Ireland’s earliest script is thought to be that of Ogham. Today there are Ogham stones to be found across the countryside their inscriptions worn by the passing years. Some of these mark the final resting places of ancient Irish chieftains, kings or nobles.
The much loved “hugging saint” Amma from India, has encouraged Irihs people around the world to reclaim their language and their connection to the land. It has been stated that of all the languages in the world, the Irish language is second only to Sanskrit for the spiritual energy that is carried within it. It is not difficult to see how this could be so. The Irish greeting is “Dia dhuit”, “God be with you”.
In the margins of early manuscripts of Ireland we can see Ogham notes, called glosses, written by monks as they transcribed their Latin manuscripts. We can only marvel at the education that was available in Ireland in her “Golden Age”. Theirs was the literature and philosophy of ancient Greek and Roman civilization, the mathematics of Persia, the languages of many regions and a cheerful joy in the natural world.
The Ogham alphabet and corresponding letter sounds are of a pedigree akin to that of ancient Greek. Of all known languages, only ancient Greek shares such a depth whereby each letter tells a story, an associated mythology and extends a mystical power. In its original form, the Irish alphabet is a tree alphabet. It is a connection to the natural world.
When we recall that the culture of Ireland until monastic times was an oral culture, and that learning was passed on through the development of memory, we can marvel at the consciousness that would have existed for those whose very words would bind them to the natural world of which they are a part.
Early Irish scholars wrote of Ireland as having links with India, and there has indeed been a vivid connection between the two cultures – not least politically. Mahatma Gahdhi credited the writings and hunger strike of former Lord Mayor of Cork Terence Mc Sweeney ( who died in a London jail) as having inspired his own peaceful protests. It has been remarked of the similarity of Irish kingship at the Hill of Tara with the Hindu Green Goddess of healing who is also named Tara. Of this we can only speculate today, but then when we consider the legacy of Egyptian princess Scotia, let us say that it can only enrich us to cast a wide net for our imagination.
The finest collection of Ogham stones is on view in the cloisters of University College Cork. In the Dingle peninsula in Co. Kerry, you can view another collection of Ogham stones on the grounds of Coláiste Íde, the former residence of Lord Ventry and today an Irish language girls boarding school. If you wish to see one of these impressive stones in situ, the second largest standing Ogham stone can be viewed in Blacksod on Mayo’s Erris Peninsula- the largest, at 17 feet high can be found on the Beara Peninsula in Cork.
Today there are also many jewellers producing beautifully crafted Ogham inspired jewellery for you to carry with you and enjoy.