Year: 1998

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A few months ago, Blather spent two issues telling the tale of the Irish Hell-Fire Club of the 1730s and 1740s, whilst exploring the available (and often apocryphal) evidence of the alleged 'satanic' behaviour of the ruling classes of the time. We now turn our attention to the English Hell-Fire Club, which operated from the late 1740s and into the 1760s. Ironically, this Club never really called itself a Hell-Fire Club - it had various other names dreamt up by its founder, Sir Francis Dashwood (later Lord Le Despencer), such as 'The Knights of St. Francis of Wycombe', or 'The Monks of Medmenham', but seems to have attracted the 'Hell-Fire' label through the organisation's reputation, echoing that of earlier clubs - suppression of 'Hell-Fire Clubs' had been enforced (quietly uselessly, it would seem) since 1721, suggesting that the clubs of later decades were more exclusive, and perhaps a little more...

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Photographs from the Hellfire Club, West Wycombe These photographs are quite old - for newer, better photographs, check out my photographs (2006) of the English Hellfire Club - Medmenham Abbey and the tunnels at West Wycombe Back to article... All photographs © Dave Walsh, and are available to purchase in high resolution format. For more details, contact us » Map of the West Wycombe Caves Entrance Tool Store Whitehead's Cave Lord Sandwich Circle Franklins Cave Children's Cave Banqueting Hall Triangle Miner's Cave River Styx Inner Temple ('XXII' refers to a marking on the wall, mentioned in a poem of the time... ) Sir Francis Dashwood The Entrance to the Caves Once more into the breach The Only Living... "Daemonic features abound... Hell-Fire Francis? Note the cross on its forehead... West Wycombe Church - 300 ft (91m) above the tunnels The Golden Ball The Dashwood Mausoleum photographs (2006) of the English...

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After an unreasonably quiet winter, we would appear to be on the cusp of the National Annual Summer Irish UFO Splurge. After the Blanchardstown report from April, we managed to remain calm and collected, but thanks to Paul Collins in The Munster Express of May 22nd any unfounded illusion of national sanity has been since been scuppered. Collins confides that he is "very sceptical about such matters and tend to make fun of them, but, in the interests of balance, I feel bound to mention a story from the front page of last week's Tipperary Star. A couple, described as 'highly respected members of the community' told the newspaper they saw an object in the sky between Derrynaflan and Killenaule on the night of February 28th last. "Because they did not want to face ridicule and be the butt of local jokes they decided to remain silent about their experience...

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On last week's show, Blather dealt with two reports of alleged Irish meteorite hits - both of which seemed to be accompanied by a considerable amount of spurious baggage. The Fermanagh incident With regard to the Co. Fermanagh incident of December 13th, I spoke to David Moore of Astronomy Ireland last weekend, who referred me to a full page article in the March 1998 issue of *Astronomy & Space* (available through the AI website), which I had somehow overlooked. The magazine has a photograph of the crater, showing a *very* boggy waterlogged field, with a muddy water-filled hole in the foreground. The hole is surrounded by clumps of wed sod, *suggesting* that they had been blown outwards from the hole. According to the article (which concurs with the Irish Times on the size of the hole, therefore hinting that this too is the correct measurement as measured by Armagh Planetarium),...

blather.net
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Not one, but *two* alleged Irish meteorite sites have come to the attention of Blather this week. Firstly, UFO Roundup, via the UK UFO Network (who are now presumably claiming responsibility over rocks that fall from the sky), reported on a 'mysterious crater' discovered on farmland near Belleek, Co. Fermanagh, in January 1998. Armagh Planetarium apparently investigated, where they are said to have found a 'circular crater six feet in diameter filled with water', along with a 'badly-damaged milk churn'. The report went on to state how 'investigators found a 1.5 millimetre bead of glass' which was possibly from the meteorite. Blather was a little suspicious about such news -- but did a little back-tracking, and discovered an Irish Times report on the incident. It was from the 'In the North' section of the Thursday, January 29th, 1998 issue, and stated how, based on investigations by Planetarium director Tom Mason...

blather.net
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Irish UFO After what seems to have been a lull, a new Irish UFO report has come to our attention, this time in Blanchardstown, Dublin. Blather would have reported this much earlier, but a) there was no real hurry, and b) we were far too busy regaling you with tales of the UnCon. The reports state that on April 2, 1998 at around 5pm, a certain David Martin was perambulating towards *The Bell* public house, when he saw "an object flash across the sky. It stopped and hovered over my head. It seemed circular in shape. It flew off to the east in the direction of Raheny". According to one report, the object was red. While a 'typical' sort of report, Blanchardstown is a well populated suburban area in North West Dublin, and I've yet to hear any more reports of UFOs in broad daylight there. Blather shall look into...

blather.net
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Once more into the breach we stumble, to give a run down of the second day of the Fortean Times UnConvention 98 (with a brief hark back to Saturday). This week Blather is joined by not only by Barry 'Dacianos' Kavanagh and Mark 'Firestarter' Pilkington, but also Paul Holloway, giving his dissertations on MIBs. EMIBEES Jenny Randle's talk on Men In Black Randles spoke seriously but entertainingly. I didn't start drowsing or eyeing the exit, as I have a tendency to do when most people talk UFOlogy for more than about ten minutes. In fact I thoroughly enjoyed her talk. She told of the number UFO witnesses who are happy to discuss their experiences at first -- but then suddenly clam up, refusing to talk at all. She argued that this happens too often to be entirely explained by fear of ridicule, or publicity. Her case histories of men, mostly...

blather.net
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After surviving an evening of subconsciously premeditated alcoholic beverage consumption at what has become known as the UnDrinking, the morning of Saturday 25th of April saw some ragged Blatherskites staggering through the foyer of the University of London Union, en route to the Fortean Times UnConvention 98. This report was compiled with this week's Blather guests, Barry Kavanagh and Mark Pilkington... DEATH IN 101 The Dublin contingent headed straight for Room 101, where FT's Bob Rickard initiated the proceedings. He introduced *Strange Magazine's* Mark Chorvinsky, who imbued us with stories of Grim Reaper visitations . This topic -- which some readers may find to be a rather odd topic, even for forteans -- seems to have had quite an effect on attendees. Chorvinsky identified several cases where dying people were seen to interact with an invisible, personified 'death', witnesses *close* to death meeting the Reaper (either driving it away or...

blather.net
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This week's haphazard Blather delivers a report on Australian poltergeists, along with a smidgen more calendric controversy. Post-apocalypse Reader Brian Miller asks Blather: 'Isn't the whole 2000-2001 question further muddled by the fact that our modern calender was set back by plus or minus 4 years at some point in the middle ages? So that in actuality, the second "millennium" passed sometime in 1996, if you're going by strict "1,000 year periods," and it's technically right now about 2,002 years since the birth of Christ'. Well, yes, and no. In 1650, James Ussher, Anglican Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of Ireland slogged his way back through the Bible to reach the conclusion that the world was created in 4004 BC. A few years later, Dr. John Lightfoot, vice-chancellor of Cambridge University 'worked out' that the world was created on 23 October, 4004 BC. By straightforward calculations, this would appear to...

blather.net
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Last week, bizarre as it may seem, I found a copy of the palaeontologist and evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould's 'Questioning the Millennium' lying upon my infamous couch . Not having the faintest idea as to where it had materialised from, I went and read it. I'm an admitted Gould virgin, not having managed to get round to perusing his texts, but while he is spoken of fairly highly with regard to his evolutionary work, I gather that there is some hestitation towards attributing kudos to his exploits outside his this field. In 'Questioning the Millennium', Gould carefully weaves his way through our numeric foibles, pointing out the absurdity of our obsession with the forthcoming change of millennium. He's quick to ram home the understanding that the millennium is not something that will happen in a couple of years time -- that the millennium is an arbitrary period of 1000...