Friday, January 16, 2009

The Magpies

Still in Cornwall, because I have dedicated this first part of the year to the small Celtic nation of Kernow. I can't locate the Cornish for magpie but this is a bird or edhen. Magpies bear some relation to Cornish Cloughs of which three appear in the arms of Thomas Becket. In general, magpies don't get a good press and cross-culturally they are regarded with suspicion. I like the Greek legend best. Nine Thracian maidens known as the Pieredes tried to outdo the Muses in singing. They were easily defeated and for their presumption and grandiosity they were turned into magpies, becoming associated with envy and snobbery. I would not visit this on the Penzance football team though. It has a history stretching back to 1888 and in its centenary year the team hosted Scottish champions, Glasgow Celtic. Perhaps other teams should regard a visit from the Magpies with trepidation. In Dublin we have more magpies than you can shake a stick at and although they are beautiful creatures, we sometimes chant that famous rhyme to ward off the evil eye. One for sorrow, two for joy ... So come on you Magpies. Steal the League this season!