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A Story of True Love for Valentine’s Day

Jospeh and Grace broken hearted

In 1915 Joseph Mary Plunkett joined the Irish Republican Brotherhood and quickly rose in rank to become a leader of the Easter Rising of 1916. Joseph had contracted Tuberculosis at an early age and struggled with poor health all of his life.  Joseph was well educated and even wrote a book of poetry.  One of his poems was incorporated into a song about his relationship with his wife, Grace. Poems by Joseph Plunkett

 

In 1916 shortly before the Rising, Joseph was taken to the hospital to undergo surgery to the glands in his neck. He practically crawled from his hospital bed with bandages still on his neck to join the other leaders in the General Post Office. Several days later after heavy shelling and running low on ammunition the GPO was surrendered.

Joseph was taken and held at the Kilmainham Gaol in Dublin to be court martial. His poor health was never an issue to the British who quickly sentenced him to execution by firing squad. Seven days before the execution was to be carried out he was allowed to marry his long time sweetheart Grace Gifford. They were allowed one kiss and 10 minutes to talk with guards all around them in a small room.

On May 04, 1916 Joseph Mary Plunkett was shot where-the-1916-rebelsdead in the court yard of the Kilmainham Gaol. So ended the life of one of Ireland’s bravest patriots. Grace Gifford Plunkett died in Dublin on December 13, 1955. Grace had never remarried.

 

Please listen to this moving story in song by Wolftones:

Wolf Tones

Click here to hear – Wolf Tones – Grace

 


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The Puck Fair

The Puck Fair in Ireland is one of the island’s oldest festivals thought to date back to the 4th century and was originally part of the Celtic harvest festival, Lughnasa.

Photo by PuckFair.ie

Photo by PuckFair.ie

From Slate.com “During this ancient celebration, a wild male goat (known as a puck) is crowned king of the town for three days before being returned to his normal life in the Irish hills, his royalty all but ignored by his fellow goats. The festival begins each year on Aug. 10, when the captured goat is brought to the town square where he is crowned by the “Queen of Puck,” who is not another goat, but a young girl from the town. His worldly station raised, “King Puck” is then put in a cage on a high scaffold where he may survey his kingdom for the duration of the festival. The bars are allowed to stay open extra-late during the fair, so his majesty generally gets to see some drunkenness. At the end of the three days, the king goat is deposed and led back to into the wilderness.” -Sounds like fun, right?

Photo by puckfair.ie

Photo by puckfair.ie

The Puck Fair is celebrating 403 years of documented festivals and although some animal welfare groups have called for an end of the tradition of crowing the goat king, the festival, which runs from August 10-12, is more popular than ever with more than 10,000 people gathering in the small town of Killorglin for the festivities.

The first day of Puck Fair is called The Gathering and includes the Coronation Ceremony. The Goat King and the Maiden Queen are paraded through town, before being crowned, kicking off 3 days of festivities.

The Gathering is also the oldest running horse fair in Ireland. People travel from all over the country to show, buy and sell horses and tack.

Photo by dochara.com

Photo by dochara.com

 

The second day of Puck Fair is called Fair day and it’s a full blown carnival complete with cotton candy, crafts, and a Cattle Fair.

The third day is called The Scattering. The Goat King is lead back up the mountain to rejoin his herd and is followed by a grand parade. The festivities conclude with a massive fireworks display.

 

Photo by IrishFireside

 

I think that we can all agree that if you’re going to be in Ireland in August, you’re going to go the The Puck Festival, right? It’s not every day that you can meet a goat king.

 

 


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The Giant’s Causeway

The first time you see it, you think there’s no way it can be real. The otherworldly rock ireland-914207__180formations of The Giant’s Causeway look like something out of a movie set. In fact, they have been a set location for the hit show Game of Thrones and the movie Dracula Untold.

The Giant’s Causeway, located in County Antrim in Northern Ireland is a formation of interlocking, basalt columns that have an unusual, geometric shape, or rather shapes. The columns are usually perfect hexagons, but you can also find pillars with anywhere from four to eight sides.

giants-causeway-1182945__180“Formed 50 to 60 million years ago, during the Paleogene Period, the Giant’s Causeway resulted from successive flows of lava inching toward the coast and cooling when they contacted the sea. Layers of basalt formed columns, and the pressure between these columns sculpted them into polygonal shapes that vary from 15 to 20 inches (38 to 51 cm) in diameter and measure up to 82 feet (25 metres) in height. They are arrayed along cliffs averaging some 330 feet (100 metres) in elevation.” –Encyclopedia Britannica

So, now that we’ve covered the sciency stuff, we need to talk about the really cool, totally true legends of The Giant’s Causeway.  From Wikipedia “According to legend, the columns are giants-causeway-539869__180the remains of a causeway built by a giant. The story goes that the Irish giant Fionn mac Cumhaill (Finn MacCool), from the Fenian Cycle of Gaelic mythology, was challenged to a fight by the Scottish giant Benandonner. Fionn accepted the challenge and built the causeway across the North Channel so that the two giants could meet. In one version of the story, Fionn defeats Benandonner.[9] In another, Fionn hides from Benandonner when he realises that his foe is much bigger than he. Fionn’s wife, Oonagh, disguises Fionn as a baby and tucks him in a cradle. When Benandonner sees the size of the ‘baby’, he reckons that its father, Fionn, must be a giant among giants. He flees back to Scotland in fright, destroying the causeway behind him so that Fionn could not follow.[10] Across the sea, there are identical basalt columns (a part of the same ancient lava flow) at Fingal’s Cave on the Scottish isle of Staffa, and it is possible that the story was influenced by this.[11]

giants-causeway-539867__180The Giant’s Causeway was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1986, and in 1987 it was named a National Nature Reserve. It became a tourist destination in the 1800’s and a magnificent new visitor’s center was opened in 2012, making this a must see, bucket-list vacation spot.


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