Duchas.ie, The Schools Collection

dúchas.ie, The Schools’ Collection, Co. Roscommon

A treasure trove of old school books lovingly scanned and transcribed. The handwriting is superb and the insights fascinating.

One of several entries about Fairy Forts written circa 1937

“There are two fairy forts situated in my district. One is about a quarter of a mile from my house in a village known as Cloonarrow while the other is about three hundred yards east of my house.
The fairy fort situated about a quarter of a mile is of circular shape and is surrounded by trees. Fairies are supposed to abide in it and are said to appear after twelve o’clock a.m. In front of this fort a house was situated but now the owner of the house and of
the land in which the fort is situated is dead and the house has collapsed. There is no entrance hole to it.
The other fort situated a very short distance from my house is a circular little hill surrounded by trees. Neither is there an entrance hole to this fort. It is said that a woman dressed in white appeared to a man at this fort and accompanied him to a place known as the “Crooked Bush” where she disappeared.
Nobody ever dreams of tilling the land in which the forts are, neither do they cut the trees as it is said that anybody who touches those trees is sure to be unlucky.”

Using freely available online resources and my local knowledge I’m pretty sure this is the location of the Fairy Fort 300 yards East of the author’s home:

Fairy Forts are typically, but not exclusively circular archaeological sites. Often tumuli or hill forts, there are over 30,000 of them in Ireland.

See also: https://www.nolligan.ie/SU/?p=3504


Numbeo is a collaborative online database which enables users to share and compare information about the cost of living between countries and cities.
It also includes data on:

  • property prices,
  • crime,
  • health care,
  • pollution,
  • traffic,
  • travel,
  • quality of life
Quality of life comparison (March 2020)

Low Tech Magazine

What is Low-tech Magazine?

Founded in November 2007, Low-tech Magazine questions the blind belief in technological progress, and talks about the potential of past and often forgotten knowledge and technologies when it comes to designing a sustainable society. Interesting possibilities arise when you combine old technology with new knowledge and new materials, or when you apply old concepts and traditional knowledge to modern technology.

My personal favourite articles:

Reinventing the Greenhouse –

Research shows that it’s possible to grow warmth-loving crops all year round with solar energy alone, even if it’s freezing outside. The solar greenhouse is especially successful in China, where many thousands of these structures have been built during the last decades.

How to Downsize a Transport Network: The Chinese Wheelbarrow

For being such a seemingly ordinary vehicle, the wheelbarrow has a surprisingly exciting history. 


Futility Closet – a collection of entertaining curiosities 

About Futility Closet

Futility Closet is a collection of entertaining curiosities in history, literature, language, art, philosophy, and mathematics, designed to help you waste time as enjoyably as possible.

The database contains more than 10,000 items, and more are added each day.

You can read Futility Closet on the web, subscribe by RSS, or sign up to receive a daily email.

Science & Math


The Goon Show


From The Goon Show, The Red Fort, Series 8 Episode 7:

Major Bloodnok OBE, late of the 3rd Disgusting Fusiliers,

“I say Major your medals are showing.”
“Yes!” “And they’re all long service you know.”

Update: broken link so here are some alternatives:


Listen online: https://www.radio-uk.co.uk/abacusfm-the-goon-show

Podcasts and link to Archive.org Goon Show mp3 resources https://fourble.co.uk/podcast/thegoonshow

Radio Echoes – 206 Goon show episodes

Molecule shirts showing the molecular structure of your favorite drugs



Interesting but I remember from my days at University, the Chemical society had a picture of the above compound emblazoned on their t-shirts together with the logo:

‘Leeds Chemists wipe their own.’

In case you’re wondering, the molecule in question is an arsole.

More amusingly named chemicals can be found at:

Papers, Please! The Identity Project

“There are good people with bad papers; and bad people with good papers.”
– Bertolt Brecht

I’m horrified that the USA is getting compulsory ID cards too. The perpetrators of 9/11 all had valid ID’s (as far as I am aware, please correct me if I am wrong).


When I was younger I used to travel to Europe and I hated the way the gendarmes would demand ‘Papiers, papiers!’ to intimidate and hassle foreigners. In a manner only one step removed from the Geheime Staatspolizei.

It’s incredible that the present US Administration wants to make the USA resemble France.

Update 2021 : failed in both countries thank goodness, but the PapersPlease website is still going which is good as these issues remain relevant.

Incidentally, these old stumbleupon pages are often in the interesting links category which you may like to check out

From the site:

What’s Wrong With Showing ID?

What does an ID, any ID, do for security?  The honest answer is ‘not much’.  If anything, relying on ID for security purposes actually makes things worse: a false sense of security fosters complacency.

Showing ID only affects honest people.  If you’re dishonest, you can obtain false documents or steal the identity of an honest person.

If a 19 year-old college student can get a fake ID to drink, why couldn’t a bad person get one, too?  And no matter how sophisticated the security embedded into the ID, wouldn’t a well-financed terrorist be able to falsify that, too?  The answer to both questions is obviously ‘yes’.

Sniggle.net the Culture Jammers Encyclopaedia

snig·gle (v) — To fish for eels by thrusting a baited hook into their hiding places.


Update: Visually rather old fashioned – this is how websites used to look at the end of the 20th century. A few nuggets to be found here although I’m not sure how active it is nowadays. I particularly enjoyed the pseudoscience section.

It describes itself as the Culture Jammers Encyclopaedia. Many subjects are covered from cryptozoology , Jello Biafra, Trickster Gods and Commerce Jamming.

Also very pleased that sniggle.net has been on the web since 1997.

Universe today flickr pool 3,000+ members, 76,000+ photos

Universe Today Group Pool on Flickr


Update: Originally this was a hotlink to a particularly impressive photo which is no longer available.

I’ve replaced it with something far better. A link to the Universe Today Flickr Group. Some truly amazing photos taken by gifted amateurs.

One of the great things about astronomy is the way that ordinary people make significant contributions.

Quick link: https://flic.kr/go/gi2Cq

Welcome to the Home Office


The Home Office, twinned with Mordor.

Tony Blair continues to eat away at the rights of free born Englishmen. From today I have to apply to the Secretary of State for permission to marry a foreigner, this came as a shock as my fiance and I presented our documents at the registry office today.

Now I can see why the thirteen colonies rebelled against good king George all those years ago.

Criticize Lin Biao and Confucius (1974)


Updated: https://chineseposters.net/posters/g2-14

Criticize Lin Biao and Confucius (1974)

The girl is holding a paper which says ‘Criticize Lin Biao and Confucius most vigorously.’
The title says ‘ Criticizing Lin Biao and Confucius is the most important issue for the Party, the People’s Liberation Army and the whole Chinese people.’

Lin Biao’s death should be the subject of conspiracy sites, I mean, what really happened to him? Unless it happened in the west or concerns secret societies with ‘arcane knowledge’ hardly anybody is interested.

Apart from http://www.odu.edu/ao/instadv/quest/linbiao.html
Which is well worth reading.

I wonder where he’s going to stick that pen?

INDOlink Poetry – Rabindranath Tagore Collection

Rabindranath Tagore, 7 May 1861 – 7 August 1941


The above link no longer works, so here’s an alternative


Nobel Prize winner 1913

The Gift
by Rabindranath Tagore
. (This poem is from ‘The Crescent Moon’ by Tagore)

I want to give you something, my child,
for we are drifting in the stream of the world.
Our lives will be carried apart,
and our love forgotten.
But I am not so foolish as to hope that
I could buy your heart with my gifts.

Young is your life, your path long, and
you drink the love we bring you at one draught
and turn and run away from us.
You have your play and your playmates.
What harm is there if you have no time
or thought for us.

We, indeed, have leisure enough in old age
to count the days that are past,
to cherish in our hearts what our
hands have lost for ever.
The river runs swift with a song,
breaking through all barriers.
But the mountain stays and remembers,
and follows her with his love.

Mail Preference Service


If you live in the UK and want to stop junk mail being posted to your address then this is the site for you. It’s not 100% effective but it’s better than nothing.

“The Mailing Preference Service (MPS) is a free service set up in 1983 and funded by the direct mail industry to enable consumers to have their names and home addresses in the UK removed from lists used by the industry. It is actively supported by the Royal Mail and all directly involved trade associations and fully supported by The Information Commissioners Office (ICO).”

TPS Registration

The Telephone Preference Service (TPS) is the UK’s only official ‘Do Not Call’ register


If you live in the UK register your phone number here and stop those annoying unsolicited phone calls. When you do get one, like I did last night you can get their details and then turn the tables on them by saying that you ARE going to report them. 9 times out of 10 they hang up, only a few are big enough to apologise

“From the site:

The Telephone Preference Service (TPS) is the UK’s only official ‘Do Not Call’ register for landlines and Mobile numbers. It allows people and businesses to opt out of unsolicited live sales and marketing calls.

It’s free and quick to register a telephone number. 

The Smallfilms Treasury


Noggin the Nog,Ivor the Engine, Bagpuss, The Clangers, The Pogles, Pingwings

Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin produced some of the most enduring British children’s animation in the 1960s-1970s. On this site you will find The Clangers, Pogles’ Wood, Ivor the Engine, Bagpuss, and Noggin the Nog with my personal favourite character ‘ Nogbad the Bad’.

Dictionary of Difficult Words


Update: Site no longer functions – no way back machine link as it wasn’t good anyway

Pretty sure this site quietly died. So in it’s place I’d recommend the Oxford Dictionary of Difficult words.

Available (of course) from Amazon:

The original site I reviewed on StumbleUpon wasn’t that good as it didn’t have disestablishmentarianism or antidisestablishmentarianism.