Famous Irish Painters

Walter Osborne:

Walter Osborne was born in 1859. He painted mainly in the French Brittany region of Quimperlé but moved to England in 1884. His paintings of rural scenes that dominated his early years gradually gave way to an ‘impressionistic’ interpretation of those subjects that he had great empathy for, namely women, small children and old people.

His superb images of young girls at play are still cherished by the National Gallery of Ireland: The Dolls School, The House Builders.

John Lavery:

John Lavery was born in Belfast but was educated in Glasgow, London and Paris. He originally worked as an apprentice photographer but harboured ambitions to be a portrait artist. He became an official war artist and eventually a chronicler of his times with paintings such as ‘The Ratification of the Irish Treaty in the English

House of Lords, 1921’ and ‘Blessing of the Colors: A Revolutionary Soldier Kneeling to the Blessed’. His most famous work was perhaps that of his wife, Lady Lavery, ‘The Red Rose’ which was a painting that had a number of incarnations before it forever bore the face of the woman who was to adorn the Irish Pound note for half a century.

William John Leech:

William John Leech was born in Dublin in 1881 and studied under Walter Osborne at the Royal Hibernian Academy Schools. He became increasingly interested in sunlight and shadow and this perhaps might explain why the famous painting ‘The Goose Girl’ was acredited to him. So proud of this wonderful interpretation of a girl in a bluebell field was the National Gallery of Ireland that they adopted the image as their logo, only to finally have to accept that the painting was in fact completed by the Englishman Stanley Royle. He can be regarded as one of the great Irish colorists’ as can be seen by his superb image: ‘Les Soeurs du Saint-Esprit, Concarneau, c. 1910-1912’ which has to be one of the finest Irish paintings ever.

View the paintings of these artists at the Site at: (C) Copyright The Information about Ireland Site, 2000

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Celtic Calendar

By Jeri Ballast

The Celtic calendar

The Celtic calendar was lunar based, with thirteen months. Extra days as needed were added at new year`s as a `time between times.` The ancient Celts divided the year into a wheel of eight segments, each with a corresponding festivals.

The four fire festivals

The four fire festivals, so-called because all include bonfires as part of the celebration, take place on the last evening of a month and the following day. The Celts, like the Jews, count a day from sunset to sunset. That`s why we celebrate All Hallow`s Eve, Midsummer`s Eve, and so on.

These four fire festivals are tied to the agricultural cycle as follows:

Samhain is celebrated on October 31-November 1 (our Halloween). It is the end of the harvest, the beginning of winter and once marked the Celtic new year. At Samhain, the barrier between our world and the Otherworld thins, allowing contacts between the spirits (faeries) and humans. Normal rules of human conduct do not apply and one may `run wild`. This was also a festival of the dead and the church was easily able to transform these holidays into All Saint`s Day (November 1) and All Soul`s Day (November 2).

Imbolc is celebrated February 1-2 (later transformed into Candlemas by the church, and popular now as Groundhog Day). Imbolc marked the beginning of Spring, the beginning of new life (in Britain the beginning of lambing season). Dedicated to the ancient mother goddess in her maiden aspect, it was later transformed into a feast day for the Irish saint of the same name (and attributes), St. Brigid.

The third festival of the agricultural year is Beltane (Bealtunn in Scots Gaelic, meaning May Day), celebrated April 30-May 1. The god, Bel (or Cernunnos, the horned god of Ireland) dies but is reborn as the goddess` son. He then impregnates her ensuring the neverending cycle of rebirth. This is very basic fertility worship. May Day traditions includes young people picking flowers in the woods (and spending the night there), and the dance around the May Pole, weaving red (for the god) and white (for the goddess) streamers round and round. A great bonfire celebrates the return of the sun.

The final celebration of the agricultural year is Lughnasadh (Lammas in England), the feast of the god Lugh and the first fruits of the harvest (generally wheat or corn). Lughnasadh is celebrated August 31-September 1. At Lammas, the Corn King dies (to be reborn at spring), ensuring plenty for the winter.

The other four holidays of the Celtic year celebrate the spring and fall equinoxes and the winter and summer solstices. Each name contains the word `Alban` meaning `Light of`.

Alban Arthuan (Light of Arthur), like winter solstice celebrations all over the world, celebrates the return of the sun following the shortest day in the year. It`s no wonder the church adopted these holidays as the birthdate of the Son. From ancient Celtic and Norse mythology we enjoy such holiday traditions as holly and mistletoe, the yule log, Santa Claus in his aspects of Father Christmas or the Holly King. Supposedly, King Arthur was born on the winter solstice (and he, too, will come again).

The spring (vernal) equinox is celebrated as Alban Eiler (Light of the Earth). The equinoxes were considered a time of balance, not only between dark and light, but between worlds as well and, therefore, a time of high magical potential. More mundanely, this festival signified the time for spring planting and fertility rituals.

Alban Heruin (Light of the Shore) is celebrated as the Celtic Midsummers eve/ Midsummer`s Day with games, picnics, and all manner of light-hearted fun. The antics of `A Midsummer Night`s Dream` by Shakespeare well capture the spirit of this festival, including the interaction between our people and those of the faery world.

Finally, Alban Elued (Light of the Water) is observed at the autumn equinox and, like the spring equinox, is a very sacred time when the line between worlds is thin and magical possibilities abound.

Much more seems to be known about the four fire festivals (which are still celebrated in many traditional ways) than the four solar festivals. Were the solar festivals mainly druidic sacred times in which lay participation was minimal (it would seem that some of the neo-druids have taken this view and make rather more of these dates than the Irish and Gaels do)’ Or could the solar celebrations pre-date druidism, belonging to the Stonehenge builders, and have fallen slowly into disuse’ This seems a possibility since the Celtic calendar is lunar based, rather than solar.


Driving in Ireland

Whether you are buying your first car, looking for irish car insurance quotes or thinking of hiring a car for the duration of your trip to Ireland, the articles in this section will be helpful to you.

For first time Irish drivers the article about researching Irish car insurance will guide you towards finding the best value car insurance quotes and an insurance company that suits your requirements. For those facing the NCT (the National Car Test) for the first time our article Pass The NCT First Time will give you some pointers and actions you could take to increase your chances of passing the NCT first time.

Other articles will be added to this section shortly, and the full list will eventually cover all of the following:

Drive Safely!

Ireland is a beautiful country to travel by car. Remember to wear your seat belt at all times, never drink and drive, keep below the maximum speed limits and be considerate to other drivers, cyclists and pedestrians.

Happy and safe motoring in Ireland!


About Ireland

Ireland is an island off western Europe in the Northern Atlantic Ocean. Ireland is a divided country, with independent governments.

The Republic of Ireland (also called Ireland or Eire) occupies 5/6th of the island of Ireland Northern Ireland occupies 1/6th of the island and is a part of the United Kingdom. Capital(s) Republic of Ireland: Dublin. Northern Ireland: Belfast Official languages: English and Gaelic. Size: The Republic of Ireland covers 27,135 square miles (70,280 sq km).Population: The population of Ireland is about 3,689,000 (as of 2000). Climate: Ireland has a cool, often-cloudy climate.

Flag of Ireland:

The Republic of Ireland’s flag is tricolor, and is made of three equal-sized rectangles of orange, white, and green. The flag is twice as wide as it is tall. The green side is by the flagpole. This flag was first used in 1848. Colors in the flag represent the native population and religious beliefs in Ireland.Green: Signifies the native people of Ireland (most of whom are Roman Catholic). Orange: Represents the British supporters of William of Orange who settled in Northern Ireland in the 17th century (most of whom are Protestant). White: White occupies the center of the flag and signifies peace between these two groups of people.

Irish Provinces:

Commonly known as the Four Green Fields of Ireland. Irelands 4 provinces. Connacht is the north-western province of Ireland, comprising the counties of Galway, Mayo, Sligo, Leitrim and Roscommon. Leinster is the eastern province of Ireland, comprising the counties of Louth, Meath, Dublin, Wicklow, Wexford, Kilkenny, Carlow, Laois, Offaly, Kildare, Westmeath and Longford. Munster is the southernmost province of Ireland, comprising the counties of Claire, Cork, Kerry, Limerick, Tipperrary, and Waterford. Ulster forms one of the historical provinces of Ireland. Six of its Nine counties Antrim, Armagh, Derry, Down, Fermanagh, and Tyrone, are known together as Northern Ireland. Three counties Cavan, Donegal, and Monaghan, are part of the Republic of Ireland.

Irish Identifiable:


The Friendship, Love and Loyalty Symbol or Ireland The Claddagh design is said to originate from the Galway Area, and the Aran Islands. The Claddagh ring was originally worn by men, but later used as a Marriage Ring for Men and Women. The symbol is comprised of 2 hands, a heart and a crown.The hands symbolize the 2 parties involved. The heart is the seat of affection or love. And the crown perfection. So, a perfect union of love between 2 parties. Common word translations to the Claddagh are: Friendship (hands), Love (heart) and Loyalty (crown).

Irish Harp Emblem:

The Irish harp symbol has been recognized as the emblem of Ireland since the 13th century. It was officially adopted as Ireland’s national symbol when the Irish Free State was created in 1922. The most famous Harp of Ireland is the Brian Boru harp which is located at the Trinity College in Dublin. The Boru harp is the oldest surviving Irish harp, and is the model used for the State emblem.

Trinity Symbol:

The Trinity Symbol is an ancient Celtic design. The Trinity emblem is an ancient symbol for a high spiritual dignity. In the Christian faith, it represents the Holy Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Trinity symbol has been inscribed in stone, and also has been colored. Red for power, faith, language and sacrifice. Blue -represents faith and trust. Green –color of the plants and trees, suggests hope of life eternal.

Celtic Cross:

The Celtic Cross is possibly the best known symbol of Early Christianity in Ireland. The High Celtic Cross is a self contained monument, and are as high as 20 feet. They are generally made of sandstone, and their main characteristic feature is a circle connecting the arms. The rings around the high cross may have been a symbol of the cosmos, and at the center is the Crucificition of Christ. Or, the ring may have been a structural piece, to prevent the arms of the cross from snapping off. There are many decorations on the crosses many including scenes from the bible, while others feature animal Interlace, and scroll work. The crosses at Monasterboise and Cross of Scriptures, Clonmacnoise are good examples for the traditional Celtic Cross.

Famous Irish :

Brian Boru Harp Brian Boru (c. 940-1014) The last of the High King’s to lift Ireland out of the ruins of the Norse Age. He rebuilt ruined churches, built others, he sent overseas to replace lost books and artifacts and all that he possibly could to heal the wounds of the past two centuries of Norse pillage. One of the symbols most associated with Irieand is the Brian Boru Harp. This Harp is now located in the Long room, at the Trinity College Library, in Dublin. The harp is the national symbol of Ireland.

Irelands Areas of Historical Interest:

Interesting sites in Ireland include: Bru na Boinne (Newgrange), Boyne Valley, Ceide Fields, Clonmacnoise, Croagh Patrick, Dun Aengus, Glendalough, Hill of Tara, Lough Derg, Skellig Michael, Rock of Cashel.

Bru na Boinne “Boyne Palace”: Ireland’s Stonehenge One of Ireland’s most spectacular archaeological sites is located in the Boyne Valley in County Meath. Newgrange, Dowth and Knowth were built around the same time that Stonehenge was erected in England. These tombs were built around 3200 B.C., several centuries before the great pyramids of Egypt. The exact reason these sites were built is unknown, but one of their features, is that they may have been used as an ancient form of solar calendar. The Newgrange site was designed to catch the sun during the winter solstice (December 19-23), the rising sun shines thru a slit over the entrance, and lights up the burial chamber for 17 minutes. At Dowth, the light of the setting sun of the solstice illuminates one of the chambers. At Knowth, the rising sun of the spring and autumn equinoxes lights the eastern passage, while the setting sun may have caught the western passage those days.

Clonmacnoise (Offaly) An early Christian monastic site founded by Saint Ciaran in the 6th century on the banks of the River Shannon at the crossroads of Ireland in County Offaly. The Clonmacnoise location borders the three provinces of Connaught, Munster and Leinster. The monastery is on the east side of the River Shannon, in what was then the Kingdom of Meath, but occupying a position so central it was the burial-place of many of the kings of Connaught as well as those of Tara. The site includes the ruins of a cathedral, eight churches (10th-13th century), two round towers, three high crosses and a large collection of early Christian grave slabs. The original high crosses and grave slabs are on display in the Visitor Centre.

View From Hill of Tara – – Owner

Hill of Tara (Meath) Though best known as the seat of the High Kings of Ireland. 142 kings are said to have reigned there in prehistoric and historic times. The Hill of Tara has been an important site since the late Stone Age when a passage-tomb was constructed there. Tara was at the height of its power as a political and religious centre in the early centuries after Christ. Features of the Hill of Tara include the Mound of the Hostages, the Stone of Destiny, and Ancient Standing Stones Rock of Cashel (Tipperary) This was the seat of kings and mediaeval bishops for 900 years and flourished until the early 17th century. A spectacular group of stone fort Medieval buildings set on an outcrop of limestone in the Golden Vale. Features include 12th century round tower, High Cross and Romanesque Chapel, 13th century Gothic cathedral, 15th century Castle and the restored Hall of the Vicars Choral. The original forbidding fortification of the Eoghanachta, kings of Munster. Brian Ború was crowned King of Munster here in 977 and he became High King of Ireland in 1002. He was the first high king to exact universal and effective tribute from the other kings of Ireland.

Dun Aengus:

Dún Aonghasa (Dun Aengus – Angus’ Fort) The mysterious structure of Dun Aengus is situated on the western side of Inish Mór, one of the three Aran Islands (Oileáin Árainn), stone outcrops, in the Atlantic thirty miles (48 kms) west of Galway City. The islands, Inish Mór, Inishmann and Inisheer have some of Europe’s finest examples of pre-historic and early Christian antiquities.Dun Aengus is a vast fortification perched on the summit of a hill that rises precipitously from the ocean to a height of 300 feet (100 meters). Half the site, consisting of three concentric enclosures, has fallen into the sea, but what is left makes a fascinating sight. The cliff edge at Cahercommoun in the Burren is Early Christian and Dún Aonghasa is believed to be much older. Dun Aengus has been estimated to have been built anywhere from 900BC to 500C.

Dun Aengus – – Owner:

Glendalough (Wicklow) This early Christian monastic site was founded by St. Kevin in the 6th century. Set in a glaciated valley with two lakes, the monastic remains include a superb round tower, stone churches and decorated crosses.In the 6th centaury St. Kevin founded a monastery and from this grew a monastic city, which became famous as a centre of learning throughout Europe. The spectacular Round Tower in the Monastic City stands an impressive 34m high and 16m in circumference.The tower was originally built as a bell tower and a place of refuge when the monastery was attacked. There are many stone crosses and churches to see. As well as these magnificent remains, there is the breathtaking scenery of the valley to enjoy.

Croagh Patrick (Mayo) Is a holy mountain in Ireland, located in south Mayo, 5 miles from Westport, and on Clew Bay. It is a conical mountain that is said to be the place where St. Patrick banished the snakes from Ireland. Today it is a pilgrimage spot, where visitors from all over the world. It is said that St. Patrick fasted for 40 days at the summit of the mountain. Croagh Patrick is also known as the “Reek”, and on “Reek Sunday”, the last Sunday in July, thousands come to follow the steps of Patrick. Today, a church sits on the top of the “Reek”. It is said, that if you climb Croagh Patrick three times, you will have earned yourself a place in heaven.


Ballybunion Beaches

Ballybunion beaches were not just traditionally separated into the men’s beach and the ladies beach. There was also the Nun’s strand for the nuns from the convent that used to be on top of the cliffs!

The segregation of the beaches goes back to the 20th Century when the Catholic Church held great influence. It is said that a priest would stand on the castle green and write the names of any man or woman who strayed into the wrong beach. No doubt there would be hell to pay for trespassers.

In more recent times a nudist group wanted to convert the Nun’s strand into a nudist beach. They failed in their attempt but that might have been for the best. Despite the warm water currents there can also be a straight chill Atlantic breeze that could cool even the most ‘die hard’ nudist’s enthusiasm.


Katie Taylor takes female European Athlete of the Year

Katie Taylor the current Olympic, World, European, European Games and European Union lightweight champion was selected as the Best Female Athlete in all sports from the inaugural 2015 European Games in Baku, Azerbaijan last June at the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) awards.

“I’m just so honored and humbled to receive this award. I’d like to thank ANOC for such a great evening and I’d like to thank the Olympic Council of Ireland and Pat Hickey for their continuous support”, said the AIBA World No. 1.

“I’d also like to thank my family. Their support and encouragement throughout the years has been unfailing to me. I’d be nowhere without them. This is just the icing on the cake for me this year.”


Irish Clans Directory

Irish Clan Index – Add your Clan to the list for FREE!

This section of Our Ireland is a FREE resource. Send us information about your Irish Clan and we’ll add a free webpage to Our Ireland dedicated to your Clan.

These free Clan webpages are perfect as a research starting point for people that share the same surname and family heritage as your clan and want to find a way to reach your organization (The Clan Flanagan page is an excellent example of this – thanks Mike).

Take advantage of this free webpage and give your future clan members a opportunity to find your clan. Email your clan text using the contact page form.

  • The Flanagan Clan Gathering
  • The O’Brien Clan Of Torrance

The Story Of Queenstown Cobh

Cobh in Cork, formally named Queenstown between 1849 to 1922. A major transatlantic Irish shipping port, Cobh was the last departure point for approximately 2.5 million of the six million Irish people who emigrated to North America between 1848 and 1950.

The Famine And Irish Emigration

In those early years of emigration many passengers fleed the famine that was to claim a million victims in a few years. For those who set sail on the famine ships from Queenstown the future was uncertain. Sadly not every passenger surrived the long journey, never reaching their destination in North America. For those who did land many would never see Ireland again, and in a foreign land they carved out a place for themselves and made a new home. The contribution of the Irish in North America went beyond the building of roads, rail track. Within a few generations Irish families made a major inpact on the social and political development of country, even reaching the highest office of the land.

Queenstown And The Titanic

On 11 April 1912 Queenstown was the final port of call for the RMS Titanic as she set out across the Atlantic on her ill-fated maiden voyage.

Local lore has it that a Titanic crew member John Coffey, a native of Queenstown, jumped ship although there is no record of him on the crew list. 123 passengers boarded in all; only 44 survived the sinking.

Cobh To Australia

Cobh was also a major embarkation port for men, women and children who were deported to penal colonies such as Australia. The records of such deportations can be found in the ship log books in the Cobh Museum, which since 1973 is housed in Scots church (Presbyterian church until 1969 closure) overlooking the harbour.


Play At Height At Dingle’s Indoor Climbing Wall

For those of you climbing the walls looking for something to do on a rainy day, you could do worse than make a visit to the Dingle climbing wall at Play At Height. West of Dingle Town, in Miltown, you’ll find this fantastic and impressive indoor climbing facility, the largest in Ireland and just a few feet shy of the highest of its kind in the country.

I don’t recommend any activity on this website that I haven’t tried myself, so despite my not being very good with heights, I recently headed out to Play At Height to test my climbing skills.

Quick Set-up

Getting set-up for a climb is quick and painless. The staff will provide you with a harness that is easy to wear and adjust. You have to wear a helmet too, and again these are easy to adjust. The line is then connected to your harness with a strong secure metal clip. The walls graduate in different levels of difficulty which is basically dictated by the slope of the assent. There are hand and foot grips attached to the wall and at the very top there is a pulley type of device that your line is connected to.

My Ascent To New Heights

There are different rope systems in place, and I used the ropes that do not require someone to hold the line on the ground while you climb. The instructor suggested climbing up a couple of meters and then descending, just to get confidence in the ropes ability to support you. Of course, once I started climbing I didn’t want to waste all that hard work just to test the rope system, onward and upward (and don’t look down)!

The climb was not too difficult, and the trick is to use your legs more than you may naturally be inclined. Many people depend so much on their upper body strength, as a result they can soon tire out their fingers and arms. By using your legs more to support your weight to rest while climbing, you can ease the burden on your arms and hands.

“What Goes Up Must …”

Upon reaching the top of the wall it was now time to finally test the rope/pulley system for my decent. Being a little ‘uncomfortable’ with heights, I had avoided glancing down until this point. Probably not a great idea, one look and I started to doubt my sanity, and felt a growing urgency to get back on to solid ground. Obviously, to achieve this there is only one way – you have to let go of the wall. I clung on for a few extra seconds as my brain tried to convince my fingers to release the hand grips on the wall. Reluctantly they let go and I dropped… about 6 inches and my decent almost stopped completely. My confidence in the rope system was restored and the next part was a lot of fun, as I abseiled down the wall, holding the rope and using my legs to bounce off the wall. To avoid embarrassment it’s best ot ready yourself for the landing. Many people who fail to adjust their body tilt at the end of the decent end up landing gently on their ass on the padded floor and rolling on their back.

It was quiet a thrill to be honest, and I was only on the floor a few seconds before heading back up to do it all again!

Multiple Wall Climbing Challenges

There are other wall climbing challenges that do not need any ropes. These are for lateral climbing, for practising moving horizontally along a wall, and boulder climbing. My fingers and forearms were pretty tired, but I had a go at the bouldering wall which has varying degrees of overhang. This has a massive thick padded mat below it, so if you do manage to climb to the top of the 15 – 20 ft height, your fall is not a concern. Even the easy part of this was deceptively difficult to climb, and the ‘easy part’ of the overhang was too much for me, and off I dropped flat on my back.

Pause For Thought…

While lying there catching my breath, I thought it an opportune time to take stock of these indoor climbing wall facilities right in the heart of the Dingle Peninsula. If you enjoyed climbing as a child, you’ll enjoy it as an adult. The climbing wall is as challenging as you need it to be, with differing levels of difficulty for everyone’s physic. My little girls (four and six years old), both enjoy climbing here (they’re like little spiders!). For those who get into it as a sport, there are extremely difficult overhangs for the advanced climbers to keep you challenged. In fact, the facilities are used for international climbing competitions, so highly are they regarded abroad.

Great For Families Too

This facility is also a big hit with families. There is a small padded play area to keep younger kids amused, and basic tea/coffee/snack facilities for moms and dads who just want to catch their breath for a few minutes. Kids love the climbing wall, and it’s a excellent form of exercise as it strengthens muscles, builds confidence and kids get a great sense of achievement from the challenges. For young climbers four years and over, there is a popular discounted kids club on every Thursday between 5 and 6pm.

Learn more about the Dingle climbing wall

Check out other great Dingle Peninsula activities you can enjoy.


An Irish Road Trip

If money is a little tight this year and you are feeling the pinch, one of the first things to go might be a holiday.

But you don’t necessarily have to go abroad to have a fantastic holiday, nor do you need to spend a great deal of money. A holiday at home in Ireland can be brilliant fun, especially if you go on a little road trip. Ireland boasts some fantastic scenery as well as some of the most interesting towns and cities around. You just need to find a few maps, do a little research and pick where you want to go.

When you have a route sorted you should do some pre-departure preparation before you go. Firstly you need to ensure that your car is ready for the trip. Take it to the garage and have a service if possible, but as a minimum you should check the tyre pressure, and oil and water levels. If your car isn’t suitable you could consider hiring a car for the trip. This will make the holiday more expensive but you should be able to get a good car which suits you more.

The next thing to consider is your car insurance. You may wish to share the driving amongst a few of you, in which case you need to ensure all of you are adequately insured to drive the car. If you currently have fully comprehensive insurance you may be able to drive another car and be insured. However it is likely that the cover will only be third party. The other option might be to add additional drivers as named drivers on to the car owner’s policy. However the main driver should always be the person who is principally insured. The best thing to do is to contact your car insurance provider and discuss the options with them; they should then be able to provide you with an insurance solution.

Finally make sure you pack well for the journey. You should have a warning triangle, first aid kit and high visibility jacket in the boot for if you need them. It is also worth getting breakdown cover just in case. Your current car insurance company may have offered this with the policy but if not you can purchase recovery cover separately.

Once you have planned your route, sorted the car and arranged the insurance you are then ready to go. Grab your friends and set off on your own road trip adventure around Ireland.