Kells & District Tourism Forum

Tourism News from the Home of the Book of Kells

Kells Lecture Series: Pindar at Teltown

On Saturday the first of the Kells Tourism Forum Winter Lecture Series 2011/2012 was held at Teltown House, entitled “Pindar at Teltown”.


Laura Farrelly of the Kells Tourism Forum introduced the chair, Ronan Sheehan, Dublin Branch of the European Centre for Latin, and the speakers, Professor Vasilis Politis of the Plato Centre, and Department of Philosophy, Trinity College, and and Philip Casey, poet and novelist.


Ronan Sheehan explained that the purpose of the European Centre for Latin was to revive the Latin consciousness of Europe. Ireland has the oldest tradition in Latin outside of Italy and aim to organise events in areas that have a Latin heritage.  He said that nowhere in Ireland has as important a Latin heritage as Kells does, as the Book of Kells is written in Latin and is one of the most important manuscripts of its kind in the world.


Nowhere has such an important history outside of Greece as does the Tailteann area in terms of the Olympic tradition, he said, and after a tour of the area with Lucy O’Reilly he decided to invite Professor Politis, to talk about and read the poetry of Pindar, who wrote about the Olympic and other games, in the place of the Irish “Olympics”.  He also asked Dr. Brendan O’Byrne, also from the Plato Centre, who is also in the Department of Philosophy, Trinity College.  Dr. O’Byrne is an authority on the ancient games of Greece.


Ronan Sheehan started by declaiming, in Greek, “Callimachus’ Elegy for Heraclitus” in memory of the founder of the Centre for Latin, Richard Clarke, who passed away recently, and was involved in the production and launch of “The Irish Catallus or One Gentleman of Verona”, which was funded by Margaret Heffernan of Dunne Stores.


It was read in English by Sarah Tully, also from the Centre for Latin


Someone spoke of your death, Heraclitus, and it moved me to tears, and I remembered how often we put the sun to sleep as we were talking.  You, my friend from Halicarnassus, lie somewhere, long long ago gone to dust; but your nightingales are living, and Hades who snatches everything will never lay his hand upon them.”


He spoke of the strange coincidence of phoning Philip Casey about the lecture in Teltown – and at that exact moment Philip had been reading an ancient poem about Tailtiu, which records the foundation of the games.  This is the poem Philip was going to read this afternoon, and Ronan would read some of the poem in ancient Irish.


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