Teague Heelan
Venturing into the human story

Who Named Our Father?

Where Truths Lie Within Legends

We can often find ourselves overlooking the nuance differences between myth, legend and folklore and the value they provide to our understanding of our present. Even more so when we try to keep within the delicate and oscillating reality of what can be proven undoubtedly about our human story.

Name’s are often a lasting vestige of historical reference. One’s which far outlast the cognisance of it’s communities’ colloquial usage. Becoming all but a sound that denotes something which we can apply a contextual meaning. Though a name is intriguingly, often more adept at remembering the essence of the place or phenomena than we are.
We can find many examples of names for places and things which are counter intuitive to our present association’s. Though add sharp clarity when we remember how it came to be called so. To cherry pick a couple of examples…
The spring period of religious significance for Christians, marking notably the story of the Passion of Christ, is most commonly referred to in English as ‘Easter’. Why?
It seems to bear no discernable relation to any Hebrew, Latin or Greek word. We can find no reference to it being called as such in any ancient Biblical sources.
As it turns out when we examine it’s Etymology and history, it is an Olde English word derived from a Germanic root. Used to express the term East. Also used within the name of a pagan goddess of Spring called ‘Eastre’. One of many examples of the syncretic history of the spread of Christianity throughout the world. Still in use and in a relevant way today.
In this binational region we often have an immediate set of associations that spring to mind when we hear of certain places, such as Jenin. Which of course makes good sense when we look at the origin of the place name. As the Spring of Gardens, Hebrew: ‘Ein Ganim’ עין גנים. Still today, Jenin and it’s surrounding area is considered a bread basket ecological asset within the West Bank. Benefitting from a flow of groundwater stemming from the southernly mountains that seeps into the lower landscape.
I want to take a step out of this region now. The furthest step West a person could go in the ancient Old World.

Why do we call this green island, Ireland?

In the country itself, the correct spelling, using the English alphabet would be Eireland. The land of Eire, the pagan goddess of the ancient island and its peoples, who’s rich and fertile ecology has sustained hominid life for over 10,000 years. At least as far back as the earliest archeological evidence suggests.
The people’s of Ireland have a native tongue with varying dialects which makes up a Gaelic language. This language though complex and rich in its content, never seems to have been transcribed using a formal writing script, until it’s quasi transliteration from a spoken language into the Latin alphabetic. One which comes with distinctive accentuation marks known in Gaelic as a ‘Fada.’ Today this Latin script accented language is considered the formal Gaelic written language and is legible and spoken by as many as 1,800,000 people, to some degree of proficiency.
Evidently, as this is a Latin script that was adopted for use with Gaelic, the language Itself far outdated it’s currently recognisable form. Though is still considered as being the Third oldest language of European origin still alive today.
Preceding this Latin script introduction, beginning ostensibly in the 5th Century AD with the incoming of Christianity – the Archaic Irish Gaelic was an “Ogham” language in written form. Often considered as being in the same language sphere of Runes. Carved lines and intersecting points that formed a formal type of language, most often seemingly used to denote boundaries, ownership and religious content.
And this is where we might want to draw the line and say ok… We got back as far as we can go. Any further back than these Ogham lines and any confident claim can only be found with Archeological facts. Any oral myths or folklore suspected of predating this period is probably a wonderful artefact of cultural interest, but not something of so called truthful substance.
Unfortunately for the levelness of our heads, there is a very peculiar and seemingly improbable angle that lays at the heart of Irish mythology.
Understood to be as early as within the 11th century AD, a collected works of Irish mythology, poems, legends and tales was compiled. This book, called Lebor Gabála Érenn (The book of takings/invasions of Ireland) created a comprehensive catalogue of oral stories told between Irish communities. Which gave us a fascinating syncretic compilation of myths and legends. Using the time references of Adam, Flood and Abraham to chronicle the timeline of events in relation to Irish history. A melady of pre-Christian stories, melded into the-then contemporary context of biblical relevance.
There are today several versions of the retranslated iterations of the Lebor Gabála. The one sitting on my shelf at home was published in 1923, to provide a side by side, Gaelic to English translation copy, of previous versions available to researcher’s. It was authored by Robert Alexander Stewart Macalister, an Irishman who also was Director of the Palestine Exploration Fund in 1901 and led the initial Archeological excavations of Gezer before returning to focus on Celtic studies in Ireland.
In Macalister’s version, the Irish mythology begins with the flood, though skips a step of Irish apocrypha. Which notes the first human stepping on the shore of Ireland as being a non-biblically mentioned daughter of Noah following the flood. Where Macalister begins his work on the anthology of myth, is at a spot of uniform consensus of all versions of the Lebor Gabála. The arrival of Parthalon.
Parthalon as written, is a man of noble birthright, coming from a Greek island nation. Caught in a deadly family feud for the sake of his brother’s ascension to kingship. After being exiled from his homeland, making a long and arduous seafaring journey across the Mediterranean. Until turning out of the straights of Gibraltar and along the continental coast, until reaching the furthest unclaimed land. Eireland.
Using the relevant biblical set timeline that is referenced in the Lebor Gabála, Parthalon arrived in Ireland around 2,000 BC. Some 300 years after the biblical flood of Noah. Being the first true prince of Ireland, his initial great feat of engineering was to build a tavern. Though he was not the first or only person in Ireland at the time of his arrival. He and his following entourage of wives, priests, cattle and men fight battles, build structures and amend the landscape for their purposes. His arrival also heralded a great plague upon the land and his people.
Now, ‘finding Parthalon’s grave’ or identifying this ‘first tavern’ to give accreditation to the exactitude of this story of collective memory, is not interesting in my opinion. What is interesting is that the Irish mythology gives us an advent story for the introduction of domestic cattle, agricultural landscaping and very possibly metallurgy in the land. Which is fairly commensurate with the current archeological evidence of these features in Irish history being that of Ireland’s Neolithic. Beginning roughly 3,000 BC, to the earliest evidence of metal mining in about 2,000-2,400BC.
The possibility and probable likelihood of incursions and encounters to Ireland via seafarers coming North out of the Mediterranean within this era is almost certain. The fact that the spoken memory of a mythology of this plausibility was kept over millennium by oral tradition is mind bending. Offering us a rare glimpse into potential of a populations collective memory via oral tradition.
I often find errors between myself and friends in remembering shared events of childhood.
Recent reprint publication of the 1923 published Macalister Lebor Gabala – (Nabu Public Domain Reprints)l

The Greatest Story Still Being Told

Current academic researchers posit that the Biblical Genesis may have been composed as late as the 5th Century BC. With comparable stories of a genesis style found in the Epic of Gilgamesh, thought to have been written at least two centuries earlier by this timeline. From the end of the Jewish Biblical Canon (Old Testament,) around 40-140AD, almost 2,000 years passed from the Roman expulsion of the Jews until today.
Yet until this day, places and stories in this land, passed down from generation to generation, have carried-on the collective story. From Hebron to Jericho, From Jenin to Gaza. From Ibrahim and Isaac to Khader and Miriam. Told through a tapestry of phonetic alphabetic languages such as English, Hebrew and Arabic. With fascinatingly nuance variations and interpretations adding additional intrigue to the intertwining storylines.
These millennia old stories are so grounded within reality that the Torah has provided us with more exactitude in archaeology, for finding places of interest than any other reference resource. This unimaginably complex Holy codex, which contains over 63,000 internal cross-references, spanning back and forth without a set chronological navigation – forms a foundation story of such depth in profundity, that it’s opening sentences relay an expression of creation which is commensurate with a contemporary synopsis of the metaphysical act of the universe creation.
A story which is not even real, can bear more truth than the most factual relaying of an event. Take a reading of The Tempest over an official testimony for instance.
To have the collective words of our hall of generations told through stories with such undeniable truth alongside plausible reality is miraculous. Archaic legends which are passed onto us with an almost unbelievable confluence of poetic, mythological, legendary and historical accuracy. Leading us upon reflection to see within our own lives, separated by thousands of years, the same cycles of events, characters and storyline arcs replaying in new iterations. We truly are living in a story, one which was passed down since time immemorial and it’s unclear who is the ultimate teller.
My thought for the reader and one which I intend to follow myself. Is to give greater time and credence to the truth within the stories, that we may not be confident as calling real. But none the less contain real truths.
If we were to talk of angels and demons or miracles and monsters. Are we treading on a subject matter which our ignorant and superstitious elders in time simply conjoured out of lack of proper understanding. Or are we forgetting ourselves in the ever changing cognisance of the context of our usage of the language.
Partial section of a graphite artwork produced by a Russian artist in Safed
*This blog is the first in what will become a series of articles written in an anthropological sense. Looking at different aspects of our shared and personal reality. With the hope of generating some discussion and providing interesting information.*
**Your feedback and engagement in discussing the topical articles is welcome and encouraged.**
About the Author
An Irish-Anglo Catholic Jerusalemite. Obsessed with experiencing the fullness of our 'Human Story.' Professionally operating a private enterprise for economic development in the 3rd sector. Relentlessly studying and engaging with anthropological ventures.