Dunluce Castle is a now-ruined medieval site in Northern Ireland, the seat of Clan McDonnell. This is also a place where an early Irish fort once stood.
The first historical recording of the people called the Celts was in Ancient Greece around 700 BC.
Moving from East and Central Europe, the Celts first arrived in Ireland about 500 BC.
The story of their arrival is intermingled with that of the coming of the Tuatha de Danaan, a mythical tribe of the Goddess Danu.
With the arrival of Christianity in the fifth century AD, written records then observe that the Celtic language was being spoken all over the island of Ireland.
However, the Celtic Ogham script was used in Ireland from the fourth century AD to the eighth century AD.
The script consisted of strokes or notches cut along the edge of a standing stone. Therefore, Ogham is seen as being the first written records of life in Ancient Ireland.
The written word was not, however, much required in Celtic life, as the hierarchy placed the storyteller high in importance within the tribe.
Within this is also placed the Druid, whose powers of recall, knowledge and tribal history, as well as poetry and lore, was central to the wellbeing and social standing of the tribe or clan.
In this, the Celts loved storytelling. Before they learned to write, the Celts passed on their stories from one generation to another. Here is my grandfather, Hugh O’Neill of Tyrone, who was both a wonderfully gifted storyteller and musician. My elder brothers, Phelim and Sean are with him by the fireside in Omagh, County Tyrone.
The Celts built large earthen banks or stone walls around their farms to protect themselves and their animals.
These walls were called raths or duns.
Many place names in Ireland include the word rath or dun.
Examples such as Rathcormac and Dunloe come to mind…try looking at a map of Ireland and see how many you can pick out!
Many of the fortified homes were enlarged to become know as Hillforts, offering more protection and domination of the landscape. Oftentimes these sites were used later to build castles and larger settlements.
Ireland is covered with the memories of our ancient tribes and people.<