head afire

author of wellness books and books about Irish culture.

Irish Roots … and branch

Our oldest traditions carry with them respect and appreciation for trees. Ireland to its first human dwellers was a deeply forested place. And trees are still deeply significant to the mythology and culture expression of the Irish psyche. Our national sport is played with hunks of ash tree and the proficiency with a Hurley is how Cúchullain […]


Sharp as the hound

‘Sharp’ is word that Irish people use to mean clever – you know “the sharpest tool in the tool box” sort of thing – or “not the sharpest tool”, as the case may be. A sharp tool is a sharpened tool – honed, worked upon, cared for, appreciated. One of my favourite seanfhocail is ‘Aithnigh cú […]


Bealtaine and braces

Bealtaine is both the month of May (Mí Bhealtaine) and a very specific day – the 1st of May – the day of protection. ‘Bealtaine’ translates as the bright fire; a festival of light, when the fires of purification were lit. An agricultural festival marking the start of summer and a return to farmable weather. […]


A tale in the sting.

There was an old custom, particularly in county Cork and one or two other places around Ireland that May Eve (April 30th) was celebrated as “Nettlemas Night”; nettles may be gathered for making soup and the children would play stinging games with a wand of nettles – stinging their friends and passers-by. To that I […]