Destruction of a multi-cultural & multi-religious Middle East by ISIS

Kurdish female fighters defending Kobane against ISIS
The killing machine known as Islamic State continues its campaign of terror against the peoples of the world, this time targeting Kurdish and Turkish youth gathering together in Suruc to plan out the rebuilding of Kobane, a Syrian town that had been destroyed by the same religious fundamentalist movement a few months previously. 

IS practice a violent form of religion that uses ethnic cleansing, rape, slavery, crucification and beheadings to brutally carve out and supposedly reestablish a mono-religious theocracy that is a fantasy and never existed in history. The Middle East was always a mix of religions, ethnicity and ideologies in spite of the mad ravings of these sadistic misogynist psychopaths.

Sunni, Shia, Christian, Jew, Yazidi, Druze, and atheist must once again live side by side in the Levant and Iraq.
But this will never happen if governments of the region continue to condone rather than confront this cancer. Typical of this attitude is the Turkish government failure to hold a day of mourning for the victims of this massacre which occurred on its own soil (it did so for the recent dead of the anti-democratic sectarian Saudi king!). In fact they have helped the rise of ISIS as it shelled and slaughtered Syrian Kurds in full view of the Turkish army positioned on its border with Syria.

N6 Road Route is the death knell for Developing a Sustainable Transport Infrastructure for Galway city

A few months ago I wrote an article, that with later additions by other visionary community activists, became the first public announcement from a new NGO formed to help reverse an outdated car-centric philosophy that wants to build a new roadway that will only exacerbate the transport problems of Galway city and which goes against the trust of modern progressive urban planning.
The article appeared in the Galway City Tribune newspaper.
Hopefully once the campaign season starts in September, I can get active on this issue as due to a heavy work schedule in Ireland, Germany and South Africa, as well as family committments, I have had to take a step back.
Dear Editor,
A number of well known community and environmental activists in Galway city are coming together to form a new alliance to promote a ‘Future Cities’ concept based on a green ethos, smart technologies, a sustainable transport hierarchy and is neighbourhood centric which they say is the “antithesis of  the outdated policies of  the proposed N6 routes and the original bypass route”.

The group comprises veteran local community, environmental, cycling, educational and resident activists. According to Brendan Smith one of the members of ‘Future Cities’, “Across the developed world, cities are constructing new transport infrastructures prioritising public transport, cycling and walking. Copenhagen, Seattle, London, Melbourne, New York, Seville and Berlin are humanising their urban environments by introducing woodlands, gardens, recreational parks and a city-wide 24/7 cycling, walking and public bus or train systems.  Old inner city areas that were once soulless concrete jungles of offices denuded of the sounds of families and residents  are springing back to life as living vibrant communities. Whereas for Galway city, transport officialdom is proposing to build motorways that will decimate third level colleges, neighbourhoods, sports fields, key wildlife habitats, farmlands and in the process only exacerbate the transport problems leading to further urban sprawl and a city where the car takes priority over more environmentally people-based modes.
The Galway City Transport Project has nothing to do with solving our urban transport crisis but rather is based on promoting an uneconomical motorway connecting Connemara to east Galway that current data clearly shows represents only 10% of the present city traffic flow. As we were conned in the past by the official by-line that roundabouts facilitate pedestrian flow, so we are being sold yet another untruth with the proposal that a further car-based motorway will be the answer to our present chaos.

If Galway city is to have a sustainable future, the authorities should immediately bin a policy based on a discredited private car based transportation model that represents a failed 20th century system. Instead we should use the €750 millions that we are told is available to construct a hierarchical transport model based on prioritizing pedestrians, cyclists and public transport users as was stated in the Galway City Development Strategy 2002-2012 but unfortunately never implemented.
Prioritizing private cars and motorways ignores the reality of the inevitable fossil fuel crisis as these energy sources dry up, ignores our international obligations to lower greenhouse gas emissions, poisons our air with toxins, covers much needed parks and woodlands with tarmac and concrete, and dramatically increases the noise levels that collectively impact negatively on the health of neighbourhoods and of the individual citizen.
Within our third level colleges and local industry we have the engineering and science expertise to use for instance smart technologies to help create a Living City that would attract inward investment, improve people’s quality of life, expand green zones and provide us with a template for other urban centres to emulate.

3 Athenry Castles Trail Revisited: A Magical Mystery Tour through east Galway

Michael Keaney with the cycling group in front of Castle Ellen
The recent Three AthenryCastles looped heritage cycle tour as part of Galway Bike Week 2015 was truly a magical mystery tour across the bogs and botharíns of east Galway. Some of the participating cyclists knew the route and individual castles and villages that we were going to be travelling too. But this time each of us at each stopoff encountered something different, something exciting and at times even exotic. 
The Emerald Isle Express at Ceannt Station, Galway
From our arrival at Galway’s Ceannt Station where we gazed in awe at the classical Emerald Isle Express steam engine and luxurious rail carriages with its international clientele that was straight out of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express; to the food fair market with its mix of food, beverageg and crafts stalls that preceded by a guided tour of the hugely impressive medieval castle with its battlements, keep and towers in historic Athenry; then on the road pass small fields, bogs and the village of Newcastle before we came to view the carnivorous Venus Flytrap plants  and frogs of Monivea Bog; then down into the underground vaults of the aristocratic ffrench family castellated mausoleum with Russian, Maltese and Anglo-Irish coat-of-arms that lays deep in a forest to look at the lead coffins still decked with a wreath of flowers that was placed there in 1938. 
Coffin of Kathleen ffrench, ffrench Mausoleum
Then it was a journey through the woods to look at owl boxes positioned high in the trees by Norman Clune and his friends from the Monivea Wildlife group. In the McGann hostelry of the nearby colonial plantation village, we were served up a fine country spread of sandwiches and teas. 
MacGann's pub in quaint village of Monivea
After being thoroughly refreshed and energised, we cycled on through a picturesque landscape of traditional stone walls and fields populated with sheep and cattle to the Georgian splendour of Castle Ellen to be greeted by the ebullient Gaelic lord of the manor himself Michael Keaney. Every time we visit his historic demesne we encounter some new treasure. This time Michael brought us into a 19th century garden ‘folly’, comprising a maze of arches and pathways. 
Alexandre Herman in Arch's Bar, Athenry
Our final stop was the new Arch Bar in Athenry which has been transformed into a fine trendy crafts beer and dining establishment. 
Cycling group in front of Athenry Castle
We look forward with anticipation to our next journey on this trail!
Athenry Food Market
Botharín in Tiaquin

Venus Flytrap, Monivea Bog

ffrench's Mausoleum, Monivea

Sculpture of Robert Percy ffrench, ffrench's Mausoleum
German Stain Glass windoww, ffrench's Mausoleum
Victorian era Folly (paths and arches), Castle Ellen
Details of our previous Three Athenry Castles Heritage Cycle Tour in August 2014 are here

My views on Greece: EU Actions Undermine Democracy and National Sovereignty

1.     It was corrupt Greek politicians of the two main parties (New Democracy and Pasok) and their oligarch friends that destroyed Greece. Once the country joined the Euro, international banks loaned Greek governments huge amounts of monies which was used to fuel their political hold on power, secure building contracts for their developer friends as well as to personally enrich themselves. A country whose people were traditionally thrifty changed overnight as they experienced the world of credit.
2.     The politicians falsified the national budgetary figures to secure Greek’s entry to the Euro in 2001.
3.     Political misuse of state monies to enrich politicians and their cronies, governmental failure to put in place a proper tax collection system and their misuse of the first Euro bailout loan to pay off international debtor loans rather than invest in the country has meant that the Greek people are permanently in debt for generations to come unless a comprehensive write down is put in place. 
4.  The wealthy Greeks more than any other social class have paid little in taxes.
5.     No prominent member of this corrupt elite has ended up in jail.
6.     It is now the ordinary Greek people that are paying for the elite’s extravagant lifestyles, yachts and grandiose building programmes.
7.     For last seven years, Greeks have been forced to live through a policy of austerity to experience draconian cuts in hospitals, education and other public services
8.      Unemployment is at 60% for the under 25 year olds with little unemployment assistance available.
9.     For those that have jobs, wages are low.
10. Hunger and scavenging for food is a fact of life for increasing numbers of Greeks.
11. With such an austerity programme forced on the nation by their creditors, the ability for people to contribute towards paying off the national debt is almost zero. Throughout history visionary politicians such as Roosevelt in the US and Atlee in GB and economists such as Chopra and his employers the IMF have recognised this economic fact. Austerity in such cases leads to more austerity and more indebtedness.
12. Further cuts are unimaginable for ordinary Greeks.  Extra VAT will only impact negatively on the tourism trade for instance.
13. Selling off national resources to pay for the mad expenditure of a small rich elite is immoral and is undemocratic. National resources should be in the ownership of a sovereign state and its citizens.
14. The international bankers who are assisting Greece going into debt and the venture capitalists who are waiting on the sidelines to purchase the country’s public assets at knockdown prices conspired with others to bankrupt and humiliate the country.
15. Alexis Tsipras is the first Greek prime minister in modern times that has been honest with the electorate and kept by his party’s election promises. Hence Syriza’s huge win in the referendum on the bailout.
16. In spite of the European establishment manipulation of the media  (to give the impression even up until the day of the vote that the YES campaigners were in the lead) and the dark messages from the financial and political big-guns that a NO vote would mean exit from the EU, nearly two thirds of Greeks supported Syriza.
17. What Syriza want is to secure a significant write down in the debt amount, a sustainable repayment structure and therefore a chance for the economy to recover so unemployment can be lowered, wages rises, businesses to grow. In other words, to give hope and a future for the Greek people.  
18. The Federal Republic of Germany secured a write-off of over 50% of debt at an international conference held in London during 1953. With anger towards Germany still strong after the Nazi destruction of much of the continent from World War Two, many countries were not happy to offer such a generous debt relief. But the Americans persuaded its European allies, including Greece, to relinquish debt repayments and reparations in order to build a stable and prosperous Western Europe.
19. The EU leaders and the banks have ignored the democratic wishes of the Greek people, have set out to blackmail and humiliate them for their vote in the referendum and have organised a very EU coup by forcing the resignation of the country’s popular finance minister Yanis Varoufakis,  by splitting the Syriza party and by increasing the severity of the bailout conditions.
20. The EU leaders may feel that they have won a battle against Syriza. But in fact by their actions, they have undermined democracy, destroyed the sovereignty of a nation and privatised public assets to benefit a small international elite.
21. I for one will be putting my money where my words are and will be holidaying in Greece later this month.

Note: In Ireland the ordinary taxpayers ended up paying for the extravaganza of our wealthy incompetent corrupt politicians. We were never given a say in this decision by the last government. I abhor the fact that my taxes and that of my children are used to pay off  the loans/purchases of the corrupt Denis O’Brien and co that has allowed him and others to purchases NAMA companies at knockdown prices. Syriza is trying to stop this injustice happening in Greece. 

The Athenry Castles Heritage Looped Cycle Trail.

A delightful journey of discovery through a beautiful hidden landscape
of east Galway.
August Country Fair Day, Monivea
Tour Times/Dates: 9.30am, Sunday June 21st
Duration: circa. 7hrs

Start location and route: Athenry Castle, continue onto Monivea Bog, to Monivea village, then onto Castle Ellen and finish up at Athenry Castle. 
Organiser: Cumann na bhFear (Men's Shed, Ballinfoile).
Contact: Brendan Smith, 
The event is being organised in assocation with Galway Bike Festival and the national Bike Week.
With its largely unspoilt landscape of small farms, hedgerows, stone walls, lakes, bogs, rivers, castles, Gerogian mansions, network of botharíns and villages, east Galway is a largely unknown landscape waiting to be discovered by walkers and cyclists. 

The aim of this pioneering heritage tour is to open up a new heritage route that will allow visitors to experience these wonderful timeless features and environment by way of a leisurely cycle through a representative section of east Galway that could  act as a catalyst in the development of  a network of Greenways.

The circa 30km looped cycle tour will start at Athenry where we will have a guided tour of the Castle (above) followed by a visit to the stalls  of the Bia (Irish - food) Lover Food Festival. After our hunger for food and local history of the town is satisfied we travel onto the Monivea Road before turning right approximately a mile outside Athenry in the direction of Graigabbey
The participants will then cycle through the farmlands and bogs of Bengarra, (above) on into the village of Newcastle, along a botharín through the Monivea Bog with its fascinating flora and fauna; to the Monivea demesne with its collection of historical sites that was for centuries the home of the renowned Anglo-Norman fFrench family, one of the famous merchant tribes of Galway. 

fFrench Mausoleum
This will be followed by a stopover in the quaint plantation village of Monivea. 

From there the tour will continue onto Castle Ellen (above) for a picnic on the lawns of the famed Georgian mansion that was formerly the residency of the Anglo-Irish Lambert family. After a guided tour of the demesne by Its owner Michael Keaney, participants will cycle onto towards the town of Athenry to finish up at Athenry Castle. 
Abaondoned farm, Currantarmuid

Monivea Wood

Save the Bees - Join us in planting Native Wildflowers for Operation Bláthanna

Many of Ireland’s native wildflowers face extinction due to pollution, invasive species, urbanization, loss of habitat and intensive commercial farming. The use of pesticides and herbicides in farming in order to increase specific crop yields has meant that wildflowers and pollinating insects such as bees and butterflies are being poisoned. Hence flora and fauna species are declining alarmingly and a countryside that was once populated with flowers representing all the colours of the rainbows, that throbbed to the sounds of a wide of variety bees and birds is sadly becoming a thing of the past.
Please help us reverse this trend and save Ireland’s indigenous flowers and associated pollinating insects and bats. Under the expert tutelage of Padraic Keirns, Conservation Volunteers Galway and Conservation Volunteers Terryland Forest Park are once again teaming up to organise another major re-flowering of the forest of Terryland. So we ask you to please join us at 10am on this Saturday to plant over one thousand wildflowers such as sanicle, bluebell, wild rose and honeysuckle.

Rendezvous: 10am at gate entrance to Terryland Forest Park near Currys in Galway Retail Park, Headford Road.

Do Smart Technologies Represent the Future for Galway?

A new Spanish model for Smart Cities
Considering the public debate at present on developing a sustainable transport infrastructure, overcoming the enormous quantity of water lost due to faulty piping, grasping the potential of Open Data and sensor technology, a series of scientific talks and discussions happening next Tuesday night should be of interest and of benefit to people living in Galway. Entitled The Future is Smart the event will take place at 7pm on Tuesday May 19th in the Busker Brownes pub as part of Pint of Science, a new way of delivering science issues in a fun, engaging and approachable manner to an audience that will contain members of the general public as well as third level students and staff..
The Future is Smart line up comprises:
  • Dr Adegboyega Ojo, Insight NUI Galway – SMART Cities
  • Niall O'Brolchain, Insight NUI Galway – SMART Tourists
  • Wassim Derguech, Insight NUI Galway – SMART Water
  • Dr Rachel Quinlan, School of Mathematics, NUI Galway – SMART Sums
Duration of each talk: 10-15mins. Brendan Smith (me!) will act as the MC for the evening.

After the talks, the speakers will join a panel with three specially invited guests (Catherine Cronin
Academic Co-ordinator of online IT programmes at Information Technology NUI Galway; Dr. Chris Coughlan  Senior Manager in charge of Global Cloud Services Innovation Centre at Hewlett Packard Galway & Dr. Michael Madden head of Information Technology NUIG) to answer questions and start debating issues that the audience will bring forward.

The aim of The Future is Smart is to engage the general public in a discussion on how these new technologies will impact on our future and make ordinary people aware  that this type of world-changing research is actually taking place right here in Galway.
For the NUIG researchers  it will allow them the opportunity to present &/or discuss their research work in front of a lay audience, which is something that doesn't happen often enough. 

The event is free but ticketed to a max of 100 persons. The tickets are available on So please support a new method to bring scientific research to the general public by booking your place as soon as possible and encourage others to do likewise.

Saor Alba & a Pyrrhic Victory for the Tories?

Congrats to the Scottish National Party (SNP) for their great historical victory yesterday. They are a movement whose origins in part are due to the inspiration that Scots got in the early part of the last century from the Irish struggle for nationhood and independence from an imperial Britain.

Yesterday was a watershed in British politics, an important milestone in the shaping of the United Kingdom similar to the 1945 General Election which brought the Labour Party to power and to 1918 when Sinn Féin consigned the once dominant Irish Parliamentary Party to the history bin and led a few years later to the establishment of an Irish free state.

This week Labour was annihilated in its heartland by a rising nationalism due in large part to its betrayal of its socialist principles, its support for the hugely expensive Trident nuclear weapon programme and its arrogance towards the Scottish people that it took for granted over so many years.

The three principal founders (Hardie, Anderson & MacDonald)  of the British Labour Party were all Scottish and it has been the largest party in Scotland since the late 1950s. Until yesterday.

The Conservative Party may have won the 2015 UK general election but it could be a Pyrrhic victory. Mainland Britain now has a geographical political fault line separating Scotland from the rest of the island. The Tories are primarily a party  of England; it has only one Westminster seat in Scotland out of 59 seats, with SNP on the other hand holding an overwhelming 56.

The nationalists will now campaign for the maximum powers possible for the Hollyrood parliament under the increased powers of devolution promised at last referendums. Furthermore, the UK referendum on membership of the EU that will take place within the next two years may lead to the majority of the population of England voting to leave whilst the Scots may  decide the opposite. What happens then?

Now for an enjoyable read of What did the Irish ever do for Scotland?, click here

What did the Irish ever do for Scotland?

"The Terrorist or the Dreamer'...Banners of William Wallace & Bobby Sands at Celtic Park
Ireland and Scotland have shared a common culture going back thousands of years, particularly from the time that the Celts arrived in these northern islands.
For over a millennia, the Gaels of both lands fought and often united against a common enemy- Vikings, Normans and English. Foreign invasions for these indigenous peoples brought brutal repression, famine, ethnic cleansing, colonisation, enslavement, forced emigration and suppression of their Gaelic culture with the threat ever present since the twelfth century of being subsumed into an imperial English society and state.
Celtic Music Festival, Kansas, USA
However the Gaels in Scotland or Ireland never gave up hope. They may have lost innumerable battles and wars over many centuries. But the flame of liberty inspired resistance that took many forms, from armed rebellion to cultural expression in song, poetry and dance.  

Last year's referendum on Scottish independence did not lead to the emergence of another Celtic-influenced nation arising from the ashes of assimilation to stand once again as an equal entity in peace with its English neighbour. But that day will I believe happen some time in the future. Even though the Scottish National Party (SNP) lost its campaign for independence, nevertheless it has emerged re-energised, its membership dramatically increased especially appealing to a youth disillusioned with a staid London-centric political establishment, its new female leader winning hands-down in televised debates with her political British and Scottish adversaries in the lead-up to the Westminster general election. The result is that the party has caused the greatest political upheaval in centuries on the island by winning an unprecedented 56 of the 59 Westminster Scottish seats. In the process, it has wiped the Labour Party off the landscape much as Sinn Féin did to the old Irish Parliamentary Party during the 1918 Westminster elections. 
There is now a political faultline separating Scotland from England. Can Saor Alba now be far off?

I personally have a deep affinity with the Scots. My maternal grandparents are Agnews, an ancient Gaelic family originally known during the Medieval period as O'Gnimh, whose ancestral homeland was in what is now county Antrim but was once part of Dál Riata (Dalriada) a Gaelic territory that included parts of western Scotland and north eastern Ireland. My maternal great grandmother was Eccles, a name associated with the Scottish borderlands. When I first travelled to Scotland I felt as if I had been there before. I love the emotive sound of the Scottish bagpipes, the Scottish accent and Scottish traditional dance. My heroes include William Wallace, the medieval Scottish liberation hero, and James Connolly, the radical republican leader. 
Remembering An Gorta Mór (Great Famine), Emigration & Brother Walfrid. Celtic Park, Glasgow.
My favourite soccer team is Glasgow Celtic and I long for the day when I can be in Celtic Park to join with the fans in singing the Fields of Athenry. 
So let us examine what the Irish did for their Scottish cousins!

The name 'Scotland' is called after an Irish tribe
Territory of Dál Riata (green)
The ancient Romans who ruled much of Britain for over 400 years referred, in the 4th and 5th century, to sea raiders from Hibernia (Ireland) as Scotti.  It seems that from the latter period of the 4th century, many of these Irish Scotti settled in western Caledonia, the unconquered country north of Hadrian’s Wall, (or maybe already have had tribal connections there) establishing the Gaelic territory of  Dál Riata that included parts of western Scotland (Argyll & Lochabar) and north eastern Ireland. These Gaels grew in influence across western Caledonia up until the early 7th century when Dál Riata was defeated by the invading Angles of Northumbria at the battle of  Degsastan near Lillesdale in south eastern Scotland. 

Irish Helped the Picts against the Romans
Pict warrior,
In the winter of 367AD what is known as the Great Barbarian Conspiracy took place. A coordinated series of attacks across the sea and land frontiers of Roman Britain almost led to the collapse of imperial rule on the island. The Scots of Hibernia (Ireland), the Picts and Attacotti from Caledonia (Scotland) and the Saxons from Germania (Holland) overwhelmed Roman military units across Britannia.  The invaders were defeated in the following year by an imperial army commanded by Flavius Theodosius.

Irish Gaelic became Language of Scotland
During the 5th and 6th centuries many languages where spoken in Caledonia- Gaelic, Pictish, Brittonic (Old Welsh, Cumbric) and later Old English in the southern areas. But with the expansion of the Gaelic kingdom of Dál Riata, Gaelic language and customs began to dominate. Gaelicisation was complete by the final absorption of the last Cumbric kingdom (Strathclyde) into Scotland in the 11th century.  But by then many of the peoples of lower Scotland had already adopted Gaelic ways.

First King of Scotland was from Irish 'Dál Riata'
Some historians refer to Fergus Mór Mac Eirc, a 5th century king of Dál Riata and descendant of Irish kings, as the first king of Scotland. Most experts though refer to the ninth century Cináed mac Ailpín (anglicised as Kenneth MacAlpin) son of Alpin king of Dal Riata, as the first King of the Scots as well as the King of the Picts (Alba). This amalgamation of the kingdoms of the Scots and of the Picts (Alba) may have occurred as a reaction against the onslaughts by Viking raiders who devastated these territories from the late 8th century onwards.

Coronation Stone of Scottish Kings came from Ireland
Lia Fáil in Coronation Chair
The Stone of Scone (Gaelic = An Lia Fàil = Stone of Destiny) is a block of red sandstone that was used for centuries in the coronation of the Kings of Scotland and later of the Kings of England and Great Britain.
According to legend it was the (or part of) coronation stone of the ancient High Kings of Ireland who lived at Tara in county Meath which was taken by Fergus Mac Erc a 5th century king of Dál Riata to Argyll where he was crowned.
In 1296 the Stone was seized by Edward 1 of England and taken to Westminster Abbey where it was fitted into a wooden chair and on which  subsequent English sovereigns have been crowned. It was used for the coronation of the present Queen Elizabeth 11 in 1953.

Scottish Kings were buried at an Irish Monastery(Iona)
Kenneth MacAlpin was the first of 48 kings of Scotland to be buried on the island of Iona located in the Inner Hebrides.
Over the centuries Irish and Viking kings were also laid to rest there. This tradition as an insular mausoleum for Scottish leaders was revived in 1994 when John Smith leader of the British Labour Party was buried in Iona.
The reason for this sacredness owes its origins to the Irish monk Columba (Colm Cille – the dove of the church) who settled on the island in 563 with a group of twelve companions after being exiled from Ireland.  There he found a monastery which became a focal point for the spread of Christianity throughout the land of the Picts and the Anglo-Saxons (Northumbria). It acted as the mother house for a network of monasteries across Great Britain and Ireland. Iona’s fame as a centre for spiritual and learning was known throughout western Christendom.

Legendary Irish macho Warrior helped make Scottish Women famous for their fighting skills
Cú Chulainn, the greatest of Irish mythology warriors, learnt his weaponry and martial arts skills from the famed female teacher Scáthach who lived in the fortress of Dun Scáthach  (fort of the shadows) on the Isle of Skye off the north-west of Scotland.
After their military training was near completed, Scáthach then upskilled her young male protégés in the art of lovemaking!
According to legend, Aífe (or Aoife,) a rival female warrior launched an attack on Scáthach’s fort.  As her champion, Cuchulainn took her on in single combat.  Aife though shattered his sword and just before she delivered the killing blow, he cried out that her horses and chariot (her most treasured possessions) were falling over a cliff. Temporarily distracted by this ploy, she was overpowered and imprisoned by Cuchulainn. The story goes that he spared her life on condition that she ceased hostilities against Scáthach and spent a night of passion with him. She duly obliged.

Loch Ness Monster- First written account came from an Irishman
 In his ‘Life of Columba’ the 7th century Irish-born Saint Adomnán and abbot of Iona gave the first written account  of the Loch Ness Monster. Whilst undertaking missionary work in the land of the Picts, Columba and his companions came across a group of local people burying a man who had been attacked by a water monster while swimming in Lock Ness.  He ordered one of his followers to swim across the lake. The creature appeared and went after the swimmer. Columba raised his hand, made the sign of the cross and called out, "You will go no further, and won't touch the man; go back at once." At once the monster fled.

Hard-working Irish spider inspire Robert the Bruce
Robert the Bruce and the spider. Illustration from Picture Lives of the Great Heroes (Thomas Nelson, c 1880).
At a low time of his life when the struggle for Scottish freedom against the powerful forces of the English Norman king seemed all but lost, after being defeated for the seventh time in battle, realizing that his brother was murdered and his family imprisoned in England, Robert the Bruce fled to Rathlin Island off the coast of Antrim during the winter of 1306-1307.
The legend goes that whilst hiding out in a cave, he observed a little spider spinning a web, trying to make a connection from one section of the cave's roof to another. Each time the spider failed, it began again until it finally succeeded. Bruce was so inspired and reinvigorated by this that he returned to Scotland to renew the war against the Normans which culminated in his great victory at Bannockburn and independence for Scotland.

Gaelic Irish fought with the Scots at Bannockburn

Gaelic clansmen from northern Ireland fought with the Scots at the decisive Battle of Bannockburn in 1314. Opposing them in the army of Edward 11 were their enemies in Ireland, namely the Anglo-Normans led by Walter de Burgh, 1st Earl of Ulster, whose daughter Elizabeth was actually married to Bruce.
Robert and his only living brother Edward (the three other brothers had been executed by the English) envisioned a great Celtic alliance of Scots, Irish and the Welsh against the Norman-English.  They also wanted to curtail the supply of food and men to the Norman armies of northern England bordering Scotland. So in May 1315, Edward landed with a Scottish army near Larne.  Some historians speculate that Edward had lived in Ulster previously, fostered as a child to one of the Ulster clans, possibly the O’Neills. Proclaimed High King of Ireland, securing the support of many of the Gaelic clans he initially won a series of resounding victories against the Anglo-Normans. But the Irish campaign coincided with a European wide famine that made it almost impossible to keep armies in the field and it ended in failure in 1318 at the Battle of Faughart when Edward was killed.

Irish troops & funds for Rebellion of 1746 & Bonnie Prince Charlie
In 1688 Prince William of Orange and his wife Mary Stuart were declared co-regents of England, Scotland and Ireland by the Westminster Parliament after deposing James II who had converted to Catholicism. Many Scot and Irish Gaels on Catholicism took the side of the James and his Stuart family against their Anglican Protestant opponents. They were known as Jacobeans (after the Latin for James).
The largest Jacobean revolt began in 1745 with the landing of Bonnie Prince Charlie (grandson of James 11) in Scotland.  The ships that brought the prince and his followers to the country were provided by Irish exiles based in France. Military aid for the rebels was secured by Irishman Lord Charles O’Brien, Viscount Clare, commander of the Irish Brigade in the army of King Louis XV and later Marshal of France. 
300 volunteers from the Lally, Dillon and Ruth regiments of the Irish Brigade arrived in Scotland along with 500 soldiers of the French 'Royal Scots' regiment. Hundreds more Irish troops were onboard ships bound for Scotland but, intercepted by the English fleet, they were unable to get to their destination. Later elements of an Irish cavalry unit the Fitzjames' Horse got through from France to join the rebels.
Of the Prince’s famous inner council known as the Seven Men of Moidart, four were Irish.
All these Irishmen were eager to defeat the English King George (of the German Hanoverian dynasty) and in so doing hoped to liberate their homeland from the British Protestant colonists. 
Whilst the Stuart army primarily comprised Highland irregulars, it was the professional presence of the Irish (Picquets) and Royal Scots soldiery that played a large part in the Jacobeans initially securing a string of victories and advancing as far as Derby in the English midlands.
At the battle of Culloden Moor it was the Irish regular troops who bravely covered the Highlanders retreat and prevented a full scale massacre.

Irish Maid disguise saved Bonnie Prince Charlie
Bonnie Prince Charlie was on the run for months hiding out in the Scottish highlands and islands. Helped by his two faithful Irish officers Felix O'Neil and John O'Sullivan.  he eventually made it to the Isle of Skye disguised as the Irish maid (Betty Burke) of Flora McDonald from where he boarded a frigate L'Heureux back to exile in France.

19th & 20th Century Irish Emigration provided workers for Scottish industry
As a result of the industrial revolution to Britain which lead to a huge growth in new towns, cities and factories and a surge in seaborne trade to all corners of the world, there was a huge demand for cheap labour to harvest the crops; build the canals, harbours and railways network; extract coal from mines and staff the textile industries.
Because of its geographical proximity and cultural similarities, Scotland was an obvious destination for destitute Irish seeking paid work.
From the early 19th century, thousands of Irish undertook temporary seasonal work in Scottish farms picking potatoes and other crops. In the summer of 1841, 57,651 Irish labourers, crossed to England and Scotland to work on the harvest. These men travelling back and forth every year were a feature of life in rural Donegal and other Ulster counties up until the late 1950s. But as a result of the Great Famine, there was from the 1840s an exodus of Irish leaving for Scotland and elsewhere in Britain who were looking to settle permanently.  They primarily settled in the industrial areas of the west of Scotland especially Glasgow, as well as in Dundee, in the mining communities of the Lothians and in Airdrie, Coatbridge and Motherwell.
Between 1841 and 1851 the Irish population of Scotland increased by 90% giving a total Irish-born population in the year of 207,367, or 7.2%, out of a total of 2,888,742.  It was estimated that in 1851, somewhere between a half to three-quarters of all dock-labourers and two-thirds of miners in Great Britain were Irish. In the same year Irish women constituted 44.3% of female textile workers in Greenock.  Because Scotland was largely a Protestant country at this time and the majority of the Irish immigrants were Catholics, racism and sectarianism was on the increase. This was reinforced by the arrival of skilled Protestant textile workers from eastern Ulster who brought with them their anti-Catholic of the Orange Order. Discrimination and hostility against the Irish increased. They were looked on as stealing the jobs of the indigenous working classes, bringing in disease and followers of a superstitious religion.

In Dumfriesshire and Galloway there are plenty of Irishmen ready to take the bread out of the mouths of our own poor. An Irishman who lives in a hovel, feeds on potatoes and neither clothes or educates his children, can always work for less than a Scot. There are too many people who employ only the cheapest workers and do not think of the consequences.
The Dumfries Courier, 1845.

The immigration of such a number of people from the lowest class and with no education will have a bad effect on the population. So far, living among the Scots does not seem to have improved the Irish, but the native Scots who live among the Irish have got worse. It is difficult to imagine the effect the Irish immigrants will have upon the morals and habits of the Scottish people." 
Report from the Scottish Census of 1871 on
(Note: Thanks to Irish Genealogy Toolkit and the website for statistics and facts included in the above paragraph).

So from the mid-19th century, Irish expat religious and community leaders began to put in place programmes and policies designed to improve the lives of the people living in the predominantly poor Irish urban neighbourhoods. 

Glasgow Celtic was founded by Irish emigrants
Celtic Football Club, the most famous club in the history of Scottish soccer, was founded in 1887 by Brother Walfrid of the Catholic Marist order with the purpose of alleviating poverty amongst the Irish immigrant population of the east end of Glasgow by raising money for the charity he had established,
the Poor Children's Dinner Table. The name 'Celtic', the logo of the Celtic Cross and its green and white colours all testify to the club's strong Irish and Scottish roots. Walfrid, whose original name was Andrew Kerins, was born on May 18th 1840 in the village of Ballymote in county Sligo.
In 1892, the club moved to a new location at a disused brickyard at Janefield Street, just 200 yards from the old site.  The first turf, which had been transported from county Donegal was laid by the famous Irish republican leader Michael Davitt and planted with shamrocks, the symbol of Ireland.
Today in the year 2014 one can witness on a match day in Celtic Park hundreds of Irish tricolour flags held aloof by supporters dressed in green still proudly singing traditional Irish rebel songs. 

Hibernian FC was founded by Irish emigrants
The club were founded in 1875 for the benefit of the Irish emigrants in Edinburgh by Cannon Edward Hannon and Michael Whelehan from Roscommon, who were members of the Catholic Youth Men`s Society. 
The name comes from the ancient Roman name for Ireland meaning the land of the winters.  The Irish heritage of Hibernian is still reflected, however, in its name, colours and badge (featuring an Irish harp).
The club were supporters of the Irish Home Rule party.  James Connolly, son of Irish immigrants, one of the founders of Irish republicanism and a leader of the 1916 Easter Rising against British rule in Ireland, was a fan of the club when he lived in the Cowgate district of Edinburgh which was known at the time as Little Ireland.

Dundee United was founded by Irish emigrants
Dundee United was founded by the Irish community in the industrial town of Dundee in 1909.

Up until 1923 the club was known as Dundee Hibernian and wore the traditional Irish colours of green and white.

Irish Mother's republicanism influenced George Galloway's anti-imperialism
George Galloway the former Socialist MP for Bradford and one of the leading lights of the left in Britain was "born in an attic in a slum tenement in the Irish quarter of Dundee, which is known as Tipperary  ("George Galloway: The political rebel with a cause). He has stated that his deep sense of anti-imperialism was inspired by his mother Sheila (née Reilly) who had Irish republicanism sympathies and educated him on the negative impact that British imperilaism had on the world.  

Irish republicanism inspired modern Scottish nationalism
During the Irish War of Independence and the Irish Civil War, sympathizers in Scotland contributed huge amounts of monies as well as weapons to Sinn Féin and the Irish Republican Army (IRA) campaigning and fighting against British colonial hegemony in Ireland.  The IRA’s commander in Scotland, Séamus Reader, at the time is a great-uncle of the singer, Eddi Reader formerly of Fairground Attraction. Eddi was a prominent campaigner for Scottish independence during last year's referendum and actually took a St. Andrew's flag belonging to Seamus with her during her public campaigns.

James Connolly,  born in Cowgate the Irish district of Edinburgh to Irish immigrants from Monaghan, was one of the most influential socialist and republican leaders in Irish history. He founded the Irish Labour Party, co-founded the Irish Citizens' Army and was de-facto Commander in Chief of the 1916 Easter Rising against British rule.  He was executed by a British firing squad within days of the end of the rebellion.
The revival of Scottish nationalism in the early 20th century was heavily influenced by what was happening in Ireland, particularly Sinn Féin’s overwhelming victory in the December 1918 general election that was recognised as a key milestone in Irish history.

Author Patrick Witt, in his study “Connections across the North Channel: Ruaraidh Erskine and Irish Influence in Scottish Discontent, 1906-1920", outlines how Ruairidh Erskine (Ruairaidh Arascain) the founding father of militant Scottish republicanism was an admirer of Arthur Griffith and Padráig Pearse whom he had met and corresponded with on reviving Gaelic culture. He evenly appealed in 1920/1921 to the IRA to support a Scottish uprising. His request was turned down by IRA commander Michael Collins who felt such an military action would not succeed. But Ruairidh went on to help establish the Scots National League in 1921 which was the direct predecessor of the National Party of Scotland the first political party to campaign for Scottish self-determination that eventually metamorphosed into the Scottish National Party, which today forms the government and largest party at the parliament in Edinburgh.


Highly Influential 1995 film Braveheart was made in Ireland

Braveheart is a 1995 film directed by and starring Mel Gibson. 
Gibson portrays William Wallace a 13th-century Scottish warrior who led the Scots in the First War of Scottish Independence against the English king, Edward 1.
The film is recognised as having played a significant role in generating popular interest in Scottish history across the world and in support within Scotland and amongst the Scottish Diaspora for national independence.
Much of the film was shot in Ireland, many of the leading actors were Irish and the opposing armies were made up of 1,600 Irish Army reservists.