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Author Archive | Colm

Wayside funerary crosses, an ancient tradition from Kilmore, Co. Wexford

In the parish of Kilmore, in the very south of Co. Wexford, persists a peculiar funerary custom that may have medieval origins. It involves members of the funeral cortege leaving a cross, traditionally fashioned from left-over coffin wood, at a specific tree.  Overtime this custom has led to many crosses collecting around the ‘sacred’ tree, […]

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Evidence for prehistoric human dismemberment found at Carrowkeel

A new analysis of bones taken from a century-old excavation at Carrowkeel in County Sligo has revealed evidence of the burial practices and death rites of the ancient people of Ireland. The findings, which have been published in the journal Bioarchaeology International, are part of a project applying modern techniques and research questions to the human […]

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Decorated initials from a 9th century Irish manuscript

This wonderful collection of decorated initials is found on a 9th century Irish manuscript which now resides at the Abbey of Saint Gall in Switzerland.  Founded in the 7th century AD by an Irish monk (St. Gall), the abbey has an extensive library that contains a small but important corpus of Irish material. This includes a […]

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False burials and dangerous water: Whit Sunday in Irish Folklore

Whit Sunday (or Whitsun) is an important Christian festival that celebrates the Pentecost. It normally falls on the seventh Sunday after Easter and in Ireland it was sometimes considered a ‘contrary day‘. As a result it was surrounded by a rich folklore tradition, much of it concerning ‘bad luck’. For example, people or animals born […]

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Viking Age Utensils from Waterford city

This fantastically preserved collection of household utensils was discovered during archaeological excavations in Waterford city. It includes two wooden spoons, a wooden beetle/pestle and an iron knife (with attached handle). The artefacts were found in contexts dating from the 11th to 12th centuries AD and were preserved due to the damp, largely anaerobic conditions which […]

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Muiredach’s High Cross, Monasterboice, Co. Louth

The magnificent Muiredach’s cross at Monsterboice, Co. Louth. Standing at over over 5m tall, it represents one of the finest pieces of early medieval sculpture in Ireland. It is undoubtedly the work of a master stonemason (or team of stonemasons) and the art historian Roger Stalley has suggested that the same person may have also […]

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Raven Born & Wolf Singer: Some Old Irish Names from Ogham Stones

These Old Irish names are taken from the country’s corpus of ogham stones. Consisting of a series of incised linear lines, ogham represents Ireland’s very earliest form of writing. It is typically found on standing stones, especially in the the south and southwest of the country, where there is a remarkable concentration of these monuments. The […]

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