show episodes
 
Story Archaeology combines the breadth of knowledge and skills of the storyteller with academic exploration of ancient texts. We focus on the Irish tradition, peeling back the layers of modern folklore to unearth the potsherds and treasuries of our heritage. At https://storyarchaeology.com, you will find regular podcasts and articles about Irish Mythology by the Story Archaeologists; Chris Thompson and Isolde Carmody.
 
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show series
 
Join the Story archaeologists as they attempt to catch up and answer some of the questions that you have been asking. This Q&A session covers the topic of fír flathemon , 'The truth of the king' and delves into the complexities of the text, Lebor Gabála Érenn, the 'Book of the Taking of Ireland'. We also return to the strange phenomenon of the Morr…
 
This audio story is one of the many stories that circle around the great Táin Bó Cúailnge , The cattle raid of Cooley. It is not a well known story but it is important as it is really the 'origin' story for the whole cycle. It is also a great tale and explains a lot!The story has been included because it emphasises the importance of the storyteller…
 
It has been a while since Isolde and I have been able to work on the podcast but I have continued working with the stories in schools around Ireland, This year, as part of the 2020 Tain March Festival, in May, I had planned to set up a children's Óenach in Roscommon. Like so much else, this has been postponed for the foreseeable futureBut this very…
 
This time last year, I was struggling with what felt like an impossible task. I was asked to come up with a scripted screenplay for the Rathcroghan Visitor Centre, Roscommon. This short animation was commissioned by Nollaig Feeney, the Roscommon Heritage Officer and was a direct outcome of the Schools workshops undertaken in the county in support o…
 
Medb, Queen of Connacht, is rightly renowned in Irish legend and mythology, as a strong and influential woman leader. Her centre of power, Cruachan Ai, is still recognised as one of the most important Iron-age sites in Ireland. Medb lead her people in her own name and by her own right. She was a strong woman in a society largely dominated by strong…
 
Join Chris Thompson as she takes a story-teller's view of the old Irish stories. Who told the and why were they so memorable. In this audio article, Chris celebrates the old stories and explores the challenges in telling them today.For those who have asked me for ideas and advice on story telling generally, I am going to be devoting a section of my…
 
The Dagda with his cauldron of abundance, from which none leave unsatisfied, epitomises the deep and ancient yearning we feel for mid-winter indulgence and good company. It may be that the cauldron had more to offer than just a solid meal. Join Chris, from the Story Archaeologists, as she dips into this extravagant cooking pot.This audio article is…
 
We regularly receive questions from listeners and readers. We try to answer them as soon as we can but many are well worth exploring in more detail. Here we discuss just three. Firstly there is the problem of 'coir', a word that we use regularly in episodes to express an important but complex concept. Another term we frequently use is 'poet' to cov…
 
Isolde_recordingWhat did happen to Midir? Why does he appear in so few stories? It is a mystery. A murder mystery? Could be. Certainly Midir's reputation was usurped and he, himself, seems to have been, effectively, 'disappeared!For a more 'in depth' examination of this topic go to:In Search of Midir or In Search of ManannánThis short recording was…
 
William Robinson: Tallanbanna with cloud front. 1988So many of the old Irish stories tell of an Otherworld that lies so close to our own. If you want to discover what the stories have to say about getting there, what you might find when you arrive, and when, or if, you might return, then join Chris in this audio-article exploration.Apologies for th…
 
The briugu, Mac Dá Thó, is the proud owner of the marvelous hound, Ailbe. He also possesses a notorious pig. Now he finds himself faced with contending regional kings and their retinues of elite warriors, demanding the hound for themselves. Will serving up his gourmet pig at a grand feast save his bacon?Join the Story Archaeologists as they share t…
 
The magnificent warrior women Scathach and Aife both play a major role in Cú Chulainn's future life and exploits but they are not the only women who actively engage with out young hero..Join the Story Archaeologists as they attempt to come to terms with the number of dalliances and romantic interludes encountered by the young man on his ventures to…
 
Cú Chulainn meets his matchIn this episode we get to meet the marvelous Emer, the woman who bests the young Cú Chulainn, at least, in terms of her sharp witted and far-sighted eloquence.Join the Story Archaeologists as we try to decode how Emer manages her young and unpredictable suitor and deals with her uncompromising father.Read the text for you…
 
Harder, Faster, Stronger, Better!In this episode, we get to examine some remarkable exploits of one of the central figures in the Tain tradition: Cú Chulainn. We explore stories told by some of the characters who know the hero, remembering him as a child.Join the Story Archaeologists as we try to decide if the young Cú Chulainn can be considered a …
 
In this episode, we continue our exploration of the troublesome conceptions and births that stand behind much of the material of the Táin tradition. This time, we examine the births of the doomed Deirdre, the fated Cú Chulainn and re-re-visit the importance of Macha's story.Join the Story Archaeologists as we attempt to disentangle webs of prophecy…
 
The richly interwoven stories that make up the Táin tradition contain a wide diversity of characters. There is much to explore. Even their back stories have back stories!In this episode, we explore the back stories of two such characters: the well-known Ulster king, Conchobar Mac Nessa, and the lesser-known Ulster hero, Conall Cernach.Join the Stor…
 
The Midwinter festival has been a time of over indulgence and conspicuous consumption for millenia! This year, we dig in to the Middle Irish story, Aisling MacConglinne, "The Vision of MacConglinne", a delicious debauch of extreme gastronomy.!Join the Story Archaeologists in a feast of fantastical food, with a generous side order of sumptuous satir…
 
Welcome to Series 6, "Circling the Tain". In this series, we will delve into the fascinating web of stories making up the Tain tradition, with the Tain Bó Cúailnge, "The Cattle Raid of Cooley", at its core.We begin this exploration with the story of two talented swineherds and their shape-shifting,poetic quarrel. Join the Story Archaeologists as th…
 
Úa na gCaitThe Morrigan, is a multi textured mythological figure, She may take the role of war correspondent, and diplomat and record keeper. She can be sensual, uncompromising and occasionally even downright scary but then, above all, she is the perfect exemplar of the poet's skill.Come an explore her fascinating complexity with the story archaeol…
 
Sculpture by Annette McCormackBrigid is the much-loved irish saint of kildare as well a pre-Christian Celtic mythical figure. But what connection is there between the two? Just who is Brigid? Sift through the strata of her story with the Story Archaeologists to uncover some unexpected surprises.Links to other episodes mentioned within the podcast.F…
 
ceramic on glass by Chris ThompsonAirmed is the daughter of the great Dé Danann physician, Dían Cécht, part of a family of healers. Together, they create the healing well of Sláine, which restores injured warriors at the Second Battle of Moytura. But do the meanings of their names tell a different story?In our revisit to what may seem at first read…
 
This time of year is a frenzy of shopping, family gatherings and exchange of gifts. But is this simply a modern phenomenon?For this year's MidWinter Special, the Story Archaeologists dig as deep as their virtual spades will go, comparing the deepest layers of human settlement through medieval mayhem to the contemporary craft fair, searching for the…
 
Elin Gowand the cow Glas GainachThis is the first of two supplemental episodes supporting our recent podcast, Tales of Ethliu (revisited). "Elin Gow, the Swordsmith and the Cow, the Glas Gaianach" is a folktale collected in the southwest of Ireland by Jeremiah Curtin in the late 19th century. The tale first appeared in "Hero Tales of Ireland". It i…
 
Eithliu is a figure who seems to pop in and out of stories, taking no notice of traditional story cycles, or even how her name is spelt. Yet she rarely takes a leading role.In this "revisit", we return to this enigmatic and sometimes troubling character from Irish mythology and folklore. With the benefit of three years hindsight, we crack some prev…
 
Macha - a sculpture in bog yew by Davy PatonIn the second of our "revisits", we look back at our discussions on Noinden Ulaid and the Dindshenchas stories of Emain Macha in Co. Armagh. This was the first discussion that we had about cóir, although we were then using the Egyptian term Ma'at, signifying natural order and justice.Reviewing this episod…
 
Sinann, the river Shannon, from a painting by Chris Thompson Welcome to series 5 of Acallam na nÉces, "Revisiting Mythical Women". In our first episode, we take a look back at the stories of Sinann, and the themes that came up when we discussed them in our very first episode.We've added some new discussion to the beginning of the episode, highlight…
 
In the last stop of our very circuitous Immrám of Immráma, we have a canter through a Fenian tale of surly servants, marine equines, hairy horrors and a battle with the High-King of the World. All in a day's work for Finn and the Fianna...But is it an Immrám? Is it a recognisably Irish tale or a Classical rip-off? Help pull the Story Archaeology oa…
 
Etain and Misir by Jim FitzpatrickAs we reach dry land after our long Immram,we encounter yet another mystery. Midir was once a Lord of the Sidhe a judge, and a worker of wonders. He was, on land, what Mananann was, in the Land Under Wave. . All is not what it seems. A mist of obscurity has gathered around Midir.Join the Story Archaeologists as the…
 
This sculpture of Manannan, by John Sutton from Dungannon, disappeared from Binevenagh Mountain outside Limavady in January 2015. Those who stole the statue left a wooden cross in its place with the words; 'You shall have no other gods before me’. The statue was found one month later and is to be replaced.As we glimpse safe harbour after our mammot…
 
In our third and final episode on the lost hero, Mongán, we piece together some intriguing potsherds. What has the son of Manannán to say to Saint Colm Cille? What happened when he had his "Frenzy"? Can we re-construct his death-tale, Aided Mongáin?Join the Story Archaeologists as they look for edges and corners in this poetic jigsaw. Don’t forget …
 
Taliesin by Heloise ChristaIn our second dip into Mongan's mysterious waters, we compare several stories showing off Mongan's miraculous poetic skill. As a boy-wonder, he humiliates his father's chief poet; as a king, he terrifies a poor student into a mysterious quest; and finally lets slip that he may have been here before...Join the Story Archae…
 
Fergus mac Léite gets to encounter the underwater world of the Lupracán, a story which in the late middle / early modern Irish version, almost certainly, inspired Swift's wonderful satire, 'Gulliver's Travels'. The Story Archaeologists, ear herbs at the ready, dive right into the tale, but wonder how these small, but proud and fiercely independent,…
 
In our very first Immrám, Immrám Bran, we met Manannán on his way to beget a wonder-child, Mongán. Now that we've finished rowing around the open seas, we've returned to dry land to find out what happened next.What we've found is one of the funniest stories we've ever looked at! So strap in your sides and prepare to get hilarious with the Story Arc…
 
Happy new year to our Story Archaeology listeners! Because we love ye thiiiiiis much, we're sending out a multimedia feast for our Samhain special.So, take a look at this video of a live Story Archaeology show, then have a listen to our episode, "A Tale to Remember", and peruse the attached texts and your leisure. Enjoy! Texts for this episode:The …
 
King Cormac Mac Airt is often called "The Irish Solomon". But was this legendary king quite the wise old judge suggested by that epithet?Find out with the Story Archaeologists in this long-awaited - and lon-running! - 2 hour dig for truth and justice. Don’t forget to subscribe to get the latest posts! Related Articles will be posted in the days to …
 
Greetings all diggers and scrapers and fragment-collectors…If you read “The Trials and Tribulations of a pair of Story Archaeologists”, you’ll know that we at Story Archaeology have been on our own technological Immrám for some time now. It certainly can feel very much like “rowing around” when trying to select, construct and set up new computers.W…
 
Passage of the Wisdom Keeper by Paul BondThe Adventures of Tadhg Mac Céin may seem like a Middle Irish vision of Theme Park Ireland, but this rollocking sea adventure has real surprises up its sleeve. Exactly what kind of Otherworld is it that our Jack-the-Lad hero has discovered?Join the Story Archaeologists as they plumb the unexpected depths of …
 
There are some characters in Irish story who are just hard to ignore. St Brendan the Navigator is one of them. Although his voyage is not one of the Immrama from the tale lists, he confidently sets of with his crew of monks to sail to the Land of Promise of the Saints.Join the Story Archaeologists as they follow in the wake of a saint. Don’t forget…
 
The Galway Hooker, Eyre Square, Galway City: by Éamonn O'DohertyWe are reaching the end of our voyage into “official” Immráma. As we turn for home with Mael Duin and his crew, we ask, “So what does it all mean?”Journey into new waters with the Story Archaeologists as we begin to chart our Immrám adventures. Don’t forget to subscribe to get the late…
 
When Máel Dúin sets out on a voyage to avenge the father he has never known, he encounters a seascape of wonders and terrors where nothing is what it seems.Join the story Archaeologists as they follow in his wake, discovering some unexpected marvels.This episode is only the first installment of this maratime epic, and it lasts over 2 hours. So get …
 
This is Sydney Skybetter, Philip Montana, and Bryan Campbell performing in "The Voyage of the Húi Corra" (2008). Photo by Tony Dougherty.The tale of the Uí Corra may start out as an intriguing fairy tale, but their journey is not for the faint of heart. Their quest for knowledge soon deepens into a dark and stormy voyage of tortured souls and infer…
 
Cat and Mouse decoration from the Book of KellsIn the aftermath of the Battle of Mag Rath, the Men of Ross endure a harsh sentence: to be set adrift in the Atlantic Ocean. Inspired by this, Snedgus and Mac Ríagla, two of St. Colmcille's monks, decide to try it out for themselves.Hop aboard with the Story Archaeologists to explore another trench of …
 
Welcome to Series 4, "Rowing Around Immráma", where we will be exploring a tale-type which straddles land and sea, conscious and unconscious, Christian and non-Christian. In the first episode on these magical sea voyages, we follow Bran Mac Febul on his voyage to the Island of Women.Join the Story Archaeologists as they dig the first of their somew…
 
In exploring the Dindshenchas of Inber Ailbine, we looked at the poem Nuall Fer Fio, "Fer Fio's Cry", to gain some understanding of the nine daughters of the sea in their bronze boats. In the episode, I incorrectly attributed the translation to Dr. John Carey. This is because I first read about the poem in his excellent article, ‘Téacsanna draíocht…
 
Have your tickets ready for inspection and your guide-books open to page 1! To round off Series 3, we're going to discover some Dindshenchas gems in the Irish countryside.Join the Story Archaeologists as they take you on a magical mystery tour of mythic cartography, mapping myths as they go.Don’t forget to subscribe to get the latest posts! Related…
 
Winter Solstice sunrise at Baltray from the standing stones, with the Iron Age gold boat from the Broighter hoardLong before Santa's sack was filled with seasonal gifts, Manannán Mac Lír had a wonderful craneskin bag full of magical treasures, which he frequently gave to those he favoured.But what will the Story Archaeologists pull out of the bag? …
 
As we reach the final section of "The Wooing of Étaín", a game of fidchell leads to some epic gains and losses. There will be archaic poetry, incest, a War of the Worlds and some civil engineering.Join the Story Archaeologists as they encounter a tale where text and archaeology come together in an extraordinary way.Don’t forget to subscribe to get …
 
Étaín and Midir: illustration by Kathy MooreAs Étaín grows up to be the most beautiful woman in Ireland - again - she is wooed and won by no less than the king of all Ireland. But no story can be that simple!Join the Story Archaeologists as they seek out the improbable causes of the “sick-lying” of Étaín’s new brother-in-law.Don’t forget to subscri…
 
Sculpture of Étaín by Éamonn O'Doherty (Isolde's late uncle)The saga Tocmarc Étaíne, "The Wooing of Étaín”, is a complex and engaging tale of love, loss and time twists. We encounter jealous husbands, repudiated wives and bewildering shape-shifting, all stretching over a thousand years.The Story Archaeologists wander through the first part this mag…
 
Road sculpture, Táin Bó Cúailgne, Co Louth, photo by PazIn the context of Dindshenchas, we return to the fascinating tale, Echtrae Nerai / Táin Bó Aingene ("The Adventures of Nera / The Cattle Raid of Aingene"), which we dipped into in "Corpse Carrying For Beginners". When Nera returns from his adventures in the síd, he ends up with even more than …
 
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