Micmac Paddy Whack

Recently, I have criticised Mike McCormack, National Historian of the Ancient Order of Hibernians for his fake research and ignorance, especially in relation to the Irish Slavery Meme. One of these criticisms centred on his gullible acceptance of the claims of the late Dr Barry Fell, who claimed that the Americas were peppered with inscriptions in various European languages which prove that Celts, Libyans, Ancient Egyptians, Greeks and what have you were all happily involved in trade and exploration in the New World thousands of years ago.

I have already given links to some of Barry Fell’s claims and to refutations of Fell’s ridiculous theories. However, to a debunker like myself, Barry Fell’s ideas seemed worth looking at because of the strong odour of bullshit emanating from them. With that in mind, I ordered a second-hand copy of America BC.

I can fully understand why people of limited education would be impressed by the book and by Fell’s credentials. Fell was a Professor at Harvard. However, significantly, he was a Professor of Marine Biology, not of archaeology or linguistics or ancient languages. Mike McCormack was also impressed at the fact that he was President of the International Epigraphic Society, though it should be pointed out that Barry Fell founded the Epigraphic Society and it was pretty much a one-man band. The book is full of convincing illustrations and diagrams and maps. There are comparisons between Egyptian hieroglyphs and a writing system used a few hundred years ago by Micmac Indians, which look really convincing. More on that later.

The reaction of the world of academia to Barry Fell’s claims has been almost entirely negative. A close associate of Fell’s called Norman Totten was also an academic at Bentley College and a genuine epigrapher called David Kelley who worked on Mayan also took his work seriously. (Though Kelley criticised much of Fell’s work, he accepted the idea that there were genuine European rock-carvings in the Americas, a belief that is not shared by most experts in anthropology or history or archaeology.)

Of course, conspiracy theorists and other lovers of the arcane and weird will no doubt take the contempt of the academic establishment as proof that Fell was onto something rather than as proof that he was nuts.

As I’ve said, one of the things that has convinced many people is where Fell takes a hieroglyphic system which was in use by Micmac Indians. There are no petroglyphs (rock carvings) which use these Micmac hieroglyphs and many experts believe that the system was invented by a French priest, perhaps using some traditional mnemonic signs which had been painted on birch-bark by the Micmacs. Fell plays down the amount invented by the priest and stresses the antiquity of the system. He also presents extremely convincing (on first inspection) correspondences between a Christian religious text in the Micmac system and Ancient Egyptian. However, although I don’t know anything about Egyptian hieroglyphs (or Micmac, for that matter), I am suspicious for several reasons.

Firstly, if I used a hieroglyphic system to write a sentence of English and the same sentence in Irish so that the principal concepts were represented by signs and not by an alphabet, the signs wouldn’t appear in the same place in the two versions. Yet in Fell’s version, the Micmac and the Egyptian correspond perfectly. This is doubly surprising because it appears that the Micmac system was a mixture of logograms and phonetic elements (like Japanese writing), as was Ancient Egyptian. In most cases, the correspondences of the Micmac symbols and the Egyptian symbols given by Fell aren’t that similar, even in his version. While I would like to see a proper treatment of this by an Egyptologist, I have searched out a few Egyptian hieroglyphs, such as heaven, gold and silver and I have been unable to find the same versions given by Fell. In other words, Fell’s version of Ancient Egyptian doesn’t seem to be genuine.

Let’s take a look at one claim made by Fell in the book which gives a good indication of how he did things. We have already looked briefly at the ogham script in a previous post. This was a Celtic script found in Ireland and Britain, which used scratches around a stem line to represent letters. Fell often ‘identified’ letters where there were fairly random scratches and no stem line, which is like a fraction without a denominator.

Fell also claimed that ogham was used as a kind of secret signalling system and he gives a table of hand signals which looks like some kind of deaf sign language. It doesn’t use vowels (which real ogham did), and the consonants are arranged into three groups of five, one with the left hand, one with the right and one with both hands. The claim that ogham was used for signalling is also found in Macalister’s Secret Languages of Ireland, but Macalister suggests that this was done in two ways, as Nose-Ogham, where the nose was used as the stem line and the fingers of one hand represent the letters, or as Leg-Ogham, where the fingers were arranged around the shinbone to represent letters. So where did Barry Fell’s two-handed version of the ogham signalling come from? There is no way of knowing, but the most likely conclusion is that Barry Fell made it up.

Then Fell looked at two Iberian statues which show people with fingers sticking out, corresponding to ‘letters’ on his made-up ogham chart. Apparently one of these, a naked statue, represents a warrior (because it’s naked and ancient Celtic warriors fought naked!) and his hands spell out the letters Q _ B. However, in the text, it says that it is Q _ T, representing the modern Irish word ‘cath’ meaning battle. (in other words, the caption and the text give two different versions of the two consonants!) He also shows a statue of a woman, whose hand signals supposedly correspond to Q _ N in Irish, or the modern Irish caoin, ‘mourn’.

To me, looking at these claims rationally, there are a number of possibilities, not just Fell’s certainty that he had solved a mystery and got it right:

  1. These statues have their fingers pointing in random ways and there is no significance to the way their hands are depicted.
  2. The fingers of the statues have some significance within the culture which produced the statues (a blessing, for example) but we don’t know what this was.
  3. Fell was right about the fingers having some alphabetic meaning but it could have been a completely different alphabetic system (since Fell’s version of ogham signalling is unsupported by any evidence).
  4. Fell got it right about the letters but was wrong about the language and it could have been some other language entirely.
  5. Fell got it right about the letters and the Celtic language but the meaning was completely different. After all, the letters q-n could stand for head, or dog, or harbour, or quiet, depending on the vowels you choose to put in.

You could probably add to this list. I think 1. and 2. above are probable, while 3, 4 and 5 are highly improbable, or almost impossible. So, why did Fell believe he’d got it right if it wasn’t true?

I don’t know. There are some people who think they are always right, regardless of the subject. And though Fell was undoubtedly clever, there is no doubt that some clever people get the most outrageously stupid ideas in their heads and somehow manage to maintain them alongside more rational beliefs. (We have looked before at Charles Mackay, who was both one of the first identifiers of crankness and a major etymological crank.) I think Fell was one of those people who is mad with regard to one thing and rational about everything else. I could be wrong about that, but the fact that he identified Maui, the great Polynesian ancestor, as a Greek student of Eratosthenes, and ‘translated’ the mysterious Phaistos Disk, though he didn’t know what language it was written in (only that it was related to Luwian, apparently), don’t inspire confidence. Here is his confident and unfaltering ‘translation’ of the front of the Phaistos Disk:

The omens that you seek are explained in this tablet, every one. The omens that are sent forth for man’s destiny, every one. Whatever you may ask, great or small, if you are worried, is given (an answer), every one. Seek an omen by offering a sacrifice to the birds, that the Gods may be well disposed. Ask anything you wish, on this tablet is explained everything. You may ask anything by sacrificing an offering to the birds, that the Gods may from Heaven send forth an omen; everything is (answered) above the earth, deceiving never, everything. And so men may ask for protection, everyone. Should they (the Gods) be angered by something, or by the sacrifice, ill omens are released, all of them, signifying death or disaster; which appear upon asking, all of them.

Another reason to doubt Fell’s book is how old-fashioned it all looks now. It was published in the 70s but there is something very hippy about it. When I look through the photographs in the book, there are many photos of hairy archaeologists, often stripped to the waist, and line drawings of equally hairy ancients totally naked, some of which remind me of The Joy of Sex. (The Joy of Texts??) There is a lot of stuff about phallic cults. Apparently there are stone phalli in Vermont (no, not really) which have ‘ogham’ inscriptions referring to male fertility. Irish and Gaelic speakers will be very surprised to learn that ‘bog bod’ meant ‘erect penis’ to our ancestors. As the primary meaning of bog is soft, that doesn’t make any sense at all. Oh, and the adjective follows the noun in Irish.

In other words, America BC is a load of shite. Only an idiot would buy into this crap, and that’s why academia has ignored it – because there really is nothing of any value to it. Like the Irish Slavery meme, or Cassidy’s fake etymology, or the nonsense about Irish vampires, this is just fakery promoted by people who have no bullshit sensors and no common sense.

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Where’s Liam Hogan’s Twitter Feed?

This morning, I tried to log on to Liam Hogan’s Twitter feed at Limerick1914. Apparently, the account Limerick1914 no longer exists. I’m assuming that Liam Hogan himself hasn’t removed it. So where’s it gone?

Strangely, you can still log on to Twitter and find the account of ‘Bob’, with comments like this:

People tend to forget the Irish were slaves too. My ancestors were Irish and I’m not pissing and moaning.

But the best source for the genuine information seems to have been suspended. Nice one, Twitter! What a shower of useless arseholes …

October’s Twit of the Month – Hugh Curran

For this month’s Twit of the Month, I have decided to return to Hugh Curran of Maine. Readers of this blog will remember that in the winter of 2016 and the spring of this year, I took issue with many of this man’s comments on IrishCentral. These comments (now deleted along with most of the accumulated comments on IrishCentral) were complete nonsense. They supported Daniel Cassidy and his preposterous theories, arrogantly ‘corrected’ people who knew more than he did, and criticised genuine etymologists for not giving enough credence to these absurd claims. In these comments, he implied that he was a fluent native Irish speaker. A quick look on line was sufficient to show that he is not fluent in Irish and he himself has admitted this since.

Hugh Curran claimed that Cassidy’s book “is sometimes maligned because a few of the several hundred words are of questionable Gaelic origin, yet the vast majority are correct and the book makes for fascinating reading.” In another post, he claimed that about 40-50% of Cassidy’s derivations were correct. Not only do these two judgements conflict with each other, they are also both nonsense.

I lambasted him on this blog for this behaviour but I also set him a challenge. If he can find ten derivations which are correct out of the hundreds in Cassidy’s book, I will remove my comments about him. Just ten out of hundreds. The only condition was that they had to be original to Cassidy and not plagiarised by Cassidy from other people. I also said that if he couldn’t find them and issued a formal apology for supporting this dreck and misleading people, I would also remove the comments critical of him and substitute it with the apology.

Since then, we have heard nothing from Curran. He hasn’t been able or willing (actually, let’s get real – he hasn’t been able) to find evidence for the outlandish claims he was making. And he is obviously way too up himself to apologise.

Some people might think I am wrong to single out someone like this. He is plainly interested in Irish and Irish culture, even if he doesn’t know much about them. He is an ecologist (though I wouldn’t be alone in regarding the ‘deep ecology’ that he teaches as a load of New Age woo), a political liberal, a supporter of gun control, and he has worked with the homeless. All of these things are very laudable. But does that give him the right to go onto public forums, misrepresent himself as an expert on the Irish language and essentially make up a number of ludicrous claims about the merits of Cassidy’s work? No, it doesn’t! Sensible people have a duty to challenge nonsense like that.

The recent debate about the Irish Slavery meme and the heroic work of Liam Hogan in defence of the truth has shown how much fake information is out there. Most of this fake information is spread by people who believe it’s true, even though it’s clear that the overwhelming majority of them have no idea how to separate bullshit from fact and massively over-estimate their own intelligence and level of education.

One thing is sure. People who spread fake information are a menace. Whatever they think their motives are, their shallowness and arrogance are helping to make the world a worse place.

That’s why my October CassidySlangScam Twit of the Month is Hugh Curran, fake Gaeilgeoir and pompous spreader of fake information.

More on Mike McCormack

Liam Hogan has just posted an excellent response (https://medium.com/@Limerick1914/the-ancient-order-of-hibernians-history-ireland-magazine-and-the-accommodation-of-ahistorical-ec393928e787) to the childish attack on his reputation in the letters section of History Ireland by Mike McCormack (National Historian of the Ancient Order of Hibernians). Hogan makes a fabulous job of demolishing McCormack’s arguments. He also shows that McCormack, far from being a genuine historian with a right to get on his high horse about distortion of history, is a worthless dilettante who cuts and pastes sources without actually referring to the originals at all.

However, this is not the first time that McCormack’s stupidity has damaged the reputation of the organization he claims to love, the Ancient Order of Hibernians.

For example, in 2005, he wrote a ridiculous article (http://www.aohalexandria.org/2016/12/04/ogham-writing-dark-ages-produce-americas-first-christmas-cards/) which takes seriously the discredited claims of the late Dr Barry Fell, who believed that hundreds of scratches and random marks on rocks in the USA were really inscriptions in the ancient Irish ogham script. Fell really surpassed himself when he ‘read’ the following message on a cliff in Wyoming County, WV, in 1982 or 1983.

A ray will graze the notch on the left side, at the time of sunrise on Christmas Day, the first season of the year, the season of the blessed advent of the savior Lord Christ, behold he is born of Mary, a woman.

(If you think the bit about rays falling somewhere on a particular day is familiar, let me remind you that Raiders of the Lost Ark came out just before this, in 1981!) Suffice it to say that from a number of chaotic scratches, Fell claimed to make out a number of ogham letters, and these ogham letters were then interpreted by him as a form of ogham without any vowels, written in a mixture of Old Irish and Latin. For example, having identified a string of ‘text’ as FGBRRMRMBN, Fell interpreted this to mean Feg berir Maire mbena, or, as he claims, ‘Behold, he is born of Mary, a woman.’ I’m no expert on Old Irish but that doesn’t look at all convincing as a real sentence, and the string of letters could be interpreted pretty much any way you want. As Dr John Carey, a Celtic scholar at Harvard said: “Finding these sequences in purported Ogam inscriptions … seems to open the door to unbounded subjectivity: I hope that it isn’t unduly uncharitable to say that I could produce ‘Celtic text’ based on these principles for virtually any series of letters (or strokes) which you supplied”

You can find a full account of Fell’s ‘discovery’ of this supposed ogham message here: https://cwva.org/wwvrunes/wwvrunes_3.html

You can also find an excellent refutation of Fell’s theories here: https://cwva.org/ogam_rebutal/wirtz.html

In another article (http://aoh.theloveclan.net/aboutus.html), McCormack takes equally ludicrous claims about the origins of the AOH seriously. He claims that the Defenders, an agrarian Catholic society of the late eighteenth century, was founded in 1565 with the motto Friendship, Unity, and True Christian Charity. In English? In Ireland in the 16th century? No real historian would accept this claim, which was plainly invented to beef up the antiquity of the ‘Ancient’ Order of Hibernians. (The Buffaloes aren’t Antediluvian either!) There is also no evidence that the AOH was founded in the 17th century.

History provides us with the names of many of these organizations, and even limited details of some. We know, for example, that the motto of the Defenders in 1565 was Friendship, Unity, and True Christian Charity, but the secret manner in which these societies operated left few records for modern analysts. As a result, a true history of their times may never be written. Today’s AOH with its motto “Friendship, Unity, and Christian Charity” is the most recent link in the evolution of these ancient societies. Organized in Ireland for the purpose of defending Gaelic values, and protecting Church and clergy, it is the successor to the secret societies of old.   Although the name AOH can only be traced back to 1641, the organization can claim continuity of purpose and motto unbroken back to the Defenders of 1565.

In other words, this guy has been spreading his nonsense for years. I am no fan of the AOH, but I find it hard to believe that there was nobody in their membership better qualified to be their National Historian than Mike McCormack. How did they end up with this buffoon making them into an international laughing stock? Red faces all round for the AOH!

Irish ‘Slaves’ In The Amazon

In my last few posts, I have switched from attacking Daniel Cassidy and his ignorant supporters. My recent posts have been concerned with Liam Hogan and his heroic struggle against the Irish Slavery Meme, a ridiculous piece of fake history which tries to show that the Irish were sold into slavery in America and the Caribbean and that they suffered worse than the African slaves. Of the people promoting this rubbish, the majority of them are White Supremacists and other Neo-Nazis, while others are people of a strong Irish nationalist bent who like the glow of victimhood they derive from it.

I am not a historian and anyone who is interested in this subject should read Liam Hogan’s excellent work on the subject, where he has patiently and intelligently dissected the lies and nonsense being put forward by the revisionists. However, I have noticed that there is one subsidiary claim about Irish ‘slavery’ which has been spread far and wide, yet it is completely untrue. While Liam Hogan has dealt with the real facts about this (https://medium.com/@Limerick1914/as-intentional-as-the-forgetting-that-follows-82a309014d45) I don’t think he has tackled the false version directly. (If he has and I have missed it, my apologies!)

The false claim is that the first ‘record’ of Irish slaves in the New World was in 1612, when a group of Irish ‘slaves’ were ‘sold’ to a settlement in the Amazon. For example:

Putting two and two together, King James I started sending Irish slaves to the new world. The first recorded sale of Irish slaves was to a settlement in the Amazon in 1612, seven years before the first African slaves arrived in Jamestown. (http://www.thenewportbuzz.com/the-irish-slave-trade-the-slaves-that-time-forgot/7191)

The facts of the matter are quite clear. In 1612, a group of Munster Irish settlers went to the Amazon. They were led by two brothers from Youghal called Purcell. None of them were slaves. They went voluntarily, with the aim of growing tobacco and trading with the English and the Dutch. Here’s one source that tells it like it is, without any fake claims of slavery:

The first Irish settlement in Latin America is thought to have been along the Amazon, set up by the Anglo-Irish tobacco trader Philip Purcell in 1612. Purcell and a colourful character who followed him in 1620, Bernard O’Brien …

Who is this libtard revisionist trying to whitewash Irish slavery out of the record? Actually, this is from a book (Wherever Green Is Worn: The Story of the Irish Diaspora) by that well-known bleeding heart, snowflake and Brit-lover Tim Pat Coogan (yes, I’m being sarcastic, and why the f*** not?)

So, if these people were free men and not Irish slaves, why do so many people online repeat the nonsense that they were slaves? The answer is that it is based on a misinterpretation of one of the main texts in the development of the Irish slaves meme, an article called England’s Irish Slaves (1995) by Robert E. West.

This article (http://www.ewtn.com/library/humanity/slaves.txt) is one of the principal texts which conflates and confuses slavery with indentured servitude and has therefore given rise to the myth of Irish slavery. However, it doesn’t state that Irish people were sold into slavery in 1612 in the Amazon. Here’s what it says:

Records are replete with references to early Irish Catholics in the West Indies. Gwynn in Analecta Hibernica, states: ‘The earliest reference to the Irish is the establishment of an Irish settlement on the Amazon River in 1612.”(1)

West wasn’t saying these were slaves. He was setting out the context for the Irish in the Americas. Someone else has then looked at this and because of the provocative title with the word ‘Slaves’ in it, has assumed that these Irish people were unfree. As with so many elements of the Irish slavery meme, bad reading of texts and endless copying of secondary sources without checking the facts has turned this baseless nonsense into ‘a thing’.

History Ireland Apologises

There has been some great news over at Liam Hogan’s Limerick1914 Twitter feed. As you may remember, Liam was unjustly attacked by the ‘National Historian’ of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, Mike McCormack, in a letter in the pages of the magazine, History Ireland.

Now, the editor of History Ireland has apologised. I suspect that they realised how damaging this matter was to their reputation. While the apology is gracious and I am delighted for Liam Hogan’s sake, I am not sure if I will ever buy a copy of the magazine again. Robust debate is fine and personal attacks should be avoided in publications of that type (that’s what blogs like this are for!), but there is another issue which is in many ways far more important. Should Mike McCormack be allowed to publish a letter in a history magazine which contains claims about the existence of documents of parentage recording the breeding of Irish girls with Mandingo warriors, documents which obviously don’t exist? In other words, I wouldn’t publish a letter making fake claims like this, except to mock it and rip it to shreds, and I don’t think History Ireland should either. Anyway, here is the apology. Comhghairdeas leat, a Liam. Coinnigh ort leis an dea-obair!

Apology to Liam Hogan

In the September/October 2017 edition of History Ireland I published a letter from Mr Mike McCormack of the Ancient Order of Hibernians in America headed ‘The Irish and slavery’. Mr McCormack’s letter took issue with an earlier article by John Donoghue but also made personal reference to Mr Liam Hogan, who co-authored an article published in the March/April 2016 edition of History Ireland entitled ‘The Irish in the Anglo-Carribean: servants or slaves?’.

I acknowledge and accept that Mr McCormack’s letter unfairly targeted Mr Hogan, denigrated his professional reputation and disparaged his motivations in carrying out his important research into the topical issue of the Irish slaves myth. Specifcally, I accept that Mr Hogan was accused of engaging in “Irish American bashing” and being a “bigot”.

I acknowledge that Mr Hogan is a respected librarian and historian who has carried out extensive and diligent research and work on this topic which has been fair, ethical and subject to the appropriate rigours of scholarly historical research. I acknowledge and agree that at no stage has Mr Hogan been in any way intolerant of others or bigoted and that the allegation to the contrary should not have been published.  History Ireland is committed to being a forum for robust academic discussion but does not condone personalised attacks such as was contained in this letter. We regret that we failed to live up to this principle on this occasion.

I apologise unreservedly to Mr Hogan on behalf of History Ireland. I acknowledge and regret the damage to his reputation that the publication of Mr McCormack’s letter has caused. Mr Hogan’s own response to the letter will appear in the November/December 2017 edition of History Ireland.

Tommy Graham

Editor

Of Irish Slaves and Irish Slang

I have recently had cause to criticise the absurd ‘Irish Slavery Meme’ which has been challenged by a number of historians, most notably Liam Hogan of Limerick. While this may seem like a deviation from the aims of CassidySlangScam, which is primarily about the Irish language and more specifically about the ridiculous fake Irish etymologies produced by the late Daniel Cassidy, there are clear parallels between these two dishonest sets of claims.

In both cases, a meme which is almost entirely rubbish is being circulated virally, often by horrible people with a particular agenda. With Cassidy’s work, many of his supporters are naïve and foolish people who believe they are defending the Irish language when they support Cassidy’s ridiculous made-up rubbish. With the Irish Slavery Meme, many of them are White Supremacists who claim that their ancestors had it worse than African slaves but you won’t find them bitching and moaning and asking for positive discrimination, blah blah blah …

In both cases, the meme is of relatively recent origin. Cassidy’s ludicrous nonsense first started to spread when he published his first articles in 2003. The Irish slavery meme has precursors going back over a hundred years in the work of Thomas Addis Emmett but didn’t go mainstream until  the publication of To Hell or Barbados, a highly inaccurate book written by a journalist (not a historian) and published in 2001. It has never had any currency among genuine historians.

In both cases, there is a core of genuine information surrounded by immense quantities of guff. In both cases, the genuine information is non-controversial and accepted by both sides. In the Cassidy case, there is a handful of derivations which are accepted (shebeen, puss, phoney etc.) by all dictionaries but most of Cassidy’s claims link English expressions to made-up ‘Irish’ phrases. In the Irish Slavery meme, there is no doubt that a certain number of people were essentially kidnapped from Ireland and transported against their will to the colonies (especially for a few years in the 1650s) where they were forced to work as indentured servants for a number of years. The followers of this meme vastly inflate the numbers involved, claim that the indentured servants were slaves or were treated worse than slaves, and that this ‘Irish slave trade’ continued for hundreds of years.

In both cases, we find some of the same names supporting this rubbish: IrishCentral and Niall O’Dowd; Donnacha DeLong; Mike McCormack.

In both cases, the fakeness of most of the evidence presented can easily be established. It’s just that people are either too lazy to go looking for it or unwilling to have their fantasy version of the world challenged by facts.

In both cases, anyone who argues that this meme is fake news and completely untrue is verbally attacked by people who claim that their position is ‘anti-Irish’ or Anglophile, or that they are ‘deniers’, as if denial of lies is a bad thing!

In both cases, this results in the claim that orthodox academia has somehow suppressed the truth about the Irish origins of American slang or the suffering of hundreds of thousands of Irish slaves and that these ‘truths’ should be acknowledged by academics or taught in schools – even though there isn’t a shred of evidence that these things happened.