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Showing posts from April, 2013

HIST & MYTH: Ireland's Great Houses

Written by Ben Kesp
In the 18th and 19th century, it is estimated that over 4,000 magnificent country houses stood strongly on the Irish landscape. Sadly today stands only a small percentage of this number that are currently in use. Scattered around the country side, lies the ruins of many of these great houses that the once fine walls now echo a forgotten time. The empty shells are slowly being reclaimed by nature and in time will disappear for ever. They represent a past in Irish history that some people do not wish to remember as these houses were once the strong hold of the Anglo Irish - the elite ruling classes.  However in  recent decades the attitude and view on these houses is changing and people are seeking to understand more about the houses and what they symbolise for Ireland today.  They are a part of the culture and heritage and most importantly were built by very talented and skilled Irish craftsmen.  
The “Big Houses” were lived in by the Anglo Irish Protestants who man…

HIST & MYTH: Queen Maeve

Resting high on the summit of Knocknarea, in the north west of Ireland in County Sligo is believed to lay the body of Queen Maeve or Medb in an unopened 5,000 year old cairn. This is a large cairn measuring 180 ft wide and is 40 ft high. It is believed the cairn contains a Neolithic passage tomb and it is surrounded by many smaller passage tombs which are aligned to face Carrowmore. Carrowmore lies east of Knocknarea and is an ancient megalithic stone cemetery containing over sixty five portal/dolmen monuments. Among these is a portal tomb that archaeologists have dated to 4,600 BC. Queen Maeve is said to be buried upright in the large cairn facing her enemies to the north in Ulster. The cairn is known today as Maeve’s Cairn, Maeve’s Tomb, Maeve’s Nipple or Maeve’s Grave. It can be seen resting on the summit for many miles around County Sligo. 

But who was Queen Maeve? Was she a legendary or historical figure? The Ulster Cycle, one of the four great cycles of early Irish literary…