Celto-Slavs (and Celtic Nations)

Combined flag of the Celtic nations 
There are two new tabs on our blog– Celto-Slavs, and Celtic Nations.  Celtic Nations is an obvious one, and since we’ve already covered BZH and St. Yves Week in New York, there’s already a post there.  If in the future we need separate tabs for each of the Celtic Nations we’ll add them, but so far Isle of Man events here in the tristate area are rare.  But why Celto-Slavs?
1.  The Celts originated in Central Europe.  They did!   This is from Wikipedia (but I also learned it from the documentary, with Enya music to it , The Celts:

From Wikipedia:
The earliest archaeological culture commonly accepted as Celtic, or rather Proto-Celtic, was the central European Hallstatt culture (c. 800-450 BC), named for the rich grave finds in Hallstatt, Austria.[3

Some people believe that the name “Bohemia” stems from the name of a Celtic tribe, the Bojí. 

This is my personal theory for Jirishness, i.e., why so many Jews are involved with Celtic music and culture.  It goes like this:   Jews end up in Central Europe after the destruction of the temple.  Meet nice Celts, settle down (alternatively, Jews meet Celts who are trading in Egypt).  Celts get idea things would go better for them over there in Ireland and the areas usually thought of as Celtic (and/or get defeated and move around).  Jewish Celts say, see you later, it’s nice over here.  

The Czech Inn, in Temple Bar, Dublin

2.  There are many  Polish and Central-European immigrants in Ireland.  So much so that  the Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival last autumn featured a Polski Teatr season, presenting “a city-wide celebration of contemporary Polish culture and investigation of the cultural impact of migration.”  (And if they can, we can!) Not only is your barmaid likely to be Polish or Czech, there are also Czech restaurants in Ireland. And can we say Once, anybody?   Once, featuring Marketa Irglová, a Czech actress playing a Czech girl who becomes involved with Glen Hansard, playing an Irish busker.  It won an Academy Award for best song in 2008.  We had the filmmakers of the documentary The Swell Season, which followed Irglová and Hansard’s tour, on the May 16 podcast.   Look for the film in movie theatres soon, I loved it!  Also look for the opening of the musical Once at New York Theatre Workshop this autumn, with a book by playwright Enda Walsh (we also have him on the podcast in coming weeks!), directed by John Tiffany of Black Watch.   

3.   There’s a long tradition of a mutual love affair between the Czechs and Irish.

Both groups of people struggled to break away from larger empires.  I wrote about it a little in my doctoral dissertation, Performing Culture:  English-Language Theatre in Post-Communist Prague (read it here as a diss, but look for a book, with pictures, from Litteraria Pragensia  next year!).  Here’s some of what I pointed out– and yes, I’m quoting Books Editor Michelle Woods below.  We both met in Prague while working on our degrees.  She taught me to drink Guinness in Czech pubs (there were five Irish pubs in town at the time).

Czech brewery Staropramen released its own stout, called Velvet, in October 1997.  In her 1999 article  for the Irish Times “Czech It Out Now—It’s a Mini-Celtic Tiger,” Michelle Woods reviewed some of the Czech-Irish connections of the twentieth century:  Irish nationalists viewed Czechoslovakia, established 1918, as a model for an independent Ireland; Waterford Crystal was revived by two Czechs in 1946; Central Prague has a street called Hibernian Street, named for a Franciscan monastery established by Irish monks in the 17th century.

Michelle (who is herself half Irish and half Czech!) is working on a book called Censoring Translations:  Censorship, Theatre and the Politics of Translation, which focuses on the plays of Václav Havel in translation, from Continuum Press due, out in March 2012.   And she’s also written an article on a Czech retelling of an Irish legend for Comparative Literature and Culture, which you can read here!  

So look for reviews and news of Czech and Central European events on our blog and podcast, and send us news and thoughs as you have them!
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  1. If you re-read McCarthy’s Bar, you will realize that it opens in an Irish Pub in Budapest. As a Hungarian immersed in Irish music I was of course inspired the first time I read it but NOT surprised. After all, as your article delineates, the Celts were there centuries before Guinness made it to the Danube!
    I watched an excellent documentary on this fact a dozen years ago and am looking forward to learning more in this upcoming book on the subject.

  2. No American is Celtic, get over it and leave us real Celts to celebrate our own national days without jumping on the bandwagon for fucks sake

  3. Anonymous says:

    Bethan, you are a fucking moron! EVERYONE who can trace their lineage back to one the Celtic Nations is of CELTIC DESCENT! Americans who can trace their lineage back to their fathers, or grandfathers or great-grandfathers or great-great grandfathers or great-great-great grandfathers are NO LESS Celtic than someone who was born in one of those countries today! Just because we were BORN Americans doesn’t mean that some of us don’t take GREAT pride in our ancestry and the bloodline of our family! Besides, you said NO American can be a Celt! What about those who were born in one of the Celtic Nations and then moved to America and BECAME American Citizens later?! SEE? Your childish and jealous “theory” falls apart! By YOUR “logic”, those of Indo-European descent should be able to claim that no one from Wales, Scotland, Ireland or ANY of the other of the accepted “Celtic Nations” are Celts because they weren’t born where the Celtic peoples actually BEGAN! Celts are from a wide range of countries and regions and as they migrated, they spread across a large area until they were stopped by the Atlantic Ocean. Also, unless an “American” is of Native bloodline, ALL Americans came from SOMEWHERE ELSE, INCLUDING Celtic Nations! STUDY YOUR HISTORY, you MIGHT actually learn something! Why don’t you EMBRACE your Celtic brothers and sisters in America, instead of trying to drive an artificial barrier between us?