Voyagers in the Vault of Heaven: Ships in the Sky in Mediaeval Ireland
November 6, 2019 3:31 AM   Subscribe

Essay by Michael McCaughan. The Seamus Heaney poem referred to is Lightenings viii.
posted by paduasoy (7 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
The html version in the link doesn’t work for me on mobile (safari on iphone - I get a truncated version of the abstract normally; or the full abstract but nothing else if I use reader view).

However the pdf version seems to be ok.

posted by chappell, ambrose at 4:36 AM on November 6, 2019 [1 favorite]

Voyagers In The Vault Of Heaven should be the title of a Jon Anderson solo album.
posted by hippybear at 6:02 AM on November 6, 2019 [3 favorites]

I like this. The changing moving skies in Ireland seem a proper place for flying ships.
posted by mermayd at 6:21 AM on November 6, 2019

There's an unfortunate but hilarious OCR/autocorrect error in the caption on figure 2 of the HTML version. I suppose as a Proper Librarian [tm] I should contact them and report it...
posted by telophase at 7:59 AM on November 6, 2019 [8 favorites]

Could what we faithless secular modern people call aliens really be what the theologically sophisticated people of the middle ages knew to be saints all along? I'm not saying it's saints, but it's saints. I'll be brushing my hair up while you discuss.
posted by otherchaz at 10:48 AM on November 6, 2019

More on this here, including relating medieval sky boats to a land called Magonia.


I was reminded by this of my own sky-boat sighting. This was around 1992.

I looked up and saw the deck of a large boat floating directly above me. It differed from the visions in the article in several ways: it was at night, the deck of the boat that I saw was facing me indicating that the hull was on the other side of the ship, and it was not an hallucination.

I was on a lineup of boats on Lake Union, in Seattle, in the moorage down by the Lake Union Cafe and the UW boat house. It was night because it was the Fourth of July and everyone in the neighborhood was invited out onto these moored boats to watch the fireworks display to be launched from a barge in the middle of the lake.

What I was seeing when I looked up was the translucent illuminated hull of a small blimp carrying Fujifilm branding. It appeared white in the sky and the construction seams of the envelope looked like decking. The control car and engines looked like a crew cabin on the boats around me that I had been crossing to get out to the end of mooring lineup. The blimp was literally directly overhead so I didn’t have parallax to see the fact that it was a curved surface rather than a flat one.

It was incredibly, wonderfully disorienting.
posted by mwhybark at 11:53 AM on November 6, 2019 [5 favorites]

The Clonmacnoise story, surprisingly enough, resurfaces in Texas during its "mystery airship" flap of the 1890s. I've never been curious enough to track down the primary source but supposedly the Houston Post printed an item in 1897, averring that an airship had dragged its anchor through the town of Merkel, TX. It being the 19th century, its anchor snagged on the railroad track instead of the town church, but the detail is unmistakable.

I seem to recall that it's been discovered by 21st century researchers that the original version of the story had been mentioned in an Eastern paper shortly before, and so clearly some bored Houston newspaperman had decided to file the serial numbers off and make it more interesting to the locals.
posted by Quindar Beep at 12:57 PM on November 6, 2019

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