“What’s the use of being Irish if the world doesn’t break your heart?”
Good or bad weather, the male merrow sits on a rock scanning the sea for cases of brandy lost by wrecked ships. He’s a friendly fellow with a red nose, probably the result of too much drink. He is a bringer of good luck, wears a red cocked hat and has a green body, green hair and teeth. He has pig eyes, scaly legs, arms like fins and no clothes. The female merrow, also called a mermaid or sea-maiden, is lovely and graceful with a tail of a fish and web-like scales between her fingers. As she lounges upon the rocks, she attempts to attract fisherman to her. But if he gets too near, she dives into the sea, laughing at him. Her presence always ensures a storm or disaster at sea. When a sailor fails to come home from sea, it is sometimes said he “married a mermaid”.
One of the most famous creations of Irish folklore are the leprechauns. These “little people” are solitary creatures, avoiding contact with mortals and other leprechauns. The leprechaun pours all of his passion into the concentration of carefully making shoes. A leprechaun can always be found with a shoe in one hand and a hammer in the other.
Leprechauns guard the fairies’ treasures against being stolen by mortals. Although they hide the treasures well, the presence of a rainbow alerts mortals to the whereabouts of horded gold. Female leprechauns do not exist.
The 98.4 ft. high round tower at Monasterboice, Co. Louth, is one of the tallest round towers in Ireland.
James Joyce (1882-1941) Poet, novelist and playwright, James Joyce first published a series of short stories, “Dubliners” (1914), and then achieved success with “Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” (1916). His masterpiece, “Ulysses” (1922) was written using the “stream of consciousness” technique. It baffled readers and revolutionized 20th Century fiction.
Samuel Beckett (1906-89) Novelist, poet, playwright, and winner of the Nobel prize for Literature, is regarded as one of the most influential avant-garde Irish writers. His first novel “Dream of Fair to Middling,” written in 1932, was not published until 1992. His trilogy “Mallou, Malone Dies and The Unnamable,” completed in 1950, is considered a major work. His acclaimed works include “Waiting for Godot (1957), “Endgame” (1957) and “Krapp’s Last Tape” (1958).
The Giant’s Causeway in Co. Antrim, a major landmark, is world-famous and truly a remarkable natural geological formation on the north Antrim coast. It is associated with the mythical Ulster giant Finn McCool. According to legend, when Finn fell in love with a lady giant on Staffa, an island in the Hebrides, he built the wide commodious highway to bring her across to the province of Ulster.
Co. Antrim forms the northwest of Ireland where a channel only 13 miles wide separates Torr Head from the Scottish coast. Lough Neagh, the largest lake in Ireland, and the fertile valley of the River Bann occupy the western part of Co. Antrim.