Friday, 23 October 2020

anno mundi

On this day, sharing its anniversary with many events great and good, as our faithful chronicler reminds, according to astute if not somewhat creative calculations and biblical scholarship (see also from the day before) by Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland James Ussher (*1581 – †1656) the creation occurred either nightfall on the twenty-second (and by reckoning with that initial rhythm until the next sundown was counted as that, the first day) or more specifically according to some at nine o’clock in the a.m., the twenty-third of October, 4004 BC.

Though hardly unique and there were competing chronologies being put forward all the time in the seventeenth century as a counterbalance to the Enlightenment and the slowly mounting and unimpeachable evidence that the Earth and the Cosmos were far more ancient and interesting than the Young Earth of Creationism but none the less represented rigorous scholarship and textual analysis and is in a class by itself among these many attempts to pin down a date and time—which is easily but perhaps not for nought dismissed as small-minded, and did not stop in any case.

Thursday, 1 October 2020


cheese tetrahedrons and synergetic stew: a celebrity cookbook presented to author and futurist Buckminster Fuller (previously) reissued for the one hundred twenty-fifth anniversary of his birth  

lรผften: tried and true ventilation and fresh air may be the most effective way to stave off more infections  

heart of sharkness: winning images and honourable mentions from a drone photography contest  

fรถrรคldrapenning: a South Korean man living in Sweden documents his daily routine 

adobe flash: an appreciation of the platform that shaped the internet and the implications of suspending support for the multimedia plug-in and player—via Kottke  

disaster constitutionalism: EU taking the UK to court, despite only breaking international law in a “specific and limited way”  

can our government be competent: celebrating Jimmy Carter’s ninety-sixth birthday (previously) in campaign buttons

eat fresh: with tax implications for the franchise, Irish high court rules that one fast food chain’s bread cannot be called bread or a dietary staple due to its high sugar content—via Boing Boing

Tuesday, 29 September 2020

1q or the feast of the archangels

Venerating Saint Michael and companions, Gabriel, Raphael and Uriel in honour of their victory of Lucifer and the rebel angels in the angelomachy, Michaelmas (previously) is observed on the penultimate day of September—in some traditions, the feast extending into the next day—and has also come to one of the four quarter dates of the financial year, kept since at least medieval times to mark when school and court terms were to commence and the accounting was due to ensure that debts and unresolved cases didn’t linger (see also) into the next season.

Though the customary hiring fairs and local elections do not necessarily adhere (the tradition is retained for the election of London’s lord mayor, just as peasants during the Middle Ages would appoint a reeve from among their peers to represent their interests to the manor) to the same calendars, this time of year—still referred to as the Michaelmas term for matriculating students in England, Scotland and Ireland and for the US Supreme Court’s and the English bar’s Inns of the Court’s fall sessions and of course it marks the end and beginning of the fiscal year for budget purposes. Asters or the Michaelmas daisy are one of the few flowering plants left at the beginning of autumn, and thus inspiring the rhyme and invocation: “Michaelmas daisies among dead weeds, bloom for Saint Michael’s valorous deeds.”

Monday, 24 August 2020

to live alone in the bee-loud glade

Via Kottke, these superlative entries in the macro category for International Garden Photographer of the Year commended us to one recent snapshot that brought to mind William Butler Yeats’ The Lake Isle of Innisfree. What pictures from your garden are you keen to share? Explore an expansive gallery of many more superb and patient, intimate snapshots at the links up top. 

Wednesday, 5 August 2020

lighthouse customer

With quite the opposite reception than the above synonym for an early adopter, the British Office of the Admiralty and Marine Affairs dismissed the recent invention of Sir Francis Ronalds (*1788 – †1873, considered to be the Father of Electrical Engineering and Telegraphy) in which he demonstrated that signals could be transmitted virtually instantaneously over a substantial distance by laying an eight mile length of iron wire in the garden of his mother as a superfluous gimmick on this day in 1816.
Authorities were satisfied with the range and clarity of semaphore-based com- munications, despite Ronalds’ knighthood for his innovation and pontificating: “Why add to the torments of absence [and distance] those dilatory tormentors, pens, ink, paper, and posts? Let us have electrical conversazione offices, communicating with each other all over the kingdom.” The commercialisation of the telegraph was delayed for decades. Coincidentally on this day in 1858, the first transatlantic undersea cable was completed, spanning from Telegraph Field in Foilhommerum Bay on County Kerry’s Iveragh Peninsula (see also) to Heart’s Content station in eastern Newfoundland, under the direction of businessman Cyrus West Field. The first message was transmitted on 16 August.

Saturday, 1 August 2020


From the Anglo-Saxon for “loaf mass,” Lammas Day is celebrated in some parts of the northern hemisphere on the first of August, Lammastide falling halfway between the summer solstice and the autumn equinox, by bringing bread to the church made of the first fruits of the season to be used for communion. Traditionally, members of the clergy reciprocally made a procession to local bakeries to bless them as a profession (it is a good reason to bring out ye old breadmaker) and is a syncretism, substitution for the Gaelic festival to herald the beginning of harvest time called Lughnasadh (Lรบnasa, Lรนnastal, Luanistyn) readopted by practitioners of Celtic neopaganism.

Wednesday, 8 July 2020

kilian and his companions colmรกn and totnan

Martyred on this day according to tradition along with two of his associates for reproaching the Count, Hedan II of Thรผringen, that his marriage to his brother’s widow was against Church doctrine and therefore would not be considered legitimate—angering the bride-to-be Geliana to the point where, in Hedan’s absence, she summoned this meddlesome priest, called
Apostle to the Franconians having sojourned from his native Ireland, and company to the market square of the city of Wรผrzburg (see previously here, here, here and here) in 689. Three years prior, Kilian travelled from County Kerry to Rome to receive missionary instructions from Pope Conon, who dispatched his troupe to East Francia to convert Duke Gozbert and his subjects, whom still practised pagan rituals.

Monday, 1 June 2020

vita s. ronani

Venerated since at least the tenth century, Irish pilgrim and founded of the eponymous hermitage in western Brittany and co-patron of the city of Quimper, the feast of Saint Rรณnรกn is celebrated today (and then again in July) with a procession called Petite Tromenies (la grande Tromรฉnie happening once every sixth year) around the village—demarcating the grounds of the priory as a place of sanctuary and refuge—hence pardon or in Breton (brezhoneg) Tro Minihi—the tour of the retreat.

Several miracles—both in life and posthumously—including restoration of speech and curing lycanthropy, are attributed to Rรณnรกn and curried trust with the semi-legendary King Gradlon and his subjects.

Monday, 25 May 2020


With the act of union adopted by the recalled Rump Parliament on this day in 1659 following the resignation Richard Cromwell after the chaotic death of his father Oliver Cromwell, England and Wales were declared a republican Commonwealth, a maneuverer that set in motion the restoration of the monarchy from exile in 1660 with the proclamation one year to the day later that heir Charles II had been the lawful regent since the death of his predecessor, constitutionally the undoing of all that had transpired in the preceding nineteen years.
In May of 1649, the original Rump Parliament (also called the Long Parliament) took power after the trial and execution of Charles I and this sitting legislature was dissolved in 1653 with executive powers vested in the Army Council, which then elevated Oliver Cromwell as Lord Protector of a united British isle—Scots and Irish resistance finally suppressed at the time during what was referred to as the third civil war that ushered in this second, brief republic—Cromwell’s government itself became untenable after a term of five years, punctuated by rampant purges, Irish genocide, cronyism (with political succession an afterthought and apparently a dynastic one was acceptable), harmonisation with religious authorities and the shuttering of the theatres.

Saturday, 4 April 2020

tigernach mac coirpri

Criminally anglicised as Tierney, today marks the feast day of Tigernach (†549), patron saint of the town of Clones in County Monaghan, part of the border region of Ulster. Born of an unsanctioned and scandalised affair between one of the princesses (Der Fraรญch) of Farley (Fermag) and a mercenary warrior called Coirpre allied to her father the king, Tigernach was fostered by Saint Brigid of Kildare, whom gave him his name—meaning “princely”—and saw to that the child received a good education. Brought up in a parochial environment, Tigernach was dispatched to Rome to retrieve some relics to found a church and monastery and was eventually, the relationship with his grandfather the king reconciled, offered the rank of bishop in his home territory. As that would mean the ejection of the incumbent in Clones, Tigernach choose instead to retreat to life on a hillside as a hermit, cultivating the grace and wherewithal to perform the accounts of miracles attributed to him including raising from the dead the archbishop of neighbouring Armagh.

Monday, 16 March 2020

pyhรค urho

Overlooking the possibly fictional but actually assigned patron Bishop Henrik (martyred and fรชted on 19 January with a well-articulated legendarium of his own), a department store clerk of Finnish-extraction in the confusingly named town of Virginia, Minnesota lamenting that his homeland did not have a figure like Saint Patrick to celebrate their heritage and as a source of shared cultural cohesion and as an excuse to extend the general revelry (this year especially, please drink responsibly by staying at home or forever forfeit the right to be around other people hereafter) invented Saint Urho (hero) in 1956. Only known to diaspora (with the exception of the folklore and ethnography department at the University of Turku), Urho is variously credited with driving out the frogs (see also) or grasshoppers (with the command Heinรคsirkka, heinรคsirkka, mene tรครคltรค hiiteen! – Grasshopper, grasshopper, go back to Hell!—thus saving the grape harvest but inspiring acts that seem suspiciously like Springfield’s Whacking Day, incidentally on 10 May) and one is to regale themselves in royal purple and enjoy wine and/or purple beer so as to not mix one’s beverages.

Monday, 16 December 2019

Via the always glamorous Everlasting Blรถrt, we are treated to the third collection of Dublin-based designer Jen Nollaig’s third seasonal showing (and here we thought we just had to make due with wearing the tree skirt like Bernice on the sitcom Designing Women) of eyewear, jewelry, headdresses and entire costumes created out of repurposed Christmas decorations, positing that we should be as willing, excited and committed to trim ourselves as much as the tree and decking the halls. Much more to explore at the links above.

Saturday, 7 September 2019

insular majuscule

Though the Book of Kells is familiar enough to contemporary audiences so that its iconography and calligraphic style can be recognised and extrapolated, the ninth century national treasure on display at the Trinity College in Dublin since 1661, the character of the script, ornamentation and carpet pages filled with solid geometric patterns would not have been fixed in the imagination of the public had not it been for the efforts of one dedicated entomologist with a talent for painting to produce a volume of lithographic prints of the collected incunabula contemporary with the famous gospel.
John Obadiah Westwood (*1805 – †1893) published faithful reproductions of those illuminated manuscript but his keen and discerning eye trained to study the minute anatomy of fleas, mantises and moths was able to transmit those fine details to the casual observer above and beyond other picture book purveyors that tried to capitalise on the latest fashionable topic of study were able to do. The effectiveness of presentation of his 1868 contributed in no small part to bring about a sustained revival in Celtic culture and customs and had a profound influence on craft, arts and design in movements to come. Find a whole curated and sourced gallery of the historical pages copied as with a monk in a scriptorium working from something on loan that comprise Westwood’s survey of Anglo-Saxon and Irish at Public Domain Review at the link above.

Wednesday, 31 July 2019

the matter of britain

Former Prime Minister Teresa May made the executive decision to rule out withdrawal from the European Union—not excusing her window-dressing a fools’ errand and Pyrrhic victory—absent an agreement on terms of future trading relationships and remained steadfastly committed to this goal knowing that forestalling negotiations could result in the dissolution of the United Kingdom.
Now with a new prime minister and no closer to reaching a deal, first ministers of Scotland and Wales are respectively calling for another independence referendum (Boris Johnson is stating that he will deny the country the chance to re-visit this once-in-a-generation vote and that the question is a settled matter) and threatening to stage crippling protests over the negative economic impact that will render domestic sheep and their agricultural industry in general unmarketable. Northern Ireland, which like its sister countries with the exception of England voted in favour of remaining a member of the EU, has raised the spectre of reunion with the Republic of Ireland over the economic impact of Brexit and the very real possibility that leaving may necessitate the unwelcome return a physical barrier on the isle—a sentiment fuelled also by the prospect that London may need to impose direct rule on the region in the interim. Closing the border in violation of the Good Friday Agreement would also threaten the trade deals with the US that the UK has banked this whole ordeal on. Winning is sometimes easy, whilst governing is the real challenge.

Thursday, 27 June 2019

notae tironianae

Absent any comprehensive and systematic stenographical short-cuts except for what could be improvised and some legal jargon that were purposefully opaque to stave off the non-credentialed, the catalogue of glyphs, growing to some five thousand symbols, created by Marcus Tullius Tiro (*94 – †4BC) was a highly useful innovation.
An enslaved clerk who was later freed to continue working as the Roman orator and statesman Cicero’s, his former master, personal secretary, Tiro was able—through his notes—to facilitate the dictation and capture the thoughts of the philosopher and statesman, and the method was quickly disseminated. Taught in medieval monasteries, the extended character set grew to some thirteen thousand shorthand symbols that made for an abbreviated syllabary, which could be further modified and combined to compress whole sentences and still retain the words verbatim. Falling out of favour with the proliferation of the printing press, a few Tironian notes are still in use today—notably the ⁊ (the glyph for et, and) is used extensively on signage in Scotland and Ireland where the sign is called the agusan and agus respectively.

Thursday, 6 June 2019


Denying the Orange Menace the opportunity to promote his golf course, Trump en route met with the Irish Taoiseach (previously) instead at quite another venue, the terminal of Shannon Airport—just down the hall from the Duty Free shop, the world’s first incidentally, at a hub that’s no stranger to trans-Atlanticism and corridor diplomacy.
The short, awkward press conference was painfully lacking in constructive mediation, however, with Trump comparing the spectre of the return of a hard, physical border between the Republic and Northern Ireland and possible flare up of sectarian violence under a no-deal withdrawal from the European Union to the monument to his proud monument to racism and xenophobia at the southern frontier of America. Though both may be manufactured crises both meant to forward an agenda, Varadkar indicated that any sort of wall was the last thing Ireland wanted.

Sunday, 17 March 2019

ะดะตะฝัŒ ัะฒัั‚ะพะณะพ ะฟะฐั‚ั€ะธะบะฐ

The observance of the Feast of Saint Patrick of course spread with the Irish diaspora across the world and was probably readily adopted by surrounding host communities in part due to the fact that it was the one exceptional day during Lent when prohibitions on food and drink were relaxed—though that indulgence has been much abused. Parades and associated festivities have taken place in Russia since 1992 and nearly every year thereafter through the auspices of the Russian Celtic Society. In 2017, the Russian Orthodox Church even added Saint Patrick to their menologium—the liturgical calendar—along with thirteen other post-Schism ancient saints (enlighteners, converters) of Western countries, though the holiday is observed on 30 March [Old Style for 17 March].

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

oh border where art thou?

After presenting an interesting tutorial on how to use map and satellite telemetry as movie narrative, Maps Mania was directed towards the work of Keith O’Faolรกin—who took a break from surveying ring forts to consider the soft and porous border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland (previously) and how uncertain Brexit outcomes exacerbate the situation immensely. More to explore at the link above including resources to learn more about the border in decades past.

Sunday, 16 December 2018

ailill mac mรกta

A pair of prodigal County Roscommon residents, interesting in plying their craft brewing experiences in their homeland isolated and fermented a special troglodytic wild yeast from a paleolithic archaeological site and cave complex to provide a point of departure to explore the influence and the background of the story of Queen Medb, also tied to this land.
Not to be confused with Queen Mab, Shakespeare’s invented fairy monarch though perhaps informed by the semi-legendary figure, her name shares its etymology—appropriately—with mead as she who intoxicates and according to ancient sources, Medb was born in the same cave, Oweynagat, held also to be a portal to the Underworld. The warrior queen, as all females in the egalitarian world of the Celts, was liberated and independent and not defined by her gender, unlike most women in other contemporary Western European cultures. The brewster (see also) worked with experts in microbiology to detect the undomesticated varieties of catalyst and bravely—since the divide between the world of the living and the world of the dead is most porous at that time of year—went spelunking in Oweynagat on Samhain to collect the yeast. Read more about the quest for the ingredients of this special ale and discover more strange brews at the link up top.

Monday, 5 November 2018

tafl top

Our gratitude to TYWKIWDBI for the introduction to the family of Nordic and Celtic strategy board games played out on a grid with asymmetrical armies with the player on the defensive clustered at the centre of the board—protecting a king or castle from capture.
Known as hnefatafl (fist-table—I guess for pounding the table and upsetting the pieces out of frustration over losing) or Viking chess, variants were played in the British Isles and Scandinavia for centuries—with the received rules written down by natural philosopher Linnaeus in the eighteenth century, but so rife with errors and mistranslations that the rules needed to be re-written and the original form of play was lost. Trying to reconstruct this ancient game, however, and watching it evolve has proven to be a fun and fertile activity. Learn more at the link up top.