Basalt, Slate and the Irish Revolution…

Your letter from Ireland shorts from the 6th of June 2023.

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Basalt, Slate and the Irish Revolution…

Céad míle fáilte, welcome to your Letter from Ireland “Shorts”.  Each Tuesday we’ll bring you a quick-read of some of our favourite and interesting Irish things for this week.

The Giant’s Causeway, County Antrim.
 One of the most unique and well known natural wonders in Ireland. We took a trip here recently and you can see Carina speak more about this amazing place on a youtube video by clicking here.

Our Irish surname of the week is Walsh (also Walshe/Welsh). This is the most numerous surname in Ireland of Anglo-Norman origin. It literally means someone who came from Wales – and was a generic name given to many of the foot soldiers who accompanied the Norman knights on their first forays into Ireland from Wales. It grew through a number of unconnected families in different parts of Ireland and is now the fourth most numerous in the Irish family trees of our readers! The Irish language form of the name is “Breathnach” which was also anglicised as “Brannock” and “Brannagh” – as in the actor “Kenneth Brannagh”. You will find the name in quantity in Wexford, Waterford, Cork, Kilkenny, Tipperary and County Mayo. To see where the name appears in Ireland in the mid 1800s go to this page on

Atlas of the Irish Revolution by John Crowley et al. 
People really enjoyed the “Atlas of the Irish Famine” that we shared recently, so I wanted to share another great publication from them – this time about the Irish Revolution. It’s a hugely comprehensive book with maps, illustrations and photos and is really “the bible” on this topic. See the book on Amazon here.


Is glas iad na cnoic i bhfad uainn
(pronounced “iss gloss eed na kunick ih vad uuan”)

which translates directly as “far away hills are green” or in other words, the grass always appears greener on the other side!

That sounds very appropriate for Ireland – although I think that while the grass is always green, the hills are often brown. A curious variation!

On our recent trip up to Antrim we popped in to the gift shop at the Giant’s Causeway and found some beautiful crafted slate from Blue House Gifts NI and bought ourselves a nice little shamrock memento. Louise creates these beautiful locally sourced slate and glass gifts in her workshop in the hills above Glenariffe. If you can’t visit in person she also runs a shop on Etsy which you can find here.

That’s it for this week. Send us an email with any of your own favourites for inclusion in future emails, or if you’re a plus member leave a comment below.

Slán for now,
Mike & Carina.

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