Archive | June, 2012

Lia Fail and the Quest for the Stone of Destiny

20 Jun

Recently the “Stone of Destiny” has made the news because somebody decided to take hammer to it for reasons only known to the perpetrator. However, I suspect it was to perhaps garner some supernatural power that this person believes may be inherent in the stone.  Of course, the problem is that this person got the wrong stone.

The Standing Stone

The Standing Stone on top of Tara Hill in County Meath Ireland is mistakenly assumed to be Lia Fail, the stone of Destiny, that the Irish High Kings and the Kings descended from Milesius were coronated over.  The shadows of time have caused this confusion but a proper account of history shows that there is only one Stone of Destiny and that it currently resides in Scotland and is still used to coronate the Monarchs that came from those still extant lines.  The Standing Stone is no doubt ancient, but far from a coronation stone it had different purposes and was used by the Tuatha Dé Danann before the Celtic invasion of the Milesians. Previous to the mid-1800s this stone was laying in one of the ringed ditches on Tara. But that is another story and the proof of this is not the purpose of this article.

I thought since this news piece has brought the subject to the forefront, I might enlighten my readers as to what this has to do with the Clan MacCarthy.

The Blarney Stone

The Blarney Stone resides in Blarney castle and can be used as physical evidence of the fraud perpetrated by Robert the Bruce.  Legends surround it, but the truth of the matter is actually very important even to this day.

Cormac McCarthy, King of Munster, resided in Blarney Castle during the period in focus. Across the North Channel the Scots were having a dispute (a war) with the English. In 1314 Robert had spent some time gearing up for battle against the English he knew might come; as he was laying siege to Sterling Castle and the English were not pleased. To evict the Scottish squatters around his precious castle, the English King Edward had raised a sizable army (almost 20,000 soldiers) and were coming to cause havoc upon the Scots.

Robert had a problem though.  He didn’t have enough men to take on 20,000 battle hardened Englishmen bent on pillage and destruction. But he did have a friend in Ireland. Robert had previously made acquaintance with Cormac. A deal was struck between the two. Cormac would supply 4000 Irish soldiers and in return he required the Stone of Destiny, Lia Fail.  Robert the Bruce accepted and gladly received the 4000 Irish soldiers. Now victory would be assured because 1 Irish soldier is like having 10 regular soldiers. Robert now had a great number superiority as the Irish contribution alone would be the equivalent of 40,000 men – against the 20,000 Edward had. Robert also had a few troops of his own – so this battle against Edward should have been a cake walk.  And…it was! The battle of Bannockburn was fought over two days on the 24th and 25th of June in 1314. It was a complete Scottish victory and strengthened Robert the Bruce significantly. The Scots would eventually gain their independence 10 years later.

So, the battle won, Robert the Bruce delivered “a stone” to Cormac some years later. Now news may not have traveled as fast in the 13th and 14th centuries as it does now, but it could not have escaped Cormac’s knowledge that the Stone had already been taken by King Edward in 1296. Cormac must have assumed the Stone would be recaptured or returned to Scotland somehow in order for Robert the Bruce to make good on his word. Indeed there was an effort to get the Stone back from England as the Treaty of Northampton in 1328 required. However the Treaty was never honored. Never-the-less, Robert the Bruce did eventually deliver a stone to Cormac which he claimed to be the Stone of Destiny. But it wasn’t the the true Lia Fail…it was another stone and for whatever reason Cormac did not know that! He and his progeny for years did not realize the fraud; the stone they were given was eventually installed in the top of the Keep in Blarney Castle.

Many may be wondering why on earth Cormac would want a stone and give 4000 soldiers for it. Well, the details of that is yet another story. But essentially it is because he knew the Stone the Scots had in their possession was the real Lia fail and that it had, at the very least, symbolic power and rich history having to do with Kings and Rights of power dating back to antiquity.

Making Good Robert’s Indiscretions

So we come back to the fraud and the importance of that fraud.  Robert the Bruce made a deal with Cormac; who as a King and a Chief of the Clan was also a type of proxy for the whole MacCarthy clan.  The MacCarthy clan is still extant today and so is Lia Fail. It sits in Scotland today.  Therefore, to make good the deal, the Scottish ought to give us Lia Fail, the Stone of Destiny (the Stone of Scone) or…perhaps they need to provide us the equivalent of 4000 Irish soldiers (40,000 Scottish soldiers).

We would rather have the stone as per the original deal, but we will take the soldiers as well.

Furthering the Science of Genetics

4 Jun

What would the McCarty’s have to do with Genetics?  You would not have to be a quick study to see that we have some of the best genetics ever gifted by the hand of providence.  However there is more to it than just that.

The entire field of modern genetics and molecular biology rests upon the shoulders of three men:  Oswald Avery, Colin MacLeod, and Maclyn McCarty.  In the Avery–MacLeod–McCarty experiment they demonstrated that it was DNA that contained the hereditary material (genes). Previous to this, it was thought that proteins must have contained such information.  DNA was not given much thought and was thought by many to be some sort of support structure to the cell.

Maclyn’s contribution to science did not end there though. His work with rheumatic fever helped to bring better understanding to the disease but also detect and diagnose it. The methods he developed for testing is standard medical practice today.

Macyln McCarty’s life was full of many other notable achievements and can be found here.

As for further reading on his chief contribution to science, it is best to get it from him, his memoir can be found here.