Pirates, the politics of land and death in Irish prehistory… and Christmas

December 20, 2023

Starting with some festive reading and listening, a piece from RTE Brainstorm on how medieval Irish elites celebrated Christmas, which you can find here. And the always excellent Museum of Literature Ireland (aka MOLI) Christmas ghost story, this year Number Ninety by Bithia May Croker, first published in 1895.

Closer to home (and rather less festive) the Dictionary of Irish Biography published a blog post recently on pirates of West Cork. The image above- of a 'flyboat' which was the kind of nimble ship favoured by Cork pirates - is from the piece. The always excellent In Our Time on BBC Radio 4 had an episode recently devoted to the Barbary pirates, whose 1631 raid on Baltimore is the most famous piratical episode in West Cork's history. That episode can be heard on the BBC website.

Another recent DIB feature that might be of interest is on Cork-born activist and trade union organiser Mary Harris Jones, better known as 'Mother Jones'. You can read more about this remarkable woman here.

Some historical listening: Miles Dungan's History Show on RTE1 always has interesting features - two programmes on 22 and 29 October focused on the politics of land in the early years of the Irish state. You can listen back here. And taking us back to a much earlier historical period - Amplify Archaeology podcast has a two part podcast on Death in Irish Prehistory, linked to the publication of a recent book of the same title by Gabriel Cooney.

And finally a piece by Festival contributor Jane Ohlmeyer who recently wrote in Engelsberg Ideas on the paradoxes of Ireland's imperial past.