Category: Global Survey of Irish Myth

GSIM – Implications of Study

There are a number of implications of what has been discovered from this study:

The Little Known Wisdom Tradition

There is some awareness of half of what has been described as the “richest store of myth and its associated traditions north of the Alps”. There is almost no knowledge of the other half among the Irish Diaspora.

Where is there some knowledge

The areas of the Mythology that are somewhat familiar are the two warrior traditions: CúChulain, the Tain and the hero within the tribe, and Fionn and the Fianna and the outlaw hero, outside the tribe. These myths certainly played a role in the Celtic Revival and Independence struggle.

What are the missing elements of the mythologies – Foundation Stories

Little known are the two foundation mythologies, the Lebor Gabála, Book of Invasions and the Battles of Moytura. These mythologies contain the Irish Creation Stories – the ”people from somewhere else” and echoes of the shamanic and goddess cultures of the Mesolithic and Neolithic periods. They also lay out a unique indigenous organizational structure – a mythology of distributed power and the cult of the sacred centre.

What are the missing elements of the mythologies – King/Leadership Stories

Prior to the arrival of the Anglo Normans, the King Stories were very popular (33% of the stories told). Following the Invasion, other stories (rebel/outlaw) became told and the King Stories were barely told (3% in early 20th century).

GSIM – Main Outcomes

Interest in the Myths

Overall, interest in learning more about Irish Mythology is high, with over 80% of respondents expressing interest in obtaining more information about the Myths.

Respondents overwhelmingly described the stories that they were familiar with as “interesting” and “wonderful”, although there is a distinction about how these stories are viewed.

70% of Irish respondents disagreed that these myths were part of a comic Ireland image, (leprechauns, little people), whereas 59% of US respondents felt they were.

Familiarity with the Stories

However, overall the familiarity with these stories is very low, with only a select few such as Cú Chulainn, Children of Lir, Fionn Mac Cumhall receiving relatively high levels of recognition.

Of the 14 key characters in the Myths reviewed, on average over half of respondents answered “not familiar at all” with even poorer numbers with the diaspora’s familiarity, the UK respondents having the most favourable numbers of that group.

Familiarity with the Cycles of Myth

There are four cycles of Irish Myth: Mythological, Ulster, Fenian, King. There is a relatively high level of recognition of the Ulster Cycle (CúChulainn) and the Fenian Cycle (Fionn MacCumhall).

There is very little familiarity with the Mythological Cycle (except when the Children of Lir is included in the Cycle) and the King Cycle (Cormac MacAirt).

Character Familiarity Overview

Respondents: Top 3 Most Familiar Characters :
Overall Fionn MacCumhal, Cuchulain, Lir
Ireland Fionn MacCumhal, Cuchulain, Lir
Diaspora Fionn MacCumhal, Ceasair*, Lugh
U.S.A Fionn MacCumhal, Ceasair*, Balor
U.K & N.I Ceasair, Fionn MacCumhal, Lugh
Australia Nemed, Fionn MacCumhal. Cuchulain

* querying this data has led to the conclusion that respondents most likely confused the Irish; Ceasair, with the Roman; Caesar.

Respondents: Top 3 Least Familiar Characters:
Overall Amhairghin Glungheal , Nemed, Parthalon
Ireland Amhairghin Glungheal, Nemed, Ceasair
Diaspora Amhairghin Glungheal, Lir, Midhir
U.S.A Cuchulain, Amhairghin Glungheal, Lir
U.K Lugh, Amhairghin, Nemed
Australia Lir, Midhir, Lugh

GSIM – Comparative Data

Percentage of those surveyed who believed the myths were for everyone:

65%

Ireland:

72%

United States:

54%

UK & Northern Ireland:

47%

Australia:

73%

Percentage of those surveyed who feel very familiar with the Irish Myths:

26%

Ireland:

35%

United States:

31%

UK & Northern Ireland:

31%

Australia:

5%

Percentage of those surveyed who believe the myths are tied to the Irish language:

79%

Ireland:

79%

United States:

72%

UK & Northern Ireland:

78%

Australia:

79%

As they remember, where did respondents first learn about the Irish Myths?

Ireland:

Learned at school:

52%

Learned from parent:

32%

United States :

Learned at school:

52%

Learned from parent:

15%

UK & Northern Ireland:

Learned at school:

16%

Learned from parent:

51%

Australia:

Learned at school:

13%

Learned from parent:

40%

Some Propositions about Irish Myth:

The Proposition Agree Disagree Don’t know enough to comment
These myths are part of a rich wisdom tradition of the people that we have forgotten. 71% 4% 25%
Ireland on its Independence was too influenced by British Institutions, Culture and Traditions. 61% 11% 28%
The Irish Myth could be a source of Inspiration to the Ireland of the 21st Century. 66% 7% 27%
The Ancient Irish had a different way of looking at the world. 79% 3% 18%
Ireland was a centre of Wisdom and Inspiration in the 5th and 7th centuries and could be that again. 58% 13% 29%
The Catholic Church saw these stories as pagan and were to be replaced by the correct Christian Stories 86% 8% 6%
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