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.
Numerous individuals and organisations around the world seek to protect nature and also alert the world to the grave environmental threats facing the planet. Protecting and caring for land, sea and freshwater environments has never been more important. This is a subject that applies wherever you live; and particularly for the Celtic peoples and those of Celtic descent. Our landscape, seas and geographic location has played a pivotal role in our history, beliefs and recognition of ourselves. For our culture tells us that we are part of and completely tied to the lands in which we live and the sea that surrounds us. We Celts cannot but be responsible for the protection of nature and the environment. Our ancestors demand it of us and if you delve into your Celtic soul you will hear that deep voice that says ‘protect the environment’. Wherever it is in the world in which you live or work, listen to that voice within and act upon it.
That need to act is crucial because we have now reached a critical point in this planet's existence. You just have to open your eyes to the changes in climate and the major problems resulting from population growth to realise this. Evidence continues to build and there are a number of studies that point to the issues involved. For example there is the 2014 Living Planet Report by the World Wildlife Fund in regard to wildlife populations having halved in the last 40 years. The report states that "the biggest recorded threat to biodiversity globally comes from the combined impacts of habitat loss and degradation, driven by unsustainable human consumption". Humans are also on the verge of causing unprecedented damage to the oceans. This is according to a Study recently published in the journal Science. In regard to temperature changes a Center for Economic and Policy Research report warns that "an additional 1 per cent point of population growth through 2100 may coincide with an additional 2 degrees Fahrenheit in temperature". Global greenhouse gas emissions are also set to hit record levels in the coming period.
During the period of Christian conversion of Ireland in the 4th and 5th centuries, it was the strategy of monastic scholars to ensure an easy transition from Celtic to Christian belief. The disciples of Saint Patrick successfully deceived the Celts into thinking that the new faith of Rome was a mere extension of their traditional religion.
Christian missionaries incorporated elements of the peoples veneration of the Celtic Gods into Christian doctrine. The often used example of this religious shift is the fate of Brigid. Brigid was deftly transformed from a daughter of ‘The Dagda’ of the Tuatha Dé Danann into the Saint of the same name. In the early tales of the Christian Saint, Brigid is portrayed as the daughter of a Druidical household before her embrace of the new religion. The Druids were the priests of the pagan Celtic religion but were also akin to today’s upper middle classes: “The Druids were the professionals of pre Christian Celtic society. They comprised all the professions – doctors, lawyers, teachers, philosophers, ambassadors...(and priests of the Celtic Faith)” (Ellis). Thus with her conversion to Christianity, Brigid abandons the Celtic Gods and their priests, the Druids. To reinforce this transition the early church adopted the feast day of the Celtic Goddess Brigid, or Imbolg, to the feast day of the Christian saint.
St Dwynwen’s Day (Welsh: Dydd Santes Dwynwen) falls on 25th January every year. People all over Wales celebrate St Dwynwen's Day, the Welsh patron saint of lovers. St Dwynwen is the Welsh equivalent of St Valentine. Dwynwen - whose names translates to "she who leads a blessed life" - still enjoys great popularity throughout Wales, particularly in her home of Anglesey (Welsh: Ynys Môn). Whilst the date is not widely known outside of Wales it has become increasingly popular in recent times. In Wales special events commemorating St Dwynwen’s day are held. Dydd santes dwynwen hapus (Happy St Dwynwen’s Day) to everyone celebrating on this special date.
It was said Dwynwen was the prettiest of Welsh King Brychan Brycheiniog's twenty-four daughters. Her father had arranged for her to marry, but she fell in love with another man; a prince named Maelon Dafodrill. Dwynwen knew she had to follow her father’s wishes and though it broke her heart prayed to God and asked for help to forget Maelon. She was visited by an angel as she slept who gave her a potion to erase her memory of feelings for Maelon and turn him into a block of ice.