Sunday 30 July 2017

Reek Sunday

This is Croagh Patrick, Ireland's holiest mountain. The mountain is known locally as "Reek". The word "reek" comes from  Proto-Germanic "*hraukaz" which means "sheaf, stack of corn, pile of grain, mountain". 

Today is Reek Sunday. Reek Sunday is the name for the last Sunday in July. The reason why the last Sunday in July is called "Reek Sunday" is because on this day, every year, pilgrims climb Reek (Croagh Patrick). 

Interestingly, around the Reek (Irish: Cruach which also means sheaf, stack of corn, pile of grain, mountain), people call Reek Sunday "Domhnach Crom Dubh" which means "Crom Dubh's Sunday". Crom Dubh was the old Irish Solar and Agricultural deity which was "defeated" by St Patrick. And even more interestingly, it is believed that Crom Dubh could have been another name for yet another old Irish deity: Crom Cruach...

I wrote about Crom Dubh in the article "How old is Crom Dubh" and in many other posts.

Now "Croagh Patrick" comes from the Irish "Cruach Phádraig" meaning "Patrick's stack (of corn), Patrick's mountain". 

I wander if Crom Cruach was not another name for Crom Dubh, but if instead it was the old Irish name for the holy mountain dedicated to Crom Dubh. In which case Crom Cruach would mean "Crom's stack (of corn), Crom's mountain", "Crom Dubh's stack (of corn), Crom Dubh's mountain". 

This would explain why, after Patrick defeated Crom Dubh, Crom's Stack, Crom's Mountain (Crom Cruach) was renamed into Cruach Phádraig...

Before you say: "If Crom Cruach really meant Crom's Stack, Crom's Mountain, it would have had to be written Cruach Crom, because the Irish grammar says that when making compound words, you should always put adjectives after nouns", you should know this: 

There are lots of place names in Ireland that do not confirm to this rule. Place names such as Dubh Linn ("black pool" = Dublin) and Leixlip ("salmon leap") for instance. These place names were attributed to the Norse settlers who learned Irish had trouble with putting adjectives after nouns, so they often put them before the noun. This is exactly what happens when you force the new language on subjected population. They pick up the words but keep their own grammar. But this "incorrect" use of Irish grammar is present in all old Irish texts, which shows that it predates the Norse arrival to Ireland. For instance Táin Bó Cúailnge, is filled with epithets like finnbennach "white-horned", dóeltenga "beetle-tongued", echbél "horse-lipped", rúadruca "red-blushing", and the like. 

Funnily enough most toponymes and hydronymes of Celtic origin in central Europe follow this "incorrect grammar" and have adjective before the noun.

Here is an example:

Gaelic word for “big” is Mór. (Pronounced as the English word more)
Gaelic word for “river” is Abhainn . (Pronounced “awon” similar to the English word award). Proto celtic word is awa. 

In central Europe there are numerous rivers called Morava.

Morava = mor + ava = Mór Abhainn = Mor Awa= big river 

Morava is the biggest river in Serbia and also in Czech republic, territories which were considered Celtic heartland. These rivers gave the name to the territory upper and lower Moravia. 

In Ireland there is a river named the Avonmore River (Irish: Abhainn Mhor, meaning "big river") which is the same as Mor Ava just using Gaelic grammar.

So it is quite possible that Crom Cruach really meant "Crom's Stack (of corn), Crom's Mountan".

What do you think? 


  1. What if self Gaelic is "incorrect grammar". What if central european celtic original language had "standard grammar" as surrounding languages (proto slavic, proto germanic,..) and reverse grammar occured when celts came into some non-IE neolitic Britain?
    With regards
    Martin from Czech Republic
    Nazdar slovane :-)

  2. Mori-davi(moze I tako) I to rade velike reke...