WEATHER

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mystical forest This, of course, has always been a matter of immediate concern to people, farmers and others alike. So much depended on it in the economy of traditional society, and yet it could be very unreliable. So. great efforts were made to foresee what the weather had in store, or at least to see what was most likely to happen. In decid ing on the type of weather to be expected, people used all the methods which had been worked out over many generations in order to grapple with the environment. These vary from the scientific approach and from experience to premonitions and some fantastic guesses.

LUGH

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ruins of irish castleMythical hero, originally a Celtic deity. His name is usually accompanied by the sobriquet Lamhfhada ('longarmed'), the idea being not of a physically long limb but that his weapons had long range. He was adept at the use of the javelin and the sling. Lugh was also known as 'Samhildanach', meaning the one who possesses all the arts’.

POETS

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irish dwarf in the forestThe word used for a poet, in Irish litera ture at all stages and in the spoken language, is ‘file'. This word contains a Celtic root meaning to see. and all the evidence suggests that the Irish Tile' was originally a ‘seer" who expressed his mys tical insights in the form of rhetoric. Early literary sources indicate that learned rhetorical speech was known as ‘bearla na bhfileadh' (‘the language of the poets’).

HUMAN LIFE

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old irish castleThe most immediate of all experiences, life itself, is naturally the subject of speculation in the culture of all peoples. The worldwide tendency to regard three points of human living as being particularly important is well represented by Irish tradition. These points are birth, coming of age, and death. In Irish literary biographies, whether of kings, heroes, or saints, special descriptions are given of these three crucial stages. In the folk custom and belief of Ireland, coming of age is generally replaced by marriage as the intermediate stage in the life of a person, and indeed there was a feeling that marriage was the only true introduction to adulthood.

ELIZABETH I (1533-1603)

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irish man and womanQueen of England from 1558 until her death. Because of her oppressive policies towards Ireland, and the devastation caused by her armies. Elizabeth is remembered with hostility in the pop ular tradition of the country. The major charge laid against her is that of promiscuity. A poem from the mid17th century refers to her as

ANIMAL TALES

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mistic animal forestOf the three hundred types of international folktales concerning animals listed in the AameThompson catalogue, versions of over a third have been collected from Irish oral lore, and it is clear that such narratives have been equally popular in different parts of the country down to recent times. Being folktales, these stories are told for entertainment purposes, and the animals in them have roles which make the narrative attrac tive and interesting, but always fanciful. As such, they are easily distinguished from ordinary zoological lore and superstition (for which see the entries on Animals).

COLM CILLE

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irish rock castle Saint and missionary, bom at Gar tan (Co Donegal) around 521 AD of the royal Ui Neill sept, his father Feidhlimidh being a grandson of Conall Gulban. In the year 546 he founded a monastery at a place which became known as his oakwood', Doire Cholm Cille (i. e. Derry), and later several other monasteries, including ones at Dairmhaigh (Durrow, Co Laois), and Ceanannas (Kells, Co Meath). In 563 he left Ireland with twelve companions and settled on Oilean I (Iona, an island off the southwest coast of Scotland). From there he began a mission to the Piets and to the Irish settlers of Scotland. He died on Iona in the year 597. He was originally called Criomhthann, ‘Colm Cille' being a nickname meaning ‘dove of the church'. The word ‘colm' is derived from Latin which form, Columba. is often used as the saint’s name.