Celtic Illumination, part 15, The King Of Ireland
To be able to give you a proper understanding of how I was chosen at birth, in fact probably before birth, to be trained as a Master Candle Maker I will have to give you a history lesson. Of course this will not be as dry as those you may have encountered at school and unlike the lessons at school this one is true.
Many of you will be aware of a certain symbol in Northern Ireland. I’m not talking about one you hit with a stick like Ringo Starr. I am talking about a symbol which of course as you all know is an object that represents, stands for, or suggests an idea, belief, action, or material entity. Symbols take the form of words, sounds, gestures, or visual images and are used to convey ideas and beliefs.
The symbol I am referring to is the Red Hand. This symbol is known as the Red Hand of Ulster, it is also known as the Red Hand of O Neill. There is much debate about whether the hand is a right hand or a left hand. I can tell you now that the proper symbol would be a left hand. I shall explain.
There are three main stories about the origin of the Red Hand as a symbol. One is that a dying King held a boat race to find the successor to his throne. One fellow was so desperate to be King he cut off his left hand, for he was right handed, and threw it onto the shore and became King.
The second story accepts that the O Neill clan often acted as mercenaries and to be paid for their battles would present, whoever they had been fighting for, with the left hand of any combatant they had slain during the battle. As a superstitious lot the O Neil’s believed that a person should be able to eat in the afterlife therefore, not being heathens, they allowed the right hand to remain.
Both these explanations are quite believable, but untrue, however the third story is perhaps the original and truthful version of how the Red Hand became a symbol of the O Neill’s.
The O Neill clan would not select their High Chief or King, if you prefer. The High Chief, or King, was chosen by God. The person could be a male or a female, but each successor would have a small deformity on their left hand and would be an O Neill. How do I know this? Well; when I was born, not only was I named Malachy O Neill, from county Tyrone, I had a small deformity on my left hand. You may get off your knees now.