RTÉ Brainstorm has published “Don’t Kick That Skull” by Ciarán Walsh, the second part of the story of skulls stolen by Haddon and Dixon from community burial grounds in the west of Ireland in the 1890s.

Covid restrictions have forced us all to think about traditions relating to death and dying. The case of skulls stolen on Inishbofin, the Aran Islands, and The Glen (St Finian’s Bay) in 1890 has added a curious twist to that story. The Inishbofin skulls were originally held in a niche in St Colman’s Monastery on the island (see this post on Ballymaclinton) and the current keepers of the skulls, the Anatomy Dept in TCD, have used this fact to raise doubts about the origin of the skulls and contest a claim for the repatriation.

TCD has undertaken an osteo-archaeological investigation into the origin of these skulls and there is no indication as to when those results may be available. In the meantime, Ciarán Walsh completed a separate investigation into burial practices in the west of Ireland in the 1890s and published the finding on the RTÉ Brainstorm site.

Don’t kick That Skull” reveals a tradition of using sites like St Colman’s Monastery for holding skulls found during burials and reports on a fascinating body of Irish folklore and oral history that warns people against interfering with skulls and human remains found in sites like this. The question now is whether TCD is listening?