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Valentina Sotiropoulou

IRELAND-IRISH CULTURE
Folklore
The Leprechaun figures large in Irish folklore. A mischievous fairy type creature in emerald green clothing who when not playing tricks spend all their time busily making shoes, the Leprechaun is said to have a pot of gold hidden at the end of the rainbow, and if ever captured by a human it has the magical power to grant three wishes in exchange for release. The stories of Fionn mac Cumhaill and his followers, the Fianna, form the Fenian cycle. Legend has it he built the Giant's Causeway as steppingstones to Scotland, so as not to get his feet wet; he also once scooped up part of Ireland to fling it at a rival, but it missed and landed in the Irish Sea the clump became the Isle of Man and the pebble became Rockall, the void became Lough Neagh. The Irish king Brian Boru who ended the domination of the so-called High Kingship of Ireland by the U Nill, is part of the historical cycle. The Irish princess Iseult is the adulterous lover of Tristan in the Arthurian romance and tragedy Tristan and Iseult.

Irish dancing is popular all over the world.

Halloween is a traditional and much celebrated holiday in Ireland on the night of October 31. The name Halloween is first attested in the 16th century as a Scottish shortening of the fuller AllHallows-Eve, and according to some historians it has its roots in

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the gaelic festival Samhain, where the Gaels believed the border between this world and the otherworld became thin, and the dead would revisit the mortal world. In Ireland, traditional Halloween customs include; Guising children disguised in costume going from door to door requesting food or coins which became practice by the late 19th century, turnips hollowed-out and carved with faces to make lanterns,[11] holding parties where games such as apple bobbing are played. Other practices in Ireland include lighting bonfires, and having firework displays. Mass transatlantic Irish and Scottish immigration in the 19th century popularized Halloween in North America.

Literature and the arts


For a comparatively small country, Ireland has made a disproportionate contribution to world literature in all its branches, in both the Irish and English languages. The island's most widely-known literary works are undoubtedly in English. Particularly famous examples of such works are those of James Joyce, Bram Stoker, Jonathan Swift, Oscar Wilde and Ireland's four winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature; William Butler Yeats, George Bernard Shaw, Samuel Beckett and Seamus Heaney. Three of the four Nobel prize winners were born in Dublin (Heaney being the exception, having lived in Dublin but being born in County Londonderry), making it the birthplace of more Nobel literary laureates than any other city in the world. The Irish language has the third oldest literature in Europe (after Greek and Latin), the most significant body of written literature (both ancient and recent) of any Celtic language, as well as a strong oral tradition of legends and poetry. Poetry in Irish represents the oldest vernacular poetry in Europe, with the earliest examples dating from the 6th century.

George Bernard Shaw, one of four Irish winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature

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The early history of Irish visual art is generally considered to begin with early carvings found at sites such as Newgrange and is traced through Bronze age artefacts, particularly ornamental gold objects, and the Celtic brooches and illuminated manuscripts of the "Insular" Early Medieval period. During the course of the 19th and 20th centuries, a strong indigenous tradition of painting emerged, including such figures as John Butler Yeats, William Orpen, Jack Yeats and Louis le Brocquy. The Irish tradition of folk music and dance is also widely known. In the middle years of the 20th century, as Irish society was attempting to modernise, traditional Irish music fell out of favour to some extent, especially in urban areas. Young people at this time tended to look to Britain and, particularly, the United States as models of progress and jazz and rock and roll became extremely popular. During the 1960s, and inspired by the American folk music movement, there was a revival of interest in the Irish tradition. This revival was inspired by groups like The Dubliners, the Clancy Brothers and Sweeney's Men and individuals like Sen Riada. Before long, groups and musicians like Horslips, Van Morrison and even Thin Lizzy were incorporating elements of traditional music into a rock idiom to form a unique new sound. During the 1970s and 1980s, the distinction between traditional and rock musicians became blurred, with many individuals regularly crossing over between these styles of playing as a matter of course. This trend can be seen more recently in the work of bands like U2, Snow Patrol, The Cranberries and The Corrs.

Holidays and festivals

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Much of the Irish calendar still today reflects the old pagan customs, with later Christian traditions also having significant influence. Christmas in Ireland has several local traditions, some in no way connected with Christianity. On 26 December (St. Stephen's Day), there is a custom of "Wrenboys" who call door to door with an arrangement of assorted material (which changes in different localities) to represent a dead wren "caught in the furze", as their rhyme goes. The national holiday in Patrick's Day, 17 March and festivals in cities of Ireland, and by the world. The festival is in Patrick, the patron saint credits Patrick with island, and legend also teaching the Irish about by showing people the using it to highlight the divine persons in the one the Republic is Saint and is marked by parades and towns across the island Irish diaspora around the remembrance to Saint of Ireland. Pious legend banishing snakes from the credits Patrick with the concept of the Trinity shamrock, a 3-leaved clover, Christian belief of 'three God'.

The Twelfth of July, which commemorates William III's victory at the Battle of the Boyne and existence of the Orange Order, is celebrated by many Protestants throughout Northern Ireland. Brigid's Day (1 February, known as Imbolc or Candlemas) also does not have its origins in Christianity, being instead another religious observance superimposed at the beginning of spring. The Brigid's cross made from rushes on this day represents a pre-Christian solar wheel. Other pre-Christian festivals, whose names survive as Irish month names, are Bealtaine (May), Lnasa (August) and Samhain (November). The last is still widely observed as Halloween, followed by All Saints' Day, another Christian holiday associated with a traditional one. Important church holidays include Easter, and various Marian observances.