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A Hundred Thousand Welcomes!
by Bridget Haggerty

On Garinish Island in Bantry Bay, Co. Cork, there is a lush, semi-tropical garden called Ilnacullen. It's where my husband took this photo. Quite by chance, it became the cover for my book, The Traditional Irish Wedding. That was five years ago. Little did we know then, that what started as a ten-day surprise trip to Ireland for my birthday, would also be the beginning of a journey back through time. A two-thousand year voyage through history, on a quest to learn as much as we can about Ireland's culture.

From the legend of the Claddagh Ring to "drowning the shamrock" on St Patrick's Day, the Irish have been blessed - and sometimes cursed - with more traditions, customs and supersitions than there are lobsters in Galway Bay. As the old quip goes: "indeed, isn't the Irish sea itself red with them?"

Humor is as much a part of Ireland's heritage as the wit, charm and warmth of her people. And it's these characteristics that show up time after time in the many articles we've written.

In a series called Emblems of Ireland, we explore the significance of the harp and the shamrock. In another one called A Taste of Ireland, we share what we know about Irish Coffee, Soda Bread, Colcannon and other national dishes. We've also put together an on-going series that focuses on important days in the Irish Calendar - from New Year's to Christmas. And, for readers who may be contemplating a trip to the Ould Sod, we're ready to offer a helping hand with a series called Driving In Ireland. We may change the title to "See that road over there? Well, don't take that one!"

Our hope is that you'll find every article entertaining and informative. But most important of all - we want you to have as much fun as we're having!

 

Sun, Apr 12, 2015


Irish Furze

Called whin in the north and gorse in the east, furze was once a symbol of wealth and fertility of land as is emphasized by the saying: "gold under furze, silver under rushes and famine under heather."
As indigenous to the early summer landscape as rhododendrons, it is despised by farmers because of its invasive properties; but in the past, it had many good uses.
It ignites quickly, so it was used for starting the fire: it was also used for cleaning the chimney, tilling the soil, dyeing wool and fabric, and as a flavouring for whiskey (which may have improved its rating with the farmers!). It had medicinal powers and its magical powers were undisputed in preventing the good people from stealing the butter on May day. And, at mid-summer, blazing branches were carried round the herd to bring good health to the cows for the coming year.
Resources: Doon Mayo
and Farmers Journal


Click for More Culture Corner.




Visit 30 of Ireland's most beautiful gardens. Includes a stunning collection of 200 full-color photos.
Click here for Gardens of Ireland


 

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