Ogham - Origin, Meaning and Use november 2013


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A review of the origin of Ogham in Ireland, its use, spread into Wales and Scotland, its magical and cryptic use, modern usage. Examples of Ogham inscriptions are explained.

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Ogham - Origin, Meaning and Use november 2013

  1. 1. ᚛ ᚛᚛᚛᚛᚛᚛᚛᚛ Foxrock Local History Club ᚛ Ogham Origin, Meaning and Use 19th November 2013
  2. 2. Agenda  What is Ogham?  How was it used?  Ogham outside Ireland  Ogham in modern use
  3. 3. Ogham  Oldest writing system in Ireland, 400-1600AD  Ogham is just the script – any language can be written in Ogham…  Used for Middle Irish, Latin & Pictish  Spread overseas by Irish migration  Devon, Cornwall, Wales, Isle of Man, Scotland
  4. 4. Ogham – Origins  Just about every possible source has been suggested over the years  Phoenician  Hittite  Old Norse  Aramaic …Even Atlantis!
  5. 5. Origins     Probable origin in Kerry (Corcu Duibne) C. 500AD Centered on Dingle & Iveragh Peninsula Area ruled by O'Shea, O'Falvey, O'Connell
  6. 6. Origins  Probably Origin area based on surviving stones  BUT many Ogham inscriptions would have been on wood or wax tablets & have not survived  Created in local monasteries
  7. 7. Distribution  Ireland (~325 inscriptions)       Kerry (130) Cork (84) Waterford (48) Kilkenny (14), Mayo (9), Kildare (8) Wicklow (5),Meath (5) Carlow (4)  Wales (40)  England (11)  Isle of Man (9)  Scotland (30)
  8. 8. Language Distribution  Green = Mainly QCeltic (Goidelic) areas  Blue = Mainly Pictish areas  Red = Mainly P-Celtic (Brythonic) areas
  9. 9. The script      Similar to Nordic Runes Called Beithe-Luis-Nin (after the first, second and fifth symbols) 25 symbols (eventually) No word division or punctuation No letter „p‟
  10. 10.  All characters have names associated which have the same initial sound as the letter Associated with tree or plant names Tree Name B Beithe Birch Luis Rowan F  Ogham Name L The script Letter Fern Alder S Sail Willow N Nion Ash H Huath Hawthorn D Duir Oak T Tinne Holly C Coll Hazel Q Quert Apple M Muin Vine G Gort Ivy NG Ngetal Reed STR Straif Blackthorn R Ruis Elder A Ailm Fir O Onn Gorse U Ur Heather E I Edad Idad Aspen Yew
  11. 11. Ogham - inscriptions    Followed lines of a stone Chiselled in sandstone, limestone, slate, even granite Inscriptions sometimes written in „boustrophedon‟ fashion
  12. 12. Ogham – inscription formula        Name ANM name Son MAQI father (maic = son, ab in Welsh) Grandson AVI grandfather (aui = grandson) Nephew NETA uncle (nia = nephew) Name CELI patron (céle = companion) Name MAQI MUCOI forefather (maccu = descendant)
  13. 13. Grave Marker   Example from Greenhill Cork C. 500 A.D
  14. 14. Grave Marker  Basic name stone  CATTUBUTTAS "(Stone of) Cathub"
  15. 15. Standing Stones  Example from Rockfield (Adare)  C. 550AD
  16. 16. Standing Stones   More informative Translates as MAQIRITTE MAQI COLABOT | MAQI MOCO QERAI "(Stone of) Mac-Rithe, son of Coílub, son-descendant (of the tribe) of the Ciarraige"
  17. 17. Christian or Pagan?  Mass rock, Maumanorig, Co. Kerry
  18. 18. Christian era  Mass rock, Maumanorig, Co. Kerry
  19. 19. Christian era  Mass rock, Maumanorig, Co. Kerry ANM COLMAN AILITHIR "(Inscription in the) name of Colmán, (the) pilgrim"
  20. 20. Viking use  Bilingual cross shaft inscription in Killaloe  Norse in Runic  Irish in Ogham
  21. 21. Viking use  Runic Inscription [Þ]URGRIM RISTI [K]RUS ÞINA "Þorgrim engraved your cross"
  22. 22. Viking use  Separate Irish Ogham inscription
  23. 23. Overview  Irish Ogham inscription BEANDACHT [AR] / TOROQR[IM] "Blessing upon Þorgrim"
  24. 24. Pictish Ogham  Pictish inscription at Brandsbutt, Aberdee nshire
  25. 25. Pictish Ogham  Pictish isn‟t well understood IRATADDOARENS “Lord (of) Arens?"
  26. 26. Maglocunus Stone  Bilingual inscription of Nevern, Pembroke  Originally 5th Century, reused in church
  27. 27. Maglocunus Stone  Bilingual inscription of Nevern, Pembroke
  28. 28. Maglocunus Stone  Both Latin and Irish Latin (Roman script): MAGLOCVNI FILI CLVTOR Irish (Ogham script): MAGLICUNAS MAQI CLUTAR "(Stone of) Maélchú, son of Cluthar"
  29. 29. Scholarly Ogham    Developed manuscript based literature Book of Ballymote (1390) noted example Describes mythical origin of Ogham
  30. 30. Mythical Origins     Auraicept na n-Éces ("the scholars' primer")  C650 AD, written by Longarad, provides origin myth for Ogham Credits the invention of Ogham to Ogma Grian-ainech mac Elatha mac Delbaeth,'a man well skilled in speech and poetry'. He invented it ‘as a proof of his ingenuity, that this speech should belong to the learned alone'. Word Ogham derived from Greek ογμος (ogmos) meaning a row or furrow, also Celtic name for Greek god Heracles
  31. 31. Scholarly Ogham   St Gallen Grammer  C. 845AD Over 9000 glosses, including marginal notes in Ogham including “LATHEIRT” “Hungover!”
  32. 32. Ciphers    Ogham used for secret codes & ciphers Tally sticks (animals, crops) Easily used for hand signals From the story of Fionn mac Cumhaill and his servant Lomnae. Lomnae tells Fionn of his wife Sadhbh‟s infidelity by cutting an inscription on a four sided rod and handing it to Finn. The message does not directly accuse Finn‟s wife, but is instead a series of Ogham metaphors: „An alder stake in a fence of silver, hellebore among gorse & heather on the hill‟. Finn understands the message, but Sadhbh has Lomnae‟s head cut off in revenge.
  33. 33. Magical Ogham   Magical uses include  Divination  Curses Viewed with suspicion by church A charm to cure a man of impotence by writing his name in Ogham on an elm wand and striking him with it Cursing someone by carving their name on a Fé Using Ogham sticks to determine the sex of an unborn child Tristan engraved his name in Ogham on sticks of wood, putting them in a stream so that they would flow down to where Iseult could see them, but no-one else could understand them.
  34. 34. Development of family names  Ogham allows us to trace surnames Ogham Irish Old / Middle Irish Modern MAQ AMMLLOGADO mac amalgado Mac Awley MACI BROCANN mac bróccan Mac Brohan MAQI CORRBRI mac cairpre Mac Carbery MAQI DUMNOVALI mac domnaill Mac Donal(d) MAQI VERAGOSO mac fergoso Mac Fergus MAQI OINAGOSO mac óengoso Mac Guinness AVI CELACI ua cellaig (Ó) Kelly AVI CORRE ua cuirre Ó Corry AVI CUNACOBRO ua conchobor Ó Connor AVI QENAVIDO ua cinaída (Ó) Kennedy AVI MURACADO ua murchada (Ó) Murphy
  35. 35. Ogham – renaissance  Appropriated for tourists?
  36. 36. Local Modern Ogham  “Newman‟s Razor” (1970), by Brian O„Doherty  Beside UCD Restaurant  3.3m high  Inscribed with a progressive series of Ogham numbers on stainless steel
  37. 37. Thank you
  38. 38. Additional material  Detailed Ogham distribution maps
  39. 39. Distribution
  40. 40. Distribution
  41. 41. Distribution
  42. 42. Distribution
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