Download e-book for iPad: The Shape of Irish History by A.T.Q. Stewart

By A.T.Q. Stewart

ISBN-10: 0773523340

ISBN-13: 9780773523340

In an exploration of the basic constitution of what's referred to as Irish heritage, A.T.Q. Stewart appears to be like at a few shadowy components and asks provocative questions about well known misconceptions. Even the place such misconceptions were refuted through educational learn, Stewart argues, the knowledge has no longer percolated into the overall area simply because smooth historians, writing generally for each other, have misplaced the broader viewers. Criticizing his personal occupation for purporting to be clinical whereas principally ignoring the results of, for instance, clinical archaeology, Stewart additionally opens up the closed store of Irish heritage for the final reader. the result's a landmark booklet - the terrain of Irish historical past seriously is not a similar back.

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The ceremonies of remembering the dead on All Souls' Day, 2 November, are preceded by the superstitions and rituals of Hallowe'en, which is particularly important as marking the death of the year, the time when the family unites after the bringing down of the cattle from the hill pastures. The other turning-point of the year is 1 May. In Ireland fires are lit on May Eve, the Beltane fires which may be connected to the ancient 'need-fires' found throughout Europe. With the beginning of August comes the Lammas festival, the beginning of the harvest, and for some reason associated with fairs.

Curious beliefs still attach to prehistoric objects. Flint arrowheads are produced as evidence that cattle have been 'elf-shot' by the fairies, and polished stone axe-heads are supposed to have healing powers. When food is taken out of the house, some should always be left behind for the fairies lest the dreaded 'hungry grass' grow. An inordinate number of superstitions seem to attach to cattle, an indication of the importance of cattle-rearing and transhumance in early times. Such superstitions are held as tenaciously in Presbyterian County Antrim as in the Catholic south.

This suggests that the original gene pool has hardly been disturbed by the waves of invading Celts, Gaels, Romans, Vikings and Normans. These findings have predictably not been well received by enthusiasts for national and regional identity. A member of Plaid Cymru insisted that 'the Welsh are distinct in every way', while the Anglo-Saxon Society declared that genetic mapping 'demeaned and insulted' traditional views about Britain. 'This casts us all back into the Stone Age. '21 The genetic map has not been warmly welcomed by the Scots and the Irish either.

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The Shape of Irish History by A.T.Q. Stewart


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