is . I’m speaking figuratively of course . For sheep just substitute ROI (return on investment ).

    Will it ever change ?. About the same time when human nature does or when peoples and nations realise that while capitalism works better than communism in the provision of goods and services it does not seem to be the case when those services are of an educational or health/medical nature well at least not for everybody which presumably should be the democratic ideal .

  • Dewi

    Tony – good – strange I’m working in London with two Gaelic speakers – one Scots from Skye and one from Donegal. Send the Saxons home I say!

  • majordolittle

    Prince Eoghan
    The Black Watch are as fine a group of men you would ever care to meet.

    They extol the virtues of the United Kingdom in the same way as the UDR/RIR or the Welsh Guards.

    Pity the same cannot be said for the pathetic “Irish Defence Forces” for the RoI.
    Still shouting “how high” when Israel or their proxy militias say jump.

  • Observer

    “They extol the virtues of the United Kingdom in the same way as the UDR/RIR..”

    Yes, redundant.

  • Gréagóir O’ Frainclín

    Regarding the diet of the Gaelic Irish circa 1183, the Norman-Welsh Geraldus Cambrensis (Gerald the Welshman) chronicled the exploits of the Normans in Ireland. While he gives a rather biased account, showing contempt for the Irish (as all colonisers do of their conquered subjects) he gives a rather favourable description of what the Irish ate. He described the people as living by farming, stock-raising, fishing and hunting. The country’s mild and moist climate and its plentiful grass made it suitable for breeding cattle, horses, sheep and pigs. Cattle formed the chief wealth of the medieval Irish and were used almost like currency. Giraldus recorded that the ‘tillage land is exuberantly rich yielding large crops of corn, herds of cattle graze on the mountains, the woods abound with wild animals’. He states that the Irish sowed wheat, oats, rye and barley and besides bread they used meat, fish, cheese, butter, fruit, nuts and vegetables, and were fond of milk and mead.
    All the ingredients of quite a healthy diet. Giraldus, while no lauder of the Irish says that the ‘young men grew tall, with fresh complexions’.

    Regarding the diets of Hiberno-Norse Dublin circa 980 onwards, archaeological evidence found shows that the people had a rather healthy and varied diet too. Information about diet in Dublin came from studying the faecal remains taken from cesspits at the Viking settlement that was unearthed at Woodquay in the 1970’s.
    Evidence shows that the inhabitants had a fairly balanced diet consisting of wholemeal bread, fruit, nuts (especially hazelnuts), beans, meat, fish, shellfish, eggs and dairy produce (including goats milk), honey and sloe juice. Literary evidence for the period also refers to brewing, as well as the use of porridge, salt, herbs and leafy vegetables. Evidence shows too that the inhabitants of Dublin consumed a lot of fish and shellfish. Fish weirs and traps were used as well as line fishing. Lead line weights have been discovered proving this. Fish may also have been caught from boats out at sea too. Wooden net floats and stone sinkers were found. Larger sea animals such as porpoise were also hunted. An 11th century Arabic account tells of Dubliners killing ‘baby whales’ for food. Animal bone analysis has found that cattle were the most frequent species in the Dublin diet followed by pigs and sheep. Laying hens were kept in some plots and other species of bird identified include geese, swan and duck. Presumably all such Norse settlements in Ireland were the same.

    Just some evidence then that the Irish enjoyed a varied diet in medieval times. How uncanny indeed that the potato became the sole food of the people centuries later. Such diverse diets as described above somehow became out of bounds to the populace as the spud became the staple diet and the Irish people were reduced to an appalling state of impoverishment. Any indigenous Irish food traditions were no doubt probably lost as the welfare of the people was drastically diminished. Recurring famines as well as the Great Famine itself were detrimental to an already restricted, deprived and landless people.

  • Dewi

    “Information about diet in Dublin came from studying the faecal remains taken from cesspits at the Viking settlement that was unearthed at Woodquay in the 1970’s.”

    Wonderful – that’s what Slugger is about!!!!

  • Phrionsa Eoghan

    Dewi

    Brilliant observation! Too true.

    >>Just as in Ireland 100 years later many Scotsmen were only too glad to see the ‘ships’ take hundreds of thousands ‘ away to a new life elsewhere.<

  • Sorley

    Wow, that is really out of line. So what you’re saying is that anyone who has served in a highland regiment is the equivalent of a Jewish concentration camp guard in Nazi Germany?

  • Sorley

    If not, maybe you want to clarify that, because that iss pretty unfair towards a lot of men and women.

  • Phrionsa Eoghan

    Sorley

    I just about understand your bewilderment. I of course do not and could not refer to the black watch of today, happily fighting imperialist wars for Her Brittanic Majesties government, wars the majority of Scots are against. However should you realise the context and era to which i refer, then the black watch were raised to help police(read persecute) the highlands and her people for outsiders who had all but declared war on a subjugated people. Post 46 these proud Heilan men were the only ones(apart from royalty) legally allowed to wear the tartan. Perhaps I am being unfair on Kapos, since they probably had no choice by and large to do what they did. The men who joined the black watch probably did have a choice.

  • Sorley

    Ah, then that explains it. You see, I was just a little tripped up by the fact that the Black Watch has about 50 battle honours from the second world war. You know, fighting against the Nazis. That and the fact that thosuands of men in other highland regiments gave their lives fighting against these same Nazis, the ones whom the Kapos were collaborating with. Then I remembered that your boys, the real men like (IRA chief of staff) Seán Russell die on nazi U-boats, collaborating like…well gosh the kapos! For some reason I think that you might not agree with that.
    As for the 18th century the Grants. Munros, Campbells and others didn’t have a choice in the matter of joining. Just like the men they were fighting against in the MacDonalds or the Chattan confederation, if you didn’t go you had the chief’s thugs burn your shack. The truth is no matter how much people want to romantize the old days, the people existed to protect the Chiefs cattle and property. The Chief lived like a king, and everyone else was there to make sure he could. Then when order came to the Highlands, the chiefs had no need for men to protect their property from raiding, or to go on raids so they got rid of them. Simple as that. Now I don’t know about you, but if I was given the choice to be a slave to some guy simply because he was born of the right family, or to have freedom to make my own way in life, I’ll always choose the latter. Odd, I’m almost sounding like a republican aren’t I?

  • Phrionsa Eoghan

    Sorley

    You have the makings some useful salient points there before being silly enough to unmask yourself somewhat.

    >>As for the 18th century the Grants. Munros, Campbells and others didn’t have a choice in the matter of joining.< >Odd, I’m almost sounding like a republican aren’t I?< >The Chief lived like a king, and everyone else was there to make sure he could.<

  • Gréagóir O’ Frainclín

    ….”Because we were bought and sold for English gold, such a ‘Parcel of Rogues’ in a Nation.”

    Robbie Burns.

  • Sorley

    Oh come on, I’m no unionist buddy. I just found your use of the word Kapo in reference to members of the black watch offensive, so I thought I’d point out how banal the comparsion was. “The Kapos policed their people in the camps, the BW policed their people in the Highlands, simple!” No it isn’t. It’s just cheap rhetoric, trying to hitch the shit that happened to our ancestors 7 or 8 generations ago to the Holocaust, and trying to make it look somehow similar. I’ve had many family members die who were part of highland regiments (we still have at least 10 in the CF) so maybe I was a bit touchy. Either way on that issue, I doubt either of us will change our minds.

    As for the rest I read in Prebble of chiefs putting out their people who wouldn’t fight, don’t have the book here right now so I can’t check his references at the moment. Slaves was probaly not the best word, but living as a serf in a feudal society leaves you as little better than one. I mean honestly tell me right here, would you rather be living in a black house herding cows all day and engaging in raids, or living in a society like the rest of western Europe had at the time? There was an interesting article in St. Francis Xavier Universities celtic studies magazine years ago(I think it might be online, I’ll see if I an find it) about how in Cape Breton the new Highland settlers pretty much abandoned the traditional clan loyalties, and most of the traditional way of life aside from the Gaelic language. This also happened in Bruce, Grey and Glengarry counties in Ontario, all areas of lots of highland settlement. Simply put, they dumped all that clan bullshit as soon as they were free of it, so I really doubt the common people were that attached to it. I know I haven’t covered everything but this is a lot of writing for now. I’ll cover the other stuff as soon as can.

  • Phrionsa Eoghan

    >>No it isn’t. It’s just cheap rhetoric, trying to hitch the shit that happened to our ancestors 7 or 8 generations ago to the Holocaust, and trying to make it look somehow similar. I’ve had many family members die who were part of highland regiments (we still have at least 10 in the CF) so maybe I was a bit touchy. Either way on that issue, I doubt either of us will change our minds.< >I mean honestly tell me right here, would you rather be living in a black house herding cows all day and engaging in raids, or living in a society like the rest of western Europe had at the time?< >they dumped all that clan bullshit as soon as they were free of it<