Ploughing an historic furrow

 

Sir, – Readers attending the National Ploughing Championships this week might enjoy the serendipity that the venue at Screggan, Co Offaly, was the setting of an annual seasonal assembly of the people of the region, held over 1,000 years ago during the festival of the harvest at Lughnasa. Presided over by a local king, the assembly was known in the ninth-century as Óenach Colmán Eala, after Saint Colmán of Lynally whose medieval church lies to the north of Screggan. Such seasonal assemblies were held by kings on the boundaries of their territories, at the quarterly feasts of the old Irish year and involved law-making, crafting, trading and markets, storytelling and sporting contests, especially horse and chariot racing. – Yours, etc,

Prof LIZ FITZPATRICK,

Department of Archaeology,

NUI Galway.