"If there is a hole anywhere on earth, you're sure to find a Cornishman at the bottom of it." *
It is commonly said that the Cornish are inward looking. Cornwall has even been described by some ill informed folks as the 'insular peninsula'. Nothing could be further from the truth!
The photograph below shows a group of Cornish Miners in South Africa c. 1900. The gentleman in the centre middle row is my maternal Great Great Grandfather.
A tin miner, he left Redruth in Cornwall on one Tuesday bound for mining work overseas.
Leaving his wife, a Bal Maiden (a mine surface worker), and child behind, he mined gold in South Africa, was conscripted into a town guard battalion in the Boer War and saw action and thereafter headed to Venezuela where he mined diamonds.
Loch Ness (Scottish Gaelic: Loch Nis) is a freshwater loch in the Scottish Highlands (Scottish Gaelic: A' Ghàidhealtachd). Renowned for its great beauty the Loch is a maximum of twenty two and a half miles (36.2km) long with a maximum width of just over one and a half miles (2.7km).
The rivers Tarff, Coiltie, Moriston, Farigaig, Enrich, Foyers and Oich along with a number of burns flow into the loch which at its deepest is over 754 feet (230m). It holds about 16 million 430 thousand gallons of water and has just one outlet, the River Ness (Scottish Gaelic: Abhainn Nis), which flows down through the city of Inverness (Scottish Gaelic: Inbhir Nis) in the northeast of Scotland and out into the Moray Firth which is an inlet of the North Sea.
Ny Ta Lhiams, S'lhiats as Ny Ta Lhiats, Ta S'lhiams.
What's with Me is with You and What's with You is with Me.
Possession forms an important part of modern life in many cultures. We are, on a daily basis, reminded to buy things for ourselves. Upon purchase, in the English speaking world, we say that we "have" those things, that they are "ours". However, possessive expressions differ across languages and may reflect differing aspects of cultural attitudes and practices. To take a specific example, by looking at how our Celtic ancestors in the Goidelic speaking regions expressed possession we may be able to understand how their philosophy differed to the philosophy of the modern English speaking world. What seems to emerge is a difference of permanence vs transience, of seizing vs approaching.
The Cornish and Welsh are the oldest peoples on this island and as a proud Welshman I look forward to seeing Saint Piran’s flag flying with extra Celtic pride on March 5 next year.
-Stephen Williams MP Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government at Westminster, 24th April, 2014 on the announcement of formal recognition of the Cornish.
Having recently witnessed some 6,000 people process through the streets of Falmouth in Cornwall in memory of a much respected local beat police officer, PC Andy Hocking, who suddenly and tragically died aged 52, it has become increasingly apparent that Cornwall is a very special place. The procession ended with the singing of that ever popular Cornish anthem 'Trelawny' written as 'The Song of the Western Men' in 1824 by the Reverend R.S. Hawker. I don't suppose many other places in the British Isles would see such a thing. They certainly would not have sung this song. Andy was a local man and a fine Cornishman. The singing of what has become widely recognised as the Cornish National Anthem was entirely appropriate.
Manannán is a Celtic sea god and associated with the Tuatha de Danaan (thoo'a-hay-day-danawn). They are the Gaelic pre-Christian pantheon that are known in Ireland, Scotland and Isle of Man. His legend is widespread throughout the Celtic lands.
His father was Lir, God of the Sea. Both Lir and his son Manannán are mentioned in the work of ‘Sanas Cormaic’ by Cormac mac Cuilennáin, King of Munster. In Cormac's 9th century glossary, he links both to the sea.
In many Celtic stories, we are told of Manannán's wife, the Fairy Queen Fand, his sons Ilbhreac (Fairy King), Fiachna and Gaidiar, and daughters Áine, Aoife and Griane. Manannán also had a foster son named Lugh; the Great Warrior, on whom he bestowed his magical belongings. Manannán, above all, is heavily associated with the Isle of Man (Mannin).
The Island’s name is derived from his and he was Mannin’s first ruler and protector. It is said he could bring down a cloak of mist that would hide the island from foreign threat. Using his magic powers he controls the wind and the waves and bring forces to defend the island.
Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona Daoibh (Happy St Patrick's Day)!
To celebrate St Patrick's Day we are re-publishing this popular article from last year.
There is no doubting the immensity of Patrick's presence in the English Speaking world. Without question it is rooted in Irish emigration, but what explains this phenomenon? How is it that a Roman Briton came to be an icon of the modern Celtic world?
As we approach the feast Day of the Patron Saint of Ireland, it is time for the annual nod to the revelers who participate in St Patrick's Day celebrations and to the mythic Saint Patrick himself. One would like to imagine the throngs clogging the streets of most major cities of the “Anglo Saxon” world are soldiers of Celtic identity, but we know most are there because it is a party. Participants in St. Patrick’s Day festivities are measured in the tens of millions. Based on published attendance records for Manchester, Dublin, New York City, Philadelphia, Toronto and Sydney, approaching 5 million people will either participate in or attend the parades in these cities alone.
In May of 2014 Liadh Ní Riada (Sinn Féin) was elected to the European Parliament. Keeping to her election commitment she has been seeking to gain full legal equality for Irish-speaking citizens of the EU (European Union) so that the indigenous language of Ireland is on the same level of recognition as the other national languages of the European Union. Although Irish received full status in the EU in 2007, since that time a so called “derogation” has been in place. Which means that European Institutions are not obliged to provide full translation or interpretation services in Irish, as they do with all other official EU languages. Disgracefully, the Irish language’s inferior position inside the institutions of the EU has been supported by the governing Fine Gael – Labour coalition in Dublin. This deeply unpopular government have proven to be no friend of the Irish language.
Talk of Vampires rarely makes you think of Ireland and the other Celtic nations. A Vampire is that creature, associated with the undead, who survives by feeding on the blood or life forces of living creatures. It is an entity that has survived in legend over centuries in many cultures.
However, such creatures in one form or another do exist in Gaelic folklore. There is the Irish leannán sí; known in Scottish Gaelic as leannan sìth and in Manx as lhiannan shee. This is a beautiful woman belonging to the Aos Sí which is the Otherworld community whose world was reached through mists, hills, lakes, ponds, wetland areas, caves, as well as the ancient Neolithic and Bronze Age burial sites, cairns and mounds found all over Celtic Northwestern Europe. The Aos Sí are associated with the Tuatha Dé Danann who are a significant feature in Irish, Scottish and Manx mythology and were Celtic pre-Christian gods with supernatural ability. The leannán sídhe was said to take human lovers and then inspired them to live gifted and artistically creative lives. But their lives were short as the leannán sídhe needed to live off their life force and the love of this beautiful creature resulted in them wasting away and meeting an early death.
By popular demand we have re-featured this exclusive interview with Peter Berresford Ellis, originally published on January 29, 2013.
Transceltic are delighted to interview Peter Berresford Ellis, the well renowed Celtic historian and author of the international bestselling Sister Fidelma historical mysteries under his pseudonym of Peter Tremayne. We put the following questions to Peter:
1. How do you see the future of the Celtic languages?
In spite of the achievements of the last decades, there is no room for complacency when examining the current situation and looking to the future. Coming from the 1960s perspective when Welshmen and women were going to jail in their campaign to gain status for Welsh; when the Cornish who proclaimed their Celticity were sneered at as fantasists dreaming of the second coming of King Arthur; when Scottish Gaelic speakers could not even register their children in the language … well – times have moved on. Since the 1960s there has been some legal recognition given to the Celtic languages and through this there is a more widespread knowledge of the languages and their historic, cultural and social value. But the fact remains, they are still endangered languages. Look at recent Census figures for Welsh as an example. There is no easy acceptable programme to ensure their salvation. It comes down to hard work – we must publicise, educate and encourage. There is a pithy saying in each of the six Celtic languages – no language, no nation!
2. What do you see as the future of the Pan Celtic movement?
Pan Celticism has its roots in the history of the Celtic peoples – links that can be identified even if, at the time, they were not articulated as a common identity. Remember how the Romans were aware of this? They asked the Celts of southern Gaul to contact the Celts of Galatia (modern central Turkey) to persuade them not to support Hannibal. But as a specific cultural movement linking the different Celtic peoples, this did not start until the 19th Century and (ironically) in the wake of the publication of a book by the Breton language poet Charles de Gaulle (1837-1880) the uncle of General de Gaulle.