The Celtic calendar had two main seasons, warm and cold. The end of the cold season and the beginning of summer were marked by one of the most important festivals of the year, Bealtaine. The corresponding festival for the end of the Summer and beginning of the winter was Samhain which has now become Halloween.
Belenus- The go-to God for all things Bealtaine
Bealtaine traditionally fell on the first of May and was highly symbolic for the indigenous population of Ireland. This corresponded to the date when cattle could be driven to open grazing and was therefore a time of great importance for pastoralist societies. The lighting of great fires in prominent locations was central to the celebration of this festival, presumably to reflect the rebirth and rejuvenation of the sun. It was also customary to drive cattle between large fires in order to protect them from disease. TGE Powell in his book The Celts believes that the word is a combination of the celtic word for fire (tine) and reference to a god called Belenus known widely in Northern Italy, south-eastern Gaul, Nordicum and south-west Britain. Belenus is thought to have been a sun-god and his name is believed to have meant ‘Brilliant’ or ‘Bright’ one. In modern Irish Bealtaine is still the name given to the month of May.
Fire, a key component of Bealtaine
More recently a particular raucous festival has become very popular in Edinburgh know as Beltane which involves naked dancers, drums and massive fires on Carlton Hill on the eve of the 1stof May.
Dramatic scenes at the Beltane Fire Society's annual festival on Edinburgh's Calton Hill
As part of the centenary commemorations of the voyage of Titanic, the Irish national broadcaster RTE produced a special History Show programme on the luxury liner. Broadcast on RTE Radio One on Sunday, presenter Myles Dungan spoke to a panel of guests which included Know Thy Place Director Damian Shiels. We carried out a lot of unique research into the Irish links to Titanic for our Know Thy Place Titanic Chart and Damian discussed some of these stories with Myles. The programme was recorded in the atmospheric surroundings of the Titanic Experience in Cobh, which occupies the building where Titanic’s last passengers embarked for the doomed vessel.
The show is now available as a podcast, which you can listen to by visiting the History Show site here or by going direct to the podcast at the following link: RTE History Show Titanic Special. The Titanic Chart is a unique record of the White Star liner’s links to Ireland, and is available for only €39.99 or $56.00. If you are interested in ordering a copy you can do so from our website here.
The Know Thy Place Titanic Chart (Copyright Know Thy Place Ltd. 2012)
To celebrate the launch of our new Titanic Chart, the Know Thy Place team paid a visit to Cobh (formerly Queenstown), the last port of call for the White Star liner. While there we took the opportunity to visit some of the sites associated with the Titanic in the town, and photographed them for our readers. We were fortunate to also be accompanied by Master Reuben Moloney, who took time out from his busy schedule to tell us what life was like for a boy of eight in 1912…
The former train station at Cobh, where many of the passengers destined to board the Titanic arrived. Today it serves as the towns Heritage Centre.
The former offices of James Scott and Company, the agents of the White Star Line in Cobh. Steerage passengers queued beside this building to board the Titanic. Today it is home to the Titanic Experience.
Master Reuben with a model of the Titanic in the Titanic Experience. (Photo: Gerard McCarthy, thanks to Titanic Experience Cobh)
Master Reuben at the back of the James Scott offices. The pier in the background is 'Titanic Pier' where steerage passengers embarked for the Titanic aboard the tender 'America' (Photo: Gerard McCarthy, thanks to Titanic Experience Cobh)
Another view of 'Titanic Pier'. Sadly it is today in urgent need of restoration.
St. Colman's Cathedral, Cobh. This would have been visible to passengers as they pulled out towards the Titanic on the tenders 'America' and 'Ireland', although the tower had not been completed in 1912.
The Deepwater Quay beside the former train station in Cobh, where the tenders 'Ireland' and 'America' put in for their final stop before travelling out to the Titanic, which was then anchored off Roche's Point.
The Memorial in Cobh to those lost aboard the Titanic in 1912
For anyone who would like a sneak preview of our Titanic Chart, or is interested in obtaining a copy, please see our website here.