Ancient Hibernia

Its misty mountains, the forests, hills, and valleys, still exist in the stories handed down through families, containing the last remnants of out Isle. Let me take you on a journey through the mists, to another of time beginning with the Celts. There is a long and rich tradition of storytelling in Ireland. For many years, people have relied on the oral traditions of passing on values, wisdom, and an insight of generation to generation, from past to present. Stories that provide us with a belonging to our forefather and ancient traditions, and an identity shaped by the epic sagas and heroic characters of our historical past.

Stories that are ours, the Celts, that have survived a British invasion of murder, mayhem, and oppression, doing their best to wipe out our ancientness, our language, our customs. The Ulster Cycle, for instance, tells of the exploits of Cú Chulainn and the Red Branch Knights, stories of the Fianna featuring Finn Mac Cumhaill, Diarmuid, and Grainne. Things and characters, I grew up that were Celtic heroes.

Spell-binding stories told around an open-hearth fire, an old bardic art and a craft honed through years dedication if not apprenticeship. A rite of passage for some towards subtlety and effectiveness that painted a scene in the very air, the audience craving more. A really good storyteller, would of course be a master of the intense pause, reaching a part of the story and suddenly stopped; looking around at the audience, knowing he had them held, spellbound, before continuing.

Stories told hundreds of years before around a campfire, that then became the hearth of a home, and not unusual for a story to shift between the mortal world, and the otherworld, that of magical people and things. I should add that almost all the Celtic stories have educational value, and convey messages of principle and morality.

Ierne or Erin, was an almost mystical place, yet the truth is that our tales are a doorway trough the mists of time to our beginnings. Faeries, for instance, who hasn’t grown up with the many tales of them, and movies like Darby O’Gill, with the little people, certainly captured many a child’s imagination back in the day. Yet, if you sit down to day with a young child to watch, you will still experience the magic of Erin, and what a gift that would be to a small child, your grand-daughter maybe. I also grew up with rain-faeries, and certainly the best way to meet them is to tell stories of them. The times that are dusk or dawn, are when they are around, and can be found in places that are an ‘v-opening between a tree branch, that looks like two branches, or a bridge over a river.

But beware taking photos with trees in the background, you do not want to capture a dryad, or tree spirit, and recall a Belfast lad who his photo taken in Kildare, near the curragh, and the mythical creature no longer a fantasy, and was plain to be seen. When his sister showed it to me and I was stunned, and shortly after, he died. Whether it was anything to do with that photo or another she showed me of him in a club, where a yellow light lanced through him, I don’t know, but she was a believer in the other-world, and both those photos frightened her, and they disturbed me, and my sleep for a time.

Magic does not just exist in stories or books, it exists, it always has in Erin.

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