Celtic Culture & heritage

Saint Patrick: His Day, His Party and His Myth

Dublin's Saint Patrick's Day Parade

Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona Daoibh (Happy St Patrick's Day)!

To celebrate St Patrick's Day we are re-publishing this popular article.

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.

A Welsh and Hungarian connection with the The Bards of Wales - A Walesi Bárdok by János Arany

János Arany

In Hungary, there is a famous ballad from the poem called "A Walesi Bárdok" - the Bards of Wales – written by János Arany in 1857. It tells of how in 1277 King Edward I of England attended a banquet in Montgomery Castle. It was held to celebrate his victories over the Welsh and he called for a Welsh bard to sing his praises. Bards were highly regarded in Welsh society at that time, and were thought to be descendants of the Celtic druids.

The praise of the foreign invading English King was something that the bards refused to do. They denounced him as a butcher with the blood of an entire nation on his hands. So, one by one, the King sends them to be burnt at the stake. Still not one of the proud Welsh Bards can be found to flatter him as their conqueror and he ends up murdering 500 in total. The English King returns to London after ravaging the Welsh countryside in a terrible act of revenge. It is said that the evil King is forever haunted by the shades of the dead bards, spending his days in terror of their torment.

Song of the Celts - The Wolfe Tones

The Wolfe Tones are an Irish band that incorporate elements of Irish traditional music in their songs.

Their name is taken from the Irish patriot Theobald Wolfe Tone, one of the leaders of the Irish Rebellion of 1798. The band date back to 1963 with performers Brian Warfield, Derek Warfield, Noel Nagle later joined by Tommy Byrne.

The Wolfe Tones continue to tour with a band comprising Brian Warfield, Noel Nagle and Tommy Byrne.

The Celtic patriotic song 'Song of the Celts' is sung notably by the Wolfe Tones. It points to the unity amongst Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Manx, Breton and Cornish ethnic peoples and regarded by many as an unofficial anthem of the Celtic people.

Cornish In The Landscape

Everyone must now be aware that there is much more visible Cornish language in the landscape than there was a few years ago.  Thousands of street name-plates have been installed since 2008, with many more to come, and it’s evident in many other ways, too.  While there may be a few grumbles, the general reaction to this has been extremely positive.  Incidentally, bilingual street signs cost no more than a single-language replacement, due to the laser-printing technique, and the use of an expert research panel of volunteers.

Auld Lang Syne - The Song That Welcomes New Year

'Auld Lang Syne' is the song traditionally sung at midnight  on New Year’s Eve. Known as Hogmanay in Scotland the name is derived from a Goidelic Celtic linguistic root.

Robert Burns

The song is a Scottish poem by Robert Burns, also known as Robbie or Rabbie Burns (25 January 1759 – 12 July 1796) Scotland’s national poet. It is set to the music of a traditional Scottish folk tune.

Robert Burns was born in the village of Alloway (Scottish Gaelic: Allmhaigh) in South Ayrshire (Scottish Gaelic: Siorrachd Inbhir Àir a Deas). He died at the age of 37 and his Mausoleum is at St Michael’s churchyard in Dumfries (Scottish Gaelic: Dùn Phris). The cottage in which he was born is now the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum.


Bliahdhna Mhath Ùr (Happy New Year)

Sláinte Mhaith  (Good Health)!

The Norwegian Princess who controlled Skye’s strait of Kyle Akin


Loch Alsh is a sea inlet between Skye (Scottish Gaelic: An t-Eilean Sgitheanach) in the Inner Hebrides (Scottish Gaelic: Na h-Eileanan a-staigh) and the Northwest Highlands of Scotland. The strait of Kyle Akin is a narrow stretch of water at the entrance of the loch with the village of Kyleakin (Caol Àcain) on the Skye side and opposite on the northwest Scottish mainland is the town of Kyle of Lochalsh (Caol Loch Aillse). The strait takes its name from Acain, which derives from the name Haakon after King Haakon IV of Norway. It was here that King Haakon IV of Norway, supported by Gaelic forces from the Western Isles, anchored his fleet prior to engaging in battle with the Scottish King Alexander III, at Largs in 1263 AD.

Roche Rock, Roche, Kernow

The settlement of Roche sits on a prominent ridge on the northern edge of the St Austell Downs, close to the headwaters of the Fal River, Cornwall’s longest river. The area appears to contain a large number of local springs, river sources and holy wells, as well as a supposedly magical pool near Roche Rock, itself a striking rocky pinnacle of tourmalinised granite, and a geological Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Levant Mine Disaster, Cornwall 20th October 1919

Levant Mine

A member of 'Kernow Matters To Us' (KMTU) lost two ancestors in the Levant disaster. Their wives were evicted within a couple of weeks being unable to pay the Bolitho Bank of Cornwall the rent for their cottages and ended up in the Penzance Union Workhouse. 

Here's the background to that fateful day:

The cliffs of St Just provide a dramatic backdrop the for the scene of one of Cornwall's worst mining disasters in recorded history.

Perched on the edge of the cliffs remain several buildings which offer insight into the work of the men and women who risked their lives at Levant Mine; commonly known as 'Queen of Cornwall's submarine mines'.

Hidden beneath the sea is a labyrinth of tunnels which stretch a mile out, once used to extract tin and copper from the earth.

The mine was operational between 1820 and 1930 and produced 130,000 tonnes of copper, 24,000 tonnes of tin and around 4,000 tonnes of arsenic. The earliest records of copper being mined at the site date back to 1670. It was a lucrative business, with some £2.25 million returned.

The Remarkable Irish Monastery of Sceilg Mhichíl

Skellig Islands (Irish: Na Scealaga)

Ireland's Skellig Islands (Irish: Na Scealaga), are two small spectacular pinnacles rising out of the Atlantic Ocean just over 12 km (7 miles) southwest of Valentia Island, County Kerry (Irish: Dairbhre, Contae Chiarraí). The largest of the islands is Skellig Michael ((Irish: Sceilg Mhichíl). The smaller is Little Skellig (Irish: Sceilg Bheag). The islands each have their own beauty and significance. Sceilg Bheag for its significant and important bird population. Skellig Michael, also an important site for seabirds, for its early Christian monastery that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Skellig Islands (Irish: Na Scealaga)

Given that the Skellig Islands are such significant features, rising as they do so dramatically out of the Atlantic Ocean close to the Irish coast. It is difficult to imagine that they did not play a part in the mythology of pre-Christian Ireland. Although there is no record of the islands being inhabited prior to the construction of the monastery, folklore has it that Ir, son of Míl Espáine, was buried on the island. In Irish ancient legend, Míl Espáine is the ancestor of early inhabitants of Ireland, the Milesians. In the collection of writings in the Lebor Gabála Érenn, the earliest version of which was compiled in the 11th century, the Milesians agree to divide Ireland with the Tuatha Dé Danann, a supernatural race in Irish mythology. They take the world above, while the Tuatha Dé take the world below known as the 'Otherworld'. There is also a text dating from the 8th or 9th century which states that Duagh, King of West Munster, escaped to "Scellecc" after a feud with the Kings of Cashel.

Kindrochit Castle And The Mystery Of The Kindrochit Brooch

The remains of Kindrochit Castle (Scottish Gaelic: Caisteal Ceann na Drochaid) are in the centre of the village of Braemar (Bràigh Mhàrr). A Castle was built here in the second half of the 11th century by King Malcolm III of Scotland (Malcolm Canmore). Malcolm (Gaelic: Máel Coluim; c. 1031 – 13 November 1093) was King of Scots from 1058 to 1093. The castle's Gaelic name Ceann-drochit can be translated into English as Bridge Head and a bridge was built here across the River Clunie. The stronghold held a strategically important position as the meeting point of the great passes across the Mounth, crossing Glen Cova east of the Clunie water and Spital of Glenshee on the west.


Subscribe to Celtic Culture & heritage