cry of the celts

dolmen, neolithic burial tomb, october 2007, donegal, ireland

Wikipedia –

The History of Ireland began with the first known human settlement in Ireland around 8000 BC, when hunter-gatherers arrived from Britain and continental Europe, probably via a land bridge. Few archaeological traces remain of this group, but their descendants and later Neolithic arrivals, particularly from the Iberian Peninsula, were responsible for major Neolithic sites such as Newgrange. Following the arrival of Saint Patrick and other Christian missionaries in the early to mid-5th century, Christianity subsumed the indigenous pagan religion by the year 600.


celtic cross, october 2007, sligo, ireland

From around 800, more than a century of Viking invasions wrought havoc upon the monastic culture and on the island’s various regional dynasties, yet both of these institutions proved strong enough to survive and assimilate the invaders. The coming of Anglo-Norman mercenaries under Richard de Clare, 2nd Earl of Pembroke, nicknamed Strongbow, in 1169 marked the beginning of more than 800 years of direct English involvement in Ireland.


celtic cross, october 2007, louth, ireland

the whole of ireland was occupied and ruled by great britain for over 800 years. the descendants of ancient celtic tribes were robbed of their land, self government, pride and basic human freedoms. hundreds of years of british plantation and manipulation reduced the majority of the irish population to a life of peasantry in the 19th century, subordinate to greedy landlords – 8 million people totally relying on … a potato.

irish farmer, october 2007, sligo, ireland

in 1845 a fungus attacked the only source of food available to a poor rural population, most of them living in mud cabins. the worst european disaster of the 19th century, known as the irish famine, lasted 7 years and brought mass starvation. during these years the british rule showed total incompetence, dublin nobility continued partying and greedy landlords exported enough grain to have kept millions of irish alive. within 7 years the irish population fell by 3.5 million. exactly how many died and how many emigrated? nobody knows.

famine village, october 2007, donegal, ireland

the easter rising of 1916, lasting a week, devastating dublin and ending in the rebels’ surrender and execution of leaders expedited the 1918 war of independence and brought to the partition of ireland in 1921. northern ireland remained a part of the u.k., a state which discriminated the catholic irish as a matter of policy.

commemoration murial, october 2007, belfast

the troubles began in the late 1960’s. 30 years of bloody violence between republican and loyalist paramilitary groups, including the ira, the royal ulster constabulary (the police force of northern ireland at the time) and the british army. between 1969 and 2001, 3,523 people were killed as a result of the troubles, 1,855 of them civilians, 47,000 injured, 16,000 bombings, 20,000 imprisoned. quite an intifada!

a gate in the barrier, october 2007, belfast

almost unbelievably, on friday april 10th 1998, good friday, both british and irish governments signed the belfast agreement for the creation of a power-sharing executive body committed to the use of “exclusively peaceful and democratic means”. the agreement was endorsed by almost all northern ireland political parties. which, with great emotion, reminds me of a song from childhood – 

Last night I had the strangest dream,
I never dreamed before.
I dreamed the world had all agreed
To put an end to war.
I dreamed I saw a mighty room,
The room was filled with men.
And the papers they were signing said
They’d never fight again.

And when the papers were all signed,
And a million copies made
They all joined hands and bowed their heads,
And grateful prayers were made.
And the people in the streets below,
They all danced round and round.
And guns and swords and uniforms
Were scattered on the ground.

international wall, october 2007, belfast

why the great emotion? because as an israeli living in a land of violent conflict, who has served in the army and been in wars, who is raising three children in this crazy part of the world, the eldest of which is now doing military service … there is hope! in this sense belfast was amazing! past enemies of decades living side by side in a modern city, sharing governing powers and responsibility for building the future, making a sincere effort together. not everything is perfect. the peace is tense. a barrier still divides parts of the city and the gates are locked every evening at 6 to prevent unnecessary friction. i felt the tension in the air, i could almost touch it. but everyone i talked to can voice only one thing – hope for lasting peace. yes, for me that causes a surge of emotion from deep inside.

hope for lasting peace, october 2007, sligo, ireland

as always, super quality prints and licensing options available.

nir, with thanks to david o’connor!


Filed under belfast, british, celtic, celts, conflict, documentary, eire, ireland, irish, northern ireland, peace, photo, photograph, photos, politics, troubles, ulster, united kingdom, violence

4 responses to “cry of the celts

  1. Steven Myers

    I was impressed by your website. Here’s a poem I wrote a couple years ago that speaks to hope for Erin:

    Shake the Hand

    When the border’s been a mem’ry now
    A century or so,
    When heather marks its former track
    and flourishs and grows,
    When sunshine smiles across a line
    That now is gone for good,
    Then, you and I may know the peace
    We sought as best we could.

    When churches open wide their doors
    To Comers, one and all,
    Without regard to song or sect,
    Then, God’s great Peace will fall.
    When great – and lesser – share the cup,
    And eat the Holy Bread,
    Then, you and I may smile and know
    We dream – though we are dead.

    When people tramp our verdant fields
    That long were sundered there,
    By wire and frowning warnings — then
    It will be bright and fair!
    When we, like bluebirds, soar and see
    Our ancient native home,
    Then, you and I may slumber well,
    Nor lie here, lost and lone.

    I tell you, friend, the day will come,
    As certainly it must –
    And though we sleep, our dreams will turn
    To brightness from this dust!
    And all will know the work was right;
    The day will prosper, then,
    With handshakes ‘crosst the heather,
    And one needs but whisper: “When?”

    (c) S C Myers, 2000

  2. nir

    steven, “When?”

    beautiful! thank you for enriching my blog with your song!

  3. Steven Myers

    Nir – Thank you for your kind words. Here is one more poem on subject – slightly less hopeful. It cannot answer your question above?


    St. Patrick’s Day

    Faith, they’re drinking down in Dublin but they’re plotting up in Derry,
    As a cold March rain sweeps o’er the boyne, we ought be waxing merry –
    The Emerald Isle accepts its Fate to ever be the place
    Where good men laugh, but Hist’ry cries when you look her in the face.

    Now, there are no snakes in all this isle. Our Padraigh crushed their fame:
    Perhaps they swam to England then, and took another name.
    Thanks to God, the land is free of them and all their reek!
    ‘Tis rumored up in Ulster that a few asylum seek.

    Torn down are all the gibbets that once bore a frightful weight
    Of simple folk whose liberties were crushed by strangers’ hate,
    And centuries endured the press until could stand no more,
    And many fled across the Main, but others stayed, for war.

    An eerie war it is they fight, there are no rules or rhyme;
    The object seems just killing, with a hope that over time
    The enemy will once grow sick of struggle, hurt, and hate,
    And then at last will all decamp across that narrow strait.

    I think of it as here I find meself in Kerrick’s Pub,
    And watch Sky One and wonder if we’ll understand the rub,
    Aye – there it is! Mankind is weak when it comes to makin’ peace,
    But expert makin’ war we are, and I fear that will not cease.

    So, quaff yer drink in Dublin, lads, and leave yer lurk in Derry!
    Go home – attend to Padraigh’s Day. Say “ave” and be merry.
    Allow this eve to end its watch not sundered by more hating –
    Nor bomb, nor fire, nor mayhem, lad It is for peace we’re waiting!

    (c) S C Myers, 2001

  4. nir

    thank you steven once again!

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