The History of Celticado - My traditional Celtic duo

About 14 years ago, I was living in Hadley in a rental apartment on route 9 not far from whole foods.

I was playing at the time with a string quartet that played traditional Irish and Celtic music called Woodkerne. The first name was cracker Jack. We had to change the name because one of our members discovered that there was a punk rock group in the Saratoga Springs area with the same name and didn't want to conflict with the group. So we saw out a name change, everybody came up with their own ideas, and we voted and the one we liked the most was Woodkerne. Now most people don't know what that word means, and I'll just say that in the history of Ireland when the English were driving the Irish landowners out of their homes and castles murdering them and taking their women and children it was a tumultuous time and groups of young men would flee to the woods where they would set up camps and try to make a living as subsistence and as rangers and and what not. This might just well-be where some of the most famous stories about rogues and Robin Hood certainly and some of the other stories like the wonderful Clancy Brothers tune Brennan on the moor originated.

The name Woodkerne means woods obviously, and Kern is the English word for Cannon fodder. Back in the middle ages, unskilled farmers and young men and boys were often recruited by advancing armies to go in front and basically be hacked down, slowing the advancing enemy army. They were called Kerne, and so the name Woodkerne essentially refers to people who live in the woods who come out and try to take their land back. So if you go to Wikipedia and you look up the word Woodkerne you should be able to find a much better definition than the one I've just given you.

Our band consisted of banjo, fiddle, guitar, and bodhran. We played a mixture of Celtic fiddle tunes that were tunes that I had picked up over the years playing in bluegrass bands and contradance bands. The members also contributed their own songs that they wanted to play and we sang a few songs as well. We played a variety of jigs and horn pipes and polkas and waltzes and because of my classical music background and it specifically my chamber music background I really spent a lot of time making up interesting arrangements for the different musical instruments. Now I got kind of in trouble for that, because one of our players in the group specifically said on many occasion that traditional Irish music was not harmonized there was no improvisation and nobody took turns playing at that everybody played the same melody all together at the same time without any cordial backup or at least very minimal. So I thought that that was pretty hokey and not something I wanted to do. Which is why I started calling the band style music Celtic, rather than traditional Irish. I had done some reading about what traditional Irish really meant, and I had learned that there is a lot of confusion about what traditional Irish meant and the history of Irish music is so convoluted that it would take further study. Now this was the 1990s, 1998 as a matter of fact, and I had not done the deep research on the topic yet, but I knew enough about the music that I really felt it wouldn't be fair to call it traditional Irish. So we billed ourselves as a Celtic band. Thankfully, it didn't seem to hurt us in the slightest.

We played for a lot of weddings and concerts and private events and public events. We played at a golf course. We played on the side of a of a mountain in a stone chapel, in an abandoned camp, in hotels, and all over New England. Two of us went to Egypt and played in front of the great pyramids in a world music festival. We were hired to play in a real swanky wedding in California and the bride and groom paid for our tickets and put us up in a very nice hotel and Anaheim. We played a lot of really interesting places and had a really good time doing it.

In 2001, our guitar player, Paul Burton, had to move away. And that meant that we had to find another
Irish Bouzouki
guitar player. Now the banjo player and I were the really oldest members of the group. He and I had been playing together since the early '90s with another band called Maple Ridge. His name was John Rough. John and I used to go to an Irish session that we helped set up in North Amherst at a public house called The Harp. The session was on Friday nights and we would go over there and sit and have a couple of Guinness and play some tunes. At one of the sessions, we met a man from Connecticut named James Bunting. He was playing an instrument that looked like a very large mandolin and later when I got to talk to him he told me it was called an Irish bouzouki. But I never heard of a bouzouki before so of course I had to go online and learn everything I could about it. As it turns out a member of the Bothy Band which is a very famous Irish band, took his family on vacation degrees in 1966 and there he picked up a Greek bouzouki which he played a little bit while he was there and brought it back with him to Ireland when he returned and started playing around with it in the Bothy Band and soon after several other bands including the De Dannen which is another famous Irish super group and all tan started incorporating the bouzouki into their music and now it's highly unusual to find an Irish band that doesn't have a bouzouki player. but I didn't know any of that at the time, so it was a great conversation starter. I went up to gym and said "hey my name is Adam I really enjoying your playing, what is that instrument?" We chatted for a while about that turned out he also played guitar one thing let to another and I invited him to come to a Thursday night rehearsal at my house and Hadley which she did the following Thursday. So it seemed like we had our guitar player.

Over the next eight years would current played 100th of concerts weddings parties and other events together. We lost our bodhran player who developed a severe rheumatoid arthritis and couldn't use the tapper anymore. So we had to look around for another bodhran player and I found one whose name was Andy Weiner. Andy was just learning how to play but he could play sufficiently so that he could provide a solid beat behind the group the group smelly and that's all we really needed. Andy was a real good guy very friendly very upbeat always wanting to help out with a contradict background so we kind of lucked out with that.

We recorded our second album at Avocet recording studios in Colrain I forgot to mention, that our first album was also recorded there and if you go to my band camp page which is you can download the music from those albums directly from that page if you want a CD of either the first or the second album let me know and I will do my best to burn one for you from my desktop.
Woodkerne 2009

So after losing Dan and acquiring Andy, we were able to get back into the gigs and get back to work but all good things must come to an end, and in 2009 we played our last gig together which was at a Irish night in New Haven Connecticut and unfortunately I mean it was a great show but the organizers refused to pay us because they said that they hadn't drawn enough people and we were only going to be paid a percentage of the door so we ended up not making much money that night. And when I went to tell the guys, they were not happy at all. After that we played one or two more gigs together but the magic had gone.

Celticado, was a duo that James Bunting and I formed way back in 2005 at the beginning of all this to play strip down easy cheap weddings and other events for clients that didn't want to pay for the full quartet. So when the band broke up in 2009, James and I continued to play together. we've had several people join us over the years and work on several projects, for example in 2010 Marc Vocca joined us for a special concert at the Windsor Art Center in Connecticut:

We've also played with other great musicians and had some wonderful experiences as a duo and then as a trio with Claudine Langille. Now I would like to talk about Claudine, but I believe it deserves a separate podcast or blog post so I will get to it at another time suffice to say that Claudine is one of the world's greatest traditional Irish mandolin players alive today. And it is always a treat to be able to play a gig with Claudine.

Celticado's Website:

Well thank you very much for reading this post and/or hearing it on my podcast website if you have any questions or comments look forward to receiving them through my website at have a great day.

Five String Violins

I bought my first Five String Violin from a seller on eBay back in 1998.  I wanted something I could play on stage with my country band, Wild Heart, and bring with me to Egypt for a concert I was gearing up for in front of the Great Pyramids in Cairo.  I did some online research and learned about a company called Straus that was based in Korea.  They made a lot of other models including the one I liked (which was shaped like a treble clef).  The factory also built mandolins for some top American brands including Fender (electric violins), Michael Kelly and Rigel (mandolins) and Saga (banjos, guitars, bouzoukis).

Here's a picture of me playing my Straus electric violin with my friend Brian Bender on the trombone.  You can see the Great Pyramid of Giza in the back.  We were literally dozens of feet in front of the Sphinx.

Brian Bender / Adam Sweet - Cairo, Egypt 1999

After a while, I decided I wanted something acoustic that I could play with my celtic band Woodkerne.  Back to the internet, I learned about a maker in Chicago named Martin Brunkalla.  I contacted him and worked out an arrangement to distribute his 5 String Violins for a fee.  I sold probably six or seven of them before finding a supplier in China that was willing to make them for me directly.  So in 2004, I started importing Five string violins under my own TwoTree brand for sale in the US and Europe.  Below are some pictures of those instruments:

TwoTree Base-model Five String $899 with HSC
TwoTree Dragon Head Five String $999 with HSC

While I still play a five string fiddle in my Celtic group, Celticado, I don't import them any more.  They are capricious and difficult to keep in tune.  The C (low) strings tend not to sound very good, even on the higher quality instruments, due to the short length of the neck.  I can still get the TwoTree violins by special order for customers that are interested.  I have a video here of me playing one.  I apologize for the sound.  It was recorded in my basement ten or eleven years ago.

Mandolin / Guitar Picks

Tusq White
The type of pick you use affects how you play and the tone you create. That's why we created TUSQ picks, the world's first and only pick with 3 distinct levels of harmonics. By formulating our proprietary material, we created a whole new class of picks, with highly resonant characteristics that produce three distinctive tones: Bright, Warm and Deep. TUSQ picks have a feel and articulation like no other picks on the market, very reminiscent of vintage tortoise shell, crisp tone, and thin, yet stiff. White is Bright, when you want your tone clean, clear, precise and rich in harmonic content.

Tusq Warm
The type of pick you use affects how you play and the tone you create. That's why we created TUSQ picks, the world's first and only pick with 3 distinct levels of harmonics. By formulating our proprietary material, we created a whole new class of picks, with highly resonant characteristics that produce three distinctive tones: Bright, Warm and Deep. TUSQ picks have a feel and articulation like no other picks on the market, very reminiscent of vintage tortoise shell, crisp tone, and thin, yet stiff. Bronze is Warm. Our vintage colored pick will Warm it up a bit

Tusq Deep
The type of pick you use affects how you play and the tone you create. That's why we created TUSQ picks, the world's first and only pick with 3 distinct levels of harmonics. By formulating our proprietary material, we created a whole new class of picks, with highly resonant characteristics that produce three distinctive tones: Bright, Warm and Deep. TUSQ picks have a feel and articulation like no other picks on the market, very reminiscent of vintage tortoise shell, crisp tone, and thin, yet stiff. TUSQ charcoal colored picks go Deep to give you a smooth, very warm feel and tone. 

Optima Mandolin Strings

Optima - Hand Polished - Made in Germany
SKU: OC2105
World famous and popular due to their amazing sound characteristics with extremely long durability. Countless orchestras play our STRINGS CHROME and express its excellent quality every day. Years of development, the right selection of the best materials, and especially the exclusive handwork during the production of the string are its secret. Finely polished, they offer an inimitable feel combined with the best sound. These strings are available with ball as Ball-End version with a 10% surcharge.

SKU: OS4105
The CHROME SPECIAL STRINGS are a further development of our CHROME STRINGS. The use of slightly modified alloys and the special polishing which was developed only for this set, create a set of strings that emphasizes the mandolin sound even much better. A top quality product „Made in Germany“. These strings are available with ball as Ball End version with a 10% surcharge.

SKU: OMS2145
The OPTIMA SILVER STRINGS for mandolin convince mainly with the sound of the silver plated D and G strings and have a traditional posy (Sträußchen) at the string end. This string is suitable for beginners, but also for advanced students and professionals. These strings are available with ball as Ball End version with a 10% surcharge.

GOLDIN STRINGS are characterized by a selection of the finest materials. The D and G strings are wound with Tombak and finely polished. Years of development, the right selection of the best materials and especially the exclusive handwork during the production of this string are here the secret, too. These strings are available with ball as Ball-End version with a 10% surcharge.

What is a Mandolin, introduction to my online lesson series

Bulldog F5 Mandolin
A mandolin (Italian: mandolino pronounced [mandoˈliːno]; literally "small mandola") is a stringed musical instrument in the lute family and is usually plucked with a plectrum or "pick". It commonly has four courses of doubled metal strings tuned in unison (8 strings), although five (10 strings) and six (12 strings) course versions also exist. The courses are normally tuned in a succession of perfect fifths. It is the soprano member of a family that includes the mandola, octave mandolin, mandocello and mandobass.

There are many styles of mandolin, but three are common, the Neapolitan or round-backed mandolin, the carved-top mandolin and the flat-backed mandolin. The round-back has a deep bottom, constructed of strips of wood, glued together into a bowl. The carved-top or arch-top mandolin has a much shallower, arched back, and an arched top—both carved out of wood. The flat-backed mandolin uses thin sheets of wood for the body, braced on the inside for strength in a similar manner to a guitar. Each style of instrument has its own sound quality and is associated with particular forms of music. Neapolitan mandolins feature prominently in European classical music and traditional music. Carved-top instruments are common in American folk music and bluegrass music. Flat-backed instruments are commonly used in Irish, British and Brazilian folk music. Some modern Brazilian instruments feature an extra fifth course tuned a fifth lower than the standard fourth course.

Other mandolin varieties differ primarily in the number of strings and include four-string models (tuned in fifths) such as the Brescian and Cremonese, six-string types (tuned in fourths) such as the Milanese, Lombard and the Sicilian and 6 course instruments of 12 strings (two strings per course) such as the Genoese.There has also been a twelve-string (three strings per course) type and an instrument with sixteen-strings (four strings per course).

I have several mandolins for sale, listed here

Much of mandolin development revolved around the soundboard (the top). Pre-mandolin instruments were quiet instruments, strung with as many as six courses of gut strings, and were plucked with the fingers or with a quill. However, modern instruments are louder—using four courses of metal strings, which exert more pressure than the gut strings. The modern soundboard is designed to withstand the pressure of metal strings that would break earlier instruments. The soundboard comes in many shapes—but generally round or teardrop-shaped, sometimes with scrolls or other projections. There is usually one or more sound holes in the soundboard, either round, oval, or shaped like a calligraphic f (f-hole). A round or oval sound hole may be covered or bordered with decorative rosettes or purfling.

I have started an online mandolin lesson series offered for free on my Youtube channel.  If you like what you have learned and want to support me, you can send me a donation through my PayPal channel, or my Patreon.  Lesson I can be found here.  Thank you!

The History of The Waltz

The Waltz 
The Waltz is the oldest of the ballroom dances, dating from the middle of the Eighteenth Century. The German "Lander", a folk dance, is supposed to be the forerunner of the Waltz. During this time period a dance developed which was called the "Walzer", a word owing its origin to the Latin word Volvere, which indicates a rotating motion. Napoleon's invading solders spread the waltz from Germany to Paris; then the dance glided across the channel to England and finally made its way to the United States.

When the Waltz was first introduced into the ballrooms of the world in the early years of the Nineteenth Century, it was met with outraged indignation, for it was the first dance where the couple danced in a modified Closed Position - with the man's hand around the waist of the lady.

Beginning about 1830, the waltz was given a tremendous boost by two Austrian composers Lanner and Strauss. They set the standard for the Viennese Waltz, a very fast version played at about 55 - 60 measures per minute. The fast tempo did indeed present problems. Much of the enjoyment of the new dance was lost in the continual strain to keep up with the music.

It is not known exactly when the waltz was introduced to the United States. It was probably brought to New York and Philadelphia at about the same time, and by the middle of the Nineteenth Century was firmly established in United States society.

During the later part of the Nineteenth Century, Waltzes were being written to a slower tempo than the original Viennese rhythm. Around the close of the Nineteenth Century, two modifications of the waltz developed in the United States. The first was the "Boston", a slower waltz with long gliding steps; there were fewer and slower turns and more forward and backward movement than in the Viennese Waltz. This version eventually stimulated the development of the English or International Style which continues today. The American Style Waltz is similar to the International Style except the American Style has open dance positions and the dancers legs pass instead of close. The second modification was the "Hesitation Waltz", which involves taking one step to three beats of the measure. Although the "Hesitation Waltz" is no longer danced, some of it's step patterns are still in use today.

Today both the faster Viennese Waltz, made forever popular by the Strauss family, and the slower American and International style waltzes are extremely popular today with dancers of all ages.

Mozart - String Quartet No. 19 in C major, K465 'Dissonance'

The String Quartet No. 19 in C Major, K. 465 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart*, nicknamed "Dissonance" on account of its unusual slow introduction, is perhaps the most famous of his quartets. It is the last in the set of six quartets composed between 1782 and 1785 that he dedicated to "A Very Celebrated Man": Joseph Haydn.
Although legends persist regarding Mozart’s rivalries with other composers, he established a friendship with Haydn that was untainted by envy and characterized by mutual admiration. Haydn asserted to Mozart’s father,

"I tell you, before God and as an honest man, that your son is the greatest composer known to me, either in person or by name. He has taste, and, what is more, a most thorough knowledge of composition."

Mozart, for his part, spoke equally highly of Haydn in his dedication:

"Your good opinion encourages me to offer the[se string quartets] to you, and leads me to hope that you will not consider them wholly unworthy of your favor. Please, then, receive them kindly and be to them a father, guide, and friend!"

According to the catalog of works Mozart began early the preceding year, the quartet was completed on 14 January, 1785.

As is normal with Mozart's later quartets, it is in four movements:

  1. Adagio-Allegro
  2. Andante cantabile in F major
  3. Menuetto. Allegro. (C major, trio in C minor)
  4. Allegro molto

The first movement opens with ominous quiet Cs in the cello, joined successively by the viola (on A♭ moving to a G), the second violin (on E♭), and the first violin (on A), thus creating the "dissonance" itself and narrowly avoiding a greater one. This lack of harmony and fixed key continues throughout the slow introduction before resolving into the bright C major of the Allegro section of the first movement, which is in sonata form withe fugues and counterpoint (Thematic Workings)

Mozart goes on to use chromatic and whole tone scales to outline fourths. Arch shaped lines emphasizing fourths in the first violin (C – F – C) and the violoncello (G – C – C' – G') are combined with lines emphasizing fifths in the second violin and viola. Over the bar line between the second and third measures of the example, a fourth-suspension can be seen in the second violin's tied C. In another of his string quartets, KV 464, such fourth-suspensions are also very prominent.

The second movement is in sonatina form, i.e., lacking the development section. Alfred Einstein writes of the coda of this movement that "the first violin openly expresses what seemed hidden beneath the conversational play of the subordinate theme".

The third movement is a minuet and trio, with the exuberant mood of the minuet darkening into the C minor of the trio.

The last movement is also in sonata form.

There is a lot of evidence to suggest that Joseph Haydn's Quartet Opus 33 was the inspiration for this one, itself a set of six string quartets. Taken together, Mozart’s six are known as the Haydn Quartets (written 1782–85).


*Mozart – Quartet in C major, K465 (Dissonance)', lecture by Professor Roger Parker, followed by a performance by the Badke Quartet, Gresham College, 10 October 2007
** Mozart - A Life, by Maynard Solomon, available on

Fiddler's Bow For Sale - $209

This carbon fiber bow was designed for the fiddle player in mind.  It has a slightly higher balance point (between 9 and 10" from the frog) than a standard French bow.  The tip is very slightly heavier than a standard French bow.  The end result is that it's easier to play fast at the tip without "choking up" the stick.

I take PayPal.  I'll ship it anywhere in the US for an additional $25.

Here’s what music sounds like through an auditory implant

For some people with severe hearing loss, it is possible to restore their hearing with an auditory implant (also known as cochlear implants). These electronic devices are surgically implanted into the inner ear, converting the sound from the world into electrical signals that are sent through the auditory nerve to the brain. The damaged parts of the ear are bypassed and people are – almost miraculously – able to hear again. With practice, auditory implant users emerge from a world of silence able to hear the doorbell, to use the phone, to talk and laugh with their friends. Unfortunately, though, music can be hard to enjoy. Smooth melodies become harsh buzzes, beeps and squawks.

People with auditory implants find that much of what they used to love about music is now absent. The implant is poor at conveying the pitch of voices and instruments, as well as the quality (timbre) of the music. This can make it hard to follow the melody, understand the lyrics, or separate one instrument from another. As you can hear in our simulation (below), almost all of the raw, untrammelled emotion that Ed Sheeran brings to his performance of Thinking Out Loud is lost, leaving the music abrasive and flat.

This poor transmission of music through the implant can have an enormous impact on people’s quality of life. Music is all around us, not just at home or in concerts but also in the background in cafes, pubs, shops, TV shows and films. For people with auditory implants, this can make it hard to enjoy things they previously loved to do. People tell us that music is one of the main things they would like to be improved in their implant. This presents a challenge for engineers and scientists.

The trouble with music
In healthy hearing, the sound of music is captured by the activity of thousands of highly sensitive “hair cells” – sensory receptors that respond to minute changes in pressure in the ear, translating sound into electrical activity that can be interpreted by the brain. This extraordinary sensory system is able to code the tiny fluctuations in sound that we interpret as notes, instruments, timbre and emotional resonance. It is this complex coding that allows us to enjoy the melodic voice of Mr Sheeran. In an auditory implant, that system is replaced by a tiny number of micro-electrodes – usually between eight and 22. These electrodes are only able to transmit very crude pitch information, missing the more detailed sound information.

Over time, some people with auditory implants are able to adjust to their new hearing, finding ways to enjoy and love music again. They often find that they must actively learn to enjoy music again to adjust to their new experience. Others have decided to engage with it differently, reading the lyrics while they listen to improve their understanding. Because the implant is able to transmit rhythm much more effectively than pitch, some users find that they can only enjoy certain, more rhythmic genres of music (such as the Michael Jackson song in our simulation). Some, amazingly, have even learned to play instruments when using an implant.

New approaches may hold the key to helping people with implants enjoy music again. One possibility is modifying musical tracks or even writing entirely new music specifically for implants, with qualities that can be more easily transferred by existing technology. For example, researchers have found that increasing the volume of the vocals and removing harmonic instruments improves the experience of listening to pop music.

Another option is changing the way that sounds are processed by the implant before sending the signals to the auditory nerve. Several implant makers now advertise their cutting-edge processing as best for listening to music. However, most implant users are still unable to enjoy music.

It may be necessary to take a radically new approach. We think that the information bottleneck at the implant could be bypassed by providing sound information through the sense of touch. We have recently used this approach to improve implant users’ ability to understand speech in complex sound environments – perhaps we can improve their experience of music too.

Who was Saint Patrick and why do we celebrate St. Patrick's Day?

Patrick, whom almost everyone calls “Saint Patrick,” although he was never canonized by the Catholic Church, was born to a wealthy family in AD 387 in Kilpatrick, Scotland. His real name was Maewyn Succat. It was his extensive missionary work in Ireland for which Patrick is famous. During the thirty years of work there, he supposedly converted over 135,000 people, established 300 churches, and consecrated 350 bishops. Patrick died on March 17, 461. For over a millennium, the Irish have celebrated St. Patrick’s Day on March 17.

History records that Saint Patrick, at age sixteen, was captured by Irish raiders and spent several years as a slave in Ireland. It was during this time that he learned the various rituals, customs, and language of Druids, and it was these people that he eventually evangelized. Patrick apparently had a dream in which God spoke to him, saying, “Your ship is ready.” Patrick was then able to escape Ireland by ship. Shortly thereafter, he experienced another dream in which he received a letter that was labeled the “voice of the Irish.” When he opened it, he heard the voices of all those whom he had met in Ireland begging him to return.

Saint Patrick then returned to Ireland to tell people about Christ. Though the task was difficult and dangerous, he persisted and was able to build a strong foundation for Christianity. The Irish people were receptive to his teachings, especially in light of the fact that he was able to take several of their Celtic symbols and “Christianize” them. The most well-known of Patrick’s illustrations is the shamrock, a certain type of clover sacred to the Druids, which he used as a symbol of the Trinity.

Each year millions of people celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. It is a national holiday in Ireland when people do not work but worship and gather with family. In the United States, the first St. Patrick’s Day parade was held in New York on March 17, 1762. It consisted largely of Irish soldiers. Today, St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated by wearing green, which symbolizes spring as well as Irish culture.

St Patrick's Day is Coming Soon!

St Patrick's Day is coming soon and I have a few gigs lined up as usual.  I'm getting excited and I hope you are too!  Here's a Blast O'Reels for you while you wait...

Studio Policies

It has come to my attention that some of my new students were not aware of the studio policies. 

Please read the policies page, print it out, sign it, and bring it to your next lesson.

Thank you.

Why did I blog about the 7 Celtic Nations?

I blogged about the 7 Celtic Nations because it is my intent to visit, and play traditional music in, each of them before my end of days.  I have been to Ireland, so I have six more to go. I wish I still had pictures of my trip to Ireland.  I went there in the 1990s before the internet, before the Cloud and I've moved so many times that I've simply misplaced that box of pictures.  Perhaps my ex has some that she wouldn't mind sharing with me.   I've never been to Spain, but I have been to France - just not Brittany.  I've been to England, but not Cornwall or Wales.  I've never been to Scotland, even though my ancestors are from there originally.

 I've always wondered about the Nordish part of my DNA.  When I submitted my saliva to 23 and Me more than a decade ago, I was elated when the results came back: small percentages from each of the 7 celtic nations!  It makes perfect sense that anybody with Nordish DNA would also have DNA from the other Celtic nations as the Vikings raped and pillared their way across them for generations.  They were the early homogenizers. 

My Mother's Father, Thomas Kielty, a sergeant in WWI, was born in Sligo and emigrated to the US with his parents around the turn of the 20th century.  They were not poor Irish and did not come over to settle in the slums of New York.  They were middle-class.  His father owned a publishing house in Dublin.  Among the many things they published were Encyclopedias, which he peddled until the day he died.  From all accounts, he was a dashingly handsome man with jet black hair and brown eyes.  He smoked cigars and drank whiskey.  He died when my mother was young and her mother never remarried.  Her Mother, Eula Reeves, was part German and part English.  Her parents were Presbyterian.  Her father was a minister in Palmyra.  He was a brutal man who took his anger out on his children and wife.  Grandmother left home as soon as she could, at the age of 14, to go study Latin and German in New York City.  She became one of the youngest teachers at 15, at Hewlett High and stayed there until she was 85!

My Father's Father, Richard Sweet, was born in Princeton, NJ.  He was a surgeon at the MGH in Boston and also taught at the Harvard Medical School.  His wife, Elizabeth Merry grew up in Duxbury.  Her Father was the town Fire Chief and Butcher.  She was the oldest of 9 siblings.  She was sent to learn nursing at an eye doctor's office in Brookline where she met my Grandfather.  The Merry's were Tories who fled to Nova Scotia during the Revolutionary War.  The Merry's came over on one of the ships that followed the Mayflower, led by Myles Standish, who is related somehow (I'm unclear about that detail).  Grandpa Merry came down from NS to work for an Uncle who was the town butcher.  He volunteered to go to war during the Civil War and came back a Sergeant.  He was good with men and horses.  I learned lots of stories about him, but the one I like most is a story about how he rescued a man from a burning house.  Back then there was no Fire Department.  There were no paved roads, no electricity, no running water, none of that.  If your house caught fire, you might have time to get everyone out before it went up in flames, but that was it.  Grandpa was out delivering meat in the Butcher wagon when he came upon a house burning.  He heard someone screaming inside.  He unhitched one of the horses, big huge Belgian animals, hopped on it bareback and rode it into the burning house.  He was so good with animals that this horse trusted him and did what he wanted.  Grandpa found a man inside who was singed but mostly scared.  He pulled him up on the horse's back and rode back out.  He hitched the horse back up to the cart and went on his way.  A few weeks later, he received a letter from the Duxbury town council who wanted him to attend a meeting.  Baffled, he went and was awarded for saving the man's life, an important member of the council.  He was appointed Fire Chief and asked to put together a fire brigade.  His team won many medals over the years and was the first fire department!

The Sweets emigrated to Massachusetts from Wales in 1630.  They landed in Salem and were given land in New Bedford where they lived for a few generations.  Young Isaac Sweet went to Rhode Island to live with the Wampanoags, and learn their medicine.  The Sweets were ship builders and bone setters, interested in surgery and medicine.  Isaac was called to the bedside of a prominent member of the Providence council's daughter.  She had been sick for weeks.  He had been taught how to treat fever and "consumption" by the native Americans and was able to bring her back to normal within a couple of days.  He was given a certificate designating him as "Doctor Isaac Sweet" from the Providence City Council.  I still have the certificate in my parent's library.  He was one of the first doctors in the New World.  Since then, there has been a doctor in every generation of Sweet in my family. 

I'd love to go to the other Celtic Nations.  I don't know when I will be able to go, but I hope to go soon.  I'll be 57 in May and time's running out.

Seven Celtic Nations - 7 Ireland

The first evidence of human presence in Ireland dates to about 12,500 years ago, shortly after the receding of the ice after the younger Dryas cold phase of the Quaternary ended around 9700 BCE, and heralds the beginning of Prehistoric Ireland, which includes the archaeological periods known as the Mesolithic, the Neolithic from about 4000 BCE, the Copper and Bronze Age from about 2300 BCE and Iron Age beginning about 600 BCE. Ireland's prehistory ends with the emergence of "protohistoric" Gaelic Ireland in the 2nd and 3rd centuries BCE.

By the late 4th century CE Catholicism had begun to gradually subsume or replace the earlier Celtic polytheism. By the end of the 6th century it had introduced writing along with a predominantly monastic Celtic Christian church, profoundly altering Irish society. Viking raids and settlement from the late 8th century CE resulted in extensive cultural interchange, as well as innovation in military and transport technology. Many of Ireland's towns were founded at this time as Viking trading posts and coinage made its first appearance.[1] Viking penetration was limited and concentrated along coasts and rivers, and ceased to be a major threat to Gaelic culture after the Battle of Clontarf in 1014. The Norman invasion in 1169 resulted again in a partial conquest of the island and marked the beginning of more than 800 years of English political and military involvement in Ireland. Initially successful, Norman gains were rolled back over succeeding centuries as a Gaelic resurgence[2] reestablished Gaelic cultural preeminence over most of the country, apart from the walled towns and the area around Dublin known as The Pale.

Reduced to the control of small pockets, the English Crown did not make another attempt to conquer the island until after the end of the Wars of the Roses. This released resources and manpower for overseas expansion, beginning in the early 16th century. Also, the European discovery of America by Christopher Columbus in 1492 meant that Ireland now occupied a position of great importance west of Britain, and therefore controlled the routes from Britain into the Atlantic, and ultimately, America. However, the nature of Ireland's decentralised political organisation into small territories (known as túatha), martial traditions, difficult terrain and climate and lack of urban infrastructure, meant that attempts to assert Crown authority were slow and expensive. Attempts to impose the new Protestant faith were also successfully resisted by both the Gaelic and Norman-Irish. The new policy fomented the rebellion of the Hiberno-Norman Earl of Kildare Silken Thomas in 1534, keen to defend his traditional autonomy and Catholicism, and marked the beginning of the prolonged Tudor conquest of Ireland lasting from 1534 to 1603. Henry VIII proclaimed himself King of Ireland in 1541 to facilitate the project. With the failure of the English Reformation, Ireland became a battleground in the wars between Catholic Counter-Reformation and Protestant Reformation Europe for control of the north Atlantic sea routes to America.

England's attempts to either conquer or assimilate both the Hiberno-Norman lordships and the Gaelic territories into the Kingdom of Ireland provided the impetus for ongoing warfare, notable examples being the 1st Desmond Rebellion, the 2nd Desmond Rebellion and the Nine Years War. This period was marked by the Crown policies of, at first, surrender and regrant, and later, plantation, involving the arrival of thousands of English and Scottish Protestant settlers, and the displacement of both the Hiberno-Normans (or Old English as they were known by then) and the native Catholic landholders. Gaelic Ireland was finally defeated at the battle of Kinsale in 1601 which marked the collapse of the Gaelic system and the beginning of Ireland's history as part of the British Empire.

During the 17th century, this division between a Protestant landholding minority and a dispossessed Catholic majority, divided not only by religion but also by cultural origin, was intensified and conflict between them was to became a recurrent theme in Irish history. Protestant domination of Ireland under a Protestant Ascendancy was reinforced after two periods of religious war, the Irish Confederate Wars in 1641-52 and the Williamite war in 1689-91. Political power thereafter rested almost exclusively in the hands of a minority Protestant Ascendancy, while Catholics and members of dissenting Protestant denominations suffered severe political and economic privations under the Penal Laws.

On 1 January 1801, in the wake of the republican United Irishmen Rebellion, the Irish Parliament was abolished and Ireland became part of a new United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland formed by the Acts of Union 1800. Catholics were not granted full rights until Catholic Emancipation in 1829, achieved by Daniel O’Connell. The catastrophe of the Great Famine struck Ireland in 1845 resulting in over a million deaths from starvation and disease and in a million refugees fleeing the country, mainly to America. Irish attempts to break away continued with Parnells Irish Parliamentary Party which strove from the 1880s to attain Home Rule through the parliamentary constitutional movement, eventually winning the Home Rule Act 1914, although this Act was suspended at the outbreak of World War I.

In 1916 the Easter Rising organised by the IRB and carried out by members of the Irish Volunteers, the socialist Irish Citizen Army of James Connolly and 200 women from Cumann na mBan succeeded in turning public opinion against the British establishment after the execution of the leaders by British authorities. It also eclipsed the home rule movement by bringing physical force republicanism back to the forefront of Irish politics. In 1922, after the Irish War of Independence most of Ireland seceded from the United Kingdom to become the independent Irish Free State but under the Anglo-Irish Treaty the six northeastern counties, known as Northern Ireland, remained within the United Kingdom, creating the partition of Ireland. The treaty was opposed by many; their opposition led to the outbreak of the Irish Civil War, in which pro-treaty or Free State forces proved victorious. The history of Northern Ireland has since been dominated by the division of society along sectarian faultlines and conflict between (mainly Catholic) Irish nationalists and (mainly Protestant) unionists. These divisions erupted into the Troubles in the late 1960s, after civil rights marches were met with opposition by authorities. The violence escalated after the deployment of the British Army to restore order led to clashes with nationalist communities. The violence continued for 28 years until an uneasy, but largely successful peace was finally achieved with the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.

I've posted extensively about Ireland on this blog.  There's a lot of good information on Wikipedia as well:

Seven Celtic Nations - 6 Scotland

Royal Arms of Scotland
The recorded history of Scotland begins with the arrival of the Roman Empire in the 1st century, when the province of Britannia reached as far north as the Antonine Wall. North of this was Caledonia, inhabited by the Picti, whose uprisings forced Rome's legions back to Hadrian's Wall. As Rome finally withdrew from Britain, Gaelic raiders called the Scoti began colonising Western Scotland and Wales. Prior to Roman times, prehistoric Scotland entered the Neolithic Era about 4000 BC, the Bronze Age about 2000 BC, and the Iron Age around 700 BC.

The Gaelic kingdom of Dál Riata was founded on the west coast of Scotland in the 6th century. In the following century, Irish missionaries introduced the previously pagan Picts to Celtic Christianity. Following England's Gregorian mission, the Pictish king Nechtan chose to abolish most Celtic practices in favour of the Roman rite, restricting Gaelic influence on his kingdom and avoiding war with Anglian Northumbria.[1] Towards the end of the 8th century, the Viking invasions began, forcing the Picts and Gaels to cease their historic hostility to each other and to unite in the 9th century, forming the Kingdom of Scotland.

The Kingdom of Scotland was united under the House of Alpin, whose members fought among each other during frequent disputed successions. The last Alpin king, Malcolm II, died without issue in the early 11th century and the kingdom passed through his daughter's son to the House of Dunkeld or Canmore. The last Dunkeld king, Alexander III, died in 1286. He left only his infant granddaughter Margaret, Maid of Norway as heir, who died herself four years later. England, under Edward I, would take advantage of this questioned succession to launch a series of conquests, resulting in the Wars of Scottish Independence, as Scotland passed back and forth between the House of Balliol and the House of Bruce. Scotland's ultimate victory confirmed Scotland as a fully independent and sovereign kingdom.

When King David II died without issue, his nephew Robert II established the House of Stuart, which would rule Scotland uncontested for the next three centuries. James VI, Stuart king of Scotland, also inherited the throne of England in 1603, and the Stuart kings and queens ruled both independent kingdoms until the Act of Union in 1707 merged the two kingdoms into a new state, the Kingdom of Great Britain.[2][3][4] Ruling until 1714, Queen Anne was the last Stuart monarch. Since 1714, the succession of the British monarchs of the houses of Hanover and Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (Windsor) has been due to their descent from James VI and I of the House of Stuart.

During the Scottish Enlightenment and Industrial Revolution, Scotland became one of the commercial, intellectual and industrial powerhouses of Europe. Later, its industrial decline following the Second World War was particularly acute. In recent decades Scotland has enjoyed something of a cultural and economic renaissance, fuelled in part by a resurgent financial services sector and the proceeds of North Sea oil and gas. Since the 1950s, nationalism has become a strong political topic, with serious debates on Scottish independence, and a referendum in 2014 about leaving the British Union.

Lots more about the history of Scotland on Wikipedia:

Seven Celtic Nations - 5 Wales

The history of Wales begins with the arrival of human beings in the region thousands of years ago. Neanderthals lived in what is now Wales, or Cymru in Welsh, at least 230,000 years ago,[1] while Homo sapiens arrived by about 31,000 BC.[2] However, continuous habitation by modern humans dates from the period after the end of the last ice age around 9000 BC, and Wales has many remains from the Mesolithic, Neolithic, and Bronze Age. During the Iron Age the region, like all of Britain south of the Firth of Forth, was dominated by the Celtic Britons and the Brittonic language.[3] The Romans, who began their conquest of Britain in AD 43, first campaigned in what is now northeast Wales in 48 against the Deceangli, and gained total control of the region with their defeat of the Ordovices in 79. The Romans departed from Britain in the 5th century, opening the door for the Anglo-Saxon invasion. Thereafter Brittonic language and culture began to splinter, and several distinct groups formed. The Welsh people were the largest of these groups, and are generally discussed independently of the other surviving Brittonic-speaking peoples after the 11th century.[3]

A number of kingdoms formed in present-day Wales in the post-Roman period. While the most powerful ruler was acknowledged as King of the Britons (later Tywysog Cymru: Leader or Prince of Wales), and some rulers extended their control over other Welsh territories and into western England, none were able to unite Wales for long. Internecine struggles and external pressure from the English and later, the Norman conquerors of England, led to the Welsh kingdoms coming gradually under the sway of the English crown. In 1282, the death of Llywelyn ap Gruffudd led to the conquest of the Principality of Wales by King Edward I of England; afterwards, the heir apparent to the English monarch has borne the title "Prince of Wales". The Welsh launched several revolts against English rule, the last significant one being that led by Owain Glyndŵr in the early 15th century. In the 16th century Henry VIII, himself of Welsh extraction as a great grandson of Owen Tudor, passed the Laws in Wales Acts aiming to fully incorporate Wales into the Kingdom of England. Under England's authority, Wales became part of the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707 and then the United Kingdom in 1801. Yet, the Welsh retained their language and culture despite heavy English dominance. The publication of the extremely significant first complete Welsh translation of the Bible by William Morgan in 1588 greatly advanced the position of Welsh as a literary language.[4]

The 18th century saw the beginnings of two changes that would greatly affect Wales, the Welsh Methodist revival, which led the country to turn increasingly nonconformist in religion, and the Industrial Revolution. During the rise of the British Empire, 19th century Southeast Wales in particular experienced rapid industrialisation and a dramatic rise in population as a result of the explosion of the coal and iron industries.[5] Wales played a full and willing role in World War One. The industries of Empire in Wales declined in the 20th century with the end of the British Empire following the Second World War, while nationalist sentiment and interest in self-determination rose. The Labour Party replaced the Liberal Party as the dominant political force in the 1940s. Wales played a considerable role during World War Two along with the rest of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Allies, and its cities were bombed extensively during the Nazi Blitz. The nationalist party Plaid Cymru gained short lived momentum in the 1960s. In a 1997 referendum Welsh voters approved the devolution of governmental responsibility to a National Assembly for Wales, which first met in 1999.

Prehistoric Wales
The earliest known human remain discovered in modern-day Wales is a Neanderthal jawbone, found at the Bontnewydd Palaeolithic site in the valley of the River Elwy in North Wales, whose owner lived about 230,000 years ago in the Lower Palaeolithic period.[6][7] The Red Lady of Paviland, a human skeleton dyed in red ochre, was discovered in 1823 in one of the Paviland limestone caves of the Gower Peninsula in Swansea, South Wales. Despite the name, the skeleton is that of a young man who lived about 33,000 years ago at the end of the Upper Paleolithic Period (old stone age).[2] He is considered to be the oldest known ceremonial burial in Western Europe. The skeleton was found along with jewellery made from ivory and seashells and a mammoth's skull.

Following the last ice age, Wales became roughly the shape it is today by about 8000 BC and was inhabited by Mesolithic hunter-gatherers. The earliest farming communities are now believed to date from about 4000 BC, marking the beginning of the Neolithic period. This period saw the construction of many chambered tombs particularly dolmens or cromlechs. The most notable examples of megalithic tombs include Bryn Celli Ddu and Barclodiad y Gawres on Anglesey,[8] Pentre Ifan in Pembrokeshire, and Tinkinswood Burial Chamber in the Vale of Glamorgan.[9]

Metal tools first appeared in Wales about 2500 BC, initially copper followed by bronze. The climate during the Early Bronze Age (c. 2500–1400 BC) is thought to have been warmer than at present, as there are many remains from this period in what are now bleak uplands. The Late Bronze Age (c. 1400–750 BC) saw the development of more advanced bronze implements. Much of the copper for the production of bronze probably came from the copper mine on the Great Orme, where prehistoric mining on a very large scale dates largely from the middle Bronze Age.[10] Radiocarbon dating has shown the earliest hillforts in what would become Wales, to have been constructed during this period. Historian John Davies, theorises that a worsening climate after around 1250 BC (lower temperatures and heavier rainfall) required more productive land to be defended.[11]

The earliest iron implement found in Wales is a sword from Llyn Fawr at the head of the Rhondda Valley, which is thought to date to about 600 BC.[12] Hillforts continued to be built during the British Iron Age. Nearly 600 hillforts are in Wales, over 20% of those found in Britain, examples being Pen Dinas near Aberystwyth and Tre'r Ceiri on the Lleyn peninsula.[11] A particularly significant find from this period was made in 1943 at Llyn Cerrig Bach on Anglesey, when the ground was being prepared for the construction of a Royal Air Force base. The cache included weapons, shields, chariots along with their fittings and harnesses, and slave chains and tools. Many had been deliberately broken and seem to have been votive offerings.[13]

Until recently, the prehistory of Wales was portrayed as a series of successive migrations.[4] The present tendency is to stress population continuity; the Encyclopedia of Wales suggests that Wales had received the greater part of its original stock of peoples by c.2000 BC.[4] Recent studies in population genetics have argued for genetic continuity from the Upper Paleolithic, Mesolithic or Neolithic eras.[14][15] According to historian John Davies, the Brythonic languages spoken throughout Britain resulted from an indigenous "cumulative Celticity", rather than from migration.

Roman conquest of Wales
The Roman conquest of Wales began in AD 48 and was completed in 78, with Roman rule lasting until 383. Roman rule in Wales was a military occupation, save for the southern coastal region of South Wales east of the Gower Peninsula, where there is a legacy of Romanisation.[16] The only town in Wales founded by the Romans, Caerwent, is located in South Wales. Both Caerwent and Carmarthen, also in southern Wales, would become Roman civitates.[17] During the occupation both the region that would become Wales and its people were a mostly autonomous part of Roman Britain.

By AD 47 Rome had invaded and conquered all of southernmost and southeastern Britain under the first Roman governor of Britain. As part of the Roman conquest of Britain, a series of campaigns to conquer Wales was launched by his successor in 48 and would continue intermittently under successive governors until the conquest was completed in 78. It is these campaigns of conquest that are the most widely known feature of Wales during the Roman era due to the spirited but unsuccessful defence of their homelands by two native tribes, the Silures and the Ordovices.

The Demetae of southwestern Wales seem to have quickly made their peace with the Romans, as there is no indication of war with Rome, and their homeland was not heavily planted with forts nor overlaid with roads. The Demetae would be the only Welsh tribe to emerge from Roman rule with their homeland and tribal name intact.[18]

Wales was a rich source of mineral wealth and the Romans used their engineering technology to extract large amounts of gold, copper, and lead, as well as modest amounts of some other metals such as zinc and silver.[19] When the mines were no longer practical or profitable, they were abandoned. Roman economic development was concentrated in southeastern Britain, with no significant industries located in Wales.[19] This was largely a matter of circumstance, as Wales had none of the needed materials in suitable combination, and the forested, mountainous countryside was not amenable to development.

The year 383 denotes a significant point in Welsh history, remembered in literature and considered to be the foundation point of several medieval royal dynasties. In that year the Roman general Magnus Maximus would strip all of western and northern Britain of troops and senior administrators and launch a partly successful bid for imperial power, continuing to rule Britain from Gaul as emperor.[20][21] Having left with the troops and Roman administrators, and planning to continue as the ruler of Britain in the future, his practical course was to transfer local authority to local rulers. Welsh legend provides a mythic background to this process.

Tradition holds that following the Roman departure, Roman customs held on into the 5th century in southern Wales, and that is true in part. Caerwent continued to be occupied, while Carmarthen was probably abandoned in the late 4th century.[25] In addition, southwestern Wales was the tribal territory of the Demetae, who had never become thoroughly Romanised.[16] An influx of settlers from southeastern Ireland had taken place in the late 4th century,[26] both in northern Wales and in the entire region of southern and southwestern Wales[27][28][29] under circumstances that are still poorly understood, and it seems far-fetched to suggest that they were ever Romanised.

Indeed, aside from the many Roman-related finds along the southern coast and the fully romanised area around Caerwent, Roman archaeological remains in Wales consist almost entirely of military roads and fortifications.[30]

Post-Roman Wales and the Age of the Saints: 411–700
When the Roman garrison of Britain was withdrawn in 410, the various British states were left self-governing. Evidence for a continuing Roman influence after the departure of the Roman legions is provided by an inscribed stone from Gwynedd dated between the late 5th century and mid 6th century commemorating a certain Cantiorix who was described as a citizen (cives) of Gwynedd and a cousin of Maglos the magistrate (magistratus).[31] There was considerable Irish colonisation in Dyfed in south-west Wales, where there are many stones with Ogham inscriptions.[32] Wales had become Christian, and the "age of the saints" (approximately 500–700) was marked by the establishment of monastic settlements throughout the country, by religious leaders such as Saint David, Illtud and Teilo.[33]

One of the reasons for the Roman withdrawal was the pressure put upon the empire's military resources by the incursion of barbarian tribes from the east. These tribes, including the Angles and Saxons, who later became the English, were unable to make inroads into Wales except possibly along the Severn Valley as far as Llanidloes.[34] However, they gradually conquered eastern and southern Britain. At the Battle of Chester in 616, the forces of Powys and other British kingdoms were defeated by the Northumbrians under Æthelfrith, with king Selyf ap Cynan among the dead. It has been suggested that this battle finally severed the land connection between Wales and the kingdoms of the Hen Ogledd ("Old North"), the Brythonic-speaking regions of what is now southern Scotland and northern England, including Rheged, Strathclyde, Elmet and Gododdin, where Old Welsh was also spoken.[35] From the 8th century on, Wales was by far the largest of the three remnant Brythonic areas in Britain, the other two being the Hen Ogledd and Cornwall.

Wales was divided into a number of separate kingdoms, the largest of these being Gwynedd in northwest Wales and Powys in east Wales. Gwynedd was the most powerful of these kingdoms in the 6th century and 7th century, under rulers such as Maelgwn Gwynedd (died 547)[36] and Cadwallon ap Cadfan (died 634/5),[37] who in alliance with Penda of Mercia was able to lead his armies as far as Northumbria in 633,[38] defeat the local ruler Edwin and control it for approximately one year. When Cadwallon was killed in battle by Oswald of Northumbria, his successor Cadafael ap Cynfeddw also allied himself with Penda against Northumbria, but thereafter Gwynedd, like the other Welsh kingdoms, was mainly engaged in defensive warfare against the growing power of Mercia.

Early Medieval Wales: 700–1066
Medieval kingdoms of Wales shown within the boundaries of the present day country of Wales and not inclusive of all.
Powys as the easternmost of the major kingdoms of Wales came under the most pressure from the English in Cheshire, Shropshire and Herefordshire. This kingdom originally extended east into areas now in England, and its ancient capital, Pengwern, has been variously identified as modern Shrewsbury or a site north of Baschurch.[39] These areas were lost to the kingdom of Mercia. The construction of the earthwork known as Offa's Dyke (usually attributed to Offa, King of Mercia in the 8th century) may have marked an agreed border.[40]

For a single man to rule the whole country during this period was rare. This is often ascribed to the inheritance system practised in Wales. All sons received an equal share of their father's property (including illegitimate sons), resulting in the division of territories. However, the Welsh laws prescribe this system of division for land in general, not for kingdoms, where there is provision for an edling (or heir) to the kingdom to be chosen, usually by the king. Any son, legitimate or illegitimate, could be chosen as edling and there were frequently disappointed candidates prepared to challenge the chosen heir.[41]

The first to rule a considerable part of Wales was Rhodri Mawr (Rhodri The Great), originally king of Gwynedd during the 9th century, who was able to extend his rule to Powys and Ceredigion.[42] On his death his realms were divided between his sons. Rhodri's grandson, Hywel Dda (Hywel the Good), formed the kingdom of Deheubarth by joining smaller kingdoms in the southwest and had extended his rule to most of Wales by 942.[43] He is traditionally associated with the codification of Welsh law at a council which he called at Whitland, the laws from then on usually being called the "Laws of Hywel". Hywel followed a policy of peace with the English. On his death in 949 his sons were able to keep control of Deheubarth but lost Gwynedd to the traditional dynasty of this kingdom.[44]

Wales was now coming under increasing attack by Viking raiders, particularly Danish raids in the period between 950 and 1000. According to the chronicle Brut y Tywysogion, Godfrey Haroldson carried off two thousand captives from Anglesey in 987, and the king of Gwynedd, Maredudd ab Owain is reported to have redeemed many of his subjects from slavery by paying the Danes a large ransom.[45]

Gruffydd ap Llywelyn was the only ruler to be able to unite Wales under his rule. Originally king of Gwynedd, by 1057 he was ruler of Wales and had annexed parts of England around the border. He ruled Wales with no internal battles[46] until he was defeated by Harold Godwinson in 1063 and killed by his own men. His territories were again divided into the traditional kingdoms.[47]

Wales and the Normans: 1067–1283
Caerphilly Castle. The construction of this castle between 1268 and 1271 by Gilbert de Clare led to a dispute between Llywelyn ap Gruffudd and the English crown, one of the issues which led to the wars of 1277 and 1282 and the end of Welsh independence
At the time of the Norman conquest of England in 1066, the dominant ruler in Wales was Bleddyn ap Cynfyn, who was king of Gwynedd and Powys. The initial Norman successes were in the south, where William Fitz Osbern overran Gwent before 1070. By 1074 the forces of the Earl of Shrewsbury were ravaging Deheubarth.[48]

The killing of Bleddyn ap Cynfyn in 1075 led to civil war and gave the Normans an opportunity to seize lands in North Wales. In 1081 Gruffudd ap Cynan, who had just won the throne of Gwynedd from Trahaearn ap Caradog at the Battle of Mynydd Carn was enticed to a meeting with the Earl of Chester and Earl of Shrewsbury and promptly seized and imprisoned, leading to the seizure of much of Gwynedd by the Normans.[49] In the south William the Conqueror advanced into Dyfed founding castles and mints at St David's and Cardiff.[50] Rhys ap Tewdwr of Deheubarth was killed in 1093 in Brycheiniog, and his kingdom was seized and divided between various Norman lordships.[51] The Norman conquest of Wales appeared virtually complete.

In 1094, however, there was a general Welsh revolt against Norman rule, and gradually territories were won back. Gruffudd ap Cynan was eventually able to build a strong kingdom in Gwynedd. His son, Owain Gwynedd, allied with Gruffydd ap Rhys of Deheubarth won a crushing victory over the Normans at the Battle of Crug Mawr in 1136 and annexed Ceredigion. Owain followed his father on the throne of Gwynedd the following year and ruled until his death in 1170.[52] He was able to profit from disunity in England, where King Stephen and the Empress Matilda were engaged in a struggle for the throne, to extend the borders of Gwynedd further east than ever before.

Powys also had a strong ruler at this time in Madog ap Maredudd, but when his death in 1160 was quickly followed by the death of his heir, Llywelyn ap Madog, Powys was split into two parts and never subsequently reunited.[53] In the south, Gruffydd ap Rhys was killed in 1137, but his four sons, who all ruled Deheubarth in turn, were eventually able to win back most of their grandfather's kingdom from the Normans. The youngest of the four, Rhys ap Gruffydd (The Lord Rhys) ruled from 1155 to 1197. In 1171 Rhys met King Henry II and came to an agreement with him whereby Rhys had to pay a tribute but was confirmed in all his conquests and was later named Justiciar of South Wales. Rhys held a festival of poetry and song at his court at Cardigan over Christmas 1176 which is generally regarded as the first recorded Eisteddfod. Owain Gwynedd's death led to the splitting of Gwynedd between his sons, while Rhys made Deheubarth dominant in Wales for a time.[54]

Out of the power struggle in Gwynedd eventually arose one of the greatest of Welsh leaders, Llywelyn ab Iorwerth, also known as Llywelyn Fawr (the Great), who was sole ruler of Gwynedd by 1200[55] and by his death in 1240 was effectively ruler of much of Wales.[56] Llywelyn made his 'capital' and headquarters at Abergwyngregyn on the north coast, overlooking the Menai Strait. His son Dafydd ap Llywelyn followed him as ruler of Gwynedd, but king Henry III of England would not allow him to inherit his father's position elsewhere in Wales.[57] War broke out in 1241 and then again in 1245, and the issue was still in the balance when Dafydd died suddenly at Abergwyngregyn, without leaving an heir in early 1246. Llywelyn the Great's other son, Gruffudd had been killed trying to escape from the Tower of London in 1244. Gruffudd had left four sons, and a period of internal conflict between three of these ended in the rise to power of Llywelyn ap Gruffudd (also known as Llywelyn Ein Llyw Olaf; Llywelyn, Our Last Leader). The Treaty of Montgomery in 1267 confirmed Llywelyn in control, directly or indirectly, over a large part of Wales. However, Llywelyn's claims in Wales conflicted with Edward I of England, and war followed in 1277. Llywelyn was obliged to seek terms, and the Treaty of Aberconwy greatly restricted his authority. War broke out again when Llywelyn's brother Dafydd ap Gruffudd attacked Hawarden Castle on Palm Sunday 1282. On 11 December 1282, Llywelyn was lured into a meeting in Builth Wells castle with unknown Marchers, where he was killed and his army subsequently destroyed. His brother Dafydd ap Gruffudd continued an increasingly forlorn resistance. He was captured in June 1283 and was hanged, drawn and quartered at Shrewsbury. In effect Wales became England's first colony until it was finally annexed through the Laws in Wales Acts 1535-1542.

DNA Research
Recent DNA research conducted by CymruDNA Wales has shown that a percentage of Welshmen living today are descended from ancient Kings and Princes of Wales, the quintessential DNA signature R-L371 aka S300 snp downstream from R1b-L21 (S145) is believed to have originated in North Wales around 1000 AD.[58][59][60][61]

After the passing the Statute of Rhuddlan (1284), which restricted Welsh laws, King Edward I's ring of impressive stone castles assisted in the domination of Wales, and he crowned his conquest by giving the title Prince of Wales to his son and heir in 1301.[62] Wales became, effectively, part of England, even though its people spoke a different language and had a different culture. English kings appointed a Council of Wales, sometimes presided over by the heir to the throne. This Council normally sat in Ludlow, now in England but at that time still part of the disputed border area in the Welsh Marches. Welsh literature, particularly poetry, continued to flourish, however, with the lesser nobility now taking over from the princes as the patrons of the poets. Many consider Dafydd ap Gwilym, who flourished in the middle of the 14th century, the greatest of the Welsh poets.

There were a number of rebellions including ones led by Madog ap Llywelyn in 1294–1295[63] and by Llywelyn Bren, Lord of Senghenydd, in 1316–1318. In the 1370s the last representative in the male line of the ruling house of Gwynedd, Owain Lawgoch, twice planned an invasion of Wales with French support. The English government responded to the threat by sending an agent to assassinate Owain in Poitou in 1378.[64]

In 1400, a Welsh nobleman, Owain Glyndŵr (or Owen Glendower), revolted against King Henry IV of England. Owain inflicted a number of defeats on the English forces and for a few years controlled most of Wales. Some of his achievements included holding the first Welsh Parliament at Machynlleth and plans for two universities. Eventually the king's forces were able to regain control of Wales and the rebellion died out, but Owain himself was never captured. His rebellion caused a great upsurge in Welsh identity and he was widely supported by Welsh people throughout the country.[65]

As a response to Glyndŵr's rebellion, the English parliament passed the Penal Laws against Wales. These prohibited the Welsh from carrying arms, from holding office and from dwelling in fortified towns. These prohibitions also applied to Englishmen who married Welsh women. These laws remained in force after the rebellion, although in practice they were gradually relaxed.[66]

Henry Tudor, later King Henry VII
In the Wars of the Roses which began in 1455 both sides made considerable use of Welsh troops. The main figures in Wales were the two Earls of Pembroke, the Yorkist Earl William Herbert and the Lancastrian Jasper Tudor. In 1485 Jasper's nephew, Henry Tudor, landed in Wales with a small force to launch his bid for the throne of England. Henry was of Welsh descent, counting princes such as Rhys ap Gruffydd (The Lord Rhys) among his ancestors, and his cause gained much support in Wales. Henry defeated King Richard III of England at the Battle of Bosworth with an army containing many Welsh soldiers and gained the throne as King Henry VII of England.[67]

Under his son, Henry VIII of England, the Laws in Wales Acts 1535-1542 were passed, integrating Wales with England in legal terms, abolishing the Welsh legal system, and banning the Welsh language from any official role or status, but it did for the first time define the England-Wales border and allowed members representing constituencies in Wales to be elected to the English Parliament.[68] They also abolished any legal distinction between the Welsh and the English, thereby effectively ending the Penal Code although this was not formally repealed.[69]

Henry Tudor, later King Henry VII
Early modern period
Following Henry VIII's break with Rome and the Pope, Wales for the most part followed England in accepting Anglicanism, although a number of Catholics were active in attempting to counteract this and produced some of the earliest books printed in Welsh. In 1588 William Morgan produced the first complete translation of the Welsh Bible.[4][70] Morgan's Bible is one of the most significant books in the Welsh language, and its publication greatly increased the stature and scope of the Welsh language and literature.[4]

Wales was overwhelmingly Royalist in the Wars of the Three Kingdoms in the early 17th century though there were some notable exceptions such as John Jones Maesygarnedd and the Puritan writer Morgan Llwyd.[71] Wales was an important source of men for the armies of King Charles I of England,[72] though no major battles took place in Wales. The Second English Civil War began when unpaid Parliamentarian troops in Pembrokeshire changed sides in early 1648.[73] Colonel Thomas Horton defeated the Royalist rebels at the battle of St. Fagans in May and the rebel leaders surrendered to Cromwell on 11 July after the protracted two-month siege of Pembroke.

Education in Wales was at a very low ebb in this period, with the only education available being in English while the majority of the population spoke only Welsh. In 1731 Griffith Jones started circulating schools in Carmarthenshire, held in one location for about three months before moving (or "circulating") to another location. The language of instruction in these schools was Welsh. By Griffith Jones' death, in 1761, it is estimated that up to 250,000 people had learnt to read in schools throughout Wales.[74]

The 18th century also saw the Welsh Methodist revival, led by Daniel Rowland, Howell Harris and William Williams Pantycelyn.[75] In the early 19th century the Welsh Methodists broke away from the Anglican church and established their own denomination, now the Presbyterian Church of Wales. This also led to the strengthening of other nonconformist denominations, and by the middle of the 19th century Wales was largely Nonconformist in religion. This had considerable implications for the Welsh language as it was the main language of the nonconformist churches in Wales. The Sunday schools which became an important feature of Welsh life made a large part of the population literate in Welsh, which was important for the survival of the language as it was not taught in the schools.

The end of the 18th century saw the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution, and the presence of iron ore, limestone and large coal deposits in south-east Wales meant that this area soon saw the establishment of ironworks and coal mines, notably the Cyfarthfa Ironworks and the Dowlais Ironworks at Merthyr Tydfil.

The History of Celticado - My traditional Celtic duo

About 14 years ago, I was living in Hadley in a rental apartment on route 9 not far from whole foods. I was playing at the time with a stri...