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Cla…Cla…Claudius the Scholar

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When faced with the notion of a scholarly Roman emperor, you would be forgiven for immediately thinking of the great philosopher king, Marcus Aurelius or if you are a late antiquarian, perhaps Julian the Apostate or even the ‘Byzantine’ Constantine VII. Few would immediately think of the bumbling stutterer, Claudius, played so effectively by Derek Jacobi in the tremendous I, Claudius. But if you have had the privilege of watching that excellent show recently, you might remember that even in that fictionalised drama of Julio-Claudian Rome, Claudius is depicted as being a writer.

This seems even stranger when his mother, Antonia, is recorded referring to Claudius as ‘stultus’ and ‘μωρός’ (Suetonius, Cla. 3.2). However, rather than meaning ‘stupid’, both of Antonia’s insults translate better as ‘foolish.’ This would suggest that she was speaking more of Claudius’ silly actions, seeing him as an embarrassment rather than suggesting that he was cognitively impaired. Certainly, “it takes intellect to write history, however bad” (Levick (1990), 15), and Claudius’ history was good enough in places to be used by Pliny the Elder and Tacitus as a source of information (Pliny, NH VII.35; Syme (1958), 703-710; Townsend (1962), who has Aufidius Bassus as an intermediary source; De Vivo (1980), 68 n.196).

But while Claudius’ various health issues do not seem to have affected his cognitive abilities, in the period before his accession that he displayed “a notably intellectual turn of mind hardly mattered” (Holland (2016), 185). His various twitches, limp and poor speech saw him banned from public appearances on the agreement of Augustus, Livia and Tiberius (Levick (1990), 11).

While he may have been largely sidelined politically by his family, Claudius did still receive a proper Roman education, becoming a keen student of the disciplinae liberales (Suetonius, Cla. 30) – literature, rhetoric, music, mathematics and law.

Claudius would show that he was well-versed in Greek and may have visited there in 10-11 (Suetonius, Cla. 25.5); he also showed some interest in listening to poetry and could (mis-)quote Homer. He also showed some education in philosophy, but along with poetry and drama, he showed little active interest in it.

His famous speech before the Senate in favour of allowing Gauls to join its ranks, with its long historical introduction, demonstrated a knowledge of Cicero’s Pro Balbo and the speech of Canuleius in favour of marriage between plebeians and patricians in Livy’s Book VI, although the speech does suggest that Claudius had not firmly grasped rhetoric.

This speech may also have suggested that Claudius could overcome his speech impediments to some extent. That said, Seneca (Apol. 4.3, 5; followed by Suetonius, Cla. 16; Dio LX.17) frequently wrote of Claudius’ poor speaking voice, referring to him sounding like a sea creature: “you couldn’t even tell what language he was speaking” (Levick (1990), 14, who suggests that his poor speech could have been a side effect of teaching himself to write with his opposite hand due to cerebral palsy. Such ‘denying’ of the dominant hand could have impaired his speech, with King George VI being perhaps the most famous example of this.)

Being banned from public appearances will have allowed Claudius to focus on his academic endeavours and he took full advantage, writing copiously throughout his life. The historian Livy seems to have been employed as something of a tutor for Claudius. While Livy probably died in AD12/17, he reputedly encouraged Claudius to take up writing history (Suetonius, Cla. 41.1). Claudius was also encouraged by the secretary/tutor Sulpicius Flavus, who was “evidently a man well-known in his day” (Levick (1990), 18-19).

In terms of his historical style, he might have had some appreciation for Thucydides and Sallust, not just because of their writing but also perhaps they shared having had a public career only to be excluded before they started on their history.

This interest in history saw Claudius devote his time to several extensive works. Writing in Greek, he composed a 20-book history of the Etruscans – Tyrrhenica (Suetonius, Cla. 42.2), as well as an Etruscan dictionary, and an 8-book history of Carthaginians – Carchedonica – before his accession. Writing an Etruscan history and dictionary may demonstrate some influence from his marriages on chosen subject matter. His first wife had Etruscan connections and his son was betrothed to a daughter of Sejanus, an Etruscan noble from Volsinii. He could also have been bolstering the Etruscan origins of the Claudii in Sabine territory. Furthermore, his Carthaginian history may also reflect how Etruscan families of the early first century AD were developing an interest in Carthage, with the name Hamilcar appearing.

It could also be that Claudius was encouraged to take on other subjects like the Carthaginians and Etruscans due to the subject he initially looked to write about almost having drastic personal consequences: a Roman history in Latin of at least 43 books, which survived down to Suetonius’ time, on events from the murder of Julius Caesar to the death of Augustus in AD14. Covering such a period will have seen Claudius confronted with quite a few controversial episodes, about which “no one could ever give an accurate or frank account of what had really happened” (Suetonius, Cla. 41.2) without risking significant consequences.

Initially, this does not seem to have perturbed Claudius (Suetonius, Cla. 41.1). He probably looked at the immediate aftermath of Caesar’s assassination, only for there to be a significant gap after 43BC. This would likely be because Claudius had begun this history at a time when Augustus was still alive and the likes of Livia and Antonia urged him to overlook the events surrounding the Second Triumvirate, which did not present the princeps in the best light. Claudius would surely have found it difficult to portray Marcus Antonius in a sufficiently negative light, considering he was his grandfather.

While Claudius wrote throughout his life and worked on this history for years – even “indefinitely” (Levick (1990), 19), it was during Tiberius’ reign that he was at his most prolific; however, at this time, it had become impolitic to comment on Republican Rome. This will have furthered the ‘encouragement’ Claudius received to not include certain aspects of Augustus’ career in his Roman history and to perhaps look at more obscure, antiquarian subjects in order to save him and/or the Julio-Claudian dynasty of some embarrassment (Levick (1990), 19).

Claudius certainly did not hold back when it came to describing his imperial predecessors once he came to the throne – speaking of Tiberius’ “obstinate retirement” on the Tabula Clesiana, an inscription from AD46 granting citizenship on the people of the Anauni, Sinduni and Tullianses in the Alps; a bronze plate found near Cles in Trentino, Italy in 1869. In Josephus, AJ 19, a Claudian edict speaks of the “madness and lack of understanding” of Caligula. Claudius’ reading of history may have helped to inform some of his decisions, such as sparing Caratacus’ life (Holland (2016), 341).

It was not just more obscure non-Roman histories that Claudius diversified into. Perhaps enhanced by his speech impediment, he also had an interest in language. He wrote a monograph encouraging the expansion of the Latin alphabet with three new letters and changes to general literacy rules.

His new letters were a ‘inverted digamma,’ which was to stand in for the ‘w’ sound of v/u between vowels; a western version of the Greek psi to be used for b/s and p/s and “a rough breathing half-H or more plausibly a fifth century BC Boeotian vowel character, for ỹ, the Greek upsilon, as in the name Nymphius, in Latin a sound between ‘e’ and ‘i’ has given rise to modern controversy.” (Levick (1990), 19)

Claudius’ linguistic choices show streaks of rationalisation and antiquarianism, with a preference for – ai – over – ae – as in ‘Caiser’ over ‘Caesar’ and his attempt to revive the old rule of placing dots between words, as Latin at this time was written with no spaces.

Following in the footsteps of his ancestor, Appius Claudius Caecus (who was thought to have used the censorship to introduce the letter ‘r’), Claudius used his role as censor in 47CE to introduce these changes, but while Suetonius and Tacitus saw them in inscriptions, books and official records and the latter may have used some of Claudius’ linguistic research, none of Claudius’ changes outlasted him.

Unfortunately, along with his linguistic changes, none of Claudius’ works survive beyond references in other sources. Some are only known from their existence, rather than any of its contents. He is known to have held a Greek comedy in Naples and published a translation of Aratus’ Phaenomena, but it is unknown if these were his own compositions or his dead brother Germanicus.

Demonstrating his own interest in gambling, he wrote a treatise on dice games. He also brought together a gazetteer on exotic flora and fauna and compiled writings about floods in Mesopotamia. In spite of the potential embarrassment and the impolitic of commenting on the Republic, he wrote and published a defense of Cicero against the charges of Asinius Gallus. Claudius also produced an 8-volume autobiography, which even Suetonius described as lacking taste (Suetonius, Cla. 41).

Like Tiberius, Claudius showed some interest in medicine, but unlike Tiberius, he did not fear doctors. He took them with him on his travels not just for his own health but to spread their knowledge for the benefits of others. To that end, he also proposed edicts championing yew as a treatment for snake-bite and the salutary effect of breaking wind. Claudius also carried out correspondence with a Scenite Arab sheikh over the benefits of vulture’s liver as a cure for epilepsy: “boiled in its own blood with honey and taken over a period of three weeks… or of the heart of the same, dried and given in water” (Levick (1990), 20; John Lydus, de mens. 4.104)

Not only did Claudius write about various subjects, he also befriended other scholars throughout his life and once he was in power, he did not forget their friendship and support. Three such scholars were promoted to high office during his reign (Levick (1990), 19 n.20; Rawson (1984), 93, 303; cf. Syme (1957)).

Whether he was purely an antiquarian or housed some revolutionary ideas in his works (Levick (1978)) and despite little to none of his work surviving, the seemingly bumbling stutterer Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus should be remembered as a scholarly emperor.


Heurgon, J. ‘La vocation etruscologique de l’Empereur Claude,’ CRA I (1953), 92-99

Holland, T. Dynasty: The Rise and Fall of the House of Caesar. London (2016)

Levick, B.M. ‘Claudius: Antiquarian or Revolutionary?,’ American Journal of Philology 99 (1978), 79-105.

Levick, B.M. Claudius. New Haven (1990).

Momigliano, A. Claudius: the Emperor and His Achievement. Cambridge (1934) (Hogarth, W.D. translation)

Osgood, J. Claudius Caesar: Image and Power in the Early Roman Empire. Cambridge (2010)

Rawson, E. Intellectual Life in the Late Roman Republic. London (1984)

Ryan, F.X. ‘Some Observations on the Censorship of Claudius and Vitellius, AD 47-48,’ American Journal of Philology 114 (1993), 611-618

Syme, R. ‘The origin of the Veranii,’ CQ 7 (1957), 123-125

Syme, R. Tacitus. 2 vols. Oxford (1958)

Townsend, G.B. ‘Claudius and the digressions in Tacitus,’ RM 105 (1962), 358-368

A Rising Phoenix: Meet the Belfast Summer School 2020 Tutors!

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index2It has been a rapid rise for the Belfast Summer School. From an initial uptake of 11 students for Ancient Greek in 2016, it grew to include Latin, to support dozens and dozens of students of varying linguistic experience, to provide workshops, to host academic talks, to organise trips to historical sites, to open its own bookshop and to offer both long and short courses.

And then COVID-19 seemed to have stopped that growth in its tracks.

The 2020 edition was cancelled.

CaptureBelfast Classics could take solace in the yearning to learn about the ancient Mediterranean civilisations would see students return next year. But if that yearning was there now, why not try something different? Lockdown has demonstrated that a lot of work can be carried out from home with meetings organised through the internet video conferencing.

Suddenly, like a linguistic Phoenix, the Belfast Summer School was rising from the ashes of 2020 by going virtual! It was going to take place in a limited format – a single week with only a couple the usual levels of Latin and Greek offered.

19800978_472808719720802_1381361688056873602_oBut those virtual baby steps quickly became less tentative, more ambitious as interest was shown in taking up these limited places. That yearning for ancient Mediterranean civilisation was not just confined to these Irish shores and the quicker more places were offered, the quicker they were taken up by people from the UK, Ireland, Belgium, Spain, Mexico, USA and Canada.

Within no time, the original schedule of Beginners, Intermediate and Advanced Latin and Greek, Greek workshops and academic talks had all been restored. Where there had been just one week of classes, there is now two, with all slots filled. From just 11 students in 2016 or actually none just a few weeks ago, there are now over 100 students enrolled.

‘Dead languages’ indeed…

So here is an introduction to all those involved in delivering the Belfast Summer School 2020: ONLINE EDITION.

Ebcek9dXQAAbofBDr Kerry Phelan has been with the Belfast Summer School since its inception in 2016. Lecturer in Ancient Classics at Maynooth University, Dr Phelan teaches Beginners Greek at the Summer School. Her research centres on Attic oratory and Athenian social history. Her doctoral thesis was a commentary on Demosthenes ‘Against Euboulides’, which will be published by Liverpool University Press as part of the Aris & Phillips Greek Orators Series in 2021.

Eb1WECaXkAEqf3xAmber Taylor teaches Beginners Latin. She has recently completed her BEd (Hons) from Stranmillis University College, with her undergraduate dissertation being an investigation into the benefits of Classics Education in Northern Ireland Primary Schools.

Amber is a board member of the Classical Association in Northern Ireland, and sits on the Central Council of the Classical Association of Ireland. She currently teaches Primary 3 and is pursuing a Masters in Classical Studies.

“So delighted to see Amber holding her completed dissertation! I know how much careful research she completed. I can’t wait to read it!”

Dr Arlene Holmes-Henderson (@DrArleneHH)

“Amber is an amazing ambassador! What a delight to work with her, and especially to see her teach Classics in the primary school with such enthusiasm.”

Sharon Jones (@cbiggerpicture)

EcPXGxLXkAEH-NlAnother involved with the Belfast Summer School since the start is Intermediate Latin tutor Stephen McCarthy. He is a PhD candidate at Maynooth University, researching Ancient Physics, Epicurus, and Lucretius.

“In 2016, I gave a talk on Sappho to the Belfast Summer School in Classics. It was just Beginners and Intermediate Greek then, with Helen McVeigh and Dr Kerry Phelan. I came back the next year to teach Latin. Since then we’ve gone from strength to strength, now holding classes at Beginners, Intermediate, and Advanced levels of Greek and Latin. Our upcoming online summer school will host an astonishing 100+ students from all over the world. I’m very proud to be a part of this endeavour, and very thankful to @BelfastClassics for organising everything in her characteristically brilliant fashion.”

Stephen McCarthy (@MisterJabsticks)

EcejwxIWoAAjLi_Lynn Gordon is Head of Classics at Royal Belfast Academical Institution and will be teaching Advanced Latin at the Summer School. After her MPhil at Corpus Christi College Cambridge, Lynn worked in London and Cambridge. She says she’s nerdily obsessed with Vergil and has presented to CANI on the classical inspiration of Seamus Heaney.

“[Lynn] taught me Classics in Methody and was by far the best teacher there – she’ll be brilliant! She probably won’t remember me but she inspired me to do both a BA and MA in Classics/Ancient History and Ancient History respectively and I enjoyed them immensely!”

Chris McCoubrey

EcoioceWsAUlDmyThe Summer School’s ‘new boy’ is Derek McCann, a senior tutor in the department of Ancient Classics at Maynooth University. Derek will teach Advanced Greek and has chosen a play by his favourite author, Sophocles, to read with the class. He is undertaking a PhD on the topic of ‘Fathers and Sons in Sophocles,’ exploring the significance of the father-son relationship in the tragedies of Sophocles.

“The eagle-eyed among you will notice the hood and rightly conclude that, yes, the last decent picture I took was after my BA!”

Derek McCann

EcywTkrWoAATf2BHelen McVeigh is the founder, coordinator and general organiser of the Belfast Summer School. Through her hard work in not just teaching the Intermediate Greek class but in promoting and growing the Summer School, it has gone from having 11 students meeting to study Greek in 2016 to this year’s online courses being taken by over 100 students worldwide.

Helen has a Masters degree in Classics and Ancient History from Queen’s University Belfast, is Convenor of the Classical Association in Northern Ireland and vice-chair of the Classical Association of Ireland. She teaches ancient Greek to groups and individuals at all levels, both online and face-to-face in Belfast.

“Classics champion!”

Joanne Brown

“Congratulations Helen! You are a star!”

Professor Helen Lovatt

As well as the tutors, the Belfast Summer School 2020 will see two online academic talks from members of CANI.

On Monday 20th July, 1:15pm BST, Dr John Curran will present ‘Herod: Antiquity’s Craziest King?’

indexDr Curran studied at QUB and Worcester College, Oxford. He has been a visiting scholar at Worcester College and visiting Fellow at St. John’s College Oxford and is currently a Senior Lecturer in History at Queen’s University Belfast. He has written widely on widely on Romano-Jewish relations; the religions and society of the ancient Mediterranean and the Christianization of the later Roman Empire.

He serves on the governing council of The Classical Association of Ireland and is treasurer for the Classical Association in Northern Ireland.

For those interested in viewing Dr Curran’s talk, follow this link –

On Wednesday 22nd July, 1:15pm BST, Barry Trainor will present on ‘The Praying Mantis: Seercraft in Ancient Sparta.’

105032769_1170836199918047_7287076866759363384_nAs well as being a board member of CANI, Barry is graduate of Queen’s University Belfast, with both a BA (Hons) in History and a MA in History, with a dissertation on ‘Spartan Religion and the Conduct of War.’ He is currently undertaking his PhD at QUB, investigating ‘The Role of Divination in Spartan Decision-Making from the Archaic to Hellenistic Period’.

For those interested in viewing Barry’s talk, follow this link –

If you cannot tune in to either of these talks on the day, it is hoped that they will be uploaded the CANI Youtube channel at a later date.

Another part of this year’s Summer School will be a workshop on accentuation in Ancient Greek led by Dr Martine Cuypers. She studied Classics at Leiden University and worked as a lecturer and research fellow on both sides of the Atlantic, before becoming Assistant Professor in Greek at Trinity College Dublin.

cuypersDr Cuypers’ research focuses on epic poetry and the Greek literature of the Hellenistic and Imperial period. She is on the steering committee of Trinity’s Manuscript, Book and Print Cultures research theme and chairs the Classics development group of the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment.

Dr Cuyper’s workshop is open to all, but those interested should email to receive the link and worksheet, which will be emailed to participants the day before the workshop.

So as you can see, this linguistic Phoenix is definitely ready to fly!

If you are looking for any more information about this year’s Summer School, its talks, future editions or learning Greek and Latin in general, you can contact Belfast Classics at

Helen McVeigh and Peter Crawford

Ptolemy’s Map of Ireland and Street Names in Belfast

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CaptureIt is not just mythological, divine and actual ancient people that have inspired classical street names in Belfast. There are also some ancient geographical terms that have been used. There is a Hibernia Street in Holywood, which uses the Latin name for Ireland, a name that stems from the Latin for ‘winter.’

PSM_V78_D326_PtolemyIMG_20200516_160427818But perhaps the more intriguing ancient influence comes from the map of ‘Hibernia’ depicted in the Geographia of Claudius Ptolemy, a second century AD, Alexandrian Greek mathematician, astronomer, geographer and astrologer.

Off University Street, there is an Eblana Street, named in 1874 (IHTA XVII.18) from a town listed on the east coast of Ireland on Ptolemy’s map. It is very likely that Belfast’s Eblana Street was so named in the belief that Ptolemy’s EBLANA was the earliest recorded name for the locality of Dublin.

Irish antiquarians such as Sir James Ware and Walter Harris made this EBLANA-Dublin connection and believed that the name had somehow evolved from EBLANA into Irish Dubhlinn, anglicised as Dublin. This identification may have become widely enough accepted for P.W. Joyce to repeat it in the first volume of The Origin and History of Irish Names of Places, published in 1875, without any examination.



Several businesses and institutions in modern Dublin haveused the name Eblana because of this supposed equivalence, e.g. Eblana Motors and the Eblana Theatre, located in the basement of the Busáras, Dublin’s main bus station.

However, it is now widely accepted that Ptolemy’s EBLANA does not refer to Dublin but to place a little to the north of the city. By 1946, T.F. O’Rahilly was making no mention of a connection between Eblani or its Ebdani inhabitants with the city of Dublin: “Ptolemy places these somewhere about the north of Co. Dublin; but they and their town, Eblana, appear to be unknown to Irish tradition. (O’Rahilly (1946), 7).

Unlike Dublin, Ptolemy’s EBLANA does not stand on a river, but between the mouths of two rivers: the BUBINDAS and the OBOKA. The former appears to be the River Boyne and because early antiquarians believed that EBLANA was Dublin, they identified the OBOKA with a river south of the city, specifically that which enters the sea at Arklow in Wicklow, consequently dubbed the Ovoca (now the River Avoca).

DrumanaghIt may be Ptolemy’s OBOKA that is the River Liffey (although there is no etymological connection), with his MODONNOS probably representing the Avoca. EBLANA, thus, is located somewhere between the mouths of the Boyne and the Liffey. This could see EBLANA identified with the promontory fort/trading post of Drumanagh south of present-day Loughshinny, a site which is prominent in arguments over connections between Ireland and the Roman world.

Old_Croghan_ManThe name ‘Eblana’ might actually be known to Irish tradition, perpetuated in names of peoples and places recorded in Irish medieval sources, namely EibhlinnSliabh Eibhlinne (= Slieve Felim) and Éile (Ely O’Carroll, Eliogarty/Ely O’Fogarty, Brí Éile = Hill of Croghan, where the Old Croghan Man was found; Tempan (2006)).

On the surface, the distance between EBLANA and ‘Éile’ might seem rather large, with some rather hefty sounding letters dropping out, but really this development is rather standard. The ‘b’ in medieval Irish is prone to disappear, especially when connected to another consonant. The loss of the ‘b’ would see the initial ‘E’ lengthened, with the ‘n’ disappearing probably through variations in declension. This is seen in other Irish names such as Ériu/Éirinn, Áru/Ára/Árainn (Aran Islands) and Rechru/Reachrainn (Rathlin).

These names seemingly derived from EBLANAEibhlinnSliabh Eibhlinne, Éile – are located in the Irish midlands (Offaly and Tipperary), but this is not incompatible with the identification of EBLANA with Drumanagh on the east coast. Many centuries had passed between the creation of Ptolemy’s Geographia and the emergence of these peoples in native Irish sources. There are several other Irish populations named by Ptolemy who are believed to have spread or migrated considerable distances before they emerge in native Irish histories, e.g. MANAPII located in the south-east, but connected with Fir Manach / Fermanagh.

Delvin_River_at_Gibblockstown, possible etymological trail might be seen in the name of the River Delvin in north Co. Dublin. As Ptolemy often dropped the initial letters of names and a shift from EBLANA to ‘Delvin’ could be possible. The mouth of the Delvin is the location of two substantial groups of chamber tombs, which may have still been visible from the sea at the time of Ptolemy. Looking at the Irish name of the modern Delvin – An Ailbhine – would seem to further any potential EBLANA > Delvin. This seems awfully close to the Eibhlinn proposed above for EBLANA.

However, while EBLANA to ‘Delvin’ is possible etymologically, it is a much more complicated journey than EBLANA > Eibhlinn, involving not just the not uncommon switching (metathesis) of -bl- to -lb-, but also the much rarer addition of an initial ‘D’ (prothesis). It could be that An Ailbhine > Delvin is merely a modern Anglicisation, with a touch of knowledge of the ‘Delbna’, a population group from Westmeath. EBLANA > Eblenn > Sliabh Eibhlinne is much simpler and more economical. No complex sound changes required.

AvocaEblana Street may not be the only ‘Ptolemaic’ Belfast street name. The aforementioned OBOKA seems to be the inspiration for the naming of Avoca Street in 1878 (IHTA XVII.9), in Oldpark between the Crumlin and Cliftonville Roads.

This taking of ‘Ptolemaic’ towns and rivers to provide more modern names is not just limited to Ireland. A similar thing happened to Morecambe and Morecambe Bay in Lancashire, a name coined in the 18th century by antiquarians based on Ptolemy’s MORIKAMBE.

La_Cosmographie_de_Claude_Ptolemée.djvuIf both Eblana Street and Avoca Street got their names from antiquarian (if somewhat erroneous) enthusiasm regarding Ptolemy’s Geographia, it is a bit surprising that there is no ‘Logia Street’ somewhere in Belfast.

As can be seen from the map above, Ptolemy posited a LOGIA river mouth in the area of what is now Belfast. By its geographical position and by its linguistic form, LOGIA is taken by consensus to refer to the mouth of the Lagan or what is now called Belfast Lough (or Carrickfergus Bay in the Middle Ages).

However, it may only be coincidental that LOGIA resembles the name ‘Lagan.’ The latter derives from the Irish lagán, ‘a hollow.’ LOGIA corresponds to a reconstructed Proto-Celtic word meaning ‘calf,’ which has come into Modern Irish as lao. It is preserved in the Irish name of Belfast Lough, Loch Lao, ‘sea-inlet of the calf.’ There is, incidentally, a street in the Short Strand which has exactly this name, with no addition of ‘street’ or the like. The official bilingual street sign shows the Irish form Loch Lao and the anglicised form Lough Lea.


If these two blogs on ancient and mythological street-names in Belfast has piqued your interest in the history of towns in Ireland, you could head over to the Irish Historic Towns Atlas HERE (

Alternatively, if the unravelling of etymological mysteries surrounding Irish place names has intrigued you, click HERE ( to access a variety of Dr Tempan’s blogs and articles on the origins of Irish names and words.


Joyce, P.W. The Origin and History of Irish Names of Places, Vol. I. Dublin (1875)

O’Rahilly, T.F. Early Irish History and Mythology. Dublin (1946)

Tempan, P. ‘Two Mountain Names: Slieve Felim and Mauherslieve,’ North Munster Antiquarian Journal 46 (2006), 119-25.

Meet Natalie Haynes: CANI’s new Honorary Patron!

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CANI are proud to announce that Natalie Haynes has been appointed as our Honorary Patron.

Natalie is the author of not only A Thousand Ships, which has been nominated for the Women’s Prize of 2020, but also The Amber Fury, The Children of Jocasta, The Ancient Guide to Modern Life and the forthcoming Pandora’s Jar. Natalie has also just announced that she will be writing two more as-yet-untitled books on Medusa and Medea

As well as a fantastic author, Natalie is a prodigious broadcaster. The many episodes of her ‘Natalie Haynes Stands Up for the Classics’ with BBC Radio 4 can be heard on Audible and BBC Sounds. During lockdown, she has also produced a series of videos called #OvidNotCovid, looking at various female characters in the Heroides of Ovid. You can watch these by going to Natalie’s Insragram @nataliehaynesautho

Natalie has also been a frequent and fantastic guest of CANI since our refounding, presenting several talks in Belfast. We cannot wait for our Honorary Patron to return to these shores.