Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Strokestown Ghost Story

Sorry about the month long hiatus, teaching got in the way, but it's midterm so here is a spooky post for Hallowe'en. Strokestown, in County Roscommon is home to the Strokestown Park House and Famine Museum. Coincidentally it is also home to a ghost story which is related to the Famine.
The story goes that the figure of a man who died in the Famine, identified in the story as Seán Burke, is known to walk the local roads and fall over near a certain hill (Byrne n.d.:61). Many of the stories in that book had previously been published in the Evening Herald, but I have yet to find the original publication.
During the Famine the local Landlord, Denis Mahon in whose former stately house the museum is located, followed a policy of assisted emigration which Stephen Campbell, who wrote the museum's souvenier book, claims was a relatively humane form of clearance (1994:42).
It is quite possible that the ghost story acts as a form of memento mori for those who were cleared from the estate.

Image: Strokestown House
Byrne, Patrick. nd. Irish Ghost Stories Dublin:Mercier Press.
Campbell, Stephen J. 1994. The Great Irish Famine: Words and Images from the Famine Museum,
Strokestown Park, County Roscommon. Strokestown:Famine Museum.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Chapelizod, Izod's Tower

Chapelizod, Izod's Tower

For this month's place lore we visit Chapelizod and a side street in Dublin city centre. Unlike last month's entry this story is not rooted in Gaelic culture.

The name Chapelizod is often claimed to refer the story of Tristan and Isolde, a story which does have paralell's in Gaelic culture although many of the motifs seem rather straightforward. The main female character of the story is Isolde, who having nursed a wounded man, Tantris, discovers that he is in fact Tristan, the man who killed here uncle. Tristan wins her for his own uncle King Mark of Cornwall but she hates Tristan still and had previously considered killing him but had refrained from doing so. On the passage from Ireland to Cornwall the pair drink a love potion meant for Isolde and Mark, leading to Tristan and Isolde falling in love.

The pair have an affair behind Mark's back and eventually he grows tired of the whole thing and banishes them both, although he would later take Isolde back. Eventually, in the version I've read, Tristan is mortally wounded and sends for Isolde to heal him with a message that if she comes the boats should fly a white sail and if she does not come a black one. Unfortunatly for Tristan, his wife also named Isolde, tells him that the sail is black when it is in fact white. Finding Tristan dead, Isolde (the first one) dies holding his body.

The story that Isolde is commemorated in Dublin has been around for quite some time though many of the sources for this tradition also suggest that the name derives from a local family and not the literary character. It is interesting that this tradition started to appear it almost seems like the Anglo-Norman's and later non-Gaelic populations were starting to make the place seem like home. Chapelizod is a small village area near the Phoenix Park and Izod's Tower (not pictured) can be seen in Lower Exchange Street.

Hatto, A.T. (Translater) Gottfried Von Strassburg Tristan with the Tristan of Thomas Penguin, 1967 Penguin: London

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Hill of Allen

 Welcome to my new blog which deals with folklore, myth, psuedohistory and once in a while history associated with places in Ireland, from which we get the title Dindshenchas. Posts will be published towards the end of each month.

The Hill of Allen looms large in Irish folklore and literature as the base of Finn mac Cumhaill, he came into possession of the hill as it became compensation from his maternal grandfather, Tadg, for the death of Cumhaill. The Hill is said to be named after Almu, who was wife to Nuada, himself Tadg's father (the text I'm using doesn't identify her as Tadg's mother).
Fionn's father, Cumall, was killed at the battle of Cnucha (Castleknock), which was the result of his having taken Muirne without her father, Tadg's consent. Goll mac Morna then known as Aedh, is credited with killing Cumall but loses his eye in the battle with his forces.
It has been claimed that in the nineteenth century a giant body was found, during the construction of the tower (above) and it was claimed that these were the bones of Fionn.
The image of the tower was taken last year at heritage week, and according to the website it will be open to the public again this year from the 18th to the 26th of August.
The Cause of the Battle of Cnucha in Tom P. Cross and Clark Harris Slover (eds), Ancient Irish Tales, 1996, Barnes and Noble
County Kildare Heritage  Hill of Allen
Heritage Week