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Woodkern.

“The great Gaels of Ireland

Are the men God made mad,

For their wars are always merry,

And their songs are always sad.”

 

 

Ireland has a long history of tribal warrior culture. While the legions of Rome were “civilizing” the native cultures of Europe at the point of a gladius, Ireland remained forested and wild. When the Romans later fled from Britain to defend their homeland as it was invaded and burned by Germanic tribes, leaving the Romanized Britons defenceless and impoverished, the Irish were raiding their former territories for plunder, slaves, and tribute. While the Norse invaders were founding walled towns and trading outposts in Ireland at Dublin, Waterford, Limerick, and Wexford, the native Gaelic population continued to live as they always had done; rural and tribal and free. The Gaels did not build towns or large settlements, preferring to live in small closely-knit communities that farmed and raided for what they needed.

 

The Viking settlers built what are now our major cities upon the burned out remains of Gaelic communities. Eventually, the Norse who settled here were “Gaelicized” and adopted many of the customs of the native Irish, including Gaelic names. I have my theories as to why the way of life of these people was so difficult to eradicate over thousands of years. Tribalism is the natural state of mankind and has been since the very infancy of our species. We band together in small communities with people who are like ourselves in order to cooperate towards the achievement of some shared goal or vision. I could write ad nausium about the many intricacies and benefits of tribal culture, but others have done so who are far more qualified than I, and this is not an essay about Tribe. This is an essay about Woodkern.

 

Throughout the long, turbulent history of this island there have always been those who forsake the fickle world of civilized society and take to the woods. The wild places have a certain indescribable allure that draws out a certain kind of man and grabs hold of his soul. I believe the descendants of the Gael have always lived tribally because we have always lived very close to the land and the untamed earth. When the sun (seldom) shines this is the most beautiful country in the world and it is a common sight on a sunny day to see people head for the mountains and the forests in great hordes. We are still captivated by the trees and the realms that lie beyond the boundary of civilization. But what we now pursue in leisure was once a way of life for those men who were known as Woodkern.

 

The word Kern is an anglicized version of the Gaelic word “Ceithern” which translates roughly as “a warlike group”. Woodkern can thus be described as “bands of warlike men who dwell in the woods”. Though the phrase Woodkern refers to men who lived during a specific period of time, they belonged to a very old tradition that dates back throughout the ages of recorded history into times of legend and myth. These men were often described as outcast or outlaws, but in reality they were usually men of good social standing and wealth. They would have needed the funds to supply their own arms and equipment and they would also have needed more skill in the arts of warfare than the average peasant or farmer would have had. Warbands such as these were common throughout history and those who operated in this manner have been known by many names at different periods of time.

 

Fionn MacCumhal (anglicized as Finn McCool) was the mythical leader of a warband known as Na Fianna (The Warband). The Fianna lived in the woods amongst the wilds and offered their services as warriors and shamans to those who they deemed worthy or in need. In the legends, Fionn and his men are mostly treated with respect and an unusual reverence by the people they encounter. The men who fight with Fionn are wealthy, respected, skilled, and free. To become a part of the group a man had to pass extreme physical and mental tests, such as defending oneself from attack using only a shield whilst being buried in the ground up to the armpits. Peasants and farmers honoured these men, whilst the Chiefs and Kings provided them with hospitality and shelter during the winter months. The stories of Fionn’s adventures with his Fian are largely mythological, but we know that there were men in reality who joined warbands such as these and dwelt in the woods and mountains around the time that the tales of The Fianna were recorded.

 

As time went by warbands such as The Fianna became known as Woodkern and they were an invaluable asset to any Irish Chieftain who could win (or buy) their allegiance. The modus operandi of Woodkern was fairly specific and consistent throughout history. Kern were self-contained light infantry troops who could stage vicious ambushes and retreat to the cover of the trees before the enemy had a chance to regroup. British agent Edmund Spenser, who had no love of the barbarous Irish, admired the stoic resilience of the Kern and described them as ‘great endurers of cold, labour, hunger, and all hardness’, and ‘very great scorners of death’. Young lads would be inducted into the band as squires or apprentices to learn the ways of war from the more experienced Kern, who had learned their trade in bloody inter-tribal cattle raids and battles against their enemies, both foreign and domestic. Typically their weapons included the bow (boga), short sword (scian), throwing spears (gae), and a small shield, while their armour was minimal and usually consisted merely of a light tunic, a jacket and a cloak.

 

Though men have always banded together beyond the borders of “civilized” society, the time at which the Woodkern became most significant was following the Norman invasion of Ireland in the late 12th century. The arrival of the heavily armoured Norman Knights and Men-At-Arms on Irish soil was the fulcrum upon which the whole of modern Irish history pivots. The invasion marked the beginning of the end for the old Gaelic Order, and tied the fate of the Irish people to the whims of British aristocracy for the rest of all time. If you look around this island today you will see very little culture that is Gaelic and very much culture that is a product of Norman-British influence. But first, a little background on the war-like Normans and their relevance to this discussion:

 

The Normans were the descendants of Norse Vikings and Settlers who had established homes for themselves in the North of France under the leadership of Rollo. Over the years these Norsemen (Norman) settlers interbred with the local Frankish women and forsook the pagan gods of their forefathers in exchange for Orthodox Catholicism. A unique culture was eventually birthed in which Christianity, music, fealty, and war were valued above all else. They had previously conquered the Anglo-Saxon tribes of England in 1066 under William the Conqueror (or William the Bastard), and the Kings of England ever since that day had not been English at all. England was now ruled by the foreign Normans.

 

After the Norman invasion, bands of native English united into small groups of guerrillas who took to the woods and waged a bloody campaign of rebellion. The most famous leader of this resistance movement was known as Hereward the Wake, but his forces were eventually defeated and scattered at Ely. The term that the English had for these guerrilla troops was “green-men” to signify that they made the forests and fens their home whilst they fought the invader. Once the rebellion had been put down for good, the elite ruling classes of England (now predominantly Norman men) started planning how they would invade their Irish neighbours. The invasion was sanctioned by the Roman Catholic Church, who considered the Irish to be “semi-pagan and barbarous” due to the many customs and habits that had survived from the ancient Celtic pagan culture.

 

As it was with the native English, so it would be for the Gael. In 1169, Norman invaders turned their eye towards the fertile and untamed land of Ireland, having been offered an opportunity for great adventure and conquest by an Irishman in exile. Diarmad MacMurrough had been the King of Leinster until he was dethroned by the High King of Ireland, Ruaidri Ùa Conchobar, for eloping with another man’s wife. Diarmad fled to King Henry II of England who swore to help him regain his crown in return for Diarmad’s pledge of service. In Normandy and Wales, MacMurrough hired the aid of a coalition of Norman lords, to whom he offered lands and titles and riches and even his own daughter in marriage. When the foreigners (called Gall or Sassanach by the Gaels) landed on Irish soil, they began a series of wars that would bleed this nation dry and condemn her sons to exile and slavery up until this very day. Diarmad MacMurrough’s betrayal and scheming lead to a cataclysmic event that irreversibly changed the face of Gaelic Ireland and Irish culture. It is not uncommon for a Christian to refer to a treacherous man as “a Judas”, and likewise the Irish may call such a traitor “a MacMurrough”.

 

But as is to be expected, the tribes of the Gael did not bow down and surrender feebly to the impressively armoured Knights of the Gall. Much like what happened in England a century before, the Norman invasion of Ireland was followed by a long and turbulent period of resistance and guerrilla warfare. Many of the native Gaelic kings and chieftains allied with the Norse-Gaels who dwelt within the walled Norse cities of Waterford, Dublin and Wexford, and fought the invaders. But the heavily armed mounted cavalry and men-at-arms of the Normans were a formidable force for the lightly armed Irish tribes to fight in open combat. So they fought the invaders on their own terms wherever they could. Bands of warriors operated Guerrilla style ambush and withdrawal tactics from the dense forests and the misty boglands that they knew better than any foreigner. These men formed tightly-knit warbands, much like Fionn MacCumhals Fianna of old. They became Woodkern, and it was within the dark woods that the forces of Irish resistance and independence struggled against their invaders for centuries to come. The following years brought many invaders and conquerors who sought to take from the Irish whatever they could, and contemporary sources constantly make reference to Kern as being ferocious and barbarous warriors. In time, the warriors who dwelt in the woods assumed an almost mythical guise in the minds of their enemies.

 

Even today, a man might walk in the woods alone and feel the overwhelming urge to run or climb branches or swim in streams. Being surrounded by the sturdy ancient barks of the trees and covered over by the limbs of their canopy draws out certain primitive instincts in us. I can say this for certain because I have spent much time in forests and I have felt the call of the woods in my bones. But though it is a pleasant thing to pass time in the forests on a fair day, there is a power lurking there that can chew men up and drive them to the point of insanity and death. A man who dedicates his entire life to the forests must be hard and unrelenting, but a man who also resolves to fight against a seemingly invincible enemy whilst only lightly armed and armoured must be a special breed of wildman. It would be impossible for a modern mind, so accustomed to comfort and security, to fathom the reality of the lives that these Woodkern lived. But we know that they did it and it was the norm in this country for hundreds, if not thousands, of years.

 

There are men amongst us today who feel the call of the woods and welcome the savage instincts that bubble up to the surface when we find ourselves in wild places. Many voices cry out in condemnation of the globalist, consumerist, multi-cultural vacuum that has replaced the old cultures and that makes slaves and robots of men who have the potential to be strong. Jack Donovan has described the modern world as the Empire of Nothing, which offers men only the chance to be mediocre, small, insignificant and silent. Anti-Modernism is a school of thought that seems to be on the rise as huge swathes of the population realize that they do not want the hollow trinkets that the agents of Modernism offer them. They have decided that they would rather burn out in vicious physical pursuits than grow idle and fat watching the Empires propaganda broadcasts. They have decided to ignore the many platitudes that the Empire waves in front of our faces in order to distract us from the lives that we were meant to live.

 

But for all the talk and the discourse on the pros and cons of urban civilized society, there is not a lot of action. The Internet is a truly wondrous creation that has given each of us powers that were hitherto the domain only of the gods. But both the strength of and the problem with the Internet is that it facilitates communication between people from all across the globe with almost no time delay. This is obviously good when it comes to the dissemination of information, but it also means that people spend more time talking to strangers than they spend building personal bonds with people that they can actually meet. Words are wonderful and powerful things, but they tend to lead only to more words. Action is what spawns action, and now is a time where the actions of strong and noble men are sorely needed. We are all guilty of spending too much time on the Internet, and not enough time in the arena.

 

However, there are a number of men who have heard the call of the wilds and have taken the steps to follow the example of our ancestors. Men across the world have begun to band together in forests and fens, in gyms and garages, on mountains and in metropolises, with the sole purpose of reclaiming some of that savage wildness that we have lost and pressuring their sworn brothers into walking the path of strength. These men are modern Woodkern who forsake the many laws and conventions of tame civilization, so that they may live more purely human and natural existences. They have forsaken the smartphone for the sound of the wind that shakes the branches. They reject the vacuous TV programming that rots the mind and instead stare wild-eyed into the blazing ritual fire. They have abandoned the comforts of indolence and convenience to pursue hardship and toil and physical labour in demanding conditions. Men such as these exist all over the world and in the past few years we have heard a number of rallying calls which seek to unite these solitary Kern into small tribal bands with common goals and values.

 

A common trait that seems to be shared by these men is the realization that they are living in a society that despises them. A corrupted, insincere, distracting, soul-sucking, degenerative, enfeebling system of administrative tyranny and societal shame that seeks to suck the marrow from the bones of strong men to leave them crawling on their knees for whatever scraps they can swindle. The world has one desire for us and it is that we be obedient slaves and productive consumers. These wildmen recognize this system for what it is; a hostile and repulsive behemoth that must be forsaken and resisted by strength of will and arms. These men feel most at home in the woods and mountains where the law of nature still reigns, the Law of Claw and Fang.

 

Some of these groups, such as the Wolves of Vinland and Operation Werewolf, model themselves after the age-old tradition of the wolf-cult. They make themselves into archetypal wolves, prowlers at the edge of civilization probing for signs of weakness to exploit, and they seek to subvert or exploit the Empire of Nothing as it collapses and eats itself up from the inside. Men such as these are reviled by the society they oppose and are often hunted and vilified like the wolves they emulate. This is good and as it should be. In older times, Woodkern were reviled as barbarous savages and demons by the enlightened aristocratic British gentlemen who they fought. These Kern made their dens in the dark places beyond the reach of the rule of foreign law, and at every opportunity they attacked in pack formation to bring some small dose of wildness and savagery back into the world of false order. It was the fact that Woodkern were hunted down like the wolves that stalked through the same forests as they did, that forced them to grow strong and tempered their resolve and their bodies into primal engines of power and ferocity. Kern were not hunted because they were fierce. Kern were fierce because they were hunted.

 

And so like Woodkern and Werewolves and outlaws of old, we too must become lost in the woods to find our true selves again. Not all men are called to the life of a Kern, but those who do feel the call of the wilds cannot ignore it for long. If you have grown tired of the false promises and tyrannical demands that modern society places upon you, if you yearn for the chance to let loose the animal in you to run free through the night, if you would rather howl at the moon and temper your weapons with men of your own ilk by firelight than grow soft and fat watching TV or masturbating, then go forth into the wild places wherever you can find them. Become worthy of the respect of strong men and strong men will be drawn to you. Unite with those who have grown from the same roots and soil as you have in order to better yourselves and become worthy of your barbaric ancestors of old. Do these things now before the Empire collapses, because when it all falls down the world will belong to those who have become one with the wilds.

 

Those who dwell within the protective walls of “civilized society” will revile you, ridicule you, ostracize you, and brand you as regressive xenophobic barbarian madmen. Let them.  When they call you mad, or stupid, remember that it is their world that is truly mad. Western civilization has become a breeding ground for weak minded, physically frail, socially incompetent, intellectually vacuous, milkbloods who wouldn’t even know how to survive a bar fight, let alone a life-or-death situation in an uncivilized environment. When G.K. Chesterton described the Irish warriors and Kern as “the men God made mad”, he was paying us a greater compliment than his pampered respectable mind could fathom.

 

Remember, there is a constant battle between all forces in the universe that encapsulates every molecule and conscripts every living being. This battle is fought between wildness and tameness, individuality and conformity, freedom and slavery. To be truly free, one must be partly savage. Amongst the trees and around blazing campfires, men are forced to stare into the eyes of the wilderness which bows not to our whims, and which will feed on our rotting corpses.

 

 

 

August 2016 ò na coillte na hÉireann.

Crom Cruach: The Dark God of the Burial Mound.

Attachment-1

A better man than I  has written elsewhere:

 

“Crom is my god…Crom is the god I need because he is the opposite of the interventionist gods who care about the petty details of men’s lives. You don’t pray to him, because he probably won’t listen, and if he hears you, he probably won’t even pretend to care.”

– Jack Donovan, A Sky Without Eagles.

 

The Crom in question is of course the God of the Cimmerian tribes in Robert E.Howard’s fictional tales of Conan the Barbarian. We are told of Crom:

 

 “He dwells on a great mountain. What use to call on him? Little he cares if men live or die. Better to be silent than to call his attention to you; he will send you dooms, not fortune! He is grim and loveless, but at birth he breathes power to strive and slay into a man’s soul. What else shall men ask of the gods?”

 

This is the Crom that we men of the modern world are familiar with. Popularized by the stories of Robert Howard, the Conan The Barbarian movie, and the articles of Jack Donovan, Crom has become a symbol for men who strive to stand on their own legs and take what’s theirs by the right of conquest. Men who do not ask the gods for anything more than the strength to fight their own battles. In times past a significant symbolic representation of some metaphysical concept would have been passed on in the form of a story or myth, but today they are reduced to hashtags such as #cromlaughsatyourfourwinds. Typically we see the name of Crom being invoked on social media by men who are too busy about their business to pray to some made-up deity who pretends to give a shit about us. Rather than that, they invoke the name of a made-up deity who very clearly doesn’t care about us, then they get back to the work of pursuing their goals.

 

Isn’t that the whole point of a god? To give you some reason to keep living and striving and slaying your weakness in the pursuit of your higher self?

 

If not that, then what?

 

The character of Crom was popularized by the Conan movie and has since been taken on by many men as a symbol of their disregard for public affirmation. The invocation of his name can be taken not as a prayer for help, a supplication, but rather as an expression meaning: “I’ve got a lot of bullshit to deal with to achieve my goals. So it’s time to get off my ass and work/fight/train/kill etc”. Moving from the act of praying to the act of cursing and carrying on is very succinctly portrayed in the movie “The Grey”, when Liam Neeson’s character reaches rock bottom in his struggle for survival, looks to the open sky and addresses a god that he may never have believed in:

 

 “Do something. You faulty prick, fraudulent motherfucker. DO SOMETHING! FUCK FAITH! EARN IT! SHOW ME SOMETHING REAL! I NEED IT NOW, NOT LATER! Do something and I’ll believe in you until the day I die, I swear. I’m calling on you, I’M CALLING ON YOU!

Fuck it, I’ll do it myself.”

 

“Crom!” could very well be taken as an abbreviation of: “Fuck it, I’ll do it myself”.

 

But the inspiration for this god came not from the imagination of Robert E. Howard alone. My ancestors among the ancient pagan Irish once worshipped a sinister and mysterious deity, commonly known as Crom Cruach. However, we are told that he was saluted by other names too. Crom Dubh, Crom Croich, and Cenn Cruach. The meaning of the name of this enigmatic spirit is as mysterious as his history. Crom means “crooked”, Cenn means “head” or “chieftain”, Dubh means “dark” or “black”, Croich means “gallows”, and Cruach means either “bloody” or “mound”. I would not argue that etymology alone should be the means by which we build an understanding of our unknown history, but it is certainly a significant indicator of intent. Taking these things into account we could loosely translate the many titles of Crom as meaning:
“The Dark Crooked Lord of the Bloody Mound.”

 

Crom is death.

 

But he is also life. A fitting paradox for such an ancient and forgotten deity.

 

On the last Sunday of July, Domhnach Crom Dubh in Irish, he rises from deep out of the earth bearing Eithne upon his crooked back. He rises up from out of the black soil wherein he dwells in order to lay claim to his share of the harvest, before sinking down again for the winter. But we are told that in times of poor harvest, a firstborn child would be sacrificed before Crom’s idol in the forested land of Magh Slecht (the Plain of Prostration) in order to appease the Crooked Lord of the Bloody Mound. These child sacrifices may have been an invention of the later Christian monks who wrote down what little we know of the god, but he certainly seems to have been associated (as are all gods) with sacrificial offerings in some form or another.

 

The legacy of Crom and his worship is shrouded in mystery and skewed by the early Irish Christian propaganda. But one thing that all accounts concerning this god seem to indicate is that he was dangerous. One did not carelessly pray to the Crooked One for trivial favours. Considering this, it may be that offerings were made to Crom so that he would not look upon the tribes of the Gael. Perhaps all the people wanted from Crom was for him to stay away from mankind, down in the black earth. On occasion Crom has even slain his own worshippers whilst they were in the midst of honouring his idols. The Dinshenchas is a poem describing the mythological geography of Ireland. Abridged, it states:

 

“At Magh Slecht used to stand a lofty idol,

whose name was the Crom Cruach;

it caused every tribe to live without peace.

The valiant Gael used to worship it:

with tribute they asked of it their share in hard times.

He was their god, the wizened Crom, hidden by many mists:

those that paid him tribute shall ne’er see heaven.

For him ingloriously they slew their firstborn,

to pour the blood round Crom Cruach.

Milk and corn they asked of him.

From his worship came many crimes to Magh Slecht.

Thither came Tigernmas, prince of distant Tara, one Samhain eve,

with all his host, to meet their sorrow.

They stirred his evil eye, they beat their fists,

they bruised their bodies, wailing to the demon who held them in thralls,

they wept storms of tears, weeping prostrate.

Dead the men, void of strength. Hard their fate.

One man in four there made his escape with death on his lips.

Round Crom Cruach there the hosts did obeisance:

though it brought them under mortal shame,

the name cleaves to the mighty plain.”

 

Obviously Crom is a strange and ambivalent spirit who should be approached with great caution, or not at all. But why is he associated with the fair maiden Eithne at the end of summer? Eithne was the mother of the Irish sun god Lugh, who was responsible for bountiful harvests. Eithne is sometimes equated with the goddess Boann (from “Bò Fionn” meaning White Cow, a sacred animal), who is associated with the health and prosperity of cattle. It is very revealing then that Crom Cruach, who dwells in the soil for most of the year, is tied to Eithne in the way that he is. Think about it. Eithne, who bestows health upon cattle, gave birth to the sun god, who bestows health upon crops. These are the manifested forces of natural fertility, to whom the ancient agricultural tribes of the Gael would depend on for their survival. Without the blessings of these gods, the people of ancient Ireland would starve.

 

Fertility deities become most significant during spring, when crops are sown, and at the autumn harvest, when crops are reaped and tallied. It is no coincidence then that Crom of the Mound appears at the end of summer, during the harvest, to bear Eithne upon his back and carry her down into the black soil to wait out the barren winter. For winter is a time of death and hunger. Eithne, mother of the sun, hides from the world in the realm of Dark Crom until she roams free to bless us with nature’s bounty at spring. The bounty of the tribe’s crop at the harvest would determine how hard the winter would be.

 

During bad years with a poor harvest, the most vulnerable members of the tribes would have starved to death or taken ill. Difficult as it would have been for an already suffering people, it would have benefitted the community as a whole to preserve their meagre resources by letting go of those who were unlikely to make it through the winter. And who were the most likely to die during these periods of starvation? The young children of course. Babies have always been left to die by those who have had to make hard choices in times of starvation, even during events as recent as the Great Hunger in Ireland in 1845. I’d wager it happens even today in some parts of the world. Did the pagan Gaels offer these starving babes up to Black Crom in the hopes that he would be merciful with the next harvest? Or was it merely a misunderstanding or an act of propaganda on the part of the early Christian clergy? Does Crom desire our infant dead or is he merely associated with them by proxy?

 

We can never know for sure, but we can assume that Crom is a symbolic representation of the natural death that the earth and its people experience during winter and times of scarcity. He is the one who takes away the life of the earth and hoards it underground for the dark half of the year. But without this death, there would be no life. Without Crom to take away the mother of plenty, there could be no natural resurrection at springtime. We may not like Crom, we may only wish for him to stay away and cast his cold eye elsewhere, but we are certainly in his debt.

 

And so we come to the problem of historical uncertainty. We know that the ancient Gael worshipped Crom and maintained his shrine at Magh Slecht. However we cannot be certain what the nature of that worship was. The truth of this god has been shrouded in the mists of the passing millennia, and misrepresented by the judgmental Christian scribes who vilified his name. We can only assume what this particular deity meant to our ancestors and why he was relevant, but in reality, we must concede that that’s true for any myth or belief, no matter how well preserved. We today do not live in the same manner that our pagan tribal ancestors once did in the dim forgotten recesses of history, and so we cannot expect to experience a connection with their gods in the same way that they did. We must reshape their gods and mould them to fit our lives and our purpose. We must create our gods in such a way that they are relevant to the lives we lead today, rather than simply re-enacting the rituals and beliefs of long dead generations. Soon or late, every man must decide whether he will be a creator or a preserver. An evolving chaotic flame or a stagnant redundant stone. A visionary or a slave. As Jack Donovan has said:

 

“Men must find inspiration where they can. If the old gods have become mere stories, ideas, then men are free to choose whatever story inspires them to become what they believe they should become”

 

Thus it is that I have taken what is ancient, coupled it with some modern literature, and created an archetype that I can channel to suit my purpose. Just like Conan before his battle upon the burial mound, I do not pray to Crom in the hopes of receiving his blessing. Like Conan, I use the idea of Crom Cruach of the Bloody Mound to inspire me to embrace death and hardship and cruelty so that I can transcend these ideas and overcome my personal limitations.

 

To me, Crom is death, but like the earth upon which we stand we can be reborn from the black decaying soil of our weakness as a stronger and more productive being than we were before. If we wish to be strong, we must slay that which is weak in us. If we wish to be wise, we must lay waste to our foolishness and ignorance. Crom takes what is his due, so offer up that which you despise in yourself to the Lord of the Mound in sacrifice.

 

Crom is my god. I say that without the slightest trace of irony or embarrassment. I offer no explanation or excuse, and I do not proselytize or preach. If you are the type of man who would ask nothing of the gods but the strength to walk your own path and forge your own future, then Crom is the god for you. If you care not whether the gods be real spiritual entities or symbolic expressions of the many facets of the human psyche, then Crom is the god for you. If you do not care whether you are being protected, favoured, or destined for some spiritual fate, then Crom is the god for you. For those men who care nothing for the gods, Crom is the god for them, because Crom cares nothing for mankind. But do not bother with prayers or invocations. Ask him no questions nor sing him no songs. Rather offer him your blood and the sweat of your labours, leave him to his mound, and seek out the path of strength in the face of hardship. What else shall the gods ask of men?

 

Bring forth your sons to the burial ground.
Prostrate and bent, offer no sound.
Beseech not with words but with silence profound.
Offer your sons to the Lord of the Mound.
To the Dark Crooked Head of the Gallows
Be Bound.

 

June 23rd, 2016. Dublin.

*Special thanks go to Bjorn Moritz who created the image featured in this article. Much appreciated.

Glorious Madness: Revisiting the Easter Rising of 1916.

It has been a year since I wrote and published the following article, but considering it’s that time of year again I think it fitting that I update and publish it once more. We are fast approaching the centenary anniversary of the Easter Rising, which stands proudly over the annals of Irish history as one of our most significant and glorious and yet also disastrous events. For some reason, this was the second most successful article I’ve written in terms of views and shares. According to my website statistics, as many Americans read this post as did Irishmen. Probably more. From what I learn during my occasional conversations with Americans, they seem to be a people who have a greater understanding and respect for symbolic and patriotic acts of sacrifice and courage in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds than my fellow Irishmen. The modern Irishman has been disconnected from his history for so long that many of them sneer and ridicule the members of the Easter Rising as selfish fools. But more tragically, the majority of us know little and care even less about this monumental event that inspired an entire generation of men and women to face the wrath of the mighty British Empire with little more than some old rifles, few bullets, and many songs. Continue reading

Concerning Gods and Men.

Some months ago, I wrote the following deliberately archaic sounding post upon the Unchaining The Titan Facebook page:

   “Men say the gods are dead but men are dumb like asses. Looking to the sky for the divine, we curse the gods and carve their tombstones. But the sky is not the home of the gods, they walk the earth like men. Never trust to a god that is not animal like man. They do not dwell in palaces like immortal kings but in living places like the mortal earth itself. They do do not walk among the trees but in the trees, just as they do not walk among men but in men. Continue reading

Beowulf Part 1: Ascending Fortunes Wheel.


To my shame I have neglected my contribution to this website of late. It’s been a long time since I’ve written anything new here, but now that I can make a little more time for reading and writing it’s time that I got back in the proverbial longboat and dealt with a myth that has long been a personal favorite of mine. I’m not alone in the belief that “Beowulf” is among the greatest legends ever written in the English language. Many are the giants of English literature who have dissected it to unravel its secrets, not least among them being J.R.R. Tolkien whose works are heavily inspired by the Beowulf saga. Tolkien was a professor of Anglo-Saxon and an expert on the topic of Beowulf, and he is largely credited with popularizing the legend, which had previously been regarded as unworthy of study. I intend to give this subject more than one post in order to deal with it as best I am able. This post will be the first part of a series which will give an overview of the narrative, the plot and some important background information. We will also delve deeper into the intimidating mere of the myth that many consider to be England’s National Epic, when we interpret the themes and devices that make this thousand year old myth relevant to modern man. Continue reading

The Gael of No Color.

  

Sing of the glory of the Gael of no color.

The Gael who is neither his own nor anothers.

Spin me a riddle to make sense of his pride,

To unravel the riddle that hides in plain sight

Sing of the glory of our great Celtic tribe.

Last lonely bastion of the savage, the wild.

Our heroes are slain by the hand of Content

Who says “Bury ’em quick, there’s money to spend”.

Our songs go unsounded in the halls of our fathers.

We prance to the drum of the slick-headed foreigner.

He smiles as we grind saying “Don’t you look well”.

But he’s only a salesman with trinkets to sell.

“Don’t tread on the Celt” say the men of the west.

“He knows his own worth and he’ll gut you in jest”.

But Paddy don’t bother with this or with that

‘Til it comes in his view or it steps on his land.

The wolfhound’s been neutered and we’ve buried the stag

And we don’t venture forth to appease the Old Hag.

We don’t even worship the Mountain no more,

And the oak tree ain’t nothing to us but fine floors.

These fat racketeers dealt us our hand.

They built roads and bridges but buried the land.

They say “Don’t you look sharp wrapped up our flag”.

But I look like I feel in my homespun old rags. 

The shades of our heroes surround me in sleep.

They don’t speak a damn word, why waste breath on sheep?

In the sight of my Fathers I can’t sleep for shame.

They lend us no valor, just scorn from the grave.

Some days I’d rather be gutted and hung from a rock,

Beset on all sides by men of small stock.

Savage and mad in the sight of Wild Gods

Who don’t pay us no mind except to witness our fall.

Sing of the glory of the Gael of no color.

Who neither belongs amongst his own nor anothers.

Now we don’t even worship the Mountain no more

And the oak tree’s been felled, but it makes a fine floor.

Megas Begadonos

June 8th, 2015. Dublin.

 

Their Finest Hour, Part 2:The Easter Rising of 1916 (Madness, Glorious Madness.)

  

   I was reluctant to post this particular article so soon after our previous post about the Rebellion of United Irishmen of 1798, as I don’t want to give the impression that this page focuses primarily on Irish history and mythology. However it is Easter 2015 and that means that it is the 99th anniversary of one of the most significant and glorious, but simultaneously tragic and foolish events in the history of Ireland. So I indulged and wrote the damn thing. If Irish history isn’t your thing, fear not; there’ll be more of the usual posts coming up soon (and some awesome new projects). But considering that it’s almost a century to the day that the streets of Dublin ran red with the blood of our heroes; let’s talk about the Easter Rising of 1916. This will be a long article, my longest to date, and in order to describe this significant event in detail but yet remain accessible, I have divided it up into different topics and given it headings as points of reference. You may not wish to read the entire post in one sitting, and you do not have to, but I would recommend that you do read it in its entirety when you can make the time. It is a story full of heroism and glory and tragedy, worthy of remembrance. There are many names who appear in this account who you may not be familiar with, but rest assured, if I have named a man here it is because his actions justify the honor I pay to his name. This article is detailed but it is only the tip of the iceberg, and it is far less than these men deserve.


Easter.  
   For those of you who are Christian,  easter is a holy time where you celebrate the resurrection of your Messiah from death. The Hebrew celebrates the festival of Passover, which commemorates their liberation by Yahweh from slavery in Egypt under the leadership of Moses. If you are any branch of Pagan/Heathen, it is a time to celebrate the return of spring and all its radiance and fertility. It is the time of year where fertility deities like Freyr, Freyja, Aphrodite, Brigid and Eostre ( the Anglo-Saxon spring goddess after whom the name Easter is derived) reign supreme. But if you are an Irishman; it is the time of year wherein we honor the sacrifice which was made by our ancestors who fought and died in the cause of Irish liberty. These men and women took on the mighty British Empire with little more than a handful of rifles, some grenades and the knowledge that their cause was just. The legacy of these men has been appropriated and misrepresented by numerous groups who all hoped to grant legitimacy to their cause and further their own ends by association with the glorious sons and martyrs of ’16. But the fact that so many have attempted to lay claim to the legacy of so few is a testament to the solemnity and respect which our people as a whole pay (or ought to pay) these dead men. 

“It is madness, but it is glorious madness.”

   These words, spoken by The O’Rahily before his glorious death charging a British machine-gun post, were no joke. The Rising could never have succeeded. It was doomed to fail. In terms of its military efficacy; it was a poorly organized, poorly provisioned, foolish waste of resources and lives. One wonders whether the leaders of the revolution had ever held any hope of victory, or if they chose to sacrifice themselves in the hope that it would inspire others to take up the cause of independence. The evidence seems to indicate that they realized they were outgunned from the beginning, yet still decided to pay the Blood Price. The Rising was a blunder and a military disaster, but the Rebel leadership had set a goal of holding their positions for the minimum time which was legally required to launch a claim to independence, as stated in international law. They achieved this end, if nothing else. It seems that the primary objective of the Volunteers was not to hold the city by force, but to hold control over its centers of administration and communication just long enough to broadcast Joseph Plunketts telegraph to the wider world:

“Rising in Dublin. Republic declared.”
  
World War I.
   But first, a little background. When World War I began, 200,000 Irishmen joined the British Army which was fighting against the Germans, who had invaded the small states of Belgium and Luxembourg. The war was portrayed by Britain and her allies as a struggle against an expansionist regime so that “small nations might be free”. This justification rang hollow in the ears of Irish Nationalists, whose small nation had been oppressed by foreign occupiers for centuries. Many who went to fight in the British Army (including some of my own ancestors) did so in the hope that their struggle would encourage Britain to grant Ireland some steps towards independence, primarily Home Rule. However, for many men the idea of fighting alongside the British was not as appealing as fighting against the British while they were distracted by the war. In the lead up to World War I, the situation in Ireland had become increasingly militarized. The British government held full control over Irish policies and there was in effect no Irish government or Military. As a result, many groups began to organize themselves into militaristic entities in order to further their agenda. The Irish Citizen Army (ICA) was formed of Trade Unionists (then a novel concept) who armed themselves and trained in order to protect workers protests from attack. James Connolly turned the ICA from an armed protection band to a revolutionary group dedicated to establishing a Socialist Republic. After Connolly threatened to stage a rebellion with the ICA alone if nobody else began to act, he was approached by a larger group who had been planning the Easter Rising; The Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB), a secret band of men bound by sworn oaths to establish a Democratic Republic in Ireland. They agreed to join forces and work together during an armed rebellion planned for Easter Sunday 1916. These groups were added to by members of Cumann na mBan, a revolutionary organization composed entirely of women who dedicated themselves to the cause of Irish Republicanism, even taking up arms and training in the skills of warfare. The combined forces of the would-be Rebels went under the overall name of The Irish Volunteers. The Volunteers intended to enlist the help of Britains enemy, Germany, in order to gain weapons and manpower. 

Preparations.
   But despite their enthusiasm, the Rebels plans went to hell from the very beginning. The German boat carrying weapons was attacked by a British ship and the IRB never received the cache of weapons, partly because of the attack, but partly because they were waiting for the ship on the wrong beach. The IRB also had to contend with the risk of sabotage from within their own ranks by those leaders of the organization who opposed the Rising. Hugh O Neill, Bulmer Hobson and The O’Rahilly were three prominent members of the IRB leadership who realized that any revolution that they had the capacity to organize at that time would be doomed to end in bloody failure. In an attempt to fool these men, Padraig Pearse (the IRB Chief of Operations) ordered all Volunteers to stage “three days of parades and maneuvers” beginning on Easter Sunday. This was to be the secret code which he knew that die-hard republicans would recognize as the signal to stage the planned rebellion, but he hoped that those men opposed to the action would take it at face value and fall for the ruse. But the plan failed and the three opposing leaders ordered all volunteers to stand down on Easter Sunday, when they realized what Pearse had planned. However, the only thing they achieved was to delay the revolt by a day, and reduce the number of men who would participate. On the morning of Easter Monday, armed lines of marching men in squadrons passed through the streets of Dublin. The Easter Rising had begun.

Monday: Dublin Is Occupied.
   Estimates of the number of participants sit at around 3000 men and women, although the majority of fighting took place solely in Dublin City. In Dublin, approximately 1200 men forcefully took over a number of indefensible and tactically useless buildings. They established their Headquarters within the General Post Office (GPO), over which they hung out two Republican flags, effectively signaling their intent to wage war upon the British occupiers. On the street outside the GPO, Padraig Pearse read the Proclamation Of The Republic to passers-by. This document proclaimed a policy of liberty, equality and prosperity for all citizens of Ireland. Dublin Castle was the administrative centre of British rule in Ireland, but the attempt to take it failed after one of the men inside was alerted by rifle shots and closed the gate. They next tried to take control of Trinity College but they were fought off by a group of armed Unionist students. Instead, the rebels occupied Dublin City Hall and also set explosives in the Magazine Fort in Phoenix Park. British patrols engaged groups of Rebels in various locations throughout the city, with casualties incurred on both sides. However, the British authorities had been so unprepared for the event that there was no organized operations to control the rebellion until the second day. 
  

Tuesday: Fire From The Skies.
   By Tuesday morning, British Forces began to launch tentative assaults on Rebel positions, unsure of how many Irish troops that they were up against. Reinforcements were assembled and began making their way to Dublin, via the railways and the ports which the rebels had crucially neglected to seize control of. On Monday, British Forces in Dublin amounted to 1,269 men, roughly equivalent to the number of Rebels. However, by the end of the week there were 16,000 soldiers on Dublins streets accompanied by artillery guns and the HMS Helga, a warship which sailed up the river to bombard rebel positions. This was a key failure on the part of the Rebels, they never controlled the vital access points into the City in order to limit the amount of troops which could be brought against them. 

Midweek: Combat Intensifies.
   When Wednesday came, the artillery crews and the guns of the Helga began bombarding rebel positions. A number of rebel positions, such as the headquarters in the GPO, saw very little combat as the British chose to assault them with artillery rather than with ground troops. But over the following days, some of the Rebels elsewhere found themselves being overrun, such as the group at St. Stephens Green. They were forced to fall back after coming under relentless sniper and machine gun fire from the surrounding buildings. But many groups of Rebels encountered fierce combat as the British assaulted them trying to gain control of the city. During the Battle of Mount Street Bridge, 17 Irish Volunteers killed or wounded 240 British troops as they attempted to gain access to the city. The British eventually overran their position and killed 4 of the volunteers. At the present site of St. James Hospital, Cathal Brugha distinguished himself with honor in combat and was severely wounded while leading forces under the command of Eamonn Ceannt to inflict heavy casualties upon their enemy. When the rebels began to withdraw, Brugha stayed behind due to heavy blood loss after he was caught in a grenade explosion, firing on the advancing enemy with a pistol. Eamonn Ceannt found him half-delirious, singing “God Save Ireland”, with his pistol still in his hand firing at the enemy troops. At North King Street, British forces had faced such fierce resistance while trying to advance on a rebel position, that they became enraged and stormed into a number of houses along the street and shot or stabbed 15 civilians. At Portobello Barracks, which was later renamed Cathal Brugha Barracks when the Irish Army took over from the British, soldiers executed a number of pacifist prisoners in retaliation for the Rebels activities. 


Saturday: Surrender.
   After days of heavy shelling from artillery, half of O’Connell street had been on fire. As the flames spread, the ruins of the General Post Office where the Rebels made their headquarters, went up in an infernal blaze of fire and smoke. The leadership attempted to hold out for a last stand, but on Friday night they had been forced to abandon the building or burn to death. They had to smash through the walls and gates of neighboring buildings in order to avoid enemy fire, and by Saturday morning they had established a position in a small building on Moore Street. James Connolly had to be carried through the streets on a stretcher once the new headquarters was secured. The situation had grown hopeless, and in order to prevent the further loss of life and devastation of the city, Padraig Pearse surrendered unconditionally to the British General Lowe. He wrote out orders to stand-down all other rebel positions in the city and gave them to a nurse, Elizabeth O’Farrell, who delivered the orders under British escort to the remaining Rebel groups still in the fight. By Sunday, the Easter Rising was well and truly over. 
  

Executions: Giving The People Heroes.
   Thousands of men and women were arrested immediately after the surrender of the Rebels, many of whom played no part in the insurrection. The courts martial which followed sentenced 90 men to death, although they only managed to kill 16 before the public outcry and pressure from foreign governments forced the British government to spare the rest of the prisoners from the firing squad. All of the seven leaders who signed the Proclamation Of The Republic were shot, along with others who played a lesser or no role in the rebellion. Joseph Plunkett was permitted by the Warden of the prison to marry his girlfriend, Grace Gifford, pregnant with his child. After a hasty ceremony, Plunkett was taken outside to face his death. It was a waste of bullets, as Plunkett was already a dying man since having succumbed to Tuberculosis. Old Tom Clarke was permitted a visit by his wife and daughter, to whom he said:


“We have struck the first blow towards Irish freedom. Between this and freedom, Ireland will go through Hell. But Ireland will never lie down again.”
When James Connollys turn to face the firing squad came, he was in such a wretched state from severe wounds that he was expected to have only survived another day or two anyway. But his executioners decided to carry out their orders regardless. Unable to stand on his shattered leg, they had to tie him into a chair before they shot him. In his cell, before Eamonn Ceannt went to his death he took a moment to write a letter to the Irish people as a whole:


“Never treat with the enemy, never surrender at his mercy, but fight a finish. Ireland has shown she is a nation. This generation can claim to have raised sons as brave as any that went before. And in the years to come Ireland will honour those who risked all for her honour at Easter 1916.”

The bodies of the dead were buried in a mass grave with no coffins, which incensed the Irish people even further. It was the executions (especially Connollys and Plunketts, dying men) which turned the public opinion from contempt to sympathy for the Rebels. Eamonn de Valera, who commanded the Rebel forces on the southeast of the city, managed to cheat death by virtue of his American birth. The American ambassador campaigned for mercy on his part, and the British authorities thought that he was unlikely to cause further trouble. So he was sentenced to penal servitude for life, until he was granted a general amnesty in 1917. The names of those who were executed is as follows: 
-Padraig Pearse.
-Thomas MacDonagh.
-Thomas Clarke.
-Joseph Mary Plunkett.
-William Pearse.
-Edward Daly.
-Michael O’Hanrahan.
-John MacBride.
-Eamonn Ceannt.
-Michael Mallin.
-Sean Heuston.
-Con Colbert.
-Sean MacDiarmada.
-James Connolly.
-Roger Casement.
  •   

 Women In The Rising.
   A number of women actively participated in the Rising alongside the men of the Volunteers, usually in the role of medics, secretaries, scouts and dispatch carriers. However, a number of women took up arms, reported to their posts with pistols and fought alongside their brothers-in-arms. Constance Markievicz, among others, acted as a sniper and shot some of the enemy. The role that the women of Cumann na mBan played in helping to organize and facilitate the Easter Rising cannot be overstated. It was also a woman, Elizabeth O’Farrell, who undertook the dangerous but essential task of carrying Pearses order of surrender across the war torn city to the Rebels who still fought on. 

Civilian Reaction to the Rebels.   
   The Rising was sprung so suddenly and so secretly that members of the public had been completely unprepared. One witness stated:


“None of these people were prepared for Insurrection. The thing had been sprung on them so suddenly they were unable to take sides.”

The Rebels might have received some support from the local populace if they had focussed on campaigning for public opinion before they acted, as some leaders like O’Rahilly and O’Neill had suggested. But they had neglected to bring the residents of Dublin into the plan, and as a result they faced the wrath and ridicule of the disgruntled population. They Rebels encountered resistance during the attempt to occupy a number of their positions and resorted to beating or shooting a number of civilians, the very people they were fighting for. These attacks on innocent (mostly poor) people, the destruction of the city, the disruption of food supplies, the gunfights on the streets, the loss of income and the large number of civilians who died as a result of the British artillery strikes, combined to make the public extremely hostile towards the Rebels in the aftermath of their surrender. The prisoners were pelted with stones and waste, ridiculed as “murderers”, and attacked as they were escorted to Kilmainam Jail to be interred for trial. It was not until the British began executing members of the Rebels that the Irish public began to show signs of sympathy for them, and contempt for the heavy-handed approach of the authorities. In time, the words of Padraig Pearse came true:


“We have done right. People will say hard things of us now, but in time they will praise us.”
  
The O’Rahilly.
   The O’Rahilly is responsible for a number of quiet famous quotes from the day. His is the story of a true romantic nationalist and revolutionary. Although he had been opposed to the Rising from the very beginning, when he heard that it had begun without him he immediately jumped into his expensive car (he was fairly wealthy) and drove to the Rebel HQ at the GPO. When he met with Padraig Pearse and Michael Collins inside, they asked why he was there even though he had tried to stop the event, he remarked:

“I helped to wind up the clock. I might as well hear it strike.”

When Constance Markievicz  reminded him that he had described the plan for the Rising as “madness”, he retorted with enthusiasm:

“It is madness, but it is glorious madness.

On Friday, the day before the leaders of the Rising ordered the surrender, he led a number of men in an attempt to establish a new position on Moore Street in order to defend the headquarters. When they left the GPO they found themselves confronted by a well manned machine-gun post. With the enemy so close to the main body of the Commanders of the Rebels, the men had to make a stand and go headfirst into the barrage of enemy fire. As The O’Rahilly stared up along the street before he made his heroic charge at the machine-gun post, he turned to a nervous looking comrade and said:

“Sure look, it’s better than catching a cold here.”
With 12 men following him, he made his way through heavy enemy fire from the rooftops, before he and a number of his men were shot. When he heard British soldiers marking his position, he made a desperate dash across the street into an alley, suffering a number of further gunshot wounds. The O’Rahilly lay dying in the gutter of a dank alleyway, surrounded by enemy soldiers, unable to move. At this point he took out his notebook, and wrote his final letter to his beloved wife:

“Written after I was shot. Darling Nancy I was shot leading a rush up Moore Street and took refuge in a doorway. While I was there I heard the men pointing out where I was and made a bolt for the laneway I am in now. I got more than one bullet I think. Tons and tons of love dearie to you and the boys and to Nell and Anna. It was a good fight anyhow. Please deliver this to Nannie O’ Rahilly, 40 Herbert Park, Dublin. Goodbye Darling.”
Before he lay down for the final time he dipped a finger into one of his wounds, reached over his head to a nearby door, and thereupon he wrote in his own blood: “The O’Rahilly died here.” Eyewitness accounts describe how a British soldier was placed to stand guard over his wounded body, with orders to deny anybody from going near The O’Rahilly. They stole his watch, his ring and the letter to his wife. They denied him access to an ambulance on two occasions, and left him on the street where he lay. It took more than 24 hours for him to die, and for all the time, it was all he could do to lay in the gutter as an enemy soldier and a number of civilians watched him bleed to death. When one of the ambulance drivers asked the soldier why he was standing watch over the body and refused to allow the man receive treatment for his wounds, the soldier remarked:

“He must be somebody important, because the bastards want him to bleed to death.”
O’Rahillys final letter would probably have been lost, like his watch and ring, if it wasn’t for the kindness of one woman. Apparently, either a cleaner or a nurse in Dublin Castle saw the infamous letter sitting on an Officers desk and made off with it. She later delivered it to O’Rahillys widow Nancy, as the note requested.
 
  

The Legacy of the Dead.  
   The dramatic story of The O’Rahilly is a good snapshot of the character of these rebels. The majority of them were nationalist romantics. But they were not soldiers, or captains, or generals or tacticians. Only a minority of the members of the Rebellion had ever served in the military, usually with the British or the Americans as there was no Irish military at the time. Fewer still had seen combat. With more experience among their captains, the Rebels might have devised a more tactically sound plan, executed more skillful operations and met with some measure of success. But they lacked this vital experience and relied only on their romantic enthusiasm and what little preparation they had made. The idea of “Blood Sacrifice” may have been a noble one, but it was a foolish one. Michael Collins, hero of the War of Independence which followed the 1916 Rising, thought the same. He was there in the GPO with the rebel leadership and he cursed the folly of the whole affair. 
   
   Many of those who fought during the Easter Rising would later go on to become key players in the War of Independence. Eamon de Valera became Irelands most prominent political leader of the early 20th century, after he narrowly escaped execution for his actions. Michael Collins had served in the Rebel headquarters during the Easter Week, and would later become a successful politician, a revolutionary, the most celebrated leader of the Irish Republican Army and the first Commander-in-Chief of the Irish National Army. He also negotiated the controversial Anglo-Irish Treaty which would grant Ireland her first steps towards independence, but which crucially partitioned the country into what is now Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. The effects of this partition were tragic, bloody and remain seen even today. Cathal Brugha eventually recovered from his many wounds against all odds, and rose to a position on par with that of Michael Collins during the War of Independence with Britain. It was Brugha who amalgamated the IRB and the ICA into the Irish Republican Army, of which he was elected as Commander-in-Chief. The Irish Army barracks in Dublin is named after Brugha, while the barracks in Cork City is named after Collins.
   
    We are not so far removed from these heroes as we might think. A century has not yet passed since the Rising. These men were our grandfathers and great-grandfathers. They were our Golden Generation. They walked among men as Giants and Titans. They were not perfect men, and they were far from ideal revolutionaries, but they knew where they stood on the most important matters of the day. They choose to act, instead of just debating and planning and begging for meagre handouts. They were divided on many issues, as one can only expect in such troubled times, but they were united by their commitment to their cause and their resolve to achieve victory at any price. Even the price of their blood and their life. There are a great many of their relatives and descendant alive even today, in whose veins flows the blood of valiant heroes and impassioned patriots. But unfortunately, many people of my generation neglect to honor the sacrifices that these men and women made in our name. It was for our sake that they rose, and it has been to our benefit. We owe much to the memory of the fallen, and I am ashamed to say that we do not go far enough in honoring them. 
   
   As I have said before, men under foreign rule will always rise in revolt. If it hadn’t been the Irish Volunteers, it would have been somebody else who took advantage of Britains distraction and reached out to snatch at liberty and a place in the history books. The political and social landscape was such that revolutionary action was inevitable. Many of the key players who helped to organize the Rising, to “wind the clock” as The O’Rahilly would say, have been forgotten because they were not executed with the 16. Bulmer Hobson, Eoin O’Neill, Dennis Mcullough, among countless others who made huge commitments to the cause of Irish freedom without actually participating in the Rising itself. All of these men are worthy of praise in their own right, but it is the men who fought and bled that we remember most. It is the man in the arena to whom belongs the glory. I will never forget the story of The O’Rahilly, who was one of the men who had actually tried to stop the Rising. But when the moment to act came upon him, he acted even though it was against his best judgment. He would not stand on the sidelines while other men fought for the glory, he stepped into the arena and died there. If he had lived, he would have been forgotten. How many remember the name of Hobson, who lived to old age as a civil servant? On the pages of history and in the hearts and thoughts of men, it is the man in the arena who counts. No one else.
  
100 Years On.
   The present government of Ireland attempt to usurp control and claim credit for the planned Centenary Commemoration of The Rising in 2016, in order to establish a connection between their political parties and the Honored Dead. In this way they hope to grant some legitimacy to their rule and associate their names with the Heroes of ’16. But they neglect that it is the people of this country and the families of the Volunteers to whom the commemoration truly belongs. The men and women who rose in revolt, did so not for the elite ruling classes, but the common citizen of this country. The authorities disrespect the memory of the slain by allowing such historically sacred sites as Moore Street, where The O’Rahilly met his end with such glory and Pearse fought his way to safety before issuing the final order of surrender, into ruin and disrepair. They walk a tightrope between claiming ownership of the celebrations of the Rising, and limiting the publics exposure to revolutionary ideas and uprising against tyrannical regimes. Now more than ever, the political landscape is divided and open to upheaval, as huge swathes of the population express dissatisfaction with the present authorities. Stir up too much reverence for revolution in the people now, and they may even decide to Rise again. 

“The ghosts of a nation sometimes ask very big things…”
-Padraig Pearse.

Song: The Foggy Dew.

As down the glen one Easter morn to a city fair rode I
There Armed lines of marching men in squadrons passed me by
No pipe did hum, no battle drum did sound its loud tattoo
But the Angelus Bells o’er the Liffey swell rang out in the foggy dew

Right proudly high over Dublin Town they hung out the flag of war
Twas better to die ‘neath an Irish sky than at Suvla or Sud-el-Bar
And from the plains of Royal Meath strong men came hurrying through
While Britannias sons, with their long range guns fired in to the foggy dew

Twas England bade our wild geese go, that “small nations might be free”;
But their lonely graves are by Suvlas waves or the shore of the great North Sea.
Oh, had they died by Pearses side or fought with Cathal Brugha,
Their graves we’d keep where the Fenians sleep, ‘neath the shroud of the foggy dew.

Oh the bravest fell, and the requiem bell rang mournfully and clear
For those who died that Eastertide in the spring time of the year
While the world did gaze, with deep amaze, at those fearless men, but few,
Who bore the fight so that freedom’s light might shine through the foggy dew

As back through the glen I rode again and my heart with grief was sore
For I parted then with valiant men whom I never shall see more
But to and fro in dream I go and I kneel and pray for you,
For slavery fled, O ye glorious dead, when you fell in the foggy dew.



Song: Erin go Bragh.

I'll sing you a song of a row in the town
When the green flag went up and the crown rag came down
'Twas the neatest and sweetest thing ever you saw
When we played that great game they call Erin go Bragh

God bless gallant Pearse and his comrades who died
Tom Clarke, MacDonagh, MacDermott, McBride
And here's to James Connolly who gave one hurrah
As he faced the machine guns for Erin go Bragh

Now, one of our leaders was down in Rings End
For the honor of Ireland to uphold and defend
He had no veteran soldiers but volunteers raw
Playing sweet Mauser music for Erin Go Bragh

Bold Ceannt and his comrades like lions at bay
From the South Dublin Union poured death and dismay
But what was their wrath when the invaders there saw
All the dead khaki soldiers in Erin Go Bragh

A great foreign captain was raving that day
Saying, "Give me one hour and I'll blow you away"
But a big Mauser bullet got stuck in his jaw
And he died of lead poisoning in Erin Go Bragh

Glory to Dublin and to her renown
In the long generations her fame will go down
And children will tell how their forefathers saw
The red blaze of freedom o'er Erin Go Bragh

Easter Sunday, 2015. Dublin.

Their Finest Hour Series: The Rebellion of United Irishmen, 1798.

  


   As a new feature on the website, we begin a series of historical posts, which will recount what I believe to be examples of human civilizations most significant events from throughout history and across the globe. The series will be entitled “Their Finest Hour”, and will emphasize what is best in Man by recounting and interpreting some of our most impressive historical events. I personally have a great interest in history from a variety of periods and civilizations, and so will attempt to represent the entirety of humankind instead of focusing solely on one branch of history. This series is a testament to no single nation or tribe, but rather it is a retelling of humanities struggle for what is noble and glorious in life. 

   The importance of studying, interpreting and passing down significant historical events cannot be overestimated. Unfortunately we live in an age where, despite the vast catalog of human knowledge being available in our very pockets, many of us have lost our connection with our past. This is the tragedy of the modern age: we think we are the pinnacle. We neglect the ancestors who put us here and do not show them any reverence. We forget the many struggles they endured, the wars they waged, the blood they spilt, so that we their descendants might stand free and never know the burden of the yoke, or the sting of the masters whip. I have no doubt that, were they still living, our heroic ancestors would weep for shame at the ignobility of modern Men. No doubt they would be overawed by our technological mastery, but the state of our character often pales in comparison to The Glorious Dead.

   So it is the purpose of the “Their Finest Hour” series to reignite some sense of gratitude, interest, appreciation and reverence for the honorable Men and Women who shaped the world within which we dwell by their sweat and their blood. Continue reading

Father Prometheus: Unchaining The What?

   Many readers might wonder what the title of the website is all about. “Unchaining The Titan” doesn’t seem to tell us very much about what actually goes on here. With this in mind, I’ve decided to elaborate upon the site title, tagline, and just what the hell we do and why. I’ve always been aware that a post like this should have been the first piece of work that I put up, to serve as an introduction to the core concepts of unchainingthetitan.com. However, as my earliest blog posts stated, this website was founded on a whim. But despite our whimsical beginnings we are still here and the time is well past due for us to talk about the being who inspired our little community and (if the Greeks are to be believed) gave life to mankind itself. It’s time that we spoke of Prometheus. But not the sci-fi movie; The Mythological entity of Greek origin. Continue reading