Friday, April 17, 2009

Antrim. RATHLIN, Island seen from Ballycastle, looking toward Scotland

The Glens of Antrim, on the coast, have a close connection to the Hebrides and Scotland. See http://www.geographia.com/northern-ireland/ukiant02.htm. The Island of Rathlin, some 18 miles off the Irish coast, at Ballycastle, is a ferry ride away, some 50 minutes.  We chose to look from the Antrim side.

Rathlin Island, from Ballycastle, Ireland

Haunting singer Mary Black was born on Rathlin. Hear and see at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wBpuikqf9tA&feature=related
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In 1307, Robert the Bruce was on Rathlin, planning his return to Scotland, see commemorative festival in 2007 at http://www.brucerathlin1307.com/.  Robert the Bruce watched a spider in a cave struggling to reach the top, and, says the yarn, learned to try, try again, see http://www.ballycastle.free-online.co.uk/places/rathlin/rathlin.htm. The name traces back to Robert de Bruis, a baron in the Domesday book (an early census).  Bruis' son was a friend of King David I of Scotland who granted him the title of Lord of Annandale. But then the tracking skips:  It was the son of David I who founded the Scottish House of Bruce, not the son of Annandale. See http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=Bruce
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People arrived about 6000-5000 BC and became blue-stone axe exporters, until copper took the trade. See the ballycastle site. In 1500 BC, the Firbolgs arrived, a dark race from Spain, it is said, known as "bag men" for their baggy trousers.  But their reign was short:  in 400 BC, the Celts moved in, with their iron swords, red-blond hair, tall stature.  King Donn ruled in the 1st Century. Niall, in the 400's conducted raids and stole one Patrick (son of a minor Roman official) who became Saint Patrick.  Then in 795 or so, after Charlemagne slaughtered thousands of Saxon prisoners who would not convert, Norse began their raids, starting with the monasteries.  See http://www.ballycastle.free-online.co.uk/places/rathlin/rathlin.htm.  That site is a clear presentation of the sequence of invasions and settlers.
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Continue there to the "grant" of Ireland by Henry II to deCourcy and etc. Rathlin is in the thick of it.
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Scotland is a short hop beyond Rathlin. See http://antrim.net/rathlin.
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You can see Scotland and the Island of Rathlin on a reasonably clear day. The compass markers show all you can see when it is not hazy. Read about Rathlin's long (bloody) history, much fought over. http://www.rathlin.info/.

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