The Transformed Isle

Sir Henry built a pretty little cottage on the estate known as Vaucluse, and upon which the house of Mr William Charles Wentworth now stands. There is not a lovelier site in the known world. Beautifully wooded with evergreens, the land covered with every description of heath which is in bloom nearly all the year round; a lovely bay of smiicircular shape forming one of the inlets of the magnificent harbour of Port Jackson spread out before the lawn, its dark blue waters laving the milk- white sand, some……. rocks in the distance (known as ” the bottle and glass”) standing out sufficiently far to cause the spray to beat continually over them, the north shore plainly visible visible across the broad expanse of water, travel where you will the eye will not rest upon any spot more favoured by Nature than that exquisite calley which was called Vaucluse……………………..


The Transformed Isle, ‘A Genuine Portrayal of Yesterday and Today, the Story of Fifteen Years among the Head-Hunters of the Island of Vella Lavella

Norman C. Deck (photographer/ Dentist/ Missionary), Wiki

John Lang, ‘A Special Convict’, Household Words, Volume XIX, Magazine No 474, 23, April, 1859



Transfricare (touch repeatedly, handled)


In our days there lived in the neighbourhood of this City of the Legions a certain Welshman called Meilyr who could explain the occult and foretell the future. He acquired his skill in the following way. One evening… he happened to meet a girl whom he had loved for a long time. She was very beautiful, the spot was an attractive one, and it seemed too good an opportunity to be missed. He was enjoying himself in her arms and tasting her delights, when suddenly, instead of the beautiful girl, he found in his embrace a hairy creature, rough and shaggy, and, indeed, repulsive beyond words. As he stared at the monster his wits deserted him and he became quite mad. He remained in this condition for many years. Eventually he recovered his health in the church of St. David’s, thanks to the virtues of the saintly men of that place. All the same, he retained a very close and most remarkable familiarity with unclean spirits, being able to see them, recognizing them, talking to them and calling them each by his own name, so that with there help he could often prophesy the future… Whenever anyone told a lie in his presence, Meilyr was immediately aware of it, for he saw a demon dancing and exulting on the liar’s tongue. Although he was completely illiterate, if he looked at a book which was incorrect, which contained some false statement, or which aimed at deceiving the reader, he immediately put his finger on the offending passage. If you asked him how he knew this, he said that a devil first pointed out the place with its finger…. When he was harassed beyond endurance by these unclean spirits, Saint John’s Gospel was placed on his lap, and then they all vanished immediately, flying away like so many birds. If the Gospel were afterwards removed and the History of the Kings of Britain by Geoffrey of Monmouth put there in its place, just to see what would happen, the demons would alight all over his body, and on the book too, staying there longer than usual and being even more demanding.



Gerald of Wales, The Journey Through Wales

S. Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Reputation

‘Traffic’, Online Etymological Dictionary 



The Kings Mirror

Son. I am familiar with all these things since they are found in our own country, and I have seen them all. But I have no knowledge of all those other marvels which are to be found in Iceland, Greenland and Ireland, and in the seas about those lands, for of those things I have heard rumors only.

Father. Those lands, if we are to speak more fully about them, differ much in character and are not all of the same appearance. For the wonders of Iceland and Greenland consist in great frost and fire, or in large fishes and other sea monsters. And these countries are ever-where barren and unfruitful and consequently almost unfit for habitation. But Ireland comes near being the best land that is known to man, though the grape vine does not grow there. And there are many marvels in Ireland, some of which are of such a character that this country may be called holier than all others.


L.M. Larson (trans.)The Kings Mirror, Speculum Reagale


Konungs skuggsjá (old Norse = ‘the kings mirror’), Norwegian, from the middle of the 13th century.


Their voice has gone out into all the earth,
    their words to the ends of the world.

Romans 10:18

“Far as the power of Rome the world obeys,

All climes and nations shall peruse my lays;

And, if inspired poets can divine,

Renown, through endless ages, shall be mine.”

” Hark ye!” returned Sir Henry. ” I intend to import to this country about five hundred tons of genuine Irish bog, which shall be dug from the estate of a friend of mine. It shall come out in large biscuit barrels. I shall then have a trench dug round my premises, six feet wide and two feet deep; and this trench the Irish earth shall fill.” ” And do you really believe that Australian snakes will be kept away by you’re Irish soil, Sir Henry?” said the Major.

“Believe? of course, I do…………….”

”His Excellency was this day pleased to give an entertainment to a number of the Government artificers and labourers, in honor of the day, being Saint Patrick’s; on which occasion true British hospitality displayed itself; and every heart was filled with sentiments of respect and gratitude”

For a……….. tradition to flourish, both an appropriate audience and an appropriate venue must present themselves.


Gerald of Wales, Topography of Ireland

John Lang, ‘A Special Convict’, Household Words, Volume XIX, Magazine No 474, 23, April, 1859

Sydney Gazette, 17th March, 1810

A. Woolf, The Court Poet in early Ireland



I can’t say I am putting much effort into study. I have got a tentative date range, early medieval Spain to late 19th century Britain (with a stop in Australia).

I need to get to a library or I need to spend £140 on two texts. Which is a drag. 


I have a list.

There are neither snakes nor adders, toads nor frogs, tortoises nor scorpions nor dragons in Ireland.

Tortoises? Aside from the fact I know these are hellish creatures that creep over the earth, I know nothing.

Dragons? Creature never looked at.


Return to my original question, drawn from speculation.

The island which after ours is held to be superior to all is Ireland, for its happy fertility. It is larger; it possesses no bees, no birds (save a very few), and is entirely unsuitable for snakes to breed in. In fact, if sonic earth or a stone from there is taken to another place and added to the soil, it destroys serpents and bees as well.



Geoffrey also describes in another text, the transport of Stonehenge from Ireland. Does this mean that Stonehenge has this power, to deter snakes, bees, and birds (different list of things)?

I think the answer is yes and no. 

I can come to a positive conclusion but I need to synchronize my sources. Not a perfect match.

The secondary question, what was the relationship between British and Irish saints in this period?

Saint Patrick is of course accredited with driving snakes out of Ireland (not in Geoffrey’s source), Glastonbury Abbey, also claimed that in his old age Saint Patrick ‘returned’ to Britain and to Glastonbury Abbey, where his body lies buried.

Saint Patrick was British, taken to Ireland as a slave, before being accredited with the conversion of Ireland to Christianity.

So to what degree is Patrick being presented as a ‘British’ rather than ‘Irish’ saint?

I don’t know, but it looks like an interesting question.

Although first I need to address the question, if I take a toad to Stonehenge and throw it in the circle of stones, will it explode?

I am confident, that by ignoring modern science and archeology and selectively presenting historical sources, I can say yes!      

Harmonia Mundi

There are neither snakes nor adders, toads nor frogs, tortoises nor scorpions nor dragons in Ireland. It produces however, spiders, leeches and lizards, but the are quit harmless. It does appear very wonderful that, where anything venomous is brought there from other lands, it never could exist on Ireland. I have also heard it said by merchants, that on some occasions, having unloaded their ships in an Irish port, they found toads in the bottom of the hold, having thrown them on shore in a living state, they immediately turned on their backs and bursting their bellies died, to the astonishment of many who witnesses it. Nevertheless, a frog was found, within my time, in the grassy meadows near Waterford and brought to Court alive before Robert Poer, who was the Warden there, and many others both English and Irish. And when numbers of both nations and particularly the Irish, had beheld it with great astonishment, at last Duvenold, King of Ossary, a man of sense among his people and faithful, who happened to be present, beating his head, and having deep grief at heart, spoke thus:- ‘ That reptile is the bearer of doleful news to Ireland’


Gerald of Wales. 12th century description of Ireland