Monday, 30 July 2012

My Nikon D7000 is working a treat

I know this is not entirely related to Mythical Ireland, but my Nikon D7000 will, I hope, be used to capture many nice images for the website and other projects. I wanted to share two images that I took with the camera in the past couple of days. It is a nice piece of kit.

The first is a picture of some houses on the outskirts of Drogheda, overlooking the Boyne river. It was taken at ISO100, with an F stop of about F11, and an exposure of 30 seconds.

The second is this picture of Newgrange, again at ISO100, and F11. The exposures on the D7000 seem to show better detail compared to my D200. In some pictures there is both a bright sky and a bright foreground. Impressive.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Flowing water and colourful stones make for nice photos

Stones and flowing water . . . at Townley Hall, near Drogheda
Even with relatively short exposures, like a half a second, the moving
water takes on a misty look.

A stick and a leaf in the stream.

The stream is very shallow, only inches deep.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Study looks at social networking of Irish epic The Táin

Researchers have used mathematics to conclude that ancient Irish epic, Táin Bó Cúailnge, may be more closely based on real-life societies than previously thought.

A drawing for Thomas Kinsella's translation of The Táin
by the late Louis Le Brocquy. 
The study takes a numerical look at how interactions between characters in the ancient Táin Bó Cúailnge compare with real social networks.

Two Irish academics compared the social network structures in the story to each other, to real social networks and to fictitious societies such as in Harry Potter and Marvel comics.

The study by Padraig Mac Carron and Ralph Kenna of the applied mathematics research centre at Coventry University, England was published in the European physics journal, EPL, yesterday.

Read the full story here

Friday, 27 July 2012

Structure of Kerry island might have been due to medieval tsunami

THE POSSIBILITY that the south Kerry coast has over the centuries been struck by long tsunami waves of over 50ft in events that have lived on in folk memory has been raised by an archaeologist.

Beginish and Church Islands viewed from Valentia Island.
Photo: Reencaheragh Cottage
Cross-checking folk tales with archaeological and geological evidence, Alan R Hayden, director of more than 200 medieval excavations since 1987 in Ireland, said the grouping of Valentia, Beginish and Church islands may bear the scars of earthquakes and tsunami-type waves in medieval times.

His research is reported in the current edition of the Journal of the Kerry Archaeological and Historical Society.

See full story here:

Monday, 23 July 2012

New exhibition to feature pictures of Newgrange

The major historical landmarks of the Boyne Valley - along with a few lesser known ones - will feature in an evocative new exhibition by accomplished local photographer Pat Burns opening next week in Drogheda.

The Boyne with swans at Newgrange by Pat Burns
The exhibition of highly atmospheric black and white prints is the result of five years of meticulous observation and many pre-dawn forays to catch the magical early morning light.

The exhibition, at the Abbey Gallery in Dominic Street, will feature rich moody images of Newgrange, the Hill of Slane, Monasterboice, Mellifont, Dunmoe Castle, Bective Abbey, Tara, Trim Castle, the cairns at Loughcrew and the standing stones at Baltray.

“For over 5,000 years, builders have left their mark in wonderful inscribed stone buildings and monuments across this ancient and historical countryside. It is a rich and royal landscape, home to high kings and druids, Christian saints, monks and monasteries,” says Pat, who hails from Laytown.

“The connecting thread in the landscape is the River Boyne from which the Valley takes its name.”

“The exhibition is an attempt to capture in black and white photographic images not only the beauty of the landscape of the Boyne Valley, but also the power, sense of mystery and atmosphere that still inhabits the place.”

“There's something palpable that still seems to cling to and live on in the castle ruins, in the high crosses and monasteries, the trees, standing stones, ancient mounds and along the river Boyne itself.”

Adds Pat: “The exhibition is not meant to be an in depth pictorial record of the Boyne Valley. Rather it is a personal visual homage to this place of myth, mystery and beauty.”

Pat is a self-taught photographer with a particular interest in documentary and landscape work. He has recorded many aspects of life and community in Laytown where he has lived for almost thirty years.

The exhibition will be opened by Anthony Murphy, co-author of Island Of The Setting Sun: In Search of Ireland's Ancient Astronomers, on Thursday July 26 at 7.30pm.

The Mound of the Hostages at Tara

Cairn S at Loughcrew by Pat Burns

The Hag's Chair at Cairn T, Loughcrew

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Beautiful Dowth winter shots from Anne Marie Moroney

For some years, a row of evergreen trees growing to the southwest of Dowth has gradually blocked the light from the setting sun at Winter Solstice entering the southern chamber of the Neolithic cairn. However, a couple of years ago, with the permission of the land owner, there was some trimming of the trees which allowed sunlight back into the chamber - with glorious results, as can be seen in these photos, which were taken by Anne Marie Moroney in early January 2011. Anne Marie, author of 'Dowth - Winter Sunsets', has been studying the phenomenon for years.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

New novel featuring Newgrange just published

A new novel about Newgrange called 'Priestess of the Fire Temple - A Druid's Tale' has been published. The author is Ellen Evert Hopman, a well known druid leader and long-time contributor to the Irish-Stones mailing list. Here are some blurbs about this new novel:

Through intriguing characters we encounter sagas of war, love, life, and death, and are expertly introduced to herb lore along with other insights into Druidic knowledge that will whet the appetite for more. Riveting.

—Carmel Diviney, Bandruí agus Filidh, heritage activist with and Tara Skryne Preservation Group in Dublin, Ireland

This tale of the spiritual awakening of a young woman, breaking free of the expectations that her ancient society imposes, is a master class in storytelling. 
—Raymond MacSuibhne, Pagan Federation Ireland National Coordinator and lifelong resident of County Cill Dara (Cell Daro), Ireland 
Herbal lore, ancient Celtic ways, Druidic secrets, magical workings, and much more are woven into a tale that will touch your heart and grace your life. 
—Susun S. Weed, wise woman, herbalist, and author of Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year 
A captivating and fast-paced story that sweeps the reader up in the mystery and turmoil of fifth-century Ireland … The best in the series so far. Definitely a must-read! 
—Morgan Daimler, author of By Land, Sea, and Sky: A Selection of Re-Paganized Prayers and Charms from the Carmina Gadelica 
Romance, royalty, cattle raids, herbalism, some wonderful poetry … I felt as if I were living at that time. Thumping good plot, as well as a “teaching” book. Couldn’t put it down! 
—Jane T. Sibley, Ph.D., author of The Hammer of the Smith and The Divine Thunderbolt: Missile of the Gods 
A treasure-trove of fascinating herbal lore and prayers of old, sure to delight anyone interested in the old Celtic ways. 
—Andrew Theitic, editor, The Witches’ Almanac, Ltd. 


Ellen Evert Hopman was vice president of the Henge of Keltria, an international Druid fellowship, for nine years. She is the founder of the Whiteoak Internet mailing list (an online Druid ethics study group) and is a co-founder and former co-chief of the Order of the Whiteoak (Ord Na Darach Gile). She lives and writes in an oak forest in Massachusetts.

Environmental impact assessment and the demolition of national monuments

New regulations introduce an important change in the way environmental impact assessment is carried out in Ireland in order to comply with a ruling of the European Court. In future environmental impact assessment will be the responsibility of the competent authority that will come to a decision after receiving an environmental impact statement from the developer. The change means that from now on the demolition of national monuments like Lismullin, Co. Meath (pictured) will be the subject of an environmental impact assessment carried out by the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.

Environmental impact assessment and the demolition of national monuments | The Charles Mount Blog

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

From the Big Bang to Black Holes and Beyond!

New Summer School to teach the wonders of the Universe

The Big Bang, black holes, the 'God Particle', the Sun, Moon and planets. All these topics and more will be explained in the first Astronomy Summer School for beginners being run by Astronomy Ireland!

The brand new Astronomy Summer School begins this evening (Wednesday, July 18th) in Trinity College Dublin, and was developed by Astronomy Ireland to give newcomers to astronomy a good grounding in observational astronomy and how to find one's way around the night sky. Students will learn about the constellations, the Moon and the Sun, the history of astronomy, how telescopes work, and what to see in the night sky, as well as a good overview of the history of the Universe and how it was created.

This course is ideal for those who want to get more out of their stargazing sessions, how telescopes can be used, and where to find celestial objects in the sky, without going deep into the more complex details of astrophysics and cosmology.

"It won't be too long before the evening sky begins to get dark earlier as winter draws in, and the cooler weather will also mean more regular clear nights, ideal for some breathtaking astronomy," said David Moore, Editor of Astronomy Ireland magazine. "This Summer School is therefore an ideal way to get started in a new hobby and to prepare yourself for some excellent stargazing later in the year!"

The Astronomy Ireland Summer School will commence this evening, and will run each Wednesday evening for four weeks. The enrolment fee is only €140 for non-members and €100 for members, and group rates can be arranged.

For more information on these classes, please visit

New blog site on forthcoming Newgrange book

I am currently working on a new book about Ireland's most famous monument. The book, called 'Newgrange - Monument to Immortality', will be published by The Liffey Press in the autumn.

This new work explores Newgrange and its mysteries from many aspects and disciplines, including archaeology, astronomy and spirituality, and encompasses a broad-sweeping and philosophical examination of the big questions about Ireland's most famous monument. The book will contain lots of new colour photographs - none of which have been published before in any other book or on any website. These include photos from inside the passage and chamber on the winter solstice, when the sun shines into the heart of the monument.
A new blog site has been set up about the Newgrange book which can be found here.