Secret Ireland

Discover Ireland's forgotten history, hear reawakened stories and myths from yesteryear and stand on top of mountains that are carved into the Irish consciousness.

Dublin pubs and the original holy water they drank?

the history of dublins pubs
(c) a Rob Buchnana- DUBLINTIMEMACHINE:
Sometimes things which look modern and ordinary are actually ancient. Saint Winifred’s well on Eustace Street in Temple Bar is one such fascinating feature. This overlooked diamond amid the cigarette butt and vomit-smeared cobblestones tells a tale for those with eyes and ears for history. This humble hole, fringed with a little stone wall, lies outside what is currently The Norseman pub. It was buried for centuries before its rediscovery during roadworks in the mid-1990s.

A pint of porter wasn’t the original holy water?

Wells, and holy wells specifically, have a deep and timeless importance to the Irish. Water sources named after saints, like the Welsh Winifred, represent life and hope, both physically and spiritually. They are places where communities came together to draw water and worship. Dublin and North Wales were linked by prosperous trade routes since the 11th century, which may account for the naming. The location would imply its lifegiving liquid is drawn from the subterranean River Poddle or perhaps a shelf of groundwater.

The  deep history of the Norseman pub

It’s amazing this centuries-old feature was lost for so long, considering how this little street corner has seen frequent changes in modern times. Highly debatable official records claim a tavern on the site since 1696. But from the 20th century at least, the nearby pub started as The Wooden Man, then became The Norseman, then J.J.O’Neill’s, Monk’s, Farrington’s, and now once again is called The Norseman.

A historical site becomes a vomit strewn tourist trap

As the criminally expensive pubs came and went the secret freshwater feature was rediscovered, partially restored, and seemingly forgotten once again. The only liquids unneglected in that neighbourhood being of the alcoholic and extortionately overpriced variety. Sadly, in keeping with the general drunken, disrespectful littering in this tourist trap part of town, the medieval miracle is treated like a rubbish bin.
Next time you stagger past, hopefully en-route to a pub whose prices dont require remortgaging your gaff, spare a thought for Saint Winifred and her waters which quenched our ancestors’ thirst, body and soul.

Louth history? Things to do in Omeath?

(c) @ ireland and pegs cottage
The picturesque village of Omeath in County Louth is surprisingly rich in history and legend, even for Ireland! It nestles at the foot of the Cooley Mountains, looking out over Carlingford Lough to the Mourne Mountains, and is divided into ten townlands.
There’s Ardaghy where you’ll find the homestead of famous blind poet Seamus MacCuarta, also a turf bog road where you’ll see a Mass Rock, a legacy of penal times when priests were forbidden to say Mass but did so daily under penalty of death from this rock.

Omeath secrets

In summer months jarveys (drivers of jaunting cars) transport pilgrims to The Calvary to pray at the Shrine of St Jude, the patron saint of hopeless cases. Also at The Calvary is the historic Way of the Cross, the beautiful Lourdes Grotto, the image of the Divine Mercy and the Fr. Gentili Crypt and Gardens. At the fields of Bavan you’ll see where the first recorded Gaelic football match was hosted in 1750, and at Cornamucklagh you’ll find Flagstaff View, a fabulous vantage point over Carlingford Lough, the Mountains of Mourne and the Newry Canal as it meanders into Newry.

History of Omeath

Corrakit is where you’ll find the Grave of the Long Woman. Knocknagoran is at the heart of Omeath and here you’ll find coast guard cottages and a hotel built in 1840 to accommodate tourists and smugglers from Belfast to socialise and trade at the crossroads each Sunday.
Lislea holds the secrets of the last Gaelic speakers of the area. Their homesteads can still be visited here and stories heard of the flight of the Fadgies (Fruit and Fish Peddlers) from Omeath to Belfast, taking with them the Gaelic tongue that can still be heard in Belfast today.
Tullagh is a memory to the hard times of yesteryear with its Famine Bridge and Clermont Pass, a road cut out of the side of the mountain with voluntary labour during the Second World War, or ‘The Emergency’ as WWII was known in Ireland. Also in Tullagh there’s a field where shamrock never grows.

Dublins most haunted castles?


Drimnagh Castle

👻 Drimnagh Castle was built approx.1216 by Sir Hugh de Bernival. It is the only remaining castle in Ireland with a flooded Norman moat. The reputedly haunted location boasts a 15th-century great hall and a 16th-century tower. The castle stayed in the same family for centuries till it was sold to a dairy farmer in the 1900s when its first restoration was attempted. It stayed in his family till it was sold to the Christian Brothers in 1953 who built a school on the land. It fell into ruin again and risked demolition in the 1970s till it was partially taken over by An Caisleán GAA who restored the coach house. In 1986 artist Peter Pearson and a local committee got FÁS to restore it and the adjoining 17th-century garden to its former glory. The venue, which was featured in The Tudors, can be hired as a wedding and party venue. Ghosts are not included in the bill!

Puck Castle

👻 Mysterious Puck’s Castle is an easily overlooked, overgrown ruin in a cow field in Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown. What it lacks in size it makes up for in mythology. “Púca” as Gaeilge means a spirit and this name was anglicised to Puck, denoting the possible haunted history of the little citadel. Built around the early 16th century, legend says it was constructed using cursed materials stolen from a nearby ancient magical ringfort called “Bearna Dhearg”. To defend “The Pale” it was not unusual then to cannibalize sacred Celtic sites for stone, no matter how severe the curses were. A more recent, and sadly verified, story occurred in 1867. An English girl who lived locally, called Jane Eleanor Sherrard, vanished whilst picking wildflowers near the castle, never to be seen again. In this case, it seems some monsters are sadly all too human!

Dunsoghly Castle

 Tinsel Castle in Finglas is located on private land near the end of a runway, at Dublin airport. The four-storey medieval tower house was built in 1450 and its 500-year-old roof is the last surviving original wooden roof on an Irish castle. The same family lived there for centuries until it was abandoned in the 1870s. It contains a haunted chapel dating from 1573, defensive slits in its towers, and a barrel-vaulted ground floor. Saint Oliver Plunkett reported staying there. Dunsoglhy Castle was featured in Braveheart, standing in for Edinburgh Castle home of Robert the Bruce.

Malahide Castle

800 years of continuous occupation, births deaths, and battles means Malahide Castle is haunted by several spirits, the most famous of which is Puck. He was the creepy Court jester who lived in the turret room. He was notorious for falling in love with female visitors but sadly his affections were never returned. He took his own life but his diminutive apparition is seen about the castle but mainly near Pucks Door in the main hall. There is also the Lady in White, a female spirit who haunts the corridors and gardens.

The lucky stone of Dublin? Vist Saint Audoen’s Church

Holy magic stones don’t just reside on Father Ted’s Craggy Island. We’ve got one here in Dublin! There has been a place of worship on the site of Old St. Audoen’s church since medieval times.
That even more ancient chapel was for St. Columba. Audoen’s is the oldest surviving medieval church in Dublin with parts of it dating from about 1190 CE. The 17th-century tower contains six bells. Three of these are the oldest in Ireland and date from 1423 CE.
And with centuries of history comes more than a few mysteries. A 9th-century grave marker called ‘The Lucky Stone’ (an chloch ádh) was practically worshipped by the citizens of The Liberties. The granite slab is engraved with a Greek cross within a double circle. Believers claimed touching or kissing it cured illness and brought good luck.
In 1309 the Lord Mayor, John Le Decer, took the sacred stone from its resting place and reinstalled it up the road in the Cornmarket. He had just built a marble cistern there. It was the first public water fountain in the city and merchants and peasants alike felt the magic rock might enhance the popularity and health effects of Le Decer’s project.
But yet again this rolling stone gathered no moss. It vanished one night from the Cornmarket, only to reappear in Glasnevin Cemetery. It must’ve gotten bored again because its next new home was the historic Whitefriar Street Church. In 1826 it was stolen, possibly by visitors to the city, and was lost for years. The thieves who returned it claimed the object was cursed and became heavier the further from Dublin it was taken.
In the 1840s the Lucky Stone was discovered by a night watchman on a building site in Kilmainham. He claimed it began to glow in the dark and then gradually change into a human shape! When news began to spread, and members of the public began to flock to the site, workers began to tell tales of the stone speaking and screaming and moving of its own accord.
In 1888 the Rev. Dr. Alexander Leeper finally brought it home to Old St. Audoen’s. This time, to hamper any future escape bids, the Lucky Stone was held safely behind iron bars. Leeper was the Rector of the ancient church from 1859-94 and his ghost is said to patrol St. Audoen’s at night to protect the precious stone.
The site has played a role in Irish political life too. Oliver Bond of the United Irishman was elected Churchwarden of the church in 1787. James Napper Tandy, another United Irishman had strong ties to the place. He was born nearby in number 5 Cornmarket and baptised there in 1739. He was also a Churchwarden.
While nobody knows the true origin of the Lucky Stone, the church itself has a definite French Anglo-Norman connection that’s clear in the name. Audoen is the Gaelic spelling of “Ouen”. This ancient place is named after the 7th-century Bishop of R’Ouen, France, who is also the patron saint of Normandy.

The Hell Fire Club Dublin?

The hellfire club
The Hellfire Club on Montpelier Hill in the Dublin Mountains, is a building shrouded in mystery. It was built in 1725 as a hunting lodge, using stone stolen from a nearby ancient neolithic tomb.
It became home to the Dublin branch of the notorious ‘Hellfire Club’, a London-based hedonistic fraternity for English ” gentlemen”. William Connolly, an Irish Parliamentary Speaker founded the Montpelier Hill site as a lonely hunting lodge in 1725 but didn’t live long enough to have much craic there. After his death, the original roof mysteriously blew off…
When Connolly’s widow leased the spooky stone hideout to a high-ranking member of the Hellfire Club, the Earl of Rosse in 1735, supernatural rumours about the building’s ancient spirits and satanic antics began to spread. The lodge quickly became associated with sex, blasphemy, and the worship of Satan.
Despite rumours of demonic summoning, child sacrifice, and ritual cannibalism, it’s far more likely these bacchanalian aristocrats were indulging in childish pantomimes of Satanism, complete with funny costumes, and a little homoerotic horseplay. Good clean fun!
When it burned down for the last time, rumour had it the source of the blaze was a member, Lord Santry, burning a dwarf servant alive in a ritual gone wrong. It was then abandoned.
Arguably more dangerous clientele than faux-Satanists moved in to the ruined site in the 20th century when it became a hangout for criminals and drug abusers. It’s still wise to visit this well-maintained archaeological site in company and by daylight!

Lions led by Donkeys | Into the mind of a conspiracy theorist

This is the same mainstream media who told us that arch paedophile Jimmy Saville was just a harmless old eccentric. They told us that you could trust your kids with Jimmy. The mainstream media trusted Jimmy so much that they helped get him knighted Sir Jimmy Saville.  A national treasure. The media told us that, Jim’ll fix it.

This is the same mainstream media who told us Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. They told us the coalition forces were going to liberate and free the Iraqis. The coalition killed millions of innocent people and then made off with Iraq’s oil and gold like bandits. Iraq didn’t have weapons of mass destruction. It was all a gigantic lie. A con.

Not to mention a mountain of other scandals including, phone hacking, fake news stories, political bias, and taking money from big business with vested interests and using their media platforms to push a biased narrative.

Now we are expected to believe these proven liars have suddenly transformed into fountains of truth? Sorry, we just don’t buy it. If RTE was renamed Pinocchio they would have a nose as big as the spire in the middle of O Connell street!

These are the same political class who told us Charlie Haughey was a statesman with the best interests of Ireland at heart. They told us to tighten our belts whilst Haughey and his ilk were filling their snouts with taxpayers money like pigs at the trough.  They told us Charlie wasn’t taking brown envelopes. You can trust Charlie.

These are the same political class who told us that unexplained money was just resting in Bertie Aherns account. That Bertie had a good day at the races. They told us that there was nothing to see there. You could trust Bertie. Bertie didn’t know anything about brown envelope’s either.

At one stage, in Ireland, there was a  rail system whose tentacles reached nearly every major town in Ireland, but then the political class came up with a brainwave: lets rip the railway to shreds. They told us that ripping up these railways( worth tens of billions today) was for the good of the country. They told us that these railways would be better off in a skip. Trust the politicians.

These are the same political class who told us that us we had to give 64billion of public money to bail out fat cat bankers. They told us that giving this 64 billion to these fat cats was for our own benefit. That this 64 billion would be better off in the pockets of bankers and speculators. They told us to trust them, that they had our best interests at heart.

This is the same political class who sold away our greatest natural resource, our Irish fishing rights, for a few measly crumbs. They told us that it would cost too much money to build a fishing fleet. That they had no money for the fishing fleet, but they could miraculously pull 63billion out of their arses to give to their banker buddys.

These are the same political class who told us it was a good idea to destroy the services in local hospitals like Monaghan and dozens of other hospitals across the country.  They told us these hospitals weren’t needed. That we had too many hospital beds. We didn’t need all of these beds. Trust the politician’s.

These are the same political class who up until 1960’s supported the rights of religious organisations to take babies off single mothers and place them in “homes”. They told us it was for the good of the babies and it was for the good of the mothers.  They used some of these babies as Guinea Pigs for Vaccine experiment’s, starved the rest of them, and then dumped 800 of them down into a septic tank. You can trust the politician’s, they said.  They have everyone’s best interests at heart.

If we question proven conmen and degenerate’s that doesn’t make us conspiracy theorists, it means we know the track record of the people who purport to speak for us, we know the crimes against humanity that they are guilty of.

These are the same medical experts who told us the swine flu vaccine was safe. They were so convinced it was going to be safe that they wanted an indemnity so that nobody could sue them. Now some of the recipients of the vaccine are suing the government instead.

These are the same Scientists who gave every household in Ireland Iodine Tablets in case of nuclear attack. These told us that if in the event of mega tonne nuclear attack that if we popped these tablets they would miraculously save us.

These are the same medical experts(Tony Holohan) who told us that 206 women were free of Cancer when they were riddled with it. The same experts who attempted to cover it up( Holohan) to protect their own arses.  So please forgive some of us if we don’t buy into the Holohan “superman” narrative.

These are the same type of elite world class level Scientists who in 1986 told us the Challenger Space Shuttle was safe to go to the Moon and back. It exploded killing everyone on board a few minutes after its launch.

They told us (Professor Ferguson) during the foot and mouth outbreak in 2001 that 150,000 people would die.  Fewer than 200 did.

They us told (Professor Ferguson) in 2005 that 150 million people would be killed by the bird flu. In the end 282 people died.

They told us( Professor Ferguson) to stay inside during the current pandemic, but this rule didn’t apply to Mr Ferguson as he was away fornicating with some young one!

These are the same Scientists told us Zars, Zika, Ebola, etc, etc were going to wipe out masses of humans. They didn’t.

So please forgive us if some of us have the audacity to question a “science” whose predictions are so far off the mark that a drunk picking a Horse in the Grand National would give you a more accurate guess.

If questioning proven liars, shysters, conmen, and incompetents makes us conspiracy theorists well then that’s fair enough,  but what does it make someone who just blindly swallows every word these people say?

This article was compiled by Seamus Hanratty a freelance SEO copywriter. If you are looking to hire a freelance SEO copywriter contact us and recieve a free quote.


What are the strange statues on Boa Island County Fermanagh?

Boa Island Fermanagh

Situated on the island of Boa in County Fermanagh stands some of the most remarkable and mysterious stone figures in Ireland or Europe. These bizarre statutes hark back to an era of Paganism, sacrifice, and a whole host of other activities.So what exactly are these enigmatic figures that have the power to captivate the imagination?

The Janus figure

Boa Island Fermanagh

It is widely believed that these structures date from an early Christian period, perhaps from around(400-800AD).One of these figures is widely referred to as a Janus figure and this is because it has a head on either side of it.

The figure is 73cm in height and 45cm wide. Whilst the figure is reminiscent of the two headed Roman diety known as a Janus, but in spite of this resemblance, the general consensus is that the figure is not a Roman Janus.

It is believed that the figure represents a Celtic god or goddess. Some people reckon that the head represents the Goddess Babhbha who was the Celtic God of war and fertility. What supports this theory is that BOA island is named after Badhbh the Celtic goddess of war.

More evidence that supports this theory is that people of that era had no reading or writing skills but because of this lack of literacy they had phenomenal memory power, and consequently, could easily pass stories and place names down from generation to generation without the story ever changing or deviating too much.

Each side of this mysterious figure has an intricately carved face and a torso. Where the two separate faces are joined there is an interlace design that may represent hair joined as one. The faces are large, pointy, with straight noses and small mouths from which protrudes pointy chins.

Bizarrely, the figure has no neck with the head directly on its torso. There originally was another part to the figure which encompassed long fingers carved into the rock but this part of the structure broke away.

This section was recently discovered buried in the ground nearby. The east side of the figure faces sunrise and the bearded figure that is engraved within seems to be speaking.

The lustyman


The second figure that is located at Boa was originally found at Lustymore Island but it was then relocated to Boa. Known as “The Lustyman” it was brought to Boa Island in 1939.

This figure measures in at 70cm in height and it has been extremely worn down by rain, weather and time. Some people believe that due to the deteriorated condition of “The lustyman” that the figure actually pre-dates the Janus.

Some of the theories that revolve around the structure the mythical woman Sheela na Gigs who was said to ward of evil spirits. These figures were usually placed outside homes or place of worship so to ward of any evil spirits from entering.

Relevance to the modern era?

boa island fermanagh

Perhaps in the modern world we have more in common with our pagan ancestors than we might like to think as we worship the gods of money and digital devices. As soon as we arise in the morning we bow down and genuflect in front of our TV’s, Laptops, and Ipads, and Iphones.

At least the ancient Irish only spent a few moments worshipping their Boa Statutes and then got on with the rest of their day, but nowadays, many people spend the entire day prostrate paying homage to their mobile phone.

The ancients might have saw visions of their gods and goddesses in the clouds but the image the modern man might see in the clouds would be the apparition of a mobile phone followed by a rumble of noise which would announce, “tweet, tweet, tweet, ding, ding….” Perhaps, in many ways we have managed to out-pagan the pagans?


Overall, I think that these figures at Boa Island are some of the most remarkable figures in Ireland. They truly have an ability to captivate the imagination.

Imagine the time, effort, and craftsmanship that it would have taken to carve these figures out of a huge solid block of rock. The makers of these enchanting structures must have laboured and laboured night and day to try and perfect the engravings.

The fact that the figures have managed to survive thousands of years is another testament to their enduring power. These figures meant something. They became a focal point for the communities of that era. Gatherings would have taken place at these statues.

What time of gatherings? Who knows? Many as the sun rose of set each day people would congregate at these locations to welcome the coming light of day or to ward of the spirits of the approaching night as the sun dipped into its sleep.

Maybe it was an attempt to try and put a face to some of the figures and spirits that the Celts or ancient Irish felt were all around them? Perhaps, these images could have been reflective of some common dream?

Maybe as the night approached the people would try and evoke whatever powers they felt the statutes had to try and protect the tribe? Remember this was an era were death would have been constant, people weren’t expected to survive too long.

We will never really know what these strange and unusual statutes stood for but that doesn’t stop us from guessing.

I’ll leave the last words to the great poet Seamus Heaney who was inspired to write a poem when he visited Boa Island and laid eyes on the statutes.

January God by Seamus Heaney

Then I found a two faced stone

On burial ground,

God-eyed, sex-mouthed, it’s brain

A watery wound. 

In the wet gap of the year,

Daubed with fresh lake mud,

I faltered near his power —-

January God. 

Who broke the water, the hymen

With his great antlers —-

There reigned upon each ghost tine

His familiars,

The mothering earth, the stones

Taken by each wave,

The fleshy aftergrass, the bones

Subsoil in each grave. 


Where is Irelands “City of the Dead”? What happened there?

portal dolmen

We all know about Egypt’s mysterious Valley of the Kings, were countless gold encrusted Pharaohs were placed into their tombs for eternity, but I bet you’ve never heard about Ireland’s ominous sounding “City of the dead”?

The very name“City of the dead” evokes fantastical images of some kind of Zombie apocalypse, but the place is real, zombie apocalypse aside, and it comes equipped with over 100 tombs whose time-line stretches back into the dark depths of Irish history.

The similarities with Egypt don’t end there with tomb raiders plundering the site in the 1800’s and not be outdone by the Tomb Raiders, in 1983 Sligo Council showed their “reverence and respect” for Irish culture and history by attempting to turn the site into a dump for rubbish. Luckily, some locals appealed to the Supreme Court and blocked Sligo County Councils grand designs.

The place I am referring to is Carrowmore Megalithich site near Sligo which is the largest megalithic site not only in Ireland but also one of the largest in Europe. Dating back to 4600BC it is believed that there are or were over 100 tombs or monuments located at Carrowmore.

Sadly, the area was extensively damaged in the 19th century due to quarrying and land clearance. But even though the site is much diminished from its former glories it is still an impressive capsule of history.

At Carrowmore, you can set your eyes on the remains of portal tombs, chamber tombs, portal dolmens, ring forts, and Cairns dating back thousands of years.

During excavations in 1837, each archaeological site was given a number a tag as an identifier. In more recent excavations that were conducted by Swedish archaeologists some of the items found in these tombs dated by as much as 4600BC.

Largest site

Passage tomb

The largest site at Carrowmore is a site known as Listoghill. An interesting fact is that Listoghill is the only site that has been decorated with megalithic art. Another interesting fact is that this is the only site were both burials and cremations took place.

The majority of the remains found at the location would have been cremated. All of the other tombs and passages surrounding Listoghill are arranged on a oval fashion which seems to suggest that Listoghill was the center point of worship and devotion.

The kissing stone

portal dolmen

The Kissing Stone was given it’s name during the Victorian era. Here, a capstone sits atop three upright stones and covers a large chamber which points towards the south east.

This particular Dolmen is rather tall and has lots of room within the chamber unlike some other Dolmens were there’s very little room for manoeuvre.

Fascinatingly enough, the kissing stone is surrounded by a circle of 32 boulders and each boulder measures 12.5 meters in diameter. There is also a smaller inner ring which surrounds the Dolmen.

Carrowmore 7

portal dolmen

When this tomb was cleared out, cremated bones weighing 1kg in weight were found. Some of the other finds at the site included an arrow head, limestone marble, and a piece of chert. A mass of unopened seashells were also found in a pit just outside the circle. The fact that these seashells were unopened may suggest that they were some left as some kind of offering to the gods.

The other satellite tombs

Most of the satellite tombs originally consisted of a central Dolmen stone that would have held up by a number of smaller stones. The majority of these tombs were enclosed by a boulder of circles which measured about 12 to 15 meters in diameter. One of the secrets to their longevity was because the structures were built upon a small platform and earth and stone which locked them in place.

What was discovered?

Portal Dolmen

Some of the items that were uncovered during the various excavations include antler and bone pins with mushrooms shaped heads. Archaeologists were also able to shine a light into the diet of the people who used these tombs with masses of mussels and oyster shells discovered at one site.

portal dolmen

An interesting discovery was that in most of the burials tombs fragments of Quartz were found, this suggests that Quartz had a hugely symbolic and ceremonial significance for the people who inhabited these tombs.

In the modern era, spiritualists believe that Quartz is a stone of harmony and is a help in romantic relationship. The mineral is also believed to facilitate a cleansing of the soul and mind.

Ornaments made from Sperm Whale teeth were also found in many of the graves. These findings are also suggestive of skilled fishermen and perhaps even a larger fishing fleet that hunted and caught large mammals and fish.

Each chamber contained human bone fragments and in some cases skeletons. Because cremation was the most popular method of disposing of a body the majority of the humans bones found were fragments. It appears that the chambers were also used as being a location were artefacts of significance were stored.

Data from the Carrowmore seems to overhaul the general consensus as to how passage tombs spread across the island of Ireland. Previous to the studies that were conducted at Carrowmore most historians believed that tombs spread from the east of Ireland to the west of Ireland with tombs such as Newgrange marking the beginning of the practice.

However, some of the results which were obtained at this site suggest that Carrowmore may have been one of the very first passage tomb complexes constructed in Ireland. Although, this is still open to vigorous debate.

The spread of passage tombs

The construction of megalithic tombs throughout Europe and further afield is a widespread phenomenon and many debates have opened up as to whether the spread of these tombs meant the spread of an ideology or a way of life.

Whatever the case may be there is no doubt that these tombs were a principal focus for ceremonies, burials, and celebrations as well as being markers of territory on the wider countryside.


I think its safe to say that Carrowore is one of Irelands most enigmatic and interesting mass of portal tombs in Ireland. Whilst some of the site may have been destroyed I think we owe a debt of gratitude to the local people who took the County Council to Court and prevented them from turning Carrowore into a dump for rubbish.

Whilst the behaviour of the council was and is abominable, unfortunately, this behaviour is nothing new and is another fine example of the utter contempt the Irish Government and their minions have for Irelands cultural heritage. Fortunately, a good chunk of Carrowore survives to this day and lovers history, tourists, and other visitors are still able to enjoy some of the history that lives in the place.

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What is the true history of Claddagh rings? What is their meaning?

Claddagh ring
Claddagh ring

Claddagh rings are etched into the annals of Irish history, these iconic rings are associated with romance, loyalty, love and friendship. The rings which are designed with two hands holding aloft a crown heart are widely recognised as being a symbol of Ireland and enduring love. Nowadays, these rings are widely used as fashion accessories and also as a symbolic gesture.

What do they mean?

claddagh rings

The two hands represent friendship, the heart means love, and the crown represents loyalty. The earliest known record of anyone using one of these rings dates back to the 1700’s to the Irish village of Claddagh.

The Claddagh ring is a fine example of a much broader category of rings known as faith rings or fede rings. The Italian word fede means “hands joined in fidelity.” Similar to to other variants of the ring, wearing a Claddagh ring is synonymous with with love or friendship.

The history of similar rings

The power, symbolism, and magnetism of rings goes back to the era of the ancient Egyptians who considered a circular object as being a powerful symbol deserving of reverence. The circle represented eternal life and love, and an opening carved into the circle would represent a passageway into an unknown realm or world.

It appears to have been the Romans who first introduced rings as symbols of love and friendship. The most well known ring was the fede ring, which similar to the Claddagh ring, had two hands clasped together. These fede rings were extremely popular and widely used during the Middle Ages and throughout Europe.

The widespread consensus is that the Claddagh ring originated in the small Galway village of Claddagh around the 1700s but there is much dispute as to who first made it and why they made it.

Where it all began?

claddagh ring

One legend says that an Eagle dropped a fully completed Claddagh ring straight into the lap of a woman to reward her for her hard work, generosity, and loyalty.

Another tale suggests that the origin of the ring was when a poor commoner fell in love with a wealthy lady and to prove his love to her and to her father he designed and created the Claddagh ring.

But it is the story of Richard Joyce that is most commonly associated with the Claddagh ring. Richard was a fisherman from Galway who had fallen in love with a local woman named Margaret and one day when Richard was out fishing he and his crew were captured and taken prisoner by a gang of ruthless Spanish Pirates.

During his captivity Richard grew distraught because he was going to be deprived of the woman that he loved. Eventually Richard was sold as a slave to a Spanish Goldsmith who began teaching him the trade.

To keep his spirits, alive each day, Richard would steal a small speck of gold and as the years passed by in captivity he was able to design a gold ring. His greatest dream was that one day that he might escape from his prison and present the ring to his long lost love.

In the meantime, a powerful allay of King William III heard that his fellow Christians were being held as slaves and he ordered all of these slaves to be released. When Richard was released he returned to Galway and presented his ring to his long lost love Margaret who willingly accepted him back into her arms.


Over the years Claddagh rings gained in popularity and began to be used as wedding rings in the wider Galway area. The rings also began to be associated with poor fishing families along the Galway coast who used the rings as investments.The rings were used as family heirlooms getting passed down from generation to generation.

Claddagh rings have gained widespread use and have been worn by the rich and famous. Claddagh rings have been worn by Princess Grace of Monaco and Queen Victoria. More recently Kanye West bought his wife Kim Karashian a Claddagh ring when they visited in Ireland.

One thing is for sure, that the popularity of these iconic Irish rings seems set to continue unabated.

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The true history of Celtic Crosses in Ireland? What was the meaning of a Celtic Cross?

Celtic Cross

The Celtic Cross is a symbol that is indelible associated with Ireland. There is something mysterious and uplifting when you one looks at these iconic crosses. Like the Shamrock and the Harp the Celtic Cross could easily be mistaken as the national symbol of Ireland.

The power of these crosses and how they are linked with Ireland can be seen throughout the globe. If you were to walk into a Bar in New York, Sydney, Toronto or anywhere else In the world the chances of you setting eyes on a Celtic Cross would be very high. These iconic symbols have graced the sporting arenas of Basketball, Football, Rugby and many other sports.

Nowadays, these crosses are used as a fashion accessory and can be seen on the Cat Walks in Milan right up to the swankiest and most up market stores New York.

A Celtic Cross was used was in a famous scene in the smash hit film Gangs of New York were Priest Vallon (Liam Neeson) held one of the crosses aloft as he prepared to go into battle on the streets of New York.

In graveyards throughout Ireland Celtic Crosses dot the landscape. These structures are associated with modern day Christianity and also link back to our ancient pagan past.

Controversy has abounded as to who introduced these crosses into Ireland with many believing that Saint Patrick was instrumental in bringing them into Ireland, but other people argue that Saint Columba or Saint Declan were the main reason they were introduced to the shores of the Emerald Isle.

Why and how have these crosses become associated with Ireland?

celtic crosses

 These monuments first began appearing around the 9th century and feature a cross with a ring carved into the top of it. In the majority of cases, the cross is located on atop of a pyramidal base which is used to support the monument.

Some theories suggest that the origin of these crosses may have originated from early Christian crosses whereby struts where inserted to support the top arm of the cross but many other histories disagree with this theory.

Many of the earliest examples of crosses in Ireland are carved with inscriptions of ogham, an ancient Irish language. Some of the finest examples which can be seen in Ireland are the crosses at Monasterboice, The Cross of Kells, Arboe Cross and the Clonmacnoise Cross.

My theory is that the Celtic Cross is a fusion between our Pagan past and the Christian future that was being introduced into Ireland at the time. Celtic crosses were a union between past and present.

Our pagan ancestors understood circles and the power of them, and this was an inroad Christian missionaries used to try and convert the people to this new religion that was taking over Europe.


celtic cross

One of the earliest examples of the fusion between the past and the present can be seen at Calanais on the Isle of Lewis in Scotland. This site is not your stereotypical stone cross but actually a stone cross that is planted into the ground with a stone circle surrounding it. The Calanais site is unique in that the shape of cross is made out of a structure that looks like a stone fort.

Many people believe that the circle stands for the Roman god Invictus. And that as the Celts spread throughout Europe and eventually made their way across the edges of Europe to Ireland that this was when this circle symbol was introduced to the island of Ireland.

If one was to visit any site in Ireland associated with the megalithic period the chances are you would come across stones circles etched into boulders or larger stones.

The most well known example of this practice can be witnessed at Newgrange. These circles were associated with the life giving sun. The moon. The changing of the seasons. The circle of life. Birth death and rebirth a cotinous cirlce

Some modern day puritans of the Christian religion believe that the circle represents the halo of Jesus Christ but I feel that this is unlikely when one takes into account Irelands ancient past and the prevalence of the circles within that past.

The fact that the tip of the cross hovers over the circle may be indicative of a message that Christ reigned supreme when the pagan past and the Christian futures were fused into one.

Types of crosses

celtic cross

The earliest examples of Celtic Crosses in Ireland were not carved out of rock but were inscribed into stone. One example of this type of cross is the Gallerus Oratory in County Kerry. Here you can see a slab of stone standing upright with a Celtic cross carved into its surface.

Another superb example is the Killaghtee Cross in Dunkinelly which dates from around 650BC. At the top of the rock there is the carving of a Maltese Cross which is tied with a triple knot of Saint Brigid, which is said to represent the Holy Trinity.

In general, these crosses usually fall into three separate categories.

  • Standing stone crosses. It is believed that the original purpose of these structures was to mark the boundaries between different territories.
  • Celtic High Crosses. These crosses are usually decorated with a vast array of etchings and carvings which tell the story of Christ. One of the reasons for this was because during that era the majority of the population would have been illiterate and so it would have fell upon the local monks or Christian missionaries to explain the story of Christ.   How they explained the story was by carving various scenes from the Bible onto these rocks, locals would then gather around the cross as the Monks or Missionaries used the carvings on the cross to retell the story of Christ.
  • Celtic cross memorials. The majority of these crosses date from around 1860 when the upper classes in Irish society began to use them as markers for the graves of their loved ones. Nowadays, these crosses are ubiquitous and commonplace throughout the majority of Irish graveyards.

Celtic crosses are considered to be one of Ireland’s greatest contributions to medieval art in Europe. Whilst some of these structures are seen throughout Europe it is with Ireland that the connection runs deepest.


celtic cross

Celtic crosses are steeped in style, charisma and panache. The mystery and intrigue regarding their true origins adds a further layer of depth to their meaning and power. The fact that these ancient structures are etched with a whole host of mysterious designs enhances their power as being symbols deserving of reverence and devotion.

Their true meaning is disputed but the functions that they had in the past and present is pretty much certain: Teaching the message of Christ, being used as markers of territories, and for staging political events or gatherings.

Whilst we will never really know the true meaning of the circle in these crosses it is my belief that the most likely scenario is that the circle was used as means to help the local pagans understand the message of Christ.

The circle was used as an inroad to help the Celts or ancient Irish comprehend  this new religion that was rapidly sweeping throughout Europe.

The circle on the cross also might have helped to reassure our ancient ancestors that by embracing this new religion that they would not be completely abandoning the practices of old. This theory is backed up in how many pagan traditions such as the celebration of Halloween and the reverence of the Pagan Goddess Saint Brighid is still practised to this very day.

Overall, it is safe to say that Celtic Crosses will, as long as the world keeps turning on its axis, be forever associated, connected, and indelibly linked with the Emerald Isle.

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