Category: ireland

A man buying heather from a boy in Upper O’Connell Street, Dublin, Eire, June 1955. Photographed by Bert Hardy.

The legendary female warrior of Scathach is pretty cool. First, there’s her name, which means “the shadowy one” in Gaelic. Then there’s her castle, Dun Scaith (Castle of Shadows), reportedly sat on Isle of Skye northwest of Scotland.

Getting to Dun Scaith, and Scathach, was a complicated business. First, one had to know where Scathach lived. Her location was apparently something of a commonly-known secret. Once someone knew her location, one had to travel across the Irish Sea, known for its storms and choppy seas, and travel to the remote, craggy islands of northwest Scotland. Upon arrival, one then had to get past Scathach’s warrior daughter to get an audience with Scathach herself.

Scathach is important in Irish legends for the unique place she holds as a woman warrior who trained other women, as well as men. Her training was notoriously dangerous, teaching things like pole vaulting over castle walls and underwater fighting, but everyone agreed that if you survived Scathach’s training you were a great warrior. Scathach is also famous for having trained Cu Chulainn, who went on to become the central figure in the Ulster Cycle, part of the origin stories for Ireland itself.

Dublin, 1949.

Curious Irishmen and boys stare in awe at the sight of a visiting Native American. Dublin, Ireland. Late 1800’s.

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The average Irishman or woman during this time would have only met the odd non-white trader at ports or black or Indian servants in the service of the British upper-class. I can just imagine their shock.

Often called “Ireland’s Stonehenge,” Newgrange is a prehistoric stone monument constructed around 3200 BCE by the Neolithic inhabitants of what is now County Meath. The mound is truly monumental, covering about two acres! Under the grass-covered dome is a 62-foot tunnel which leads to a central chamber, where stone basins house cremated remains. Newgrange appears to have been used as a burial place or ritual site for about a thousand years before falling into disuse and slowly being forgotten. It was only rediscovered in 1699.

One reason why historians continue to debate Newgrange’s purpose, despite the archaeological evidence of both cremated and unburnt human remains, is the monument’s architecture. Newgrange’s prehistoric builders designed it so that every winter solstice — the shortest day of the year — the rising sun shines through a “roof box” near the entrance, filling the main passageway and the inner chamber with light.

Why build something so architecturally sophisticated if it were only entered to lay down the dead? Many archaeologists, therefore, think Newgrange was a ritual site as well as a tomb.

County Meath, Ireland, c. 1890

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40 beautiful photochromes of Ireland in the 1890s.

Father Edward Daly leads a group of people carrying the mortally wounded Jackie Duddy, one of the 14 unarmed men killed on Bloody Sunday by the British Army – Ireland 1972

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Connemara, Ireland, 1974.

Moore Street, Dublin, 1960s.