The 1st of August (sometimes the 2nd) is Lúnasa (Lughnasadh, Lughnasa, Brón Trogain) – the harvest festival in Ireland.
In her excellent book, ‘The Festival of Lughnasa’, Máire MacNeill wrote:
“Garland Sunday and Domhnach Chrom Dubh are two of the many names of a festival celebrated by Irish country people at the end of July or the beginning of August. It marked the end of summer and the beginning of the harvest season, and on that day the first meal of the year’s new food crop was eaten. The chief custom was the resorting of the rural communities to certain heights or water-sides to spend the day in festivity, sports and bilberry-picking.”
Publisher: Folklore of Ireland Council; Reprint edition (January 1, 2008)
Buy the Book on Amazon.com Here.
Buy the Book from the Irish Publisher Here.
More of this excellent article on Lora O’Brien’s page:
Source: Lughnasadh in Ireland – Lora O’Brien – Irish Author & Guide
An excellent video by Lora O’Brien.
The Mórrígan, Cú Chulainn, Sexuality, and that Story of the Daughter of Buan
When the light of the sun of this day shines into the inner chamber of Sliabh na Calli (The Cailleach’s mound). By solar reckoning, the year is exactly half. Half day, half night. At one exact moment, the world balanced on a pin head. Everything in equal measure, fifty-fifty, resting in perfect balance, a pause. A breath. Exhale. The cry of the cuckoo calls out. Release. We move on to the lighter times. The spring equinox La na Cailleach is here.
Source: La na Cailleach – Spring Equinox – Fools, Cuckoos, the Lady and the Devil – Cailleach’s Herbarium
Gráinne Mhaol, pirate queen of Connacht: behind the legend
Published in Early Modern History (1500–1700), Features, Issue 2 (Mar/Apr 2005), Volume 13
Vilified by her English adversaries as ‘a woman who hath imprudently passed the part of womanhood’, Grace O’Malley was ignored by contemporary chroniclers in Ireland, yet her memory survived in native folklore. Nationalists later lionised her as Gráinne Mhaol, a warrior who would come over the sea with Irish soldiers to rout the English. She finally became an icon of international feminism, both as an example of a strong and independent woman and as a victim of misogynistic laws. Nevertheless, this subject of verse, music, romantic novels, documentaries and an interpretive centre remains shrouded in mystery. Gráinne Ní Máille’s mythical status is a double-edged sword that, while ensuring that her name survived, has obscured the reality of the woman behind the legend. She was an extraordinary woman who lived, loved, fought and survived during a pivotal period of Irish history that saw the collapse of the Gaelic order and the ruination of Ireland’s ruling élite.
Source: History Ireland
Lora O’Brien is a fantastic teacher of Irish Paganism. Go check out her courses!
Source: Shapes of the Mórrígan | The Irish Pagan School
I’ve been enjoying what is loosely termed ‘Celtic Music’ since I was a child. It all began with The Unicorn album by the Irish Rovers. My mom had a copy… I think I was 4? 5? Regardless, I’ve always loved Irish and Scottish music. I’ve since branched off from ‘traditional’ Celtic music to embrace more aspects of this genre. Below are some bands I’ve enjoyed. Feel free to let me know of any I’ve missed!
- Afro Celt Sound System – I have several of their albums, including Seed and Sound Magic, and love them all. This is Celtic and Senegalese music mixed. Very funky and upbeat.
- Aine Minogue – lovely Irish Harpist with a bit of New Age
- Albannach – drums and pipes and LOTS of energy
- Altan – the lead singer, Mairead Ni Mhaonaigh, has a wonderful voice!
- Anuna – New Age music with a Celtic feel, uses nonsense words to convey dreamy music
- Bear McCreary – American composer who has done music for Outlander, The Walking Dead, and Battlestar Galactica
- Black ‘47 – sometimes silly, always passionate, fun and energetic
- Blackmore’s Night – Ritchie Blackmore used to play guitar for Deep Purple, and then went mystical with his girlfriend singing – neat stuff
- Bohola – a Chicago-based duo, really, consisting of Jimmy Keane on piano
- Bothy Band – traditional Irish trad group from the 1970sBoys of the Lough – they combine Irish and Scottish influences, but include in their number Cathal McConnell, one of the great Irish song-collectors
- Brobdingnanian Bards – Traditional ren band, very good, very nice! I also see them at Dragoncon every year.
- Caladh – a local pub group we saw in Kilkenny – they were great! (and the lead singer is cute!)
- Capercaillie – This band features wonderful vocals by Karen Matheson, and a haunting feel.
- Cara Dillon – Irish folk singer with clear, sweet vocals
- Celtic Thunder – Irish American group done with polish and talent, a bit like a male version of Celtic Woman.
- Celtic Woman – all-female Irish vocal ensemble which has high production value, and has launched many careers. Chloe Agnew, Orla Fallon, Lisa Kelly, Hayley Westenra, Mairead Nesbitt and many others.
- Cernunnos Rising – New Age, Druidic and Celtic music
- Cherish the Ladies – New York based group with lovely vocals, traditional/ceili
- Chieftains – Another 40 year old band, well respected and making music.
- Christy Moore – the Granddad of Irish Folk music
- Claire Roche – Irish harpist who loves Yeats’ Poetry
- Clanadonia – drums and pipes and tribal energy
- Clann An Drumma – tribal band from Scotland, drums and pipes
- Clannad – Enya’s family, very talented. They do a lot of trad, but also do many ethereal original pieces.
- Coda – male a capella traditional band in Ireland, great harmonies. I got to see them live in Westport a couple of years ago.
- Crannog – Traditional Ren Faire musicians
- Culann’s Hounds – great traditional Irish folk band from San Francisco
- Damh the Bard – Wonderful pagan music, traditional sounds
- Danú – a fantastic trad-based band hailing mostly from Co Waterford.
- Davy Spillane – hands down, the best Uillean pipe player
- De Dannan – Top Irish trad group from the 1970s
- Déanta – Lovely young vocal Irish groupDervish – teetering a little close to more modern style songs
- Dolores Keane – Classic singer with a fantastic voice
- Donovan – Scottish singer with an eclectic blended style, mainstream in the 60s and 70s.
- Dougie MacLean – Scottish folk singer, best known for his song Caledonia, which still makes me tear up every time I hear it.
- Dropkick Murphys – Celtic Punk Rock band
- Dubliners – legendary band from Dublin
- Emerald Rose – This is a wonderful live band, not as magical on their CDs though. I see them at Dragoncon every year – they combine Irish traditional with rocking pagan music.
- Empty Hats – the prior incarnation was Double Indemnity, and are now Empty Hats. They are one of the BEST ren bands I have ever heard, full of energy, humor, and talent.
- Enter the Haggis – Celtic Rock band from America, lots of fun and energy
- Enya – Who hasn’t heard of Enya? Her haunting singing and mythical music got her the gig to do the Elves music in Lord of the Rings. Who better? Was part of Clannad (her family) at one point.
- Erin’s Guild – Trad Rock band out of New England
- Flogging Molly – Celtic Punk band
- Gaelic Storm – This is the band that played below decks in the Titanic movie – lots of energy, lots of fun!
- Grainne Hambly – traditional Irish harp music
- Great Big Sea – they sing a lot of traditional songs, as do most Plastic Paddy bands, but with modern energy and beat (from Newfoundland)
- Heather Alexander – Californian singer and fiddler
- Hollie Smith – A beautiful haunting, smooth voice, sometimes in duet with Steve McDonald
- Horslips – Irish Celtic rock band inspired by traditional musicIrish Rovers – I grew up listening to ‘The Unicorn’ and other fun songs by this very folk group
- Iona – progressive Celtic rock band from the UK
- Jethro Tull – Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull released (2000) a wonderful flute album called The Secret Language of the Birds that is enchanting.
- Julie Fowlis – fantastic Scottish Gaelic singer, on the soundtrack from Brave
- Kate Rusby – throaty singer of traditional songsKelliana – Pagan singer extraordinaire
- Liadan – lovely group of female vocalists out of Ireland
- Loreena McKennitt – She has an incredible range for her voice, and tends to do original songs based on legends and myths in Celtic culture, such as Arthurian legends.
- Lothlorien – this New Zealand band takes traditional music and enchants it with mystical music. Theirs is one of my favorite Celtic CDs of all time.
- Luke Kelly – Irish singer and folk musician from Dublin, founding member of the DublinersLúnasa – Irish folk band with great energy
- Maire Brennan (Moya Brennan) – lead singer of Clannad, she has fantastic music as solo as well
- Mary Black – Irish singer of both folk and modern material
- Makem Brothers – Sons of Tommy Makem reviving the trad
- Mary Black – Beautiful Irish vocalist
- Mediaeval Baebes – wonderful a capella harmonies
- Mike Freeman/Tania Opland – I first discovered this duo because they produced a wonderful CD based on Anne McCaffrey Dragonriders of Pern books, and I was hooked. They are a wonderful studio band, and my special favorite is Cut to Rhythms. I have all of their albums.
- Morrigu – Celtic Trad and Irish punk, mix thoroughly
- Narada – This is actually a collection of music, and each CD has a theme. One, Celtic Mysteries, is a mix of Celtic and Indian (Asian) music. There is Celtic Odyssey, Celtic Dance, etc. You get the idea.
- Natalie MacMaster – fantastic fiddling
- Noel McLoughlin – traditional singer with throaty, powerful vocals
- Off Kilter – We saw them first at EPCOT in the Canada exhibition – rock music to bagpipes, what a combo!
- Old Blind Dogs – Great harmonies and rhythm (Scottish)
- Omnia – Neoceltic pagan folk band based in the Netherlands
- Paddy Reilly – best known for Fields of Athenry, a traditional Irish folk singer and balladeer
- Pandora Celtica – Delightful a capella band with a great deal of sea shanties and beautiful harmonies
- Peatbog Fairies – Scottish rock and house music fusion
- Planxty – Irish folk music band from the 1970s, included Christy Moore, Andy Irvine, Donal Lunny and Liam O’Flynn. Helped popularize Irish music.
- Prodigals – Another group of great energy, combined with wicked humor. Their CD ‘Dreaming in Hell’s Kitchen’ is just very happy and fun.
- Runrig – Great Scottish folk/rock band
- Sarah McLachlan – Canadian singer best known for songs that make you cry
- Seven Nations – American Celtic rock group with lots of power
- Sharon Shannon – Accordion player extraordinaire
- Shooglenifty – Celtic/rock Scotland group that does a bit of house style music
- Sileas – traditional Scottish harp musicSilly Wizard – One of the forerunners of modern traditional music – no, that’s not a contradiction. They started out in the 1970s playing traditional music to huge crowds, and were one of the reasons for the current resurgence in Celtic interests. The lead singer, Andy M. Stewart, wrote many well known modern songs such as Queen of Argyle and Ramblin’ Rover.
- Sinead O’Connor – Irish pop and trad singer. Her vocals in Foggy Dew, for instance, are incredibly powerful
- Sliabh Notes – fantastic Sliabh Luachra-style music.
- Smoky Finish – They are probably the least Celtic of these, but still have some traditional music in their CDs. Again, modern take and energy on old songs.
- Solas – American Irish trad music group
- Stan Rogers – Canadian folk and traditional singer known for his sea songs
- Steeleye Span – English folk-rock band from the 1970s, still active today
- Steve McDonald – Ethereal bagpipes with a story – what else could you want? His CDs Sons of Somerled and Stone of Destiny are among the best I’ve heard.
- Teada – another really, really great trad band, whose leader Oisin Mac Diarmada is one of my favorite fiddlers, and who along with flute-player Damien Stinson is from Sligo.
- The Clancy Brothers – This group practically defines Irish folk music – they’ve been around over 40 years, singing the folk music to us beautifully.
- The Corries – Scottish folk duo, traditional
- The Corrs – Pop Irish Trad family, Irish. Andrea Corr had an incredible voice.
- The Cranberries – Powerful vocals and lyricsThe Gothard Sisters – Lovely true sisters with beautiful vocals. I just saw them live in November
- The High Kings – sort of a male version of Celtic Women, great voices and high production value in concertThe Irish Rovers – Traditional Irish Band that was actually my first exposure to Irish music. My mom had The Unicorn album.
- The Irish Rovers – Traditional, high energy, classic.
- The Pogues – short for ‘Pogue mo Thoin’, or Kiss my Ass, this punk Irish band exploded on the scene
- The Proclaimers – best known for their song ‘500 miles’, this Scottish rock band has many other hits
- The Rankin Family – Cape Breton traditional Celtic/American Country band
- The Saw Doctors – Irish folk/rock group with lots of powerThe Young Dubliners – American Celtic Rock band
- The Waterboys – Traditional band, mainly musicians from Scotland, England and Ireland
- Tommy Makem – A founder of the irish folk/traditional revival, father of the Makem brothers
- Tommy Sands – Singer and Songwriter from northern Ireland, best known for his sacrifice during the hunger strikes
- Turlogh O’Carolan – not a modern composer, but one from the 18th century. The last true Bard, credited with many of the classic tunes.
- U2 – The most famous Irish band, enough said.
- Van Morrison – Van the Man. Northern Irish singer, mainstream in the 60s.
- William Jackson – traditional Scottish harp music
- Wolfe Tones – Known for their strong political songs, this is another folk group
Irish Movies and Shows
by Christy Nicholas
Want to feel closer to the Emerald Isle? This might help!
- Ballykissangel (TV Series) – not really historical, but set in a small town in Ireland, great funny series.
- Father Ted (TV Series) – again, not historical. Three priests (a young one in training, a mature one, and an old one in retirement) live on a remote island in the west of Ireland. Silly comedy. Some strong language.
- Waking Ned Devine – an old man wins the lottery – and promptly dies. His friends try to collect his winnings. Hilarious.
- The Secret of Kells – a delightful animated movie about the Book of Kells, an exquisite illuminated gospel from the 8th century – the kids would probably love this, too. Some scary bits (mean Vikings).
- Leap Year – an American is stuck in the boondocks of Ireland, and tries to make her way to Dublin to propose to her boyfriend on Feb 29th.
- P.S., I Love You – A true tearjerker. A man dies in New York, and his wife is sent on a series of quests by him, via notes written before he died, ending up in Ireland where they met.
- Darby O’Gill and the Little People – Sean Connery sings! Darby O’Gill tries to get the better of the Fairy Folk to save his daughter from dying.
- The Matchmaker – Based on the Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival, a funny tale with Janeane Garofalo.
- The Commitments – A Soul Music group gets together in Dublin
- Into the West – a couple young tinker (gypsy) boys find a mystical white horse
- The Secret of Roan Inish – a movie about Selkies, mystical creatures that are seals in the water, but humans on land.
- The Quiet Man – A classic with John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara; a man moves from America to the small town he was born in to reclaim his heritage.
- Circle of Friends – Minnie Driver stars in this tale of young men and women in 1950 Ireland.
- Once – Set in Dublin, story of a pair of musicians learning the ways of the street.
- The Guard – A misfit policeman gets partnered with an uptight FBI agent to investigate drug smugglers
- Philomena – A woman searches for word of her child, taken from her in the Magdalene Laundries.
- Angela’s Ashes – True story of a child growing up in Limerick.
- Ondine – Tale of a water spirit.
- Dancing at Lughnasa – Five sisters in rural Ireland in the 1930s.
- Gritty/heavy/serious/not for kids:
- My Left Foot (Daniel Day-Lewis plays a Irish painter quadriplegic, 1960s)
- In the Name of the Father (Daniel Day-Lewis, accused of bombing in Northern Ireland, 1970s)
- Michael Collins (Liam Neeson/Alan Rickman) About Ireland’s revolution (1916)
- The Wind that Shakes the Barley – Also Ireland’s revolution (1916)
- Bloody Sunday – historical drama about the true events that occurred in the beginning of the Troubles in Derry, Northern Ireland (set in 1972).
- Ryan’s Daughter – Story of a woman who has an affair with a WWI British officer. (1916)
- Excalibur – Classic King Arthur tale filmed in Ireland
- Da – Story of a man dealing with his father’s death, with Martin Sheen.
- The Field – A feud about who gets to farm a field results in death and pain. (Spoiler! Sean Bean dies)
- Omagh – Dramatization of the bombing in Omagh in 1998.
- The Crying Game – A British soldier captured by IRA terrorists
Filming locations in Ireland:
- Game of Thrones
- Penny Dreadful
- The Princess Bride
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
- The Tudors
- Foyle’s War
- The Count of Monte Cristo (2002)
- Your Highness
- Reign of Fire
- Casino Royale (1967)
- The Amazing Race
Call of the Morrigú
Release date July 19th, 2017
Would you dare rouse a goddess?
Life wasn’t easy in 1798 Ireland. Rebellions were rising across the countryside, and the English could be cruel overlords. However, this brutality hadn’t reached the country estate of Strokestown.
Theodosia Latimer and her grandfather Reginald, were on a mission to discover the past. They were determined to excavate some ancient mounds on their estate. But when they discovered an imprisoned goddess straight out of Ireland’s rich mythological history, they were both dumbfounded and frightened.
Tasked with integrating this primeval warrior woman into polite society, they developed both respect and fear for the powerful goddess. Would they be able to tame her lust for violence in the upcoming rebellion? Or would they fall victim to it?