A contribution to the English language, ‘Irish Bull’ comes from Limerick and refers to incongruous statements where the words fall between two meanings as between the horns of a bull. These are attributed especially to the Irish.
In 1923 Conor O’Brien became the first Irishman to sail around the world in a boat he designed and built himself. It was titled ‘Saoirse’ and was the first boat to carry the Tricolor flag around the world.
A picture of the famous ‘Grey Lady Ghost’ has been taken at a “Game of Thrones’ site at the Dark Hedges in Co Antrim. The ‘Grey Lady ‘ is said to haunt the spooky road where a young girl disappeared hundreds of years ago. The Dark Hedges are one of the most photographed natural phenomenon in the north of Ireland.
‘Scalps’ were poles covered with sod and stretched across a ditch which evicted persons used as shelter during the Great Hunger.
World expert on the Great Hunger Dr. Christine Kinealy has criticized RTE Channel 4 for proposing a comedy series based on the The Great Hunger. She said: “The danger of using the comedy format to tell the story is that the characters can become ‘stage Oirish’ and the real heartbreak be absent or marginalized. Instead disease, death, eviction and emigration will be viewed as funny rather than tragic and we will forget that they were preventable.”
On Boa Island on Lough Erne, there are two pre-Christian figures in Caldragh cemetery, the Janus statue and a smaller one ‘The Lusty Man’. Janus is a double-sided figure of two beings carved back to back. This is often referred to when the calendar year has just turned, and we are glancing back even as we go forward. The month of January is named after Janus, the Roman God of gates and doors. Coins and flowers are often placed by the statue for good luck.
On New Years’ Eve 1603, Donal Cam O’Sullivan, after losing ‘The Seven Year’s War,’ set out with 1,000 followers on a 300 mile journey to Leitrim. The weather was fierce with freezing cold and snow; the way was treacherous. They were declared outlaws by the English President of Munster and their only hope of survival was to reach Brian O’Rourke in Leitrim. Famine plagued the land and they had provisions for only one day when they set out. It took two weeks for the journey and only 35 survived.
Jan 6 is a special day in Ireland. The shopping, cooking, cleaning is done and this was the time for the women to gather together and have tea or wine at the local pub while the men tended to the children. This custom is practiced to some extent even today. After this, the decorations are taken down and stored away for another year.