May 25, 2023 · 3:47 pm
PETER PAN IN KENSINGTON GARDENS – Here at Balladeer’s Blog I like to cover neglected items, even when it comes to popular subjects like Peter Pan. Before the figure became established in the public consciousness as the leader of the Lost Boys in Neverland, J.M. Barrie presented Peter in a very different form.
Six chapters of Barrie’s 1902 work The Little White Bird were devoted to his original concept for Peter Pan and presented his lair as London’s Kensington Gardens rather than Neverland. Instead of the dog Nana there was the dog Porthos, and instead of Wendy Darling there was Maimie Mannering, but still with the kiss/ thimble bit of business.
This was followed by the 1904 stage play about Peter Pan, which established the more well-known lore regarding the character. In 1906, the six chapters from The Little White Bird were published in a separate book as Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens. That was followed by the 1911 novelized version of the 1904 play, with the novel adding some finishing touches to Peter Pan lore.
J.M. Barrie invented a detailed mythology for this first rendition of his renowned figure. Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens tells us that babies are hatched from eggs laid by birds on the island in Serpentine Lake inside Kensington Gardens. Within a very short time Solomon Caw, a crow who is the leader of all the birds in the Gardens, delivers those baby birds destined to become children to the mothers who wrote to him requesting them. Continue reading →
May 17, 2023 · 3:49 am
As is customary after a series of blog posts about one topic I’m posting a guide and links to each part.
PART ONE – This opening segment examined the Six Ages of the World section, a mythological look at the history of the world from Creation to the coming of Jesus Christ. The Book of the Dun Cow contains a mix of pagan and Christian materials, and in Part One I also reviewed its presentation of myths regarding Great Britain, legends of Saint Columba and its version of the story of Tuan mac Cairill, the only non-Ark survivor of the Great Flood and who chronicled the ancient races of Ireland like the Tuatha de Danaan, Fir Bolg and Milesians. Click HERE.
PART TWO – The four sections covered in Part Two: Two Sorrows of the Kingdom of Heaven, featuring Elijah and Enoch in Heaven and their observations regarding the Antichrist, the end of the world and the Final Judgment; The Intoxication of the Ulstermen, about the Samhain partying of the Ulstermen and the peril it led to; The Raid on Dartaid’s Cattle, about a raid to rustle the cattle of the she-warrior Dartaid; and The Raid on Fliodhaise’s Cattle, featuring Queen Maeve, King Ailill, Fergus mac Roich and Queen Fliodhaise, her lusty ways and her cattle. Click HERE.
PART THREE – The Voyage of Mael Duin. Due to the epic length of this tale, it is the one and only section covered in Part Three. This imram deserves to be alongside the Illiad, the Odyssey, the Aeneid and others. Click HERE. Continue reading →
May 4, 2023 · 11:04 am
Here is the tenth and FINAL part of Balladeer’s Blog’s look at the various mythological works in Ireland’s Lebor na hUidre, The Book of the Dun Cow. For Part One click HERE.
THE STORY IMPLYING THAT MONGAN WAS FIONN MAC CUMHAILL REBORN AND HOW HE AND HIS NEPHEW KILLED FOTHAD AIRGTHECH (Scel asa mberar combad hé Find mac Cumaill Mongáin ocus aní día fil aided Fothaid Airgdig) – Ireland’s Prince Mongan, whom we met in a few previous installments, was a historical figure but his life has been so smothered in embellishments and legends that facts can be hard to come by. He supposedly died around 625 A.D.
This particular item presented Mongan arguing with the poet Forgoll when that poet claimed to know the circumstances of the death of Irish High King Fothad Airgthech, who ruled around what we would call the early 270s A.D. A heated argument breaks out.
Eventually Forgoll insists his knowledge has been insulted by Mongan’s contrary claim and threatens to curse and ridicule Mongan unless Mongan gives him his wife by way of reparations. An elderly, decrepit stranger arrives on the scene.
The stranger says he is Cailte mac Ronain, nephew of Fionn mac Cumhaill (better known as Finn MacCool). Cailte is one of the last surviving members of Fionn’s troops and has lived this long through enchanted means. Like Oisin, his fellow survivor of the Battle of Gabhra, Cailte is destined to live long enough to convey tales of ancient Ireland to the prophesied Saint Patrick. Continue reading →
April 30, 2023 · 12:01 am
Here is Part Nine of Balladeer’s Blog’s look at the various mythological works in Ireland’s Lebor na hUidre, The Book of the Dun Cow. This part features multiple sections. For Part One click HERE.
THE CONCEPTION OF CUCHULAINN (Compert Con Culainn) – One of the versions of the birth of the demigod Cuchulainn. This version begins as Ulster’s King Conchobar mac Nessa (at left) goes on a hunt for magical birds with several nobles of Ulster and his daughter Deichtine, his charioteer. (In the later and more popular versions Deichtine is King Conchobar’s sister, not his daughter, and most of the Cuchulainn myths refer to him as Conchobar’s nephew, not grandson.)
A heavy snow falls, prompting the hunting party to seek shelter in an isolated house where they are made welcome by the man and the pregnant woman inside. The woman goes into labor, and Deichtine helps deliver the baby – a son – overnight. A mare also gives birth to two colts that night. Continue reading →
April 24, 2023 · 11:33 pm
Here is Part Eight of Balladeer’s Blog’s look at the various mythological works in Ireland’s Lebor na hUidre, The Book of the Dun Cow. This part features multiple sections. For Part One click HERE.
THE ADVENTURE OF CONNLA THE BEAUTIFUL, SON OF CONN OF THE HUNDRED BATTLES (Echtra Condla Chaim meic Cuind Chetchathaig) – Amid the monuments and landmarks on the Hill of Uisnech in central Ireland, Connla and his father Conn, a High King of Ireland, are relaxing with several of their troops around them.
A beautiful woman in strange clothing catches Connla’s eye and he asks her where she is from. She replies she is from Mag Mell, a mystic island to the west of Ireland, where she says everyone feasts forever without effort and lives in peace.
King Conn and others nearby ask Connla who he is speaking to, because only he is able to see her. As the smitten Connla continues “chatting her up” his father and others hear the woman speaking but still cannot see her. She makes it clear that she is inviting Connla to come with her to Mag Mell forever, prompting the panicked Conn to call for his Druid Corann. Continue reading →
April 21, 2023 · 12:01 am
Here is Part Seven of Balladeer’s Blog’s look at the various mythological works in Ireland’s Lebor na hUidre, The Book of the Dun Cow. This part features three more sections. For Part One click HERE.
THE FEAST OF BRICRIU (Fled Bricrenn) – The Book of the Dun Cow version of this tale is dated to around the 700s A.D. and is considered the forerunner of the story of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight in British legends.
The frequent troublemaker of Irish myths – Bricriu – holds a feast in his new banquet hall at Dun Rudraige. He invites all the nobles of Ulster and, always a jerk, starts a conflict at the party by having three heroes argue over which of them deserves the Curadmir – the champion’s portion of the feast.
The three are the demigod Cuchulainn, Conall Cernach, and Loegaire Buadach. The competitors perform various feats and Cuchulainn is judged the winner. Conall and Loegaire refuse to accept that judgment, and the trio go to Connacht under immunity. They perform feats before Queen Maeve and King Ailill, and again Cuchulainn is decreed the victor.
Once again, Conall and Loegaire heatedly refuse to accept the outcome and so the trio travel to Munster to be judged by King Cu Roi mac Daire. He, too, names Cuchulainn the winner. The other two still refuse to acknowledge Cuchulainn as the victor and they wind up back at the Ulster stronghold of Emain Macha. Continue reading →
April 18, 2023 · 12:20 am
Here is Part Six of Balladeer’s Blog’s look at the various mythological works in Ireland’s Lebor na hUidre, The Book of the Dun Cow. For Part One click HERE.
THE CATTLE RAID OF COOLEY (Tain Bo Cuailgne) – Because this is easily the most well-known tale from Irish Mythology I will be brief and I will also include another section of the Book of the Dun Cow in this same blog post.
I. In Connacht, as we saw in earlier installments, Queen Maeve lived with King Ailill in Cruachan. A bedroom squabble between the pair involved a comparison of each of their belongings. King Ailill edged out Queen Maeve by his possession of an incredibly fertile (and in some versions immortal) bull called Finnbhennach (white-horned).
Queen Maeve didn’t like that at all, and resolved to acquire the Donn Cuailnge (brown bull) of the Ulstermen, which creature was said to match Ailill’s bull in magnificence and fertility.
II. Maeve sent envoys to negotiate with her people’s enemies the Ulstermen in the north, because the owner of the Donn Cuailnge lived among them. Negotiations broke down, so the queen resolved to take the brown bull by force of arms.
III. As Queen Maeve and her army approached Ulster, most of the Ulstermen were incapacitated by labor pains, a curse from the goddess Macha that they would be thus afflicted for nine generations whenever Ulster faced peril. The only man of Ulster not affected by the curse was the demigod Cuchulainn, familiar to us from previous installments.
IV. Cuchulainn and his charioteer Laege waged guerilla warfare on the advancing army, slowing them down as best they could. At length, when Cuchulainn intercepted Maeve’s army as they were fording a river, he invoked the Right of Single Combat at Fords. (No, not the Right of Dual Combat at Isthmuses, the Right of Single Combat at Fords.) Continue reading →
April 13, 2023 · 4:24 pm
Here is Part Five of Balladeer’s Blog’s look at the various mythological works in Ireland’s Lebor na hUidre, The Book of the Dun Cow. For Part One click HERE.
THE EXPULSION OF THE DEISSI (Tucait innarba na nDessi i mMumain ocus aided Chormaic) – Once believed to be a genuine historical narrative, The Expulsion of the Deissi has long been recognized as yet another case of mere quasi-historical myth-making.
The story deals with the expulsion and wandering of the former vassals called the Deissi, who were actually a loose confederation of people, but this legend elevated them to the status of a dynastic family. Like so many myths in world history, this highly embellished tale served the political purpose of a unifying origin myth, raising the Deissi Muman from defeated wanderers to a temporarily fallen noble dynasty.
The Expulsion of the Deissi survives in various forms, with The Book of the Dun Cow‘s account categorized as Version B.
I. Around the 100s to 300s A.D. when Cormac mac Airt was a High King of Ireland and ruled from the political and religious capital Tara, his “wanton son” Cellach abducted and raped Forach. She was the daughter of Forad, a brother of Oengus Gaibuaibthech (Oengus of the Dread Spear), the fiery military champion of the family, here supposed to be ancestors of the Deissi Muman.
Oengus’ spear was said to be the Luin of Celtchar, the spear of the god Lugh which he passed down to ancient Irish heroes like Celtchar mac Uthechar, Dubthach, Fedlimid and Mac Cecht. Right after Oengus finished a revenge quest for another family member who was recently killed, he led his troops to Tara to deal with Cellach. Continue reading →
April 10, 2023 · 9:08 pm
Here is Part Four of Balladeer’s Blog’s look at the various mythological works in Ireland’s Lebor na hUidre, The Book of the Dun Cow. For Part One click HERE.
THE VISION OF ADOMNAN (Fis Adomnain) – This was a tale of the vision that Saint Adomnan supposedly had during his lifetime (c 679-704 A.D.). Several centuries before Dante’s Divine Comedy (Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso), The Vision of Adomnan depicted the future saint being conducted through Heaven, Purgatory, and Hell so that he could share this “vision” with others.
Dante was guided in a different order by the dead poet Virgil, but Adomnan is shown being guided by his Guardian Angel.
I. On the Feast of Saint John, Adomnan feels as if he has died and his Guardian Angel leads him through the Afterlife. The first stop in Heaven is the Land of the Saints, a realm of eternal fair weather, where dwell the saints, all of them clad in white cassocks with white hoods. Continue reading →
April 5, 2023 · 8:49 pm
Here is Part Three of Balladeer’s Blog’s look at the various mythological works in Ireland’s Lebor na hUidre, The Book of the Dun Cow. For Part One click HERE.
THE VOYAGE OF MAEL DUIN (Immram curaig Mail Duin) – Dated to around the late 900s A.D. or earlier, this story deals with the epic quest of Mael Duin (aka Maildun and Maeldune) and the crew of his ship as he seeks revenge on his father’s killers. This lengthy epic deserves to be as well-known as the Odyssey or the Quest for the Golden Fleece.
At any rate, exactly why the main character wants revenge for that slaying is beyond me, because Mael Duin’s father, supposedly Ailill of the Edge of Battle, raped a nun at a priory and she subsequently gave birth to him. The nun turned the infant Mael Duin over to her queen and king to raise as if he was their own child.
Mael Duin matured, and proved better than his presumed siblings at athletic, martial and academic competitions. Losing their temper over this, one of our hero’s foster brothers ridiculed Mael Duin for not even knowing who his real father and mother were.
The hero prevailed upon his mother the queen to tell him the truth, and she referred him to his birth mother, the nun. She revealed to Mael Duin the name of his father and the young man set out with his three foster brothers to the land of his father Ailill of the Edge of Battle. Continue reading →