It was the tear heard around the world. In one split (ahem) second Sinead O’Connor defiantly threw her figurative middle fingers in the air, lost a record amount of fans, and got banned from Saturday Night Live with her protest of the Catholic church. Many of the flock still haven’t forgiven her even now, twenty-five years later.
Ireland’s Easter Rising took place over 100 years ago, so one could be forgiven for assuming that all those who lived through it are now long gone. Interestingly enough that assumption is wrong. Father Joseph Mallin was only two when his father was executed by the English for being one of the leaders of the insurrection. Today he is 104, and as of this writing he is not only still alive, but he is also still fighting to set the records straight about his father.
In 1918 it was nearly impossible to get the Catholic church, politicians, working class citizens, labor unions, suffragettes, Unionists, and Irish Nationalists to join together for anything. Ireland was still reeling and recovering from the Easter Rising of 1916, which most of these groups were still arguing over (as they are still doing today), but there was one proposal that unified them all – the Home Rule/Conscription law. Continue reading
Dame Alice Kyteler was a very powerful woman in Kilkenny, Ireland, but that power came at a hefty price. She had many friends, but she also had many bitter enemies. She disappeared around this time in 1324, after being on the wrong end of the first witch trial in Ireland.
I usually stay away from religious holidays in general, but today is too good to pass up. Today is the feast day of St. Disbode – a 7th century Irish missionary. He was a bit of a hermit when he was not spreading his faith, but he traveled on a mission to Germany to convert the population. Legend has it that while in Germany, wine suddenly began flowing from his pilgrim’s staff and this convinced the Germans not necessarily to convert, but to create a thriving wine industry.
That’s a better reason than many for turning someone into a saint. Eat, drink, and be merry today – especially if you can find yourself some German wine…and if you’re a fan of Hildegard Von Bingen, throw some of her music in there too. She wrote a vita in his honor.
St. Patrick’s Day. Every year people celebrate this day by punishing their livers and making poor wardrobe choices, with stereotypical and sometimes truly awful T-Shirts. The fake accents yelling out over loud music get worse and worse as the pints keep coming and if you’re lucky, you may get a little Irish parade or traditional music in there somewhere too. It is not the solemn celebration one would associate with a Saint, but rather one that is decidedly sacrilegious in the eyes of the church. And you know what? I absolutely support it, (with the exception of the racist and stereotypical garb and the fake accents,) because anything that removes the original intent of this holiday is just fine by me. After all, this is not a celebration that has anything at all to do with snakes, but rather it is one that celebrates the defeat of free thinkers and ancient traditions. St. Patrick (who was NOT Irish, by the way) has the dubious claim to fame of driving all the snakes out of Ireland…but science has confirmed that there were no snakes at the time. Of course, Christianity uses the metaphor of snakes to talk about evil temptations and the devil himself….and following that metaphor, Patrick driving the snakes from Ireland means he drove out what he considered to be the wickedness – he conquered Pagan Ireland.
Imbolc, also called Oimealg by the Druids, is the festival of the lactating sheep. Yes, you heard that right. It is derived from the Gaelic word oimelc meaning ewes milk. At this time of the year, many herd animals have either given birth for the first time of the year or they are just about to. It’s the first breath of Spring and it marks the center point of the dark half of the year. It is the festival of the Maiden and from February 1st to March 21st, it is her season to prepare for growth and renewal. On Feb. 1st, Brighid’s snake emerges from the womb of the Earth Mother to test the weather (Ground Hog Day anyone?) and in many places the first flowers begin to pierce the grounds of winter and start to bloom. Brighid’s Crosses are made and exchanged as symbols of protection and prosperity in the coming year.Home hearth fires are put out and re-lit, and candles are lit and placed in each room of the house to honor the re-birth of the Sun. It is a festival of fire and renewal and one of the first celebrations of Spring.