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Irish Historical Sources.

The Brehons

The start of Irish History is usually considered by historians to have happened the 5th century CE with the arrival of St. Patrick because with him came the first written documentation. The language spoken was Celtic and we know this because when St. Patrick arrived he could communicate with the natives. This documented history is our primary source of information in relation to early Irish society.

Our Main Sources For Documented History Are begin with Brehon Law which was a form of law brought about by tradition within the tribes. A sort of natural law that was similar from tribe to tribe. The law was enforced by local Judges known as Brehon. This law is best defined as Early Irish Law. These laws were, more or less, agreed upon by the people and are therefor based on customs, traditions and practises. The Bretons memorised the laws and the information was passed from father to son which made the Bretons a privileged class in early Irish society.

The Bretons were guardians of the law but it was the people, through custom and practise, which created it. It is also worth remembering that while the laws were not imposed they were practised. In the 5th Century AD Ireland was a Celtic country and the language spoken here was of Celtic origin. It is not yet finally established as to how the Celtic language arrived here but there are numerous theories but these are only theories. One of the best sources for exploration of Irish history is Early Irish Law. Also known as Brehon Law but scholars don‘t like this title because it suggests the laws were created by the Brehons and, in fact, this is not the case at all. The Brehons were the nobles of Early Irish society and were more guardians of the law then creators of it. Law was created through customs and traditions within a society and over time the Brehons committed these laws to memory and were practitioners of it. This skill was passed from father to son as time passed and thus the laws were carried from generation to generation prior to the arrival of literacy to the country.

When we think of Law today we think of it as being imposed. This was not the case in medieval times. The laws were brought about in the interests of the maintenance of the group that operated within it. The law came from the bottom up. It was the customs and practises of the ordinary people of the community. These were agreed upon by all as the best way to live their lives.
There is a whole range of laws that covered every aspect of society and these laws give us an excellent insight to medieval society. It is not a perfect source because there are no case histories as is the case today. Nothing was documented as to what happened in each case.
The study of Brehon law is actually relatively new. The first major steps were taken with the production of the six volume Ancient Laws of Ireland from 1865 to 1901.

The translations in these volumes are no longer considered to be wholly reliable. But they do represent a goodly part of the available Brehon law texts and they stimulated the slow, patient production of further scientific editions during the 20th century. The major breakthrough came in 1978 with the production of DA Binchy’s transcription of almost the entire corpus of vellum manuscript materials for Brehon law. These also fill six volumes. But they extend way beyond the selective coverage offered by the Ancient Laws of Ireland. Binchy’s Corpus Iuris Hibernici runs to 2343 pages (or around 1.5 million words of text).

It contains numerous ancient tracts and digests that are mostly in the Old Irish language of the 7th to 10th centuries. These are supplemented by glosses and commentaries in Middle Irish (dating to the end of the 12th century) and Early Modern Irish. (There are also occasional snippets of Latin.) Binchy’s Corpus Iuris Hibernici contains no translations. It is a scholarly transcription of the medieval manuscripts. However, the publication of Binchy’s work in 1978 came only two years after the completion of the Royal Irish Academy’s Dictionary of the Irish Language, which concentrates on the ancient and medieval forms of the language. And one year earlier, in 1975, an English translation of Thurneysen’s masterful Grammar of Old Irish was also published. Suddenly, scholars had ready access not only to the ancient legal materials themselves, but to the chief linguistic tools for their translation.

Since then, the acceleration in published research on Brehon law has been quite remarkable. By 1988 Professor Fergus Kelly of the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies was able to publish his remarkably wide-ranging Guide to Early Irish Law. The first edition of Nery‘s Patterson’s Cattle Lords and Clansmen followed in 1991. More recent volumes include Robin Chapman Stacey’s The Road to Judgement: from Custom to Court in medieval Ireland and Wales (1994). In addition, numerous journal articles have appeared in the Irish journals Peritia, Ériu and The Irish Jurist (the leading Irish academic law journal, published by University College Dublin). What all this research has revealed is a legal system of extraordinary sophistication. The English common law only emerged with the development of a professional judiciary, and the emergence of a professional bar, in the late 12th and early 13th centuries. But both had been part and parcel of Brehon law from at least the time of its earliest texts (composed in the 7th century). The development of degrees of intent in the English common law was a slow process. The concepts of accident and self-defence did not emerge until the 13th century; those of mistake and negligence finally took root in the 16th century. At that time the common law finally reached the level of development displayed in the Brehon law texts of almost a thousand years earlier. For example, the treatment of women under the ancient laws speaks to their sophistication: “The care which is evident for the individual personality of the woman in Irish marriage law is a widely shining landmark in this period of history as compared with the unrespected position of women in earlier times and in other societies.

The Annals Of The Four Masters

Our next source for Irish history are The Annals of the Kingdom of Ireland are a chronicle of medieval Irish history. Compiled in the 17th Century in Co. Donegal. The task was to compile all the existing known history for future generations. They were put to writing in final form by the Four Masters in the Franciscan Monastery in Donegal, starting in 1632. The work was completed in 1636.

Many of the sources they drew from are no longer available. It tracks history from c.2000 BCE to c.1600 CE ―The Chronicle of Ireland is the modern name for a hypothesized collection of ecclesiastical annals recording events in Ireland from 432 to 911 AD. Several surviving annals share events in the same sequence and wording, until 911 when they continue separate narratives.

They include the Annals of Inisfallen, the Annals of Ulster, the Chronicon Scotorum, the Annals of Clonmacnoise, the Annals of Tigernach, the Annals of Roscrea, the Annals of Boyle, and the Fragmentary Annals of Ireland. “The Chronicle of Ireland” represents the scholarly consensus solution to this Gaelic synoptic problem.

Events are listed in separate entries under the heading of a single year. Most entries consist of only one or two sentences, and some years contain only one or two entries. The Viking raid on Iona Abbey in 806, in which the entire population of the abbey was massacred, is recorded with typical brevity: “The community of Iona was killed by the gentiles, that is sixty-eight (referring to the number of dead) There is no direct evidence for the identity of the Chronicle’s authors at any given point in time, but scholars are confident that it was produced by annalists working in churches and monasteries and was intended for an ecclesiastical audience.

The Chronicle was written in different places at different times; the earliest evidence for one of its authors places it in Iona sometime after 563, continuing until about 642. Around 639, another chronicle of uncertain origin was begun elsewhere and merged in with the Iona chronicle in the second half of the 7th century.

The chronicle was then continued until about 740. From about 740 to 911, the Chronicle’s annalist was working in the Irish midlands, probably in the midland province of Brega (sometimes Breagh) but possibly in the monastery at Clonard. Some scholars believe that work may have moved to Armagh by the beginning of the 9th century, and debate continues on this point. After 911, the Chronicle’s descendants break into two main branches: one in Armagh, which was integrated into the Annals of Ulster; and a “Clonmacnoise group” including the Annals of Clonmacnoise (an English translation), the Annals of Tigernach (fragmentary), the Chronicum Scotorum (an abbreviation of Tigernach), and the Annals of the Four Masters.

Most surviving witnesses to the Chronicle’s original content are descended from the Clonmacnoise chronicle. A large number of the Chronicle’s entries are obituaries. The cause of death was significant to the annalists as an indicator of the death’s “spiritual quality”; they felt it indicated whether the deceased would go to Heaven or Hell. After 800, records of Viking raids (as in the example above) also make up a large number of entries. Other entries include observations of astronomical events, such as a solar eclipse that took place on June 29, 512. Some events outside Ireland also appear in the Chronicle; during some parts of the eighth and ninth centuries, its chronology for certain events in England is more accurate than that of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. As of the middle 7th century, the Chronicle’s dating scheme “consisted of a kalend (Kl) followed, until at least the mid-seventh century, by the ferial of 1 January”. This scheme, and much of the Chronicle’s witness to world history prior to 400, was based on the chronicle of Rufinus of Aquileia who wrote in the early 5th century.*

(*Source: ‘The Chronology and Sources of the Early Irish Annals’ by D. Mc Carthy, Early Medieval Europe 10:3(2001)323-41.‖27

St. Patrick is rightly styled the Apostle of Ireland. The Faith, no doubt, was preached and known by many before he began his mission. It is recorded that an Irishman, a Roman soldier, was present at the Crucifixion, who, after the completion of his military service, returned home, preached the faith and converted many.

Christianity was solidly established in Britain and Gaul long before the coming of our Apostle; and it is quite certain that there was considerable intercourse between these countries and Ireland during the first centuries of our era, so the faith must have been made known and embraced by many. Paladius came some short time before St. Patrick, but, while he must have converted some, his mission was not a success. Patrick made his studies at Lerins, now St. Honorat, South of France, and next under St. Germanus.

Lerins was the alma mater of many bishops and saints. Being a relative of St. Martin of Tours, he must have spent some time at Marmoutier, a famous monastery founded by that saint. In those institutions he learned the discipline and constitution of the Church, and organised the Irish Church accordingly. The Church of France was even then divided into dioceses, and the dioceses sub-divided into parishes. Each diocese was territorial and governed by its own bishop.

This was the mode of Church government St. Patrick introduced into Ireland—an episcopal Church governed by successors of the Apostles. St. Patrick could not introduce all at once perfect church government. His principal work at first was to convert and baptise. As the tribal system then prevailed he adopted the policy of addressing himself first to the chiefs or heads of the tribes.

The conversion of a chief soon brought about the conversion of the whole tribe. When the chief and tribe were converted the next step was to appoint a bishop over the territory occupied by the tribe. Thus in the early Irish Church bishoprics in Ireland were conterminous with tribal lands. Our Saint did the best he could, but the plan was a bad one. In course of time bishops multiplied unduly. Some assert that there were one hundred bishops in Ireland at the time of St. Patrick, and long after; there were without any doubt at least fifty. This at the time was a necessary evil, for every tribe of any importance should have their own bishop, as they would not submit to the jurisdiction of a bishop belonging to another tribe. Thus the nation was kept divided.

The multiplicity of bishops gave offence to the rest of Christendom, and at the Synod of Rathbrasael, held 1115 A.D., they were reduced to 26, besides Dublin and Waterford, under the jurisdiction of the Archbishop of Canterbury—28 in all. There are 26 dioceses at present. The system of tribal dioceses produced another evil effect: members of the families of the chiefs were raised to the episcopate without the necessary qualifications. The abuse was carried so far that many of the occupants had received no orders at all and enjoyed the benefices without performing the duties attached to them. All this produced nepotism, corruption, and disorders in the Irish Church. At the time of St. Patrick, however, it would seem that many of the bishops wereforeigners—Britons, Franks, and Romans. This would appear from that important document known as a Catalogue of the Orders of the Sts. in Hibernia. After giving the number of the first Order of Sts. the text adds: “And these were for the most part Franks and Romans and Britons and Scots by birth.

Here begins the Catalogue of the Orders of the Saints in Hibernia according to different periods:


The first Order of the Saints was in the time of Patrick, and then all the bishops, 350 in number, were famous and holy and full of the Holy Spirit. They were founders of churches, worshipped one head, Christ, and followed one leader, Patrick. They had one tonsure, one celebration of Mass, and celebrated one Easter, namely, after the vernal equinox. And what was excommunicated by one church, all excommunicated. They did not object to having women as housekeepers and companions, because founded on the rock, Christ, they did not fear the wind of temptation. This Order of Saints lasted during four reigns: to wit, from the time of Laoghaire, the son of Niall, who reigned thirty-seven years; and Olioll, styled Moll, who reigned thirty years; and Lughaidh, who reigned seven years; and this Order of Saints lasted to the very end of Tuathal Maelgarbh, and all remained throughout holy bishops, and these were for the most part, Franks and Romans and Britons and Scots by birth.


The Second Order of the Saints was like this. In this second Order now there were few bishops and many priests, 300 in number. They worshipped one head, God, and had different rituals or rites of celebration, and different rules of living, and celebrated one Easter: to wit the 14th of the moon. And they made a uniform tonsure from ear to ear. They shunned having women as companions and housekeepers, and excluded them from the monasteries. This lasted for four reigns also …. Those (saints) received the ritual of celebrating Mass from holy men of Britain; to wit, from St. David and St. Gildas and St. Cadoc. And their names are these: to wit, Finian, Endeus, Colman, Congal, Aedh, Kieran, Columba, Brendan, Brechen, Caineoh, Caemgin, Laidrean, Laisre, Lugeus, Barrideus, and many others who were in the second grade of the Saints.
The third Order of the Saints was like this. Now they were holy priests and few bishops, 100 in number, who used to dwell in desert places. They lived on vegetables and water and on the alms of the faithful, and held earthly things of no account, and wholly shunned back-biting and slander. These had different rules (of living), and different rituals of celebration, and also different tonsures, for some had the coronal tonsure and some the hair. And they had a different Paschal Solemnization, for some celebrated on the 14th and others on the 13th moon. This Order lasted through four reigns…..And their names are—Petran, bishop; Ultan, bishop; Colman, bishop; Edan, bishop; Lomnan, bishop; Senach, bishop. These were all bishops and many more. And these now were the priests—Fechan, priest; Airendan, Failan, Commian, Ernan, Cronan, and many other priests.

Note that the first Order was holiest, the second very holy, the third holy. The first glows like the sun, with the heat of charity; the second like the moon sheds a pallid light; the third shines with the bright hues of the dawn. When a bishop was appointed over the new diocese his first and most important work was the construction of a church. The churches of the 5th, 6th, and 7th centuries were very small and rudely built. The first churches were of wood and circular in shape, and there are 110 remains of these, but we have the remains of stone churches of the period, and we find they were built without cement, and the stones used were very large, from 6 to 17 feet long, which would take four men to lift.

The Tripartite Life of St. Patrick furnishes us with the dimensions of the churches he used to build:—”In this wise then St. Patrick measured the ferta, namely, seven score feet in the enclosure, and seven and twenty in the great house (tig mor), and seventeen feet in the chule (kitchen), and seven feet in the aregal, and in that wise it was he used to found the congabala always.” The ” great house ” was the church, which at the time was circular, and the diameter used to be 27 feet. The roof was formed by overlapping. The doorway was placed at the west-end and covered by a lintel and was broader at the bottom.
Churches with arches and semi-circular window heads were erected in the early part of the 9th century. Recessed semi-circular arches belong to the 10th century. The walls built in this period lose much of massive stone work, and are higher, and cement was used. The windows exhibit a slight recess upon the exterior, and were of greater size. As style advances the sides of the doorways become cut into a series of recesses, chevron and other decorations are commonly found, and various mouldings of doors and windows become rich and striking. The term Irish Romanesque has been applied to this style of architecture. The transition can be traced to the beginning of the nth century, but was not fully developed till a century later. Between the 10th and 13th centuries, decorated art reached a high state of perfection in this country. Cormac MacCuillenen’s chapel on the Rock of Cashel, which was consecrated in the year 1134, presents a specimen of Irish architecture which has not been excelled. Donough O’Brien, King of Thomond, founded the cathedral, 1152. It consists of nave and chancel, with a square tower at each side, 55 and 50 feet high. The walls of nave and chancel are ornamented with a row of semi-circular arches slightly recessed, and enriched with chevron, billet, and mouldings. We have remains of many churches scattered through the country which exhibit the highest degree of art. These and the beautifully sculptured crosses and metal work which still remain afford ample evidence of the skill the Irish attained in various departments of art prior to the Anglo-Norman invasion.
The training of the clergy was an important matter for the consideration of St. Patrick and his successors. Colleges or seminaries had to be established for the education and training of young levites to fit them for their future mission. St. Patrick again followed the practices that prevailed in France, where monasticism was the established system. The monks founded in that country schools and colleges in which the future clergy were trained in the practices of discipline and piety. Monasticism was thus introduced into Ireland by St. Patrick, and became an important factor in the Irish Church. Monasteries sprang up in different parts of the country. Clerics and others not only from Ireland but from Great Britain and the Continent flocked into them, and received gratis their education. Some of those institutions contained as many as 3,000 pupils. This may be the place to describe the origin of monasticism.

Propaganda is a form of communication that is aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position. As opposed to impartially providing information, propaganda, in its most basic sense, presents information primarily to influence an audience. Propaganda often presents facts selectively (thus possibly lying by omission) to encourage a particular synthesis, or uses loaded messages to produce an emotional rather than rational response to the information presented. The desired result is a change of the attitude toward the subject in the target audience to further a political agenda. Propaganda can be used as a form of political warfare. While the term propaganda has acquired a strongly negative connotation by association with its most manipulative and jingoistic examples, propaganda in its original sense is neutral, and may also be construed to refer to uses which are generally held to be relatively benign or innocuous. In the study of Irish history propaganda sources are, for example, the words of the pagan Bards as transcribed by the Monastic Monks, such words may not have been without Bias and, as such, contain some propaganda.

One of the areas we will be looking at is archaeology where we can find physical examples such as Temples, ritual objects, and statues, and other types of artefacts and burial places, which can tell us a little bit about the religious beliefs of the people of the time. It must be said from the outset that there is not a lot of archaeological clues but the few we have available to us are worthy of close analysis. The application of Genetics as a reliable source of stabling history is not a reliable one for many reasons.

In the case of the Celts it proves very little. As stated earlier Archaeologists contend that there are too few objects found in Ireland to prove any invasion of Celts actually occurred. Interesting, Geneticists support the Archaeologists theory. Geneticists say the Celts share D.N.A. and had a pre disposition to Cystic Fibrosis and were usually of the ‘O’  type Blood Group. In the 1960‘s there were Blood Group studies and the distribution of Blood types and the results may indicate where Celts located. Munster has the strongest distribution of Blood Type O and this may indicate where the Celts had located. In the 1990‘s Studies In DNA And Chromosomes showed that ‘Y’ Chromosomes are Inherited from the father while Mitochondrial DNA is Inherited from the Mother.

However, this can not be deemed a totally reliable source for accurate information and most Scientists are dubious, to say the least, about the results of DNA research because samples have been contaminated both inside and outside of the laboratory. In short, Genetics is far too young a discipline to draw any firm conclusions. Geneticists contend that there is little or no evidence to conclude that there was, in fact, a prehistoric Celtic invasion which leads us to the problem of why then do we speak a form of Celtic language. In point of fact we do know that C.400 CE when St. Patrick arrived on Irish soil he could communicate with the natives in some form of Celtic. From the point of his arrival history started to be documented.


Culture Of Celts.

The Culture Of The Celts

There are very few clues as to the lifestyle and culture of the people who inhabited Ireland at the end of the Stone Age. Far away in central Europe at the north of the Alps, at around 1000 BCE there lived a warlike people, named by their enemies as Keltoi tribes, a name they also adopted for themselves. Linguistics research relates this word to “warriors”. These peoples, according to evidence found, were uniquely horse riders which had given them an advantage in warfare and travel.

They journeyed across Europe and fortified and conquered large areas which they made their own. One of these areas was Hallstatt in Austria where large-scale salt mining took place which made the location a most important trading area. Those who lived and worked in Hallstatt were an enormously prosperous people who made great ceremony of displaying wealth and opulence in their attire, jewellery, tools, customs and burial ceremonies. The power base of these warlords extended along the valley of the upper Danube progressively, over a century, moving east to west to create an area known as the country of the Keltoi. The development of trade routes meant further prosperity for these tribes of metalworking, cattle, slave and gold trading entrepreneurs.

Lust for land was the primary motive of the aggressive Celts clearly satisfied to eliminate all in their path to accumulate land, wealth and power. However, around the ninth century BCE, with the arrival of iron and its use in weapon manufacturing, came the true source of power for Celtic expansion. Large iron working centres were established, around the 6th century BCE to manufacture weapons, tools and jewellery all adorned with gold and silver. These aesthetic but functional items were uniquely Celtic in design, shape and appearance. This is known as the ‘La Tene’ period when the Celts were renowned for power, wealth, brutality and desire for artistic beauty in clothing, jewellery, armoury and transport.

It was perhaps inevitable that Celtic tribes conquering Europe were not only at war with their common enemies but also at war with each other. The great migrations from the 6th century BCE meant that many of these tribes crossed paths and went to war to secure territory. A rapid increase in populations meant that ambitious younger male tribal warriors had desires to form their own tribes and acquire their own lands. This, in fact, means that as these tribes slowly but surely crossed Europe they also segmented as parts of the tribe move forward while others stayed behind. Some tribes headed north to now modern day Paris while others went east re-crossing the Rhine. Burial customs along these routes suggest the interconnection between these tribes. The northern tribes sought new territories and moved westward and as they spread their settlements they would have encountered indigenous peoples who had been descendants of the original Celtic tribes of some six centuries earlier.

The Romans tended to call the Celts by the name “Gauls” which was a corruption or slang form of “gal” meaning one of ability or valour. Those tribes that remained in France were known as Gauls. Meanwhile the new tribe known as ‘Belgae’ or ‘furious ones ‘ emerged from central Germany and quickly gained a reputation of being barbaric, brutal and bloodthirsty land grabbers. All across Europe new tribes were increasing in strength and influence at such a pace that the Romans saw them as a single Celtic culture even though many of these tribes where independent of each other were independent of each other. The Celtic influence soon spread in all directions but mostly West and South Europe as the tribes established themselves in strong hill forts scattered in thousands of locations across mainland Europe. These populations grew so rapidly that a 5th century BCE population explosion meant tribes were rapidly advancing toward European coastlines.

The first written reports of the geography of Europe concerns a voyage around part of the Atlantic Coast sometime around the year 530 B.C.E. which was later reported upon in Greek and this text gives a few insights into prehistory. It’s accuracy in relation to the size of Europe and the islands beyond is far from correct. In relation to Britain and Ireland the text is extremely vague and difficult to decipher boss, interestingly, some historians argue that there are references within the text to the Cliffs of Dover. Ireland, which they referred to as ‘Hierni’; a word derived from an old Celtic language meaning land or soil. The Greeks called the island ‘Hivera’ meaning “sacred isle”; an island rich in green pastures amid the  waves. Britain was heavily populated with tribes who had arrived earlier from northern France in the fourth century B.C.E. and these migrants became known in time as Brigantes or ‘high ones’ naming themselves after the Celtic mother goddess Briganti. These tribes brought with them iron weapons and tools similar to those later found across the sea in Ireland. Archaeological evidence suggests that warriors used such weapons in the fifth century B.C.E. but it is most likely that these weapons came from displaced peoples from Britain who were pushed forward by the arriving Celts. The full impact of Celtic culture was not felt in Ireland for another century or so.

The social structure of Celtic society was tribal which most Celts considering themselves to be descended from the same divine ancestor which was their common bond and right to be members of their tribe. The social structures varied from tribe to tribe boss each tribe had three distinct classes; the nobility, commoners and slaves or bondmen who were captives taken in war. Economic pursuits were mostly agricultural but also there appears to have been a significant amount of trading between tribes who met at places of public assembly used for seasonal religious ceremony and bartering. To the Greeks the Celts were a bewildering race who were unprejudiced and vegetarians. The Greeks wrote that the Celts were ‘fat conscious’ people who punished and a young man with a big belly. However, such tall tales were perhaps the propaganda of enemy tribes. Aristotle praised the Celts for their courage but added that they were rash to the point of madness. Aristotle also questioned the sexual mores of the Celts, claiming that they openly approve of physical connection with their fellow males. Celts were often portrayed as uncivilized, Plato saw then as drunkards and Ephorus castigated them for going to war with the sea to prove that they are unafraid of any enemy. However, the ferocity of the Celts in battle can not be doubted and this late to great demand for their warriors.

From most accounts it seems that the Celts were tall in stature with moist white skin. They had golden hair and cultivated beards and used gold for personal ornamentation. They wore tunics dyed in various colours, striped cloaks, trousers and straps, buckles, belts and chains. The dining habits of the Celts are also well documented and it seems feasting was a common occurrence. While some accounts claim that the Celts were vegetarians other accounts are emphatic that they were ardent meat eaters. They were also very heavy drinkers and aggressive drunks who went into duals to the death rather than prolonged verbal argument. They considered it a glory to die and a disgrace to survive without victory. In the event of a battle they would lay down their weapons and retire if their leader was defeated. They were generous by disposition and every man’s house was open to all comers and food would be shared as if the stranger were a member of the family. The writer Strabo thought them naïve but subservient and loyal to their leaders. Pytheas, a mariner and explorer,  thought them as exotic and from a sacred place where the sun sleeps. The ancient Greeks, from Homer spoke of them coming from Elysian, a heavenly place, and the Greeks themselves were influenced by this thinking and from this came the characterisation of Ireland as a sacred island. Reports such as this lead to the imaginations of classical writers who depicted a ‘strange island’ inhabited by strange people in the Celtic mist. The Celts were primarily sun worshipers but they also talk of rivers as being a principal fertilizing aspect of life and were worshiped by naming them after their goddesses. There was also widespread tendency to associate wells and springs with goddesses, paired with male deities and the importance of this appears to be the coupling of the male sky with female or so as to ensure fruitfulness. Each deity had a specific function such as the production of rain, sun, crops, fertility and the guaranteeing of social and commercial contracts. The sound was the ultimate father and ear was the ultimate mother and this doctrine was protected by the wise men of the Celts. These wise men were the singers and poets known Bards, Vates who acted as communicators with the Gods to determine sacrifice and Druids who were experts in the science of nature. The most prestigious of these were the Druids. They were divinely inherited ‘mediators’ with the spirit world and held in supreme esteem. A King functioned as a substitute for a deity and was the ‘husband’ of the earth goddess but the elevated position of King was very much controlled and dictated by the Druids. If the King was doing his job properly then the tribe would be happy and the reverse could result in the removal of the King by the Druid. It is clear from this that the Celts were a very superstitious people vulnerable to the mercy of the Druids which placed them at the centre of the social order an in control of the space between the King and the Gods. The Druids had, according to some accounts, magical powers and could cast spells over warrior tribes that prevented warfare. However, such power is invested in the Druids by the commoners terrified of offending or provoking the Gods by ignoring the Druids. One has no way of tracing how these Druids became so powerful within their tribes or what is the chronology of the Celtic religion, myths and practises. The Druids assembled at locations such as forest clearings known as Nemeton (sky-place) where the trees climbed upwards and connected the sky to the earth. It is also interesting that the Druids thought (according to Caesar) that all people are descended from one divine ancestor and for this reason they count periods of time not by number of days but by the number of nights. The night is followed by the day and not the other way around. This implies a connection between the darkness of night and the ancestral lord. It also implies that time is absent with the sun as it sunk to abide with the dead. The Celts, according to some Greek writers, spent their nights near the tombs of their dead where they awaited inspiration which emanated from darkness and thus reconciled the living with the dead. There were separate deities for daylight and night-time hours and the latter seemed to have dark powers while the former had powers of fertility and life giving influences. The Druids taught that life is eternal, even after death, and thus disposed of the earthly possessions of their dead. They even allowed tribesmen to defer debt or completion of business until their arrival in the next world. The afterlife was not perceived as sad and dreary but happy and a new and valuable place of existence. Such beliefs may account for the valour of the Celts who have a disregard for life and will fight to the death just to make passage to the next world. According to Diodorus Siculus , the Celts were wont to resort to fighting on the least provocation, regard their lives as nothing.

Primary Source

The Celts – A Chronological History

Dáithí Ó Hógáin.

Protestant Ireland.

The English conquest of Ireland began in 1169 and was completed under the late Tudors with an intense colonisation dedicated to converting Ireland to England and Catholicism to Protestantism. The process was primarily destructive and coercive and concluded with military victory and a united Ireland under the crown became a reality.

Territorial control was easy the rest remained impossible. Cultural, ethnic, linguistic and religious conversion never happened. Ireland in the context of a completely conquered and controlled colony remained elusive throughout sixteenth and seventeenth century and remains so to present times.

Ireland After Kildare.

Following the destruction of the house of Kildare the reliance on Anglo-Irish magnate control in Ireland had changed. Henry VIII had little or no time for powerful subjects in his empire and the heads of those who thought themselves powerful ended in baskets. The so called house of Kildare had to be replaced and this was a problem for English rulers for over a century.

Ireland was perceived as having two populations, loyal subjects and rebels. The 1541 kingship act was of little help in resolving these problems.  The act committed the English government to reform in Ireland but how could these reforms take place without loyalist control on Irish soil? A chief governor was appointed but he question remained if he could successful administer control.

There were three complicating factors to be considered and the first was finance.  Ireland proffered little revenue to the Tudors and the cost of the suppression of rebellion was phenomenal. Any English governor needed the backing of an army because without the sword, persuasion was impossible. Where was this money to come from, who pays and why?

Another complication was Ireland’s geopolitical location in relation to the ‘new world’. What was once a remote European outpost had now become the gateway to America and its riches. There had always been European interest in Ireland. Irish had fought in France and Spain in the middle ages and had earned a reputation for ruthlessness.  There had been for ages religious and commercial intercourse between European countries and Ireland but, perhaps one its greatest assets of appeal to France and Spain, was its aggressive male population who made excellent soldiers.

The efforts of Gerald FitzGerald in raising French and Spanish sympathy at the plight of Ireland at the hands of merciless Tudors were a source of concern for England.  Such a coalition of Spain, France and Ireland could overwhelm the British Empire and so, British withdrawal from Ireland was impossible because it was tantamount to handing the land over to France and Spain. Both countries were aggressively catholic and any such alliance could herald the end of Protestantism in its infancy.

Henry VIII marital problems in the 1530s led him to repudiate the pope and to establish himself as supreme head of the Church of England and in 1536, church of Ireland.  There was little impact in Ireland to the changes as Irish monasteries had become secularised and their loss was perceived as ‘good riddance’.  Monastery properties were sold off to ‘old English’ settlers while Gaelic Irish were excluded.

It was not until the arrival of Elizabeth as queen (1558) and soon after as supreme governor of Church of England (1560) that hostilities towards Protestantism in Ireland began. By the 1570s ‘loyal’ and ‘disloyal’ had become equated with catholic (the former) and protestant (the latter), a division that would persist for five centuries. The dispensation of church and state was resolutely resisted and the cause of this remains a source of historical discussion. Catholics wanted innate fidelity to Rome while Protestants saw Catholicism as superstition. Pre Christian attitudes still prevailed and catholic teachings were profound and widespread while Protestantism lacked influence for many reasons but mostly because of its lack of interest in Ireland and consequently little action in educational endeavours.

In short, Ireland posed a huge problem to Catholics and Protestants reformers whether Calvinists or Jesuits and the eventual outcome of catholic people in a protestant state could never have been foreseen.

As Catholicism prospered in protestant Ireland in the 1490s it was unhindered by Protestantism, because the Tudor apparatus was weak on Irish soil, the reformation , religious and secular, was seen as an English import and that was why both were firmly resisted.

Primary Source.

Chapter 3 – Bartlett, T.  Ireland – A History.

Click On Book Below To Learn More.

Irish Radicals (1790’s).

Irish Radicalism On The Rise

Irish Radicalism On The Rise.


In order to understand 18th-century Ireland it is necessary to have a basic understanding of the American revolution of 1776. This revolution in which 13 colonies in North America to break free from the British Empire, to become the United States of America. They reject the authority of the British Parliament to govern them from overseas without representation, and then expelled all royal officials. By 1774, each colony had established a provincial Congress or an equivalent governmental institution to govern itself, but still within the Empire British responded by sending troops to re-impose direct rule. The situation in Ireland at this time was not much different.

In a century of little or no aggression on Irish soil by 1772 moods were changing and hostility and rebellion were in the air. The so-called “Catholic relief acts” of the 1770s were so repressive that rebellion was perhaps inevitable. In 1772 the Relief Act whereby Catholics were only permitted to lease bog land was perhaps the beginning, within that decade, of the rebellion. In 1774 with the introduction of the enabling act Catholics were forced to swear allegiance to the King. Four years later in 1778 the Papist Act tried but failed to provide a measure of Catholic relief. In 1782 forced restrictions against Catholic clergy was removed; the Constitution of 1782, the collective legal changes which restore legislative independence to the Parliament of Ireland, giving rise to Grattan’s Parliament. The Parliament of Great Britain under Prime Minister Lord Buckingham passed the repeal of Secure Independence of Ireland Act, repealing the dependency of Ireland on Great Britain Act of 1719. Furthermore, it was in this period when Poynings Law (an act of 1495) of the Parliament of Ireland that was initiated by Sir Edward Poynings in the Irish Parliament at Drogheda, was also repealed. The relief fax of 1778 and 1782 were largely conservative campaigns stressing loyalty of Catholics. The 1783 and 1784 acts were possibly the fruit of an alliance of the Catholic lobby and parliamentary reformers.

Ireland in the 18th-century had been deeply impacted by the French Revolution of 1789. France was a Catholic country and was rejecting Absolutism in favour of liberty. The revolution initiated a race for the Catholic against government and Protestant radicals. Meanwhile in Ireland there was unprecedented Politicisation of Irish Catholics.

A number of Catholic committees were being set up all over Ireland as a result of the penal laws imposed under English and later British ruled that sought to discrimination against Roman Catholics and Protestant dissenters such as Presbyterians in favour of members of the established Church of Ireland. From 1758, before the death of James III, these groups of Catholic nobility and merchants persuaded the more liberal Protestants that they presented no political threat, and that reforms must follow. Events abroad and emerging ‘Age of Enlightenment’ seemed to confirm that attitudes were changing. Theobald Wolfe Tone published in 1791 his document ‘An Argument On Behalf Of the Catholics of Ireland’ which was very widely read and inspired new thinking on the future of the country.

The 1792 Relief Act radicalized Catholic relief campaigns during 1791 and 1792. Catholics were finally admitted to Trinity College in Dublin and were also allowed to practice law. However, there was massive opposition to further relief in the Irish Parliament where Catholics were being described as shopkeepers and shoplifters. The Catholics responded with a statement of principles “the Catholic Convention” [Back Lane Parliament], in December 1792 when they petitioned for full equality. Meanwhile, the outbreak of war between France and Great Britain in 1793 was to have far-reaching consequences in Ireland.

The 1793 Relief Act Gave Catholics of the Right to Bear Arms And to Participate in Local Government, Grand Juries and Corporations. It also offered the right to vote on the same terms as Protestants but Catholics were not allowed the right to sit in Parliament.

The revolution of 1793 shattered the self-confidence of the Protestant ascendancy. Further Catholic campaigns would be linked to campaigns for Parliamentary reform; but the Catholic committees disbanded in the short-term. The continuing politicisation of Irish Catholics led to further struggle for power in Ireland. The enactment of the repressive legislation; The Militia, Gunpowder and Convention Acts of 1793, was passed, in consequence of the war with France; were an attempt to suppress the volunteers and the United Irishmen.

Beyond the reality of Catholic discontent there was widespread knowledge of events in France and the Revolutionary movement. Events were widely reported in Irish newspapers; radical literature was in circulation and there were public celebrations of Bastille Day. In the words of Wolfe Tone; “in a little time French Revolution became the text of every man’s political creed.” The French Revolution had become an inspiration and a model for the forthcoming rebellion in Ireland. Furthermore, the French Revolution made cooperation between Protestant reformers and Catholics more likely. Catholics were clearly capable of liberty. The Belfast Constitutional Compact of October 1790 Í for Catholic and Protestant cooperation; which was exactly as Wolfe Tone had proposed in his 1791 treatise ‘An Argument On Behalf Of the Catholics of Ireland’.

The Society of United Irishmen was founded as a liberal political organization in 18th-century Ireland that sought parliamentary reform. However, it evolved into a revolutionary Republican organization, inspired by the American Revolution and allied with revolutionary France. It launched the Irish rebellion of 1798 with the objective of ending British monarchical rule over Ireland and founding an independent Irish Republic.

The Society of United Irishmen in October 1791 declared that “the weight of English influence in the government of this country is so great, as to require union among all the people of Ireland.” It further stated that; “the sole constitutional mode by which this influence can be opposed, is by a completion of  radical reform of the representation of the people in Parliament.” Wolfe Tone also states that no reform is practicable, efficacious are just, which shall not include Irishmen of every religious persuasion.

The United Irishmen endeavoured to achieve legal and constitutional change in Ireland and all over the country held meetings, petitions and proposed reform plans. They cooperated with other groups including the Catholic Committee to help them to achieve their aims. The publication Of the Newspaper the Northern Star [1792-1797] gave the United Irishmen a mouth piece on which they could campaign for their objectives.

With the outbreak of war in 1793 the pro-French United Irishmen were put under serious pressure. They were in constant contact with the French Revolutionaries and sought much help and advice in the planning stages of the Irish Revolution. However, due to suppression of the United Irishmen they were forced underground but re-emerged as a mass-based, secret, oath bound, militant society advocating republicanism and separatism.

There were other defenders using revolutionary ideology as their template for a new Ireland. Organizations such as; The Armagh Troubles (1780s and 1790s), The Defenders, and the Peep O’Day Boys. In the early 1790s there was a rapid spread of such defenders and most of these were secret, militant and oath bound. It must be said that ‘Oath’ was sacred and to break it was a crime punishable by death or the death of a member of one’s family. Such Oaths were not taken lightly. These movements represented an important strand of Lower Order politicisation and radicalisation. The potential base for a Mass-based revolutionary organization will slowly but surely in formation.

Amidst all this came William Wentworth Fitzwilliam, 4th Earl Fitzwilliam who was a British Whig Statesman of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. He was one of the richest people in Britain and he played a leading part in Whig politics into the 1820s. The Protestant Ascendancy in Ireland was, in his view, the process of alienation of Catholics from British rule which might drive them into supporting Jacobinism and the French invasion of Ireland. The loss of Ireland in such an event would weaken British Sea power and make possible an invasion of England. Fitzwilliam aimed to reconcile Catholics to British rule by delivering Catholic Emancipation and ending the Protestant Ascendancy. He wrote; “the chief object of my attempts will be, to purify, as far as circumstances and prudence will permit, the principles of government, in the hopes of thereby restoring to it that tone and spirit which so happily prevailed formerly, and so much to the dignity as well as the benefit of the country”. He arrived in Ballbriggan in 1795 and reported that he found the texture of government in Ireland very weak. He further claimed that the violence committed by peasants was not political but; “merely the outrages of bandits”. It must be stated that the Portland Whigs, who are in government, supported form and relief in Ireland. When the Earl of Fitzwilliam was appointed new Lord Lieutenant he dismissed leading conservatives and supported Catholic emancipation. He was recalled in February 1795 and dashed hopes of any major change in Ireland thus increasing polarization. However there was one consolation of significance and that was the foundation of the Royal College of St. Patrick in Maynooth.

The re-emergence of the United Irishmen in 1795-1796 implied continuity between the ‘constitutional’ and ‘militant’ members of the organisation. The creation of a secret revolutionary army that was both cellular and hierarchical in Belfast and Ulster (1795); Leinster (1796) with numbers in excess of 120,000 in Ulster by mid-1797 and over 80,000 in Leinster by mid-1798 meant that revolution was becoming inevitable. The United Irishmen were also actively seeking French support for an Irish revolution to establish a separate Irish republic and the idea was not unacceptable in France.

Theobald Wolfe Tone wrote; “To subvert the tyranny of our execrable government, to break the connection with England, the never-failing cause of all our political evil, and to assert the independence of my country – these were my objectives”. He further stated; “To unite the whole people of Ireland, to abolish the memory of all past dissensions, and to substitute the common name of Irishman in place of the denominations of Protestants, Catholics and Dissenters – these were my means”.

In 1796, in the town of Bantry, at the head of the bay, is associated with the Irish Rebellion of 1798 as being the place where an earlier attempt to land launch a rebellion was made by a French fleet, including Wolfe Tone in December 1796. The French fleet consisting of 43 ships carrying 15,000 troops had divided mid-Atlantic into smaller groups to avoid interception by the Royal Navy with orders to reform at Bantry Bay. The bulk of the fleet arrived successfully, but several ships, including the flagship Fraternité carrying General Hoche were delayed. While awaiting their arrival, bad weather intervened and the lack of leadership, together with uneasiness at the prospect of being trapped, forced the decision to return to France. Tone wrote of the expedition in his diary, saying that; “We were close enough to toss a biscuit ashore” and because of the forced departure without attack; “England has had the greatest escape since the Spanish Armada”.

The Government were not happy to the radicalism now rampant on Ireland’s soil and that certain measures were now absolutely necessary to stop it. The introduction of the regular Army and Militia (1793) and the Yeomanry (1796) were the first steps to remove the rebels permanently from Ireland’s shores. The ‘French’ episode had scared the English who now felt that any foreign nation colonising Ireland were an enormous threat to the Crown and thus began a campaign of hatred against Irish republicanism. A series of suppressive anti-Catholic Acts were enforced; Indemnity Act (1795), Insurrection Act (1796), The Orange Order (1795), The ‘Dragooning of Ulster’ (1797) forced the United Irish momentum which passes from Ulster and Leinster to Countrywide.

In the prelude to the rebellion the Leinster leadership was arrested in March 1798 and the remaining leadership draw up their plans for ‘native’ rebellion. The arrest of Lord Edward Fitzgerald and others in May 1798 was the final act that caused the outbreak of rebellion on May 24th and thus the uprising began. The causes of the rebellion are still a source of major contention for historians who have some different views on the matter. Some suggest that Repression pushed people into Rebellion while others argue that Sectarianism and Agrarianism were the primary causes. Some further argue that the possibility of parliamentary reform and catholic emancipation were blocked and this lead to polarisation amongst revolutionaries. For other historians it was a period of unprecedented politicisation combined with the impact of the French revolution on the United Irishmen in the advancing industrial revolution creating greater means of communication including newspapers, political tracts, meetings, songs, catechisms, petitions, militancy that all contributed to the outbreak of the rebellion.

In the context of the 18th century; Historian Ian McBride wrote; “The 1798 rebellion was a complex event which saw the fusion of all the tensions – Catholic disaffection, Presbyterian radicalism, anti-English patriotism, agrarian discontent, loyalist anxiety, plebeian sectarianism – which lay beneath the surface of eighteenth century Ireland.

Lecture Notes.

With Thanks To:

Dr. Liam Chambers.

Being Mature.

Click On This Image To Listen To The Full Documentary (15 Mins)

About ‘Being Mature’

The documentary entitled ‘Being Mature’ is designed to encourage adult learning in third level institutions in Ireland. The documentary sets out, first and foremost, to talk to students currently going through the system of re-education then it introduces some high-level academics and teachers to hear how they think and feel about having mature students in the classroom and at tutorials. It also canvases the opinions of younger students in relation to mature students and asks a number of significant questions such as are mature students a help or a hindrance in academic life. Finally, we have an in-depth discussion with Dr. Caroline Healy who is assigned to The Learner Support Unit at MIC and is furthermore one of Ireland’s foremost authorities, having conducted extensive research, on Mature Students.

From the outset I knew that the only way this documentary could work is by ensuring as much human interaction as was possible in the given timeframe [15 Minutes]. The initial task of interviewing random mature students proved a little more difficult than anticipated. Mature students were amazingly shy about speaking up there educational desires or giving reasons as to why they had returned to college life. I wanted an equal mix of both male and female students and interestingly, females were more forthcoming. I opted to interview each person in a natural environment and so, over three days, I randomly selected students on campus as MIC Limerick. I also made arrangements with a number of academics at MIC. My interviewees were Dr. Liam Chambers, Dr. Eugene O’Brien and Dr. Caroline Healy of MIC LSU department. Finally, I randomly selected younger students at numerous locations on campus.

The entire documentary aims to answer five basic questions as follows;

  1. What made you decide to become a mature student?
  2. How do academics feel about mature students?
  3. How do young people feel about mature students?
  4. Is academic life more challenging than anticipated?
  5. Are mature students in any way different to younger students?

All interviews were conducted over a two-day period and recorded on a Sanyo Pro Voice Recorder and the iTalk application on iPad. I also selected to use a hand-held microphone in my one-to-one interview with Dr. Caroline Healy. On completion I had conducted a total of 33 interviews consisting of students, academic staff and administrative staff at MIC.

At my own home studio I used the Cool Edit Pro suite for editing. I have been using this software for a number of years and find it extremely satisfactory and totally professional. I had a total of 44 audio clips to choose from but the background noise on some of these clips rendered them unusable. I was left with a total of 20 perfectly audible sound bites. I further recorded a small collection of sound effects including atmospheric recordings of lectures, canteen and corridors with heavy student traffic between lectures. My idea was to create an intimate college life experience for the listener. I am satisfied that I accomplished this in the final edits of the piece.

During the editing process I discovered that in the course of normal conversation many interviewees used irrelevant interjections that might be acceptable in casual conversation but sound nonsensical for my purposes. I spent a considerable amount of time editing out these extraneous sounds. The absence of these sounds makes the listening experience far more enjoyable.

I selected two pieces of ambient music to use throughout the documentary as a continuous music bed. My first choice was a gentle piece of music by Zamphir entitled ‘the lonely shepherd’ which I felt was relevant because all lecturers are a type of Shepherd. The second piece I selected was by Enya and entitled ‘The Celts’ which is an inspirational piece of music that implies success in the face of adversity. Perhaps a metaphor for mature students who have decided to take on the challenge of returning to education and succeeding in the process.

My objective was to produce a quality radio documentary using only original material consisting of voice, ambient sounds and music. I must admit that I have the advantage of extensive experience in live broadcasting but little or no experience in radio documentary production. For this reason, I found this project extraordinarily interesting and a very necessary learning experience for me while also introducing me to the art of radio documentary production.

This 15 minute documentary on the subject of Mature Students uses music, interviews and ambient sounds and is structured on a format based on a number of home produced Irish radio documentaries available from RTE, Ireland’s national broadcasting service. I have attempted to offer the information available on this documentary at a gradual and increasing momentum to bring the listener to the ultimate conclusion that a return to education is entirely possible for any listener regardless of past experiences or educational background.

As presenter of the documentary I tried to take into consideration my key role of introducing the various locations voices and facts at a steady pace, the mode of address I implied was upbeat and friendly. I further attempted to keep the piece lively, informative but most of all entertaining. While my subject matter could just as easily have been presented in a more serious manner I felt that my approach rendered the information contained in the documentary more relevant to a broader, less highbrow, wider audience.

As this was a one-man operation I was very conscious to ensure that all elements of this production were to the absolute best of my own ability. I am very proud and satisfied with the results of my endeavours. The project has been a vital learning experience for me and has further shown me that my past experiences in live radio are a serious asset to me in the production of radio documentaries. From this aspect of the course I have learned that this is an area I am very interested in exploring further.

Click On This Image To Listen To The Documentary.

The Ulster Troubles.


The Ulster Rebellions.

The Ulster Rebellions.


The roots of the Ulster Rebellion (1641) can be traced from St. Patrick (400 CE) to 1641. The rebellion resulted in “59% of Ireland owned by Catholics (1641) falling to 14% (1703)”. (Stovall, 1964) This revolution became the foundation of Irish struggles for independence. (Krieg, 2000) The persecution is embedded in the psyche of Irish natives remaining hostile to English influence; “The conflict in Northern Ireland lies in direct line of descent of 17th Century Ulster. This colonisation is inseparable from religious differences.” (Todd, 2008) However, this essay argues that the primary cause of the rebellion was the Ulster Plantations.

The rebellion erupted in Ulster when Catholics attacked Protestants. Historians remain divided on causes with a movement away from interpreting events as a consequence of Ulster Plantations; “This simplistic interpretation ignores the existence of community divisions” (Irelands Eye, 1999). The theory is complicated by inter-religious commercial and social relationships; “This combination made the insurrection formidable and expanded it from a local to a general movement.” (Hull, 1931). Religious factors remain important; “The pre-Tudor landed families stuck to Catholicism, in spite of Protestantism. James I called them “half-subjects” prepared to give loyalty in civil but not religious matters.” (Dorney , 2010)

Some Irish ‘beneficiaries’ of the Plantations had economic problems and resorted to violence; “The leader of the rebellion, Phelim O’Neill, had actually been a beneficiary of the Plantations” (Markethill, 2008) Also, the rise of puritan English gentry foreshadowed religious resentment; “Puritans and Presbyterians were partners in the struggle of a newly enlightened people against religious and administrative tyranny.” (Hamilton, 1920) The rebellion can be regarded as an incursion by Catholics to overthrow Protestants. (McCaffrey, 2005). While there are significant short term factors, long-standing grievances including Plantations should not be ignored. Such bitterness contributed to the savagery of attacks on Protestants.

The Death toll associated with 1641 is unknown because fatality figures are embellished; “As repossessions progressed over 3,000 Protestants were killed. Stories were exaggerated by English press.” (Yadav, 2010). Attacks on Protestants were not as described by English propagandists. Pamphleteers inflated death tolls to 150,000. The English public had suspected the Irish were barbaric and this just confirmed their suspicions. (Blackwell & Hackney, 2008). Modern scrutiny calculates figures at 12,000 from a Protestant population of 40,000, genocide by any scale, even if so many thousands fell as a result of military combat rather than killing of the unarmed. (McCavitt, 2004)

The 1641 rebellion continued for ten years, increasing to other areas of Ireland when the native Irish of Ulster were joined in insurgency by Old English co-religionists. (Hayton, 1990) Such was the short term victory of the revolt that Protestant supremacy was in danger not least when Owen Roe O’Neill led Catholic rebels in Ulster to victory at the battle of Benburb (1646) the Protestant army in Ireland having been annihilated. (Hayes-McCoy, 1990) Political and cultural inconsistencies between native Irish and Old English were a cause of the failure of the rebels to force their military advantage. (History Reconsidered, 2010)

The massacre of Irish Protestants ended with equally notable butcheries wrought by Cromwell’s armies in Ireland (1649). Cromwell’s hostility was religious and political. His campaign began in Drogheda slaughtering 3,000 men, then to Wexford which met a similar fate and finally to Clonmel where he closed his crusade. (JSTOR, 1854) He opposed Catholicism blaming it for European persecution of Protestants. Cromwell’s association of Catholicism and oppression was deepened by the Ulster Rebellion. These issues contributed to Cromwell’s ruthlessness. (Fraser, 1973) Cromwell’s slaughtering of Irish Catholics is as embedded on Catholic consciousness as the massacre of Protestants in Ulster. (MaCatjlay, 1872)

In the early 400s CE St. Patrick had been taken to Ireland as a slave. He fled to France and became a priest. He returned to Ireland to convert pagans to Catholicism. (Barrett., 2009) Seven centuries later the first English involvement in Ireland transpired when Turlogh O’Connor, King of Connacht (1106–1156), overthrew Dermot MacMurrough, King of Leinster, he pleaded with King Henry II for help. (Dunn, 2003) Henry’s troops were rewarded with land. When MacMurrough died (1171) a Cambro-Norman named Strongbow, notable for his role in the Norman invasion, proclaimed himself King of Leinster. (History On The Net, 2010).

After 1171 English Barons seized Ireland and by the 1300s secured control. Royal allegiance deteriorated as some English Barons considered themselves Irish not English. In the 1400’s English supremacy was confined to Dublin, ‘the Pale’, (BBC, 2012) outsiders considered uncouth. Ireland was unprofitable as administration outweighed taxation gains. In 1534 Henry VIII took power from the Earls of Kildare (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2012) and by 1541 Ireland’s government pledged allegiance. Henry introduced laws that strengthened English control and attempted to bring Protestantism; “Now the conquerors’ religion differed from the conquered, and sectarianism added another ruinous dimension to the relationship.” (Henriksen., 2008)

Historians consider Ulster plantations as influences on 1641. In the 1500s, after Henry VIII’s demise, his progenies intensified English control; “Ulster plantation meant social cohesion” (Gillespie, 2007). Mary I used plantation to unite communities; “Ulster’s personality is older than partition and older than plantations”. (Estyn, 1970) Elizabeth I attempted Protestantism by outlawing Catholicism, executing clergy; thus generating Catholic unification against England. Charles I knew of antagonisms plantation caused but proceeded; “the property realignment meant efficient collections of tithes.” (Cope, 2003) Charles represented a class who deemed it; “a sin to tolerate Catholics or consent that they exercise religion.” (Meehan, 1873)

Irish Chieftain Shane O’Neill (1500s) led violent revolts opposing; “laws producing the effects of keeping those governed barbarous and preventing amalgamation between English and Gaelic”. (Ulster Archaeological Society, 1854). In 1610 the Ulster Plantations began and by 1641 James I endeavoured ending Irish insurrections by using plantation; “Plantations begun by Elizabeth have prospered to the Crown’s advantage by preserving great peace and happiness”. (Maxwell, 1923). In 1641 the Ulster Irish rebelled while Protestants alleged Catholics were annihilating them and revenge sought; “its clear reports are unreliable but ghoulish stories remain important in explaining such terror that settlers fled.” (Canny, 1993).

Revolution in the British-Irish Isles (Oakland, 2003) was occurring at rapid pace prior to The Irish Rebellion of 1641. King Charles 1st was compelled to summon Parliament due to revolting Scots and further forced into acceptance of the Triennial Act (1641) (Constitution Society, 2008) intended to prevent kings from ruling without Parliament, thereby grudgingly compelling himself to parliamentary sessions of fifty days every three years. The ‘Long Parliament’ (1640) had just abolished the Star Chamber (1641), Torture was outlawed (1641) (QED LAW, 2007), the ‘Age of Enlightenment’ dawned with the publication of René Descartes; Meditations on First Philosophy. (History, 2011).

Ireland’s land holding Colonisers remained Catholic and unpopular with the Stuart court. Disqualified from public office by penal laws; “depriving Catholics of civil life; reducing them to ignorance and disassociating them from land” (Lecky, 1898) now faced losing estates, and political sway. ‘Old English’ had unity with Catholics, an alliance created by marriage, distorting ethnic divisions. (Ó Siochrú, 2011) The anxiety of Catholic landlords and the threat to religion helped disregard boundaries and produce a national identity; “The nationalist theme of English repression and dispossession is certainly attested to by the period of wars of conquest and plantation.” (Preston, 1992)

The Ulster rebellion is described as a pre-emptive strike by Phelim O’Neill, who remained in Ulster after Flight of Earls, leading Catholic landowners. O’Neill read an alleged commission from Charles I demanding commandeering; “places of strength and defence, except places of Scottish subjects” (Hickson, 1884) the ensuing Rebellion ignited nationwide revolution. Catholics protested a society segregating them and these frustrations were heightened when; “Foreign administration retaliated with violence”. (Donnelly, et al., 2004) Rebels were unsuccessful in Dublin, but when morning dawned on October 23rd, 1641, it saw most Ulster strongholds in Irish hands, with Sir Phelim in command. (Marshall, 1904).

In 1642, landowners and clergy created a power base; “Alienated from the crown, confederates constructed power structures in Kilkenny” (Siochrú, 1994). Their purpose: to re-establish order and negotiate with the king. In terms of occupation, the Confederates consisted of landowners, clergy, lawyers, soldiers and wealthy merchants; “The Confederation derived strength from landowners who were the backbone of power” (Cope, 2003). For six years they worked as the de facto government, controlling tracts of the island; “the negotiations between Charles I and the Confederation endured from the signing of a truce in 1643 until the king’s death in 1649 (Lowe, 1964)

The confederation established governmental structures at regional levels; “it was a grand spectacle. The transition from heart-breaking thraldom to armed independence was convincingly manifest. (Meehan, 1873) Authority lay with the general assembly, but the supreme council, whose membership included lords and bishops, assumed dominance. The Catholics wanted agreement with Charles I to protect property, admit them to public office and end religious discrimination. (BBC, 2012) The peasantry, the backbone of the confederacy, were to be exploited, not liberated. Despite conservative aims, the war forced the confederates to adopt radical measures, with the association functioning as an independent state. (Siochrú, 1994)

Changes in the Stuart kingdoms obstructed events in Ireland. From 1637, the armed opposition of Scottish Presbyterians; “The Covenanters, allies of the English parliament were sent to Ulster to protect settler interests.” (Siochrú, 1994); dedicated to Charles I they weakened England and Ireland. (Cambridge, 2010) Their success in 1639 inspired rebels to prevent destruction of Catholic rights. The Covenanters’ anti-Catholic pomposity increased feelings of uncertainty among Irish Catholics in Ulster where Scots settled. After the 1641 eruption, and the reports of Protestant massacres, the Covenanters intervened militarily. Commanded by Robert Monroe they emerged as a threat to confederacy. (Perceval-Maxwell, 1973)

From 1640 Charles faced opposition from Westminster to his relentless authoritarianism. Two sides clashed on who should control the army subduing Irish rebellion. The outbreak of England’s civil war forced Charles, hostile towards Catholics, to moderate his position. (Encyclopædia Britannica, 2012) He hoped compromise with Confederates would give him access to Irish military resources in England. Parliamentarians advocated anti-Catholic positions and victory in Ireland, using confiscated Irish Catholic land to pay costs. (Irish History Timeline, 2012) Throughout the 1640s, royalists and parliamentarians maintained armed forces in Ireland, primarily in Dublin and Cork, while Scots controlled north-east Ulster. (Ó Siochrú, 2011)

From the confederate perspective, war from 1641 until the Cromwellian invasion (1649) can be separated into three stages. The first stage consists of a chaotic uprising, which spread nationally. (Hull, 1931) After some preliminary success, the rebels found themselves on the defensive as a result of a savage counter-offensive by colonial government in Dublin. (Plant, 2011) Many English troops were conscripted, while in Ulster Monroe’s Scottish Covenanters gained the upper hand. Confederate prospects improved during the English civil war (1642) which, accounts for; “the sluggish tempo of royalist recruiting operations along with the personal unpopularity of the king”. (Young, 1981)

The colonial government’s offensive ground to a halt, enabling Confederates to organise armies, assisted by veterans Owen Roe O’Neill, a seventeenth century soldier and one of the most famous of the O’Neill dynasty of Ulster (Morgan, 1996), and Thomas Preston, an Irish soldier of the 17th century who had returned from Flanders to lead the Irish Rising. (McGinn, 2009) In 1643 confederate and royalist representatives initiated a series of talks, resulting in a complete cessation agreement in September. Thereafter, the bulk of royalist troops were shipped to England, and those who remained did not engage in further fighting. (History, 2011)

The fruit of the 1641 rebellion came in 1643 with the signing of the Solemn League and Covenant, an agreement between Covenanters and Parliamentarians. (Open University, 2010) Covenanters committed to the English civil war rejected the cessation because; “Ireland would remain under Confederates opposed to Ulster’s Scottish forces”. (Hamilton, 1975) Confederates mobilised against Ulster Scots and Cork parliamentarians while negotiating with royalist nobleman James Butler. The 1641 Uprising was impulsive but became structured under the Assembly of Kilkenny, where the Gaelic Irish and Old English formed alliances. (Plant, 2011). Its exact causes remain debateable but plantations were a significant factor.

Lecture Notes.

With Thanks To:

Dr. Clodagh Tate


Barrett., T. M., 2009. New   Advent: Catholicism In Ireland. [Online]
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BBC, 2012. a Short History Of Ireland. [Online]
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Blackwell, A. H. & Hackney, R., 2008. The 1641   Rebellion And Its Aftermath. [Online]
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Cambridge, 2010. From The Plantation Of Ulster To   Cromwellian Settlement (1611-1659). [Online]
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Canny, N., 1993. The 1641 Depositions: A Source for   Social & Cultural History. History Ireland, 12, 1(4), p. 56.

Canny, N., 2001. Making Ireland British 1580-1650.   Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Constitution Society, 2008. The Triennial Act,   Constitution Society. [Online]
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Irish Media Regulation.


Global Influences On Irish Media.


In any discussion of media regulation it is necessary to consider three major factors, global influences, national influences and local influences. Ireland, proclaiming itself as a democratic and less authoritarian society than others, asserts to offer considerable constitutional freedom to media. This is untrue. This article, by looking at the depth of global, national and local influences on the primary organs of media; audio, visual and print, demonstrates that these ‘freedoms’ are illusive and misleading and creating the fallacy that media can be controlled at any level. The reality is the exact opposite. In fact, with the advent of technology and the expansion of capitalism (consumerism) we, as consumers and text receivers, are at the end of a long line of global, national and local regulators who dictate what we hear, see, read or think on any given matter at any given moment. This article concludes that Ireland has adapted international philosophies, ideologies and practises in the creation of numerous media regulatory bodies and has inadvertently altered the dynamics of Irish media regulation.

Broadcast Media in Ireland is regulated in comparable fashion to any other developed country. Ireland has freedom of the press enshrined in its constitution, “…the right of the citizens to express freely their convictions and opinions.” In the broadcasting sector this right is defended by The Broadcasting Act (2009) which outlines amongst its primary functions, “to revise the law relating to broadcasting services and content…” There are three main ‘guardians’ of these rights in Ireland and these are; the Department of Communications which decrees, “To facilitate the provision of quality broadcasting” .

Secondly, the BAI (Broadcasting Authority of Ireland) which states as it’s clear objective, “to ensure that broadcasting services best serve the needs of the people” and further states, “that democratic values enshrined in the constitution especially those relating to rightful liberty of expression are upheld…” Finally, the government agency of considerable impact on Irish broadcasting and communications is COMREG which monitors and controls the distribution of licenses, “Comreg issues licenses in accordance with this Act (Wireless Telegraphy Act, 1926) and the 1988 Broadcasting & Wireless Telegraphy Act.”

It is a common illusion that organisations that produce media have a free hand to say and do as they choose. They are not only controlled by the law, state bodies and other institutions but also by a number of other significant factors. Regulation can be loosely defined as control over impact. As each new media emerges so does demands for its regulation. Government influence over the broadcast media in Ireland is fundamentally exercised by legislation and the allotting or termination of licences. Media regulation is necessary but media control is not. The ultimate consumption of texts is contaminated by global laws and rules influencing the end product or text before it arrives to the local marketplace.
In the Irish print media industry (we are concerned primarily with newspapers, magazines, journals and documents for general public consumption) there are a number of significant regulatory bodies demonstrating government and ‘self’ regulation. The primary media regulator is the law itself. As with any civilised country the Media and the Law in Ireland have always been, and perhaps will always be, at loggerheads in debate as to what is permissible and what constitutes defamation and libel. In 1991 the Irish Government appointed the ‘Law Reform Commission’ which recommended draconian changes in Irelands libel laws. A new defamation law came into affect on January 1st, 2010 but Politicians remain concerned about ‘tabloidisation’, and lowering of press standards, within the Irish media and propose a “privacy act” which is still in the legislative process.

There is little doubt that if the government goes ahead and introduces a privacy act, it would be challenged, probably to the European Court of Human Rights.” The NUJ (National Union of Journalists) with its stringent ‘code of ethics’ which includes a ‘conscience clause’ stating, “Journalists have a right to refuse work that would break the letter or spirit of the code.” In effect this means that a journalist can decide to regulate what he/she reports on without fear of retribution. The power of the NUJ as a regulatory body should not be underestimated. In the recent past it spearheaded a campaign with other activists called ‘Let In The Light’, and forced the Irish Government to introduce a Freedom of Information Act in 1997, “At the time it was considered a major contribution to accountability and openness and was praised internationally by free-speech advocacy groups.”

However, in 2003 the Government amended the Act by limiting what the government was required to disclose. This was seen by journalists as a major attack on press freedom. The third most important regulatory body is based on British and Swedish models. The Press Council of Ireland and the Office of the Press Ombudsman which was set up in 2009 with the dual role of preventing ‘media abuse’ and ‘abuse of media’ expressed as; “to safeguard and promote professional and ethical standards in Irish newspapers and magazines.” This organisation ensures that the freedom of the press is never abused, and that the public interest is always served; “we have now come to the stage where we should consider the need to protect people against the power of the press.” Such principles of press regulation are globally inspired. Here we see three clear examples of global regulation on local (national) media.

Two Saint Patricks.

Will The Real St. Patrick Please Stand Up?

On analysis of the available evidence, surviving documentation and archaeological inscriptions, it can be seen that Ireland had two contemporaneous evangelists advocating Catholic philosophy but both coming from entirely different standpoints. Both missions were conducted in an apparently Christian conscious Ireland by the early 5th century CE. It is also clear that these missionaries proclaiming equal faith, first Palladius (as advocate of Pope Celestine), then Patrick (as advocate of God), had some impact on their own co-existing communities. With the rise of Catholic historical documentation, monastic propaganda reduced the efforts of Palladius’ ‘failed’ mission and, for no reason other than expediency, merged all credit for Christian conversion exclusively to Patrick, whose ‘successful’ mission was better serving the purposes of the advocations of Catholicism.

By the 5th century CE Pelagianism (and paganism) were proliferating in Western Europe and Ireland to such effect that Roman Catholicism, led by Pope Celestine I (Celestine the Deacon) (422-432 CE), himself a Roman and zealous for orthodoxy, sent Palladius as a Bishop to Ireland in 431. The chronicle of the contemporary St. Prosper of Aquitaine presents two important entries relating to Palladius. Under the date of 429 it has, “Agricola, a Pelagian, son of Severianus, a Pelagian bishop, corrupted the churches of Britain by the insinuation of his doctrine; but at the insistence of the Deacon Palladius (ad actionem Palladii Diaconi), Celestine sends Germanus, Bishop of Auxerre as his representative to root out heresy and direct the Britons to the Catholic Faith”. Again under the date of 431, in the consulship of Bassus and Antiocus: “Palladius was consecrated by Pope Celestine and sent to the Scots believing in Christ, as their first bishop” (Ad Scotum in Christum credentes ordinatur a Papa Celestino Palladius et primus episcopus mittitur).

It is clear then that by ordaining a bishop for the Irish (Scotis), whilst he laboured to keep the Roman Island (Britain) Catholic, he made also the barbarous Island (Ireland) Christian. The words of the second entry to the chronicle, “to the Scots believing in Christ” can only have the meaning that when the chronicle was being written in 447, the Irish had become a Christian people. Another relevant source to the authenticity of Palladius’ papal authority is The Seventh Century Life Of St. Patrick by Muircu Maccumachthenus in the “Book of Armagh” which expressly styles Palladius “Archidiaconus Papæ Coelestini urbis Romæ Episcopi”, repeated in several of the other lives of St. Patrick.

The conversion of Ireland was very significant to Celestine because, according to the writings of St Jerome (c.347-420), an Illyrian Christian priest and apologist , we suspect that Pelagius himself was of Goidelic-Celtic origin, q-Celt, (perhaps Irish), “He tells us that he was descended from the Scots (Irish) de vicinia Britannorum, and that he was “reared on Scotch porridge.” This simple fact feasibly meant that if Celestine could conquer the homeland of Pelagius, ‘the seat of his realm’, this may discredit his philosophy. Palladius soon abandoned the mission and was quickly replaced by an ostensibly self-appointed evangelist calling himself Bishop Patricius. In his ‘Confessio’ he elaborates in some detail as to the success of his mission (he attributes this success to God) when he writes, “’it is not you who speaks but the Spirit of your Father speaking in you.’ (Confessio Vs 20) This proved an ideal declaration of divine faith and his successful work was endorsed by his Roman contemporaries. The efforts of his predecessor, whose contribution to Irish Christianity was minimal, were inexplicably obliterated.

Christian inscriptions in Irish began about the middle of the 5th Century CE and are primarily located in the south-eastern side of the country. They show that Christian teaching must have been accepted among the native Irish, of this region, prior to the arrival of both missionaries. ‘The chiefs of the pre-Patrician saints include St. Ailbe in Co. Tipperary, St. Ibar of Wexford, St. Declan of Waterford, …..the controversy between Cashel, as the premier home of the Christian church and Armagh as the latter implies that it is possible two evangelists were at work in the country. Palladius to the South and Patrick to the North, “it is exactly the sort of controversy that was inevitable if these Southern Churches looked back to an independent origin and an earlier date than that of the apostle of Ireland, whose later glory had obscured their own”.

With St. Patrick came flourishing literacy and the subsequent documentation of reality, by his cohorts, was inexorably biased in favor of the message advocated their apostle. The primary strategy of Patrick was to introduce an episcopal church which indicates that he had some papal influences. In the ‘Catalogue Of The Order Of The Saints’ for the period 432-543 it is clearly stated that there were founders of churches who worshipped Christ and followed one leader, Patrick, and this clearly implies that in his lifetime he was undoubtedly held in high reverence by his contemporaries and immediate generations to follow. This loyalty manifested itself in propaganda that all but eliminated the presence and influence of Palladius. Interestingly, these passages also indicate that the Roman Church tradition was firmly in place, “one tonsure, one celebration of mass, one Easter” It is fair to conclude from this that Patrick’s mission had deep long lasting impact and was far more significant than that of Palladius.

While academics often give credit to both these men for the introduction of Christianity the more common view is that Patrick was indeed the true Apostle of Christ regardless of papal appointment or not. There is still good reason to debate the timeline of Palladius and Patrick, with ‘possibility’ being a significant part of the deliberations. By considering the surviving documentation, The Chronicles Of Prosper Of Aquitaine, The Annals Of The Irish Churches and Patrick’s own writings, it can be seen that the papal commission of Palladius coincided with the mission of Patrick though only the latter reaps commendation.

To track the short timeline of Palladius’ mission we turn to the ‘Chronicles of Prosper of Aquitaine’, “Ad Scottos in Christum credentes ordinatus a papa Caelestina Palladius primus episcopus mittitur”, Palladius was sent to Ireland by Pope Celestine as the first bishop to the Irish who believe in Christ in 431 AD. In 434 Prosper again wrote regarding Palladius, that Pope Celestine ‘having ordained a bishop for the Irish, while he labours to keep the Roman island [Britain] Catholic, has also made the barbarian island [Ireland] Christian’ in his Contra Collatorem. These two passages place Palladius in Ireland evangelising to the Irish from 431 onwards. In Ireland, church Annals record Palladius’ arrival. The Annals of Ulster show Palladius, having been approved by Pope Celestine, is sent to Ireland in the consulship of Aetius and Valerius in 431 while the Annals of the Four Masters say that Palladius landed in the county of Leinster in 430. With these pieces of evidence added to the writings of Prosper it verifies that Palladius was in Ireland fulfilling his papal commission in the early 430’s.

In order to establish Saint Patrick’s time in Ireland, the surviving sources are principally recorded internally by the Irish church Annals. The Annals of the Four Masters also go on to record that Patrick arrived in 432 and proceeded to baptize and bless the Irish. The Annals of Ulster confirm that Patrick reached Ireland in 432 the ninth year of the reign of Theodosius Mino. These church writings firmly place Patrick arriving in Ireland and converting the people at the same time as Palladius.

To corroborate this we can garner some facts from Patrick’s own writings in his Letter to Coroticus demanding the release of enslaved, by Tyrannus, Irish Christians and his later life biographical Confessio both of which survive in the Book Of Armagh.

According to RPC Hanson, there are two men who could have gone by the name Tyrannus, the son of a man called Cuned from North Wales who had a child possibly named Coroticus or the King of Dumbarton on the coast of Scotland. Either of these still place Patrick in Ireland writing this communication in the first half of the fifth century. In his Epistola, Patrick mentioned “…with many thousand solidi, to redeem baptized captives…” This solidi was a gold coin reintroduced by Constantine the Great in 312 and remained in circulation throughout the supremacy of the Roman Empire. The fact is that the coins were last minted in 411 so circulation had diminished. The further into the fifth century, the less likely it is that Patrick would refer to the coin in his letter. Passages of Saint Patrick Confessio have an eschatological tone and it is obvious from this that his mission was based around the fall of Rome which occurred in 410. R.P.C. Hanson states that this tone places Patrick in Ireland in the early half of the fifth century. The information gathered from the surviving evidence of the Confession of Saint Patrick and his Letter to Coroticus points to him writing these letters from Ireland in the first half of the fifth century. The same time that Palladius was converting the Irish to Christianity.

Palladius mission in Ireland is clearly recorded internally by the Annals of the Irish churches and externally by the chronicles of Prosper of Aquitaine. These sources place Palladius converting the Irish to Christianity from 431 onwards. There is reliance on deductive reasoning in determining a timeframe for Patrick’s mission based on his own writings. The answers gathered from those deductions point to the first half of the fifth century and corroborate Patrick’s mission with the recorded dates of the Annals of the Four Masters and the Annals of Ulster. By not getting immersed in the theories of Patrician scholars and remaining within the confinement of surviving evidence, it is provable that the mission of Palladius to convert the Irish to Christianity must have been at the same period of time as that of Saint Patrick.

With Thanks To:

Dr. Liam Irwin.

Joyce’s Paralysis.

Paralysis In James Joyce’sDubliners.’

Joyce’s characters in Dubliners (1914) were real and highly symbolic of the paralytic background of Joyce’s Dublin. In this essay this premise will be explored by comparing the characters in two stories, Sisters and The Dead, as instances of the seriatim themes of incarceration, oppression and mortality. Joyce uses Dublin as a paralytic backdrop for his paralytic protagonists each enduring life’s journey in a city of living dead, “…his obsession for accuracy in his depiction of his native Dublin was close to being fanatical…” Joyce’s Dublin, a city that he professed to love, but ‘a city of the living dead’ is the dark milieu accentuating the paralysis of its inhabitants throughout all the stories in Dubliners, “The word paralysis was both an epigraph and an epitaph for its spiritual moribundity.”

Throughout the stories we meet a series of individuals at moments of epiphany, a brush with death that causes an awakening. As is introduced in The Sisters and concluded upon in The Dead which bookend this series of short stories about moments of epiphany brought about by paralysis; “Joyce used the term (‘paralysis’) to denote a condition of spiritual torpor caused by what he perceived to be the oppressive religiosity of Catholic culture in Ireland”. He elucidates this dominant theme of despair, resignation and loss resulting from the inevitability of spiritual death, caused by life’s experiences, culminating in physical death from his first story ‘The Sisters’; “I said softly to myself the word paralysis” . (Dub p.3) It is this ‘journey of life’ that makes his characters real. They live the lives of ordinary people often oblivious to the impact of tragedy and environment in the shaping of their lives and thinking. Significantly, spiritual death according to Joyce is defined as “people who live meaningless lives of inactivity are the real dead” . Joyce did intended is stories to deal with paralysis when he said, “I call the series Dubliners to betray the soul of that hemiplegia or paralysis which many consider a city” (Letters I 55).

In the opening story ‘The Sisters’, a young boy begins to evaluate his relationship with a catholic priest, Fr. Flynn. He once classed the priest as a friend and mentor, “I think he said more to me than anyone else” . Afterwards he distances himself from the death of the cleric. This could imply an event in the past that instilled fear, the source of the boy’s paralysis. This event is alluded to by a distrustful Mr Cotter, a character symbolic of post-famine working class religious cynicism, who clearly suspects something of an ominous nature “there was something queer, something uncanny about him” (Dub p.7) . He and further questions the relationship between the ageing priest and the young boy, “…..let a young lad run about and play with young lads of his own age and not be…..” (Dub p.4) The implication of a sinister association between the priest and the boy is endorsed as the boy hangs his head throughout the “unfinished sentences” (Dub/p.4) Subsequently the boy ‘dreams’ of the priest ‘confessing’, with moist lips, a simoniac sin for which the boy absolves. The boy further alludes to his ‘epiphany’ when he admits to feeling ‘a sensation of freedom as if I had been freed from something by his death” (Dub p.5).

In ‘The Sisters’ each of the main characters are symbolic of elements of their very real environment and consequently ‘humanising’ the primary themes introduced by their milieu, incarceration, oppression and mortality, of Joyce’s Dubliners. Eliza Flynn is incarcerated by denial about her brother’s mental condition and rationalises it, “the duties of the priesthood were too much for him.” (Dub p.9). Nannie Flynn is a voiceless, oppressed, character who is an early example of such characters throughout Joyce’s writing. Rev. Fr. James Flynn, signifying mortality, his unpredictable behaviour and spiritual paralysis and death instils fear in the boy about the mortal world in which he will have to contend.

These three themes (incarceration, oppression and mortality) are suggested throughout Dubliners and are established in the final story (Novella) ‘The Dead’. The events take place on the feast of the ‘Epiphany’ and the main protagonist Gabriel Conroy immediately demonstrates his impetuosity by expressing his thoughts, “I suppose we will be going to your wedding one of these fine days with your young man, eh? (Dub p.140) But, to his embarrassment, his spontaneity is greeted with ‘bitterness’. This impulsiveness continues to emerge as Gabriel expresses his ‘contempt’ for Ireland. For example, expressing his desire to holiday abroad, when he delivers his speech about Irish hospitality and how people must not linger on the past and the dead but live and rejoice with the living. After he relays a story about a horse that walked in circles he notices his wife, Gretta, is somehow enchanted by a song. It is later revealed that her romantic preoccupation is not with him but with a former lover. He feels deceived and distressed and the revelation causes him to reflect on his own mortality because he did not ‘feel’ the love that his predecessor felt from Gretta and therefore he did not live life to the full. The salient reality of ‘we must all join the dead’ and may not be remembered. The events of this story demonstrate a paralytic routine, speechmaking, dining, dancing, everything in circles just like the anecdotal horse and this tedium is the source of life without experience or meaning. Gretta is perceived by Gabriel as incarcerated, Gabriel himself is oppressed by his own honesty and he is forced to face his own mortality by his wife’s revelations. He realises that he is as mortal as the snow that covers him and all the people of Ireland both dead and alive.

These two stories, as examples of all stories in Dubliners, not only outline the ‘modus operandi’ of the author, “paralysis is death” as defined in The Sisters and explicated in The Dead. As the stories progress the motifs of paralysis, epiphany, betrayal and religion are clearly established and defined and the themes of incarceration, oppression and mortality are crystallised. The characters are each representative of their environments and influences and as such are both symbolic and real.

Primary Source.

James Joyce


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Golden Age Of Irish Art.

Golden Age Of Irish Art.

This paper is a short exploration of ‘The golden age of Irish art’ (c.650 – 950 CE) with consideration to the art style of the period, its various elements and its origins in antiquity. “The early eight century saw the perfection of Irish art.” The Romans had left Ireland two centuries past but had left behind a highly creative ‘La Tene’ pastiche relying heavily on Greek models that would never entirely vanish from insular Irish art.

Following the collapse of the Roman Empire, early medieval Ireland, like other regions of north-west Europe, saw a dramatic development of independent kingdoms; “The ideology which underpinned these kingdoms was constructed from a mixture of native traditions and systems of knowledge from the Mediterranean world acquired through Christianity.”

The ‘golden age’ was a time when Religious Monasteries were flourishing across Ireland. These monastic settlements, combined with Romanesque techniques, influenced the aesthetic beauty of artistic architecture and design defining their impact as an imperative part of cultural life. This influence is immediately obvious even in self-adornment, “The pennacular brooch – a form adopted earlier from the Romans – became the high status garment par excellence.”

Art was very much existent in the minds and hearts of these primeval people and it manifested itself in illuminated manuscripts, metalwork and stone sculpture. Ireland was saturated in examples of the artistic achievements of this culture. Buildings and high crosses, precious jewellery, ornaments and adornments, manuscripts with intricate and sophisticated detail using materials and tools which were, by modern standards, primitive yet, in the hands of nascent man fashioned such complex work that it remains a perplexity as to how such exceptional creation was achieved.

Fine metalwork, manuscript painting and sculpture by the mid-8th Century had come to a level of excellence demonstrable with the appearance of certain pieces such as the Tara Brooch which reveals that Irish artists were inspired and imaginatively fertile; “The form of this brooch is in fact one of the finest representatives of shapes composed with a complete coherence – an ‘endless knot’ – of geometrical ratio.”

The artisan feat of elaborate decorations of circular arcs, straight lines and geometric patterns remains to defy explanation or definition but implies a long term development in craftsmanship dating back into antiquity. It further infers that this complex form of design was prevalent across Irish artistry; “That form shares the principles of design which were employed regularly in the creation of early high crosses of Ireland, and the magnificent illuminations in early insular gospels manuscripts.”

A further example of this artistic expertise can be seen in the design complexities of both the Derrynaflan Paten; “The Paten is an extremely complex structure consisting of many separately manufactured components” and The Ardagh Chalices. These are examples of a range of elaborate techniques of ornamentation based on imported inspiration yet customised to a developing Irish distinctiveness; “The elaboration of the filigree, the stamped ornaments of the side of the paten, the glass settings, and the knitted mesh of its rim and the organisation of the ornament place the paten clearly within the same aesthetic as the Ardagh Chalice.” The Derrynaflan and Ardagh silver chalices are strikingly similar.

Both are complicated in their design and construction and, “What is obvious about these chalices is the essentially Irish character of their manufacture and design.” These chalices are evidence of the fading Romanesque influence to make way for a unique developing Irishness in artistic pursuits; “The native metal working traditions enjoyed a new vogue, but in a modified form.” The commissioning of extravagant sacred objects such as the chalices from Derrynaflan and Ardagh demonstrates not only a desire for artistic splendour but an unparalleled ability to achieve it.

Some of the best examples of early Christian fine art were the Irish illuminated manuscripts dating from the mid 6th Century CE. These beautifully illustrated books were produced by scribes and artist monks in the scriptoriums of abbeys and monasteries all over Ireland. The monks made little money and no acknowledgement from their work but the Church had no hesitation in heaping money on the works of art themselves; “materials in regular use were gold dust, foil or leaf, silver and other precious metals and expensive natural colour pigments.” The accomplishment of Manuscript painting as an art form remains enigmatic.

The Book of Kells (Leabhar Cheanannais) brings together the traditions of animal ornamentation, interlacing and scrollwork combined with both decorative text and narrative scenes. It was created by Celtic monks and is a masterwork of calligraphy and epitomises the pinnacle of insular illumination. “The manuscript itself contains a clue indicating that those who produced it held Saint Columba in the highest veneration.” The curious feature about the Book Of Kells is that it is written with a unique ‘Irish’ hand defined as ‘half uncial, derived from Roman cursive, an advanced and uniquely developed form; ‘the Irish Hand attained a perfection and beauty which still dazzles the eye.’ The full, rotund form of the half-uncial was typically used in the transcription of Latin tracts notably, in the earliest known Irish manuscript, the Cathach, and, magisterially, in the Book of Kells. From this we can see why the ‘Golden Age of Irish Art’ was a carefully nurtured era of artistic perfection and excellence.

This concept is further enforced by The Book of Armagh, a near complete copy of the New Testament, with its sophisticated and elegant pen and ink illustrations; The text is written in two columns in a fine pointed insular minuscule’ and though it lacks the artistic enthusiasm of the Book of Kells it remains an exquisite masterpiece of Irish medieval art. “(It) shows the other side of artistic activity from the exuberance of Kells.”

Throughout the 8th Century the most affluent and honourable members of society adorned themselves with precious metals befitting their status. The Ballinderry Brooch (c.600 CE) and The Tara Brooch (c.700 CE) were both ambitious pieces of their time and worthy specimens of the magnificence of the art form of early medieval jewellery making. Clearly the advancing design complexities combined with fading Romanesque influences replaced with Anglo Saxon inspiration had occurred over the century between the two pieces. The development of craftsmanship is clearly visible.

The Ballinderry Brooch was an efficient and primarily functional pennacular piece which had an incomplete circular clasp at the top and was used as a clothes fastener. Its highly ornate design implies its use by the elite of medieval society. The Ballinderry Brooch clearly marks the beginning of a process that would culminate, over a Century, with the creation of The Tara Brooch.

The progressive artistic golden age was fuelled by new tastes and desires, “New types of objects had come into fashion; pennacular brooches decorated with spiral scrolls and enamels; hand-pins, sometimes enamelled or decorated with millefiori.” The Tara Brooch, found near the River Boyne in County Meath is consistent with the progressing Irish design; “Like many early high crosses and Gospel illuminated pages, the ‘Tara’ Brooch has a form consisting of circular arcs and straight lines.” Both these pieces yet again show Ireland’s artistic individuality emerging and developing to an advanced and idiosyncratically Irish stage.

Celtic High Crosses are a form of functional free standing sculpture which were mostly constructed on sites of religious significance. These crosses fall into two different groups, firstly there are crosses decorated with circular patterns and the second group being those decorated with Biblical scenes. It is still uncertain as to whether these crosses were painted but it is most likely that they were. With the addition of colour many of the designs on the crosses would have greater clarity.

The ‘High (Celtic) Crosses’ demonstrate a high point in Irish sculpture and the oldest, estimated 9th Century, are located at Ahenny in Co. Tipperary. The North and South crosses are carved with intricate geometrical Celtic designs and also Biblical scenes on the base. Scholar of early Irish art Franoise Henry, inspired at Ahenny, introduced her publication on Irish High Crosses with a chapter on ‘General Features’, where she offered an unchallenged description of the form of the monuments; “These high crosses are self-contained monuments, articulated into various elements: a large, somewhat cubic or pyramidal base, a separate block of stone indented with a deep rectangular hollow at the top, into which the stem of the cross can fit securely. The cross itself has a nearly square or rectangular section. The shaft tapers slightly towards the top. The stone ring which often connects the arms is usually in open-work, but in some cases it has been left as a sort of solid wheel. It is not necessarily always present, but occurs often enough to be considered as a characteristic feature of the Irish crosses.” Her writings clearly indicate that, although High Crosses are found across Europe, the Irish High cross is both distinctive and unique.

This paper through exploration of the output of ‘The Golden Age Of Irish Art’ has shown that the early eight century artisans accomplished the perfection of Irish art. By looking at an evolving innovative artistic culture in Ireland, with its origins in antiquity, traced through its metalwork craftsmanship, manuscript artistry, jewellery making and sculpture we can see that Ireland was not lacking in individuality and was feasibly a more cutting-edge artistic culture than other European countries.


1. Ryan, Michael, Irish Archaeology Illustrated, Town House Dublin, (2006) P.150.

2. Picts And Prehistory: Cultural Resource Management In Early Medieval Scotland. Stephen T. Driscoll. World Archaeology, Vol. 30, No. 1, The Past In The Past: The Reuse Of Ancient Monuments (Jun., 1998), P.142. Taylor & Francis, Ltd.

3. Form Of The Tara Brooch. Robert D. Stevick. The Journal Of The Royal Society Of Antiquaries Of Ireland, Vol. 128 (1998), P.5

4. The Menagerie Of The Derrynaflan Paten. Ryan, M. Irish Arts Review Yearbook, Vol. 11 (1995), P.84

5. Ryan M., ‘Some Aspects Of Sequence And Style In The Metalwork Of Eighth-And Ninth Century Ireland’ In M Ryan (Ed.) Ireland And Insular Art AD 500-1200, Royal Irish Academy, Dublin 1987, P.68.

6. Early Irish Chalices. Michael Ryan. Irish Arts Review (1984-1987), Vol. 1, No. 1 (Spring, 1984), P21.

7. Medieval Artists (C.1100-1400) Www.Visual-Arts-Cork/History-Of-Art/Medieval-Artists.Htm Accessed: 25.03.2010

8. Paul Meyvaert, The Book Of Kells And Iona, The Art Bulletin, Vol. 71, No. 1 (Mar., 1989), College Art Association. P6.

9. Leen, Brendan, Four Centuries Of Printing In The Irish Character Http://Www.Spd.Dcu.Ie/Main/Index.Shtml Accessed 28.03.2011

10. Bruce M. Metzger, The Early Versions Of The New Testament, Oxford University Press, 1977, P.305.

11. Irish High Crosses Www.Megalithicireland.Com/Highcrosses Accessed 28.03.2011

12. Irish High Crosses: Some Evidence From The Plainer Examples Dorothy Kelly: The Journal Of The Royal Society Of Antiquaries Of Ireland, Vol. 116 (1986), P.51

Media And Suicide.

 Click HereTo Go Directly To The Headline Site.

‘Headline’ is Ireland’s national media monitoring program for mental health and suicide, working to promote responsible and accurate coverage of mental health and suicide related issues within the Irish media. Specifically, headline aims to highlight mental health and suicide issues and address the stigma attached to emotional distress and mental illness through the promotion of responsible media coverage.

Headline is funded by the HSE’s national office for suicide prevention as part of the reach out strategy, and is managed by Shine; supporting people affected by mental ill health. We are guided by a steering group constructed of a number of national agencies concerned with suicide prevention.

The media have a significant role to play in promoting positive mental health and actively reducing stigma and discrimination towards people with mental health difficulties. With one in four people experiencing mental and/or behavioural disorders during their lifetime and everyone knowing someone who has been touched by suicide; tackling stigma is an issue for everyone.

Copycat suicides account for approximately 6% of all suicides and this imitative behaviour can follow certain types of news reports and under portrayals of suicide. We wouldn’t have a multimillion euro advertising market in this country if people didn’t think you could influence someone else’s behaviour through the media.

Those most affected seemed beyond the age of 24 and the elderly. Ireland has fifth highest youth suicide in Europe. The risk is greater when there is a sense of identification with the deceased, for example, a celebrity suicide or a fictional character that the vulnerable person emphasizes and identifies with. Romanticizing suicide as a heroic act is an acceptable strategy for dealing with the problem.

Headline monitors all national and regional print media daily. They search publications for a list of search words and monitored content, tone, and imagery of the articles. Headline will contact editors and journalists directly through letters, e-mails, meetings and phone calls. Headline action public complaints about the media directly our with the be BCC (Broadcasting Complaints Commission). They run training sessions for working media, media communication and journalism students.

Headline provides weekly e-mailed headline news highlights on mental health and suicide. People find this a useful way to keep up on all the relevant coverage about suicide and mental health. Headline sponsors an annual category in this media awards for students studying journalism are media communications.

A guide for journalists and brought casters reporting on schizophrenia stress such considerations as proper use of language and terminology, giving information, dispelling the myths around mental health problems.

A new study by Dr. Sally Johnson of the University of North Carolina found that people with a mental health illness are no more likely than anyone else to commit acts of violence, however mental health illness combined with substance abuse does increase the risk of future violence. These findings challenge the perception some people have, and which you often see reflected in media coverage, that mental illness alone makes someone more dangerous. The researchers carried out a statistical analysis of data collected as part of a study involving over 34,000 people. The results showed – if a person has severe mental illness without substance abuse and history of violence, he or she has the same chances of being violent during the next three years as at any other person in the general population.

The team found that when mental illness is combined with substance abuse, the risk for future violent reaches a level of statistical significance. However, even mental illness combined with substance abuse ranks only ninth on the studies list of the top 10 predictors of future violence. The high-ranking predictors, listed in order of their predictive value, are:

  1. Age: younger people are more likely to commit acts of violence.
  2. History of violence.
  3. Sex; males are more prone to violence.
  4. History of juvenile detention.
  5. Divorce our separation in the past year.
  6. History of physical abuse.
  7. Parental criminal history.
  8. Unemployment for the past year.
  9. Mental illness combined with substance abuse.
  10. Victimization in the past year.

The data shows it is simplistic as well as inaccurate to say the cause of violence among mentally ill individuals is the mental illness itself. Details of these findings are published in the Journal, Archives of General Psychiatry by Dr. Sally Johnson of the University of North Carolina.

The words anorexic and bulimia are adjectives and not nouns and therefore should not be used to describe the person for example ‘Mary is an anorexic’. That’s use implies that Mary is defined by her anorexia; other aspects of her personality are being ignored. It is better to say that ‘Mary has anorexia’ or ‘Peter has bulimia’ and so on. Eating disorders are a recognized mental illness. When referring to mental illness, there’s a great need to be mindful of issues around stigmatize nation. Recognize eating disorders in males. One in 10 people with an eating disorder are male. Making eating disorders a female only subject makes it harder for males to come forward to get the help they need.

Unlike televised suicide stories, print or online suicide stories can be saved, reread, displayed and studied. However, new technologies such as portable DVD, mobile phones, laptops and handheld computers and iPods make information easier to access at any given time.

TV drama does affect suicide rates. An episode of Casualty contained a storyline about a paracetamol overdose. Research showed that self poisoning increased by 17% in the following week and 9% in the second week. 20% of self poisoning patients who had seen the program said that it had influenced their decision to attempt suicide.

Copycat effect in print; for example, in the book Final Exit a guide to suicide for terminally ill persons, asphyxiation is the recommended means of suicide. In the year that this book was published the number of suicides by asphyxiation in New York rose from 8 to 33. Furthermore, a copy of Final Exit was found at the premises of 27% of these suicides.

Impact of Austrian media guidelines on suicide; a sharp increase in the number of subway suicides in Vienna was linked to a dramatic increase in their coverage in the media. The Austrian Association for Suicide Prevention launched a media campaign to change the amount and nature of press coverage of subway suicides. After the campaign the Austrian press either did not report the subway suicides at all, or cover them in short reports in the inside pages. During the years of sensation of news coverage there were up to nine subway suicides per six months. After the sensational coverage ceased, there were between one and four subway suicides per six-month intervals.

Quick guide for reporting a suicide: avoid phrases like a successful suicide, and unsuccessful suicide, commit suicide, suicide victim, just a cry for help, suicide prone person or epidemic of suicide. Always use phrases like: a suicide, died by suicide, a suicide attempt, take his/her life, kill oneself, a complete suicide, and a person at risk of suicide. Other key points to remember when reporting suicide are as follows;

  1. Avoid simplistic explanations for suicide.
  2. Remember the effect on survivors of suicide.
  3. Look after yourself when writing about suicide.
  4. Don’t romanticize or glorify suicide.
  5. Don’t imply that there are positive results to be gained by suicide.
  6. Seek expert advice.
  7. Use appropriate language.
  8. Include contact details for sources of help and information.
  9. Challenge the common myths about suicide.
  10. Avoid use of graphic images of suicide.

Headline is a one-stop resource for the media. It offers helpful tips for writing about mental health and suicide. It is fully informed in Irish and international media guidelines and has all necessary information on mental health and suicide related issues. It offers useful links for organizations related to media, mental health and suicide. It also offers access to a web site.

What is The Broadcasting Complaints Commission?

The broadcasting complaints commission is an independent statutory body. Its task is to consider and adjudicate upon complaints about material broadcast, both programs and advertisements, in relation to:

  1. Impartiality in news and current affairs.
  2. Taste and decency; code of program standards.
  3. Law and order.
  4. Privacy of an individual.
  5. Sandra.
  6. Published matter in relation to RTE and Ministerial prohibitions.
  7. General advertising codes.
  8. Children’s advertising codes.
  9. Any viewer or listener can refer complaints to this organization if they are not happy about broadcasting content on any Irish broadcasting service under any of these categories.

The Press Council and Press Ombudsman: The Press Council of Ireland and the Office of the Press Ombudsman were established in January 2008 and it is an independent press complaint mechanism that is quick, fair and free. The objectives of the Press Council And Press Ombudsman and are to provide the public with an independent forum for resolving complaints about the press, to resolve all of complaints quickly, fairly and free of charge. It also aims to maintain the highest standards of Irish journalism and journalistic ethics and to defend the freedom of the press and the freedom of the public to be informed. For a complaint to be examined by the office of the press ombudsman and it must breach the code of practice for newspapers and periodicals, and the person making the complaint must show that they have been directly affected by, and involved in the article or behaviour in question.


Irish Newspapers.

Irish Newspapers.

Independent News And Media are owners of the following publications; Irish Independent, Sunday Independent, Evening Herald, Sunday World, The Star, The Farmers Journal, The Kerry man, The Cork Man, The Drogheda Independent, The Dundalk Argus, The Fingal Independent. The Irish Times trust are owners of the Irish Times, the Irish Field, And Examiner publications are owners of the Irish Examiner, The Evening Echo, The Sunday Business Post, The Waterford News and Star, The Kingdom, The Sligo Weekender, The Nationalist and Leinster Times and The Kildare Nationalist. Some of these also run Irish versions of UK owned publications.

Recent readership figures suggest that the leading Irish newspapers are the Irish Independent followed by the Irish Times and the Irish Examiner. In the tabloid market the main papers are the Irish Daily Star, Irish Daily Mirror, Irish Sun and Irish Daily Mail in that order.

Leading Sunday titles are; The Sunday Independent, The Sunday World, The Sunday Business Post, The Sunday Times, Irish News of the World, Irish Sunday Mirror, Irish Mail On Sunday. Another leading title is The Irish Farmers Journal.

Each newspaper will offer readers and advertisers a breakdown of its readership which would include figures of local national or international readers. It will also inform as to where its main readership is in terms of class and if they are educated to third or postgraduate levels. It will also give a breakdown on urban dwellers, homeowners, professionals, self-employed, managers and even car owners.

These Demographic figures will offer information on the purchasing power of its readership and also offer statistics as to how and where money is being spent.

The press in Ireland is regulated by a number of bodies including; The Press Council of Ireland and Ombudsman, The Institute of Advertising Practitioners And Journalistic Codes Of Conduct as supervised and controlled by The National Union of Journalists in Ireland (NUJ).

The press industry has a code of practice which demands truth and accuracy, distinguishing fact and common, fairness and honesty and respect for rights. It demands privacy, protection of sources, court reporting, and elimination of prejudice. It also demands to children be protected and in the event of a breach of any of these codes that the newspaper responsible publish any of the decisions of The Press Ombudsman or Press Council.

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