Главная страница «Первого сентября»Главная страница журнала «Английский язык»Содержание №32/2002



The past is still so vivid and alive in Ireland. The country belonged to a broad region of prehistoric culture, which included the western part of the north-west seaboard of Europe. Somehow Ireland is connected with Atlantis. The discovery of America was guided by the search of the ancient home in the West.

The first known inhabitants are found at Mt. Sandel in County Derry and along the Baginbun beach in County Wexford.

There was a traditional veneration of ancestors – a cult of the dead. Ireland can remember the names of people back as far as six or seven generations. Some of them had Celtic ancestors. The Celts were so different from other European races.

We are not native here or anywhere.
We are keltik wave that broke over Europe,
And ran up this bleak beach among these stones;
But when the tide ebbed were left stranded here
In crevices, and ledge-protected pools
Of the great common flow that kept us swet
With fresh cold draughts from deep down in the ocean.

Controversial. They were proud warriors; but at the same time they were afraid that the sky might fall upon their heads one day. For this reason the megalithic grave culture ranks high. Little has survived from that mystic time, yet some material remnants of that prehistory world have survived. They consist of a few things from daily life, animal bones and architecture in the form of dolmens.

Dolmen in the Breton language means a stone-table. It is a another word for megalith. The term megalith derives from two Greek words, meaning “big stone’. In Ireland there are 160 dolmens, or portal tombs, generally dated to the 3000 BC. The heaviest in Europe is a dolmen of 100 tons at Brown Hill County Carlow.

In County Clare stands one of Ireland’s best-known prehistoric monuments. The Poulnabrone Dolmen consists of a massive capstone resting on flagstones, which are implanted in the ground. Scientists accept the mechanical explanation that the heavy capstone was hauled slowly up a temporary ramp with tree-trunks as rollers. The remains of twenty people were found near the Poulnabrone Dolmen, so it was a collective grave.

The impressive Proleek dolmen in Co.Louth has a beautiful story. It is said to be a stone bad for Diarmaid and Grainne (Irish equivalents for Tristan and Isolde). The local custom is of tossing small pebblers, so that one’s wish can come true.

In 1962–75 Newgrange was excavated. Uaimh na Greine in Gaelic Newgrange was called Cave of the Sun. It embodies the image of the whole universe. The mystic ornament of the triple spiral appeals to the triple pagan goddess Brigid. The megaliths were houses of the dead, and the crannog was a place for the living. The typical Irish prehistoric dwelling was a lake-house or crannog. Two-hundred and five artificial islands made like a swan nest were found in Ireland. Security was the leading principle, so a solid foundation of tree trunks, brushwood, mud and stones was surrounded by water, and there was a guided link to the shore. That was how the crannog was built. The crannog existed for a long time and even settlement of the later epochs borrowed its principle.