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PTOLEMY

Ptolemy lived from around 87 to 150 AD. Although he appears to have spent much of his life in Alexandria (Egypt), it seems that he originally came from Greece.

He was an astronomer, mathematician, and geographer.

Ptolemy played an extremely important part in the history of geography and cartography. He fully realised the earth was a sphere (and not flat as many before him had thought). He codified the Greek geocentric view of the universe (which placed the earth at the centre of everything), and he rationalised the apparent motions of the planets as they were known in his time.

Ptolemy probably realised that the Greek "geocentric" belief was incorrect. However, this model (false though it was in the overall sense), was nevertheless very useful when applied in a restricted way for making calculations which helped the ancient seafarers to navigate the seas and oceans they frequently voyaged upon.

It seems likely that the Tralee born Celtic monk and navigator St. Brendan (circa 484 - 577), would have known about (and possibly used) Ptolemy's maps and navigational aids. In addition to being credited (by some) with crossing the Atlantic ocean and reaching America, St. Brendan also founded the monastery of Clonfert in East County Galway (where his remains now rest).

Ptolemy's eight volume "Guide to Geography" remained the principal work on the subject until the time of Christopher Columbus (in the 1400's). There is a tradition which claims that Galway was the port Christopher Columbus choose to exit Europe from when he set sail in 1492 AD to discover the New World on the opposite side of the Atlantic ocean; and that his ideas about finding land somewhere far out into the Atlantic ocean may well have been inspired by stories he was told about St. Brendan during an earlier visit to Galway in 1477.

Ptolemy's map of Ireland shows two Celtic Royal Capitals called "Regia": one is in Ulster area of Eamain Macha (present day Armagh), and the other in the area where Turoe and Knocknadala are located. Roughly half way between the two sites names "Regia", there is place named "Rhaeba": which is somewhere in the region of Rathcrogan, or Donamon, or possibly Castlestrange. (In old Irish histories, Rathcrogan is often referred to as "Cruachain", or similarly spelled words. It is located in the Tulsk area, which is about 10 miles to the north of Roscommon town.)

"Knocknadala", which in the language of the Celts meant "Hill of Parliament", is thought to be the only place in the whole of Ireland with this particular name.

Research Scientist Dr. Kieran Jordan has recently produced notes (please see link below) on the 40 years of research work carried out by Father Tom O'Connor around the Turoe/Knocknadala area.

Turoe, and the world famous Turoe Stone, are in the parish of Bullaun and New Inn; and Knocknadala is in the neighbouring parish of Kiltullagh and Killimordaly.

For reasons connected with the ancient game of "Hurling", which features very strongly in Celtic mythology, the parish of Bullaun and New Inn has become known to many in the West of Ireland as "sarsfield's" country.

Further information on Ptolemy

Main page
(Dr. Kieran Jordan's Notes)

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