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

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