Castor and Pollux

Castor and Pollux

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Castor and Pollux (elephants)

Castor and Pollux were two elephants kept at the zoo Jardin des Plantes [2] in Paris. They were killed and eaten, along with many other animals from the zoo, in late 1870 during the Siege of Paris. The two elephants may have been siblings, and were named after the twin brothers of Greek and Roman mythology. They had been popular before the siege for giving rides on their backs around the park, but the food shortages caused by the German blockade of the city eventually drove the citizens of Paris to kill them for their meat.

On 19 September 1870, Prussian forces encircled Paris. Rather than bombarding the city into surrender the German high command decided to blockade the city to force a quick surrender. The Parisians managed to hold out until 28 January 1871 (when they surrendered after three days of shelling ordered by Otto von Bismarck who had become tired of the ineffective tactics of the high command). During the siege food became scarce and the populace were forced to turn to unusual sources for their meat.

When vegetables, butter, milk, cheese and the regularly consumed meats began to run out, the Parisians turned first on the horses, donkeys and mules. Horse meat had been introduced by the butchers of Paris four years earlier as a cheap alternative source of meat for the poor, but under siege conditions it quickly became a luxury item. Though there were large numbers of horses in Paris (estimates suggested between 65,000 and 70,000 were butchered and eaten during the siege) the supplies were ultimately limited. Champion racehorses were not spared (even two horses presented to Napoleon III by Alexander II of Russia were slaughtered) but the meat soon became scarce. Cats, dogs, mice and rats were the next selection for the menu. There was no control over rationing until late in the siege, so while the poor struggled, the wealthy Parisians ate comparatively well the Jockey Club offered a fine selection of gourmet dishes of the unusual meats including Salmis de rats à la Robert. There were considerably fewer cats and dogs in the city than there had been horses, and the unpalatable mice and rats were difficult to prepare, so, by the end of 1870, the butchers turned their attention to the animals of the zoos. The medium and large sized herbivores, such as the antelope, camels, deer, kangaroo, yaks and zebra were first to be killed. Some animals survived: the monkeys were thought to be too akin to humans to be killed, the lions and tigers were too dangerous, and the hippopotamus of the Jardin des Plantes also escaped because the price of 80,000 francs demanded for it was beyond the reach of any of the butchers. Menus began to offer exotic dishes such as Tête d'Ane Farcie (Stuffed Donkey's Head), Côtes d'Ours (Bear Ribs), Chat flanqué des Rats (Cat with Rats), Cuissot de Loup, Sauce Chevreuil (Haunch of Wolf with a Deer Sauce), Terrine d'Antilope aux truffes (Terrine of Antelope with truffles), Civet de Kangourou (Kangaroo Stew) and Chameau rôti à l'anglaise (Camel roasted à l'anglaise)

The demise of the elephants was recorded in the Lettre-Journal de Paris (commonly known as the Gazette des Absents), a twice-weekly periodical published during the siege by Damase Jouaust and delivered, along with the mail, by balloon to avoid the encircling Prussian forces. The Gazette des Absents reported that Castor had been killed on 29 December 1870 and Pollux the following day, both by explosive steel-tipped bullets fired from a range of 10 m by M. Devisme. However, a menu from 25 December was already offering Consommé d'Eléphant so it is likely that the dates are wrong. The elephants were bought by M. Deboos of the Boucherie Anglaise in Boulevard Hausmann for 27,000 francs for the pair. M.Deboos did well out of the purchase: the trunks sold as a delicacy for 40 or 45 francs a pound, the other parts for about 10 to 14 francs a pound.

By all accounts, elephant was not tasty. Thomas Gibson Bowles, who was in Paris during the siege, wrote that he had eaten camel, antelope, dog, donkey, mule and elephant and of those he liked elephant the least. Henry Labouchère recorded:

Yesterday, I had a slice of Pollux for dinner. Pollux and his brother Castor are two elephants, which have been killed. It was tough, coarse, and oily, and I do not recommend English families to eat elephant as long as they can get beef or mutton. [3]

Gemini lies between Taurus to the west and Cancer to the east, with Auriga and Lynx to the north, Monoceros and Canis Minor to the south and Orion to the south-west.

In classical antiquity, Cancer was the location of the Sun on the first day of summer (June 21). During the first century AD, axial precession shifted it into Gemini. In 1990, the location of the Sun on the first day of summer moved from Gemini into Taurus, where it will remain until the 27th century AD and then move into Aries. The Sun will move through Gemini from June 21 to July 20 through 2062. [5]

Gemini is prominent in the winter skies of the northern Hemisphere and is visible the entire night in December–January. The easiest way to locate the constellation is to find its two brightest stars Castor and Pollux eastward from the familiar V-shaped asterism (the open cluster Hyades) of Taurus and the three stars of Orion's Belt. Another way is to mentally draw a line from the Pleiades star cluster located in Taurus and the brightest star in Leo, Regulus. In doing so, an imaginary line that is relatively close to the ecliptic is drawn, a line which intersects Gemini roughly at the midpoint of the constellation, just below Castor and Pollux.

When the Moon moves through Gemini, its motion can easily be observed in a single night as it appears first west of Castor and Pollux, then aligns, and finally appears east of them.

Stars Edit

The constellation contains 85 stars of naked eye visibility. [6] [7]

The brightest star in Gemini is Pollux, and the second-brightest is Castor. Castor's Bayer designation as "Alpha" arose because Johann Bayer did not carefully distinguish which of the two was the brighter when he assigned his eponymous designations in 1603. [8]

α Gem (Castor) is a sextuple star system 52 light-years from Earth, which appears as a magnitude 1.6 blue-white star to the unaided eye. Two spectroscopic binaries are visible at magnitudes 1.9 and 3.0 with a period of 470 years. A wide-set red dwarf star is also a part of the system this star is an Algol-type eclipsing binary star with a period of 19.5 hours its minimum magnitude is 9.8 and its maximum magnitude is 9.3.

β Gem (Pollux) is an orange-hued giant star of magnitude 1.14, 34 light-years from Earth. Pollux has an extrasolar planet revolving around it, as do two other stars in Gemini, HD 50554, and HD 59686.

γ Gem (Alhena) is a blue-white hued star of magnitude 1.9, 105 light-years from Earth.

δ Gem (Wasat) is a long-period binary star 59 light-years from Earth. The primary is a white star of magnitude 3.5, and the secondary is an orange dwarf star of magnitude 8.2. The period is over 1000 years it is divisible in medium amateur telescopes.

ε Gem (Mebsuta), a double star, includes a primary yellow supergiant of magnitude 3.1, nine hundred light-years from Earth. The optical companion, of magnitude 9.6, is visible in binoculars and small telescopes. [8]

ζ Gem (Mekbuda) is a double star, whose primary is a Cepheid variable star with a period of 10.2 days its minimum magnitude is 4.2 and its maximum magnitude is 3.6. It is a yellow supergiant, 1,200 light-years from Earth, with a radius that is 60 times solar, making it approximately 220,000 times the size of the Sun. The companion, a magnitude 7.6 star, is visible in binoculars and small amateur telescopes.

η Gem (Propus) is a binary star with a variable component. 380 light-years away, it has a period of 500 years and is only divisible in large amateur telescopes. The primary is a semi-regular red giant with a period of 233 days its minimum magnitude is 3.9 and its maximum magnitude is 3.1. The secondary is of magnitude 6. [8]

κ Gem is a binary star 143 light-years from Earth. The primary is a yellow giant of magnitude 3.6 the secondary is of magnitude 8. The two are only divisible in larger amateur instruments because of the discrepancy in brightness.

ν Gem is a double star divisible in binoculars and small amateur telescopes. The primary is a blue giant of magnitude 4.1, 550 light-years from Earth, and the secondary is of magnitude 8.

38 Gem, a binary star, is also divisible in small amateur telescopes, 84 light-years from Earth. The primary is a white star of magnitude 4.8 and the secondary is a yellow star of magnitude 7.8. [8]

Mu Gem (Tejat) is the Bayer designation for a star in the northern constellation of Gemini. It has the traditional name Tejat Posterior, which means back foot, because it is the foot of Castor, one of the Gemini twins.

Deep-sky objects Edit

M35 (NGC 2168) is a large, elongated open cluster of magnitude 5, discovered in the year 1745 by Swiss astronomer Philippe Loys de Chéseaux. It has an area of approximately 0.2 square degrees, the same size as the full moon. Its high magnitude means that M35 is visible to the unaided eye under dark skies under brighter skies it is discernible in binoculars. The 200 stars of M35 are arranged in chains that curve throughout the cluster it is 2800 light-years from Earth. Another open cluster in Gemini is NGC 2158. Visible in large amateur telescopes and very rich, it is more than 12,000 light-years from Earth. [8]

NGC 2392 is a planetary nebula with an overall magnitude of 9.2, located 4,000 light-years from Earth. [10] In a small amateur telescope, its 10th magnitude central star is visible, along with its blue-green elliptical disk. It is said to resemble the head of a person wearing a parka. [8]

The Medusa Nebula is another planetary nebula, some 1,500 light-years distant. Geminga is a neutron star approximately 550 light-years from Earth. Other objects include NGC 2129, NGC 2158, NGC 2266, NGC 2331, NGC 2355, and NGC 2355.

Meteor showers Edit

The Geminids is a bright meteor shower that peaks on December 13–14. It has a maximum rate of approximately 100 meteors per hour, making it one of the richest meteor showers. [8] The Epsilon Geminids peak between October 18 and October 29 and have only been recently confirmed. They overlap with the Orionids, which make the Epsilon Geminids difficult to detect visually. Epsilon Geminid meteors have a higher velocity than Orionids. [11]

Gemini Mythology

By all accounts, the twins represented in Gemini mythology are Castor and Pollux of Greek mythology.  They share the same mother, Leda (Greek mythology), but have different fathers.  Castor's father is Tyndarus, the King of Sparta, and Leda's husband.  Pollux's father is the god Zeus (Greek mythology).  As such, Pollux is an immortal while his twin brother Castor is mortal.

The twins were young, handsome, and adventurous.  They took part in many adventures together and were well known for their livelihood and curiosity.  Castor was a renowned horseman, while Pollux was known for his great strength.

Their sister is the beautiful Helen of Troy, whom the great Trojan War is fought over.  The twins not only took part in that war together, but were also Argonauts on the quest for the Golden Fleece.

Where Gemini mythology comes into play is when Castor, being mortal, finally dies.  Having spent their whole lives together, Pollux is distraught.  He doesn't want to live without his twin brother, but since he is immortal, there is nothing he can do.  He begs his father, Zeus, for help.

Zeus decides that rather than killing Pollux so he can be with Castor, he makes Castor immortal also, and the two of them get to live together forever as the constellation Gemini.

Perhaps the reason that this story is rarely contested is because two of the actual stars in the constellation of Gemini are named "Castor" and "Pollux".  This is a rare case where astronomy and mythology actually agree, and thus, Gemini mythology is born.


Theocritus, Idylls 22. 137 ff (trans. Rist) (Greek bucolic C3rd B.C.) :
"The two sons of Zeus [Kastor (Castor) and Polydeukes (Polydeuces)], having seized a pair of maidens, the daughters of Leukippos (Leucippus), were bearing them off. But there followed two brothers in hot pursuit, the sons of Aphareus, Lynkeus (Lynceus) and mighty Idas, to whom they had been betrothed. [Lynkeus then slew Kastor and Zeus slew Idas.]"

Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 3. 13. 4 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Anxious to marry the daughters of Leukippos (Leucippus), they [the Dioskouroi (Dioscuri)] kidnapped them from Messene and married them. Polydeukes (Polydeuces) and Phoibe (Phoebe) had Mnesileos, and Kastor (Castor) and Hilaeira had Anogon."

Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 80 (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Idas and Lynceus, sons of Aphareus from Messene, had as promised brides Phoebe and Hilaira, daughters of Leucippus. Since these were most beautiful maidens--Phoebe being a priestess of Minerva [Athene], and Hilaira of Diana [Artemis]--Castor and Pollux [Polydeukes], inflamed with love, carried them off. But they, since their brides-to-be were lost, took arms to see if they could recover them. Castor killed Lynceus in battle Idas [killed Castor and Polydeuces Idas. The Dioskouroi twins were then granted immortality.]"

Ovid, Fasti 5. 709 ff (trans.Boyle) (Roman poetry C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"The Tyndarid brothers, the horseman and the boxer, had raped and kidnapped Phoebe and her sister. Idas and his brother go to war for their women, to whom they were betrothed by Leucippus. Love drives one group to recover, one to refuse the identical cause makes each pair fight . . . [Lynceus killed Castor, Polydeuces Lynceus, Zeus Idas. The Dioskouroi were granted immortality.]"

Ovid, Heroides 16. 327 ff (trans. Showerman) (Roman poetry C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"[Paris addresses Helene :] &lsquoI will imitate the deed of Aegeus' son and of your brothers. You can be touched by no examples nearer than these. Theseus stole you away, and they the twin Leucippides I shall be counted fourth among such examples.&rsquo"

Propertius, Elegies 1. 2 (trans. Goold) (Roman elegy C1st B.C.) :
"Phoebe, daughter of Leucippus, set Castor afire, and Hilaira, her sister, Pollux [Polydeukes] with her ornaments."


I. ARGOS Chief City of Argolis (Southern Greece)

Pausanias, Description of Greece 2. 22. 5 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"[In the city of Argos there is] a temple of the Dioskouroi (Dioscuri). The images represent the Dioskouroi themselves and their sons, Anaxis and Mnasinous, and with them are their mothers, Hilaeira and Phoibe (Phoebe). They are of ebony wood, and were made by Dipoinos (Dipoenus) and Skyllis (Scyllis). The horses, too, are mostly of ebony, but there is a little ivory also in their construction."

II. SPARTA Chief City of Lacedaemonia (Southern Greece)

Pausanias, Description of Greece 3. 12. 8 :
"Beside the Hellenion (Hellenium) [at Sparta in Lakedaimonia] is a sanctuary of Arsinoe, daughter of Leukippos (Leucippus) and sister of the wives of Polydeukes (Polydeuces) and Kastor (Castor)."

Pausanias, Description of Greece 3. 16. 1 :
"[At Sparta in Lakedaimonia] is a sanctuary of Hilaira and of Phoibe (Phoebe). The author of the poem Kypria calls them daughters of Apollon. Their priestesses are young maidens, called, as are also the goddesses, Leukippides (Leucippides). One of the images was adorned by a Leukippis (Leucippis) who had served the goddesses as a priestess. She gave it a face of modern workmanship instead of the old one she was forbidden by a dream to adorn the other one as well. Here there has been hung from the roof an egg tied to ribands, and they say that it was the famous egg that legend says Leda brought forth."

Parish History

The first church in Monkstown was dedicated to St. Mochonna. According to the Martyrology of Tallaght, St Mochonna founded a monastery at Holmpatrick, Skerries. It appears that when the Danes sacked Holmpatrick in 798 AD, some of the monks escaped and established a monastery in the location now occupied by on old graveyard on the eastern side of Carrickbrennan Road.

In the 12th century, the area was granted to the Cistercians. By the 12th century, the name used was Karrachbrenan. The topology of the area was quite different at that time. A river (shown on maps as “Micky Brien’s stream” and now culverted) flowed down the hill past the monastery, to meet another stream (also culverted adjacent to the present church), and to flow into a bay (now filled) near the Purty Kitchen. The coastline, which then had cliffs and salt deposits has been greatly modified by the construction of the railway and Dún Laoghaire harbour.

About 1250, Monkstown Castle was built nearby. On 28th Jun 1545, during Henry VIII’s reformation, the abbey was confiscated and passed into the hands of Sir John Travers (who is buried in the graveyard there), then owner of Monkstown Castle. Prior to the Cromwellian period, there are records of Monkstown having pleasant walks, well-laid gardens, and land stocked with sheep, cattle and horses. St Mochonna’s church was restored in 1668 as a protestant church. In 1785, the foundation stone for a new church at Monkstown was laid, and was enlarged in 1825 to form the present Church of Ireland in the village.

After the Reformation, a new Catholic parish was established in the area, and stretched from Seapoint to Little Bray to Three Rock mountain. The area was thinly populated, and was assigned to one priest. There are records of masses being celebrated in Monkstown Castle, and of a fine imposed on the owner for permitting these.

Open farmland becomes suburbia – St Patrick’s Church is built

The town of DunLeary developed within the confines of the present parish of Monkstown in the area around the Purty Kitchen, and from the early 1800s its population increased and its centre of gravity moved to the present Dún Laoghaire. In 1829 the parish of Kingstown (Dún Laoghaire) was established, and included the area of Monkstown. The coming of Ireland’s first railway, which originally terminated near the Purty Kitchen greatly accelerated the development of the area, and, in particular, gave rise to the construction of fashionable terraces, firstly at Montpelier Parade, then Longford Terrace, and then The Crescent and the various roads along the northern side of Monkstown Road. The southern side of Monkstown road was developed as luxury mansions, and the southern end of Monkstown was even more luxurious. There were major mansions in open parkland along Monkstown Avenue, and in the areas now occupied by Windsor Park, Brook Court, Ashton Park, Carrickbrennan Lawn, and the surrounding areas. Contemporary maps show a cricket pitch in the area just behind the church, where alma park is now

A site for a new church was bought at Broomwood, Monkstown, from the family of James Doherty. Two of the finest windows in the church are dedicated to the memory of the Doherty family. In 1861, the foundation stone for the present church was laid and was dedicated to St Patrick. It was the last of 5 churches commissioned by the same parish priest, Canon Sheridan, in the parish of Kingstown, but he died before completion. The new Parish Priest decided to change the plans, and commissioned George Ashlin to draw up new plans. The builder was Michael Meade. The tender price, excluding the spire, was £5,750. Fuller details of the construction can be found here.

The first marriage in the church was that of John Ormond and Martha Graham. The first baptism recorded in the register was that of Thomas Fitzgerald of Belgrave Square.

The spire of St Patrick’s was completed in 1881 and was paid for by Mr P Madden. The parochial house was built for the curate in 1892.

Monkstown in 1905. The picture seems to have been airbrushed, as a tram of this type would require overhead wires

Our Parish develops

Over a period of 90 years from the construction of St Patricks, Monkstown changed little. The 1948 ordnance survey map is almost identical to the 1870 map. The parish of Monkstown as a separate entity was established in 1902, with Fr Robert Eaton as Parish Priest, and two curates. This change was probably triggered by the growth of Dun Laoghaire rather than by any changes at Monkstown. The new Monkstown parish then was much larger than the present one, and included much of the area of Kill o the Grange.

In 1932, ecclesiastical events slightly reshaped the parish. In the preparation for the Eucharistic Congress of 1932, it was considered that the road through Monkstown was insufficient for the expected pilgrim traffic from the port of Dun Laoghaire. The coast road, including Seapoint Avenue was created, mainly by joining a number of cul-de-sacs, and by cutting through various gardens.

Until 1939, the majority of children from Monkstown walked to school in Dún Laoghaire. The Blessed Oliver Plunkett school, located behind the present Post Office was built for £4,986-6-4, with 1/3 of this amount being subscribed by the parish. In 1945, the Sacred Heart Convent School for girls was established on the site now occupied by Carrickbrennan Lawn. The school closed in 1977. In 1950, the Christian Brothers opened their four-classroom school for boys at Monkstown Park, and the school was extended in 1953, 1964 and 1987. In 1966, the Holy Family School at Dunedin Park was opened to accommodate 700 pupils. Following boundary changes in 1966 and 1972, this school is now in the parish of Kill o the Grange.

Significant renovation works were undertaken on the church on its centenary in 1966. A booklet entitled “Monkstown, The story of a parish” – by Maxwell Sweeney – was produced for the centenary, and can be downloaded in pdf format on the following link:

In 1972, the parish was divided, with the south-eastern section being constituted as the parish of Kill o the Grange.

In 1995, the Parish Centre was opened behind the church. Lands owned by the parish were sold to defray the costs. Alma Park was constructed on these lands, which had been a small farm until the 1970s.

In 1998, major renovation work was carried out on the stained glass windows.

Some prominent historical church figures associated with Monkstown

Venerable Edel Quinn, (1907-1944) lay missionary with the Legion of Mary in Dublin and Africa

Mother Mary Martin, foundress of the Medical Missionaries of Mary

Monkstown, The story of a parish – Maxwell Sweeney – Booklet produced for the centenary of St Patrick’s Church 1966

A short ecclesiastical history of Monkstown – Rev Vincent Quilter – included as Chapter 6 of The Book of Dun Laoghaire, Published by Blackrock Teachers Centre 1987

St Patricks Parish Centenary 1902-2002. Booklet produced by Rev. M O Moore, PP, 2002

Carrickbrennan Graveyard – Dun Laoghaire Borough Historical Society – Compiled by Joe English

Between the mountains and the sea – Peter Pearson (O Brien Press)

Monkstown – Eoin O Brien 1984 Downloadable here

Other things to know about Monkstown

Mother Mary Martin, Foundress of Medical Missionaries of Mary Greenbank was a stately home on the site where Carrickbrennan Lawn is nowadays. The original 1911 census return for the Martin family can be seen here. It shows Marie H Martin, aged 18, living with her widowed mother and 5 young brothers all under 10.

The family business was that of T & C Martin, in the joinery and hardware business. Marie Helena Martin, (left),later known as Mother Mary Martin (1892-1975), was a volunteer nurse during World War 1, then a lay missionary in Africa.

The process of forming a group of missionnary nuns was complex but by 1937 she had made her Profession of Vows. The Medical Missionaries of Mary now work in 16 countries.

Another African Missionary Edel Quinn (1907-1944)

Edel was born near Kanturk, Co. Cork, where her father worked in the National Bank. Frequently transfers from town to town were the norm in banking in those days, before the family settled at Trafalgar Terrace in Monkstown in 1924.

She joined the Legion of Mary in Dublin. In 1936, in poor health, she went to Kenya, and established a local praesidium of the Legion. Over the subsequent years until her early death in 1944, she established the Legion in many African countries.

On December 15, 1994, Pope John Paul II declared Edel Quinn “Venerable”, and there is an active campaign for her beatification.
More details here

First Railway Sleepers in the World.

Railway sleepers are those great big dirty blocks of wood on which railway tracks were laid. Nowadays they are replaced by concrete sleepers. Railway sleepers absorb much of the impact between trains and tracks, and were invented by William Dargan after he watched a blacksmith who put a block of wood under his anvil.

As a result, Dargan named his house Mount Anville, and later sold it to the Sacred Heart nuns who established a school there. His first railway sleepers were on a six-mile of track from Dublin which terminated in Monkstown, near the Purty Kitchen.

The first locomotive to come into Monkstown was the “Hibernia” on Oct 5th 1834. For fuller details go to Mikes Railway History. William Dargan was Ireland’s greatest railway engineer. He was born in Ballyhide, on the Laois/Carlow border, and worked in England with George Stephenson, and with Thomas Telford before winning the contract for the Dublin-Kingstown railway.

Dargan had the very unusual experience of having a statue erected to him during his lifetime. It was shown at the Great Exhibition of 1853, and the illustration opposite is taken from The Illustrated Magazine of Art (New York 1953). The statue is now at the entrance to the National Gallery. Click the picture for a larger view. His grave is in Glasnevin cemetary.

Connections with Monkstown, Co. Cork.

is a seaside village in Cork harbour Cork Harbour. It is near the town of Cobh, formerly called Queenstown. We are near its sister town, Dun Laoghaire, formerly called Kingstown.

The Catholic Church of the Sacred Heart at Monkstown, Co. Cork was designed by Ashlin and Pugin in 1866, and the design was featured in The Irish Builder in 1867 (see opposite).

Our Catholic Church, St Patrick’s, was designed by Ashlin & Pugin, and opened in 1866. The 3rd Earl of Rosse, William Parsons (1800-1867), who built Leviathan, then the world’s largest telescope at Birr, was born and died in Monkstown, Cork. He had his Dublin house in Longford Terrace, Monkstown, Dublin

Charles Haliday

Charles Haliday influenced Joyce. James Joyce left Dublin in 1904, so much of his writing was done in Italy, Switzerland and France. He needed meticulous detail on Dublin for his writings, including Finnegans Wake, The Dead, and others. Some of this was provided by the writings of Charles Haliday (1789-1866)(left), medical practitioner, philanthropist, writer, and medical campaigner who lived in Monkstown.

His house is within the grounds of the Christian Brothers College, Monkstown, and his grave is in Carrickbrennan Graveyard. His writings include The Scandinavian Kingdom of Dublin. Haliday died on the weekend of the dedication of St Patrick’s, and his funeral service at Monkstown Church of Ireland was held the next day.

Sir Howard Grubb and the Periscope.

Although the principles of the periscope were well known beforehand, Sir Howard Grubb(right) (1844-1931) was the first to design a practical periscope for use in a wartime submarine during WW1. He had worked with his father’s firm, the Grubb Telescope Company, which helped to build the Leviathan, mentioned at no. 3 above. Grubb telescopes were also supplied to the Dunsink and Armagh observatories.

There is a plaque on his house at Longford Terrace, Monkstown. By the date of the 1911 census he was living in no 14 Orwell Road, Rathgar, and his census return can be seen here Census of Ireland 1911

First lady of Spectroscopy.

Dame Margaret Lindsay Huggins (nee Murray)(1848-1915) spent her childhood at 23 Longford Terrace, where she was a contemporary and neighbour of Sir Howard Grubb (above), where they they shared an interest in optical instruments. Margaret even constructed a small telescope herself to map stars by night and sunspots by day. Indeed, it is said that Grubb had a hand in bringing together Margaret and her future husband Sir William Huggins already a distinguished astronomer. They were married at Monkstown Church of Ireland on 8th Sept 1875. He was 51, she was 27.

Although she often portrayed herself as her husband’s able assistant, it is now accepted that she was the main impetus behind a programme of photographic spectroscopy. Spectroscopy is the analysis of electromagnetic radiation (including visible light) to determine the properties of an astronomical object. Much of her work relates to the study of the Orion Nebula, which showed that the nebula consisted of gases rather than stars as previously believed.

Monkstown’s night of disasters.

Wednesday, November 18th 1807 was Monkstown’s night of disasters. In an horrific storm, two sailing ships, the Rochdale and the Prince of Wales were blown on to the rocks. The Prince of Wales was a sloop of 103 tons with a draught of 11 feet. It was built in Parkgate, Cheshire in 1787. The Captain was Captain Robert Jones of Liverpool and it was carrying the 97th regiment destined for foreign service in the British Empire.

The Rochdale was larger than the Prince of Wales. It was built in 1797 as a brig of 135 tons and a ten foot draught. The captain was Captain Hodgson. It was driven along a similar path as the Prince of Wales. It attempted to lay anchors but the cable snapped. On shore cries of the terrified passengers could be heard. As she swept past Dún Laoghaire, soldiers on board fired their muskets to attract attention. At Salthill, would-be rescuers had to shelter from the gunfire. Off Blackrock, blue lights were seen and gunfire heard. It stuck the rocks at the Seapoint Martello tower. A twelve foot plank would have rescued them, but all 265, including 42 women and 29 children, on board were lost. Their bodies were unrecognisable, being mutilated by the sea and the rocks.

About 400 lives in total were lost on that night, many of them washed up on the shore at Monkstown. The disaster was one of the factors which led to the building of Dun Laoghaire Harbour. Some of the victims were buried in Carrickbrennan graveyard.

For a picture of the Rochdale on the rocks at Seapoint, Click here

The Bird’s Nest & Mrs Whately.

The Birds Nest orphanage in York Road (now refurbished as offices) carries a large stone inscription of dedication to Mrs Whately and Mrs George Wade. Mrs Whately was the wife of Archbishop Whately, who was Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin from 1831-1863. Mrs George Wade was their daughter, Blanch. The actor Kevin Whately (best known as Inspector Morse’s sidekick) is a direct descendant. Archbishop Whately was a controversial reforming figure, and is generally regarded as having been the main driver behind the establishment of the national school system in Ireland, as well as having written many of the schoolbooks for use in both Britain and Ireland. He is also considered as the Founding Father of Economics in Ireland. He lived in Stillorgan.

Some Quotes from Archbishop Whately:-

“Happiness is no laughing matter”.

“What is the female of a mail coach? …A miscarriage”

“To a lady: “Madam, what is the difference between you and me? ….I can’t conceive”

from Eccentric Bishop Richard Whately of Redesdale -by Bryan McMahon ISBN 0-9549865-0-4

Castor and Pollux.

Next time that you are around deVesci Terrace, look up to roof level. There you will see life-size statues of Castor and Pollux (right), known in Greek mythology as the sons of Zeus, and in Roman mythology as twins who shared the same mother but different fathers, so that Castor was mortal, but Pollux was immortal. Castor and Pollux feature on the coat of arms of the DeVesci family, who were landlords of this area.

DeVesci was the title name, but he family name was Vesey, and some members of the family held the title Baron Knapton. Thus many of the roads in the area owe their names to the same family, deVesci, Vesey, and Knapton.

Lambert Puppet Theatre

Located in Clifton Lane, 100 metres from the centre of the village, the Lambert Puppet Theatre is the only purpose-built puppet theatre in Ireland. In the 1960s, 70s, and early 80s, Eugene Lamberts puppets were a mainstay of children’s programming on RTE. Earlier, Eugene had done ventriloquism with his character Finnegan. In 1972, the Lambert family established the theatre in their own back garden. After Eugene Lambert, the theatre was run by his son, Liam.

On August 28, 2015, it was badly damaged in an arson attack, which caused damage with a cost in excess of €150,000. On 13 November 2015, the theatre re-opened to the public with re-built puppets, for the Christmas performance of Aladdin, however this re-opening was not to last, and it closed permanently in 2018.

Radio Waves and the first sports commentary on radio

George F Fitzgerald (1851-1901), TCD physics professor was the first to suggest that an oscillating current in suitable circumstances would produce radio waves. His work, together with that of Maxwell and Hertz, laid the groundwork for Marconi’s wireless telegraphy. In 1898, in a collaboration between Marconi and Fitzgerald, the first sports commentary on radio took place at the Dun Laoghaire Regatta. His writings on the speed of light pre-date Einstein, and he attempted to fly a glider in TCD sports ground. He spent much of his youth in Monkstown, and his father was rector at Kill o the Grange. The Fitzgerald Crater on the Moon is named after him. It is 110km in diameter, with some sub-craters. Unfortunately, it is on the far side of the moon, never seen from earth, and only visible from satellites.

Our Parish



[1.1] ZEUS & LEDA (both Kastor & Polydeukes) (Hesiod Catalogues of Women Frag 66, Homeric Hymn 32, Alcaeus Frag 34, Terpander Frag 5, Hyginus Fabulae 14, and other sources)
[1.2] ZEUS & LEDA (for Polydeukes), TYNDAREUS & LEDA (for Kastor) (Pindar Nemean Ode 10, Hyginus Fabulae 77 & 80, and other sources)


[1.1] KASTOR, POLYDEUKES (Many references)


[1.1] MNESILEOS (by Phoibe) (Apollodorus 3.134)
[1.2] MNASINOUS (by Phoibe) (Pausanais 2.22.5)


[1.1] ANOGON (by Hilaeira) (Apollodorus 3.134)
[1.2] ANAXIS (by Hilaeira) (Pausanais 2.22.5)

Being at their core an ancient Divine Spirit they manifested with special traits at the time of their summoning. They exist as one while residing in two separate physical bodies in which can be found the traits of different classes. As for the explanation…

The humiliation the older brother Castor, who became the child of a mortal without the blood of Zeus in later legends, felt falling from the gods to the human world turned into hatred, resulting in his manifestation as an Avenger. Living a life with a body that cannot be hurt and doing battle with fierce swordsmanship, the immortal one who bears the bloodline of Zeus, Pollux has appeared as a Saber. Recorded in their Spirit Origin is that of the Saber class, however, to be more accurate the two of them are what is considered a double class servant. Though what could be thought to be the case of an exception, the special traits the two possess are that of a Divine Spirit servant.

The sword Pollux wields and the discus Castor wields are made out of invincible adamant, the so-called divine steel, was used as the vessel for the materials, with Odysseus's Aigis armour being made out of it, as well as Achilles' shield and armor. Pollux is said to be skilled at boxing.

Skills [ edit | edit source ]

Class Skills [ edit | edit source ]

The Dioscuri’s Class Skills are Magic Resistance (Rank A), Riding (Rank B), Mad Enhancement (Rank B-), Avenger Rank B) , and Self-Replenishment (Mana) (Rank D).

Oblivion Correction: B
In later legends, the divine blood of Zeus the twins had was forgotten, however it was recorded in Castor's Spirit Origin, and not Pollux's, who was recorded as a Saber. Being summoned together under the Saber Class, Dioscuri is the only non-Avenger Class servant with this skill.

Personal Skills [ edit | edit source ]

The Story of Castor and Pollux

According to Greek mythology, Castor and Pollux are twin brothers birthed from the same mother yet do not share the same father. Castor’s father is the King of Sparta. Pollux was seeded by the famous Greek God known as Zeus. The pair’s mother, the Queen of Sparta, fell in love with Zeus when he concealed his identity, taking the form of a swan. Making the story even more interesting is the fact that the legend states Castor and Pollux shared the same egg as one another as well as two sisters. One of those siblings turned out to be Helen of Troy.

Castor and Pollux developed a close bond as they aged, eventually being dubbed as “Dioscuri”, meaning the sons of Zeus. According to Greek mythology, a related pair of twin brothers were born in another land. This second set of twins gradually developed a rivalry with Castor and Pollux. Both groups of twins eventually found their way to the famous voyage of Jason and the Argonauts, leading to a temporary truce. Unfortunately, the feud was reignited when Castor was murdered by the nemesis twins. Though few laymen know it, Castor was a mere mortal while Pollux is immortal. The pair’s mythical father, Zeus, reunited the brothers by putting them in the stars in what is referred to as the twins of the Gemini Constellation.

Gemini’s Interpretation in Other Parts of the World

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Those familiar with Egyptian astrology are quick to point out the Gemini constellation is interpreted a bit differently. The Egyptians identify the twin figures in this star group as a pair of goats. Those who follow Arabian astrology believe Gemini’s twins are a pair of peacocks. However, the vast majority of Western society considers Gemini to be comprised of Castor and Pollux in accordance with the story told in Greek mythology. Those in the Western world also link other sets of twins to Gemini including the young and old Horus and Rome’s legendary founders, Remus and Romulus.

How to get the Best View of the Gemini Constellation

The first three months of the new year are the perfect time to see Gemini in all its splendor. Take a look up at the sky on a cloudless evening and you will spot Gemini in the east as night falls. Gemini reaches its apex around 10 p.m. in early February. If you head on out to stargaze in late February, you will see Gemini at its high point around 9 p.m. The Gemini constellation remains visible in the night sky all the way until May. However, if you look to the west when night falls in the late spring or early summer, there is still a chance you might catch a glimpse of this gorgeous constellation.

Castor and Pollux gradually fade away as the sun sets just ahead of the summer solstice on June 21. The sun passes in front of this constellation each year between June 21 and July 20. Hence, those born between these dates are dubbed Geminis.

Castor: The Sextuplet Set of Stars

At magnitude 1.58, Castor is the 20th brightest star in Earth's night sky. It is also relatively close to the planet, at an estimated distance of 51 light-years from Earth.

A closer examination of the star with a telescope actually reveals it is made up of many. What naked-eye observers see as Castor is actually the combined light of six stars, ranging from main sequence stars to dwarfs. [The Brightest Stars in the Sky: A Starry Countdown]

Past observations with the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton satellite of this system revealed a variable set of X-ray flares, suggesting that the "schizophrenic" system may see most of its X-ray radiation from huge eruptions, NASA stated.

Locating Castor

Gemini is the most northerly constellation of the Zodiac. It appears to lie on its side as a long rectangle with the stars Castor (alpha Gemini) and Pollux (beta Gemini) on the left. Castor's location is:

  • Right ascension: 07 hours 34 minutes 36.0 seconds
  • Declination: +31 degrees 53 minutes 18 seconds

Castor and Gemini in mythology and history

The name "Castor" flows from Greek and Latin mythology (the name is Latin, while the mythology is from both cultures).

According to legend, Castor and his brother, Pollux, were both believed to be twin gods who assisted sailors who were shipwrecked, and who also were willing to entertain gifts to bestow sailors with good sailing breezes, according to Encylopedia Britannica.

The twins were sometimes referred to as the Dioscuri in Greek mythology. The typical storyline said that Castor was the son of Tyndareus (a mortal) and Pollux a son of Zeus (a god), but both had the same mother, Leda.

The term "Gemini" is what we now use for the constellation to which Castor belongs. Gemini is perhaps most famous now as the name for a 1960s-era NASA spacecraft that carried two men into orbit. The program was an important precursor to Apollo as it tested space activities such as docking and rendezvous, or the act of reliably bringing two spacecraft together in space.

Castor the sextuplet

Telescopic observations of Castor began to reveal a more complicated story of the single star. Today, NASA says the system is made up of six stars:

  • A pair of main-sequence A stars, Castor AB, that orbit each other every 467 years
  • An "invisible" dwarf that orbits Castor A
  • Another dwarf that orbits Castor B
  • A pair of stars just south of the Castor AB complex, called YY Gem. This is also a binary system with two dwarfs that whip in their respective orbits around each other every 19 hours.

In 2000, the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton orbiting telescope's EPIC camera revealed that these binary stars are also large sources of X-rays with temperatures in the millions of degrees, NASA stated.

"Throughout the 25-hour observation of the sextuplet, the EPIC images reveal that all three X-ray sources are variable, indicating giant releases of energy that can evolve in a few minutes or over several hours," NASA wrote in 2000.

"But the frequency of the flaring on Castor is quite surprising. At no period during XMM-Newton's observation was the emission constant, perhaps indicating that almost all of the observed X-ray radiation stems from giant eruptions."

Rescuing Helen: When Helen was kidnapped by the Greek king, Theseus, the brothers attacked his city of Attica in order to save her. As a means of revenge, the brothers kidnapped Theseus' mother, Aethra, and she was forced to become Helen's slave. Aethra was then returned home by her two grandsons, Demophon and Acamas, after the fall of Troy.

The Argonauts: Castor and Pollux joined the expedition of Jason and the Argonauts in search of the golden fleece. When the Argonauts landed in a region of Asia Minor ruled by the son of Poseidon, Amycus, he would not let them leave until he challenged them to a boxing match. Pollux accepted the challenge and both of them put on boxing gloves. Pollux, being skilled in boxing, was able to avoid his opponent. He gave Amycus a blow to the head that splintered his skull which resulted in Pollux winning. 

The Leucippiedes: Castor and Pollux wanted to marry the Leucippides, Phoebe and Hilaeira, who were engaged to the cousins of Castor and Pollux, Lynceus and Idas. The Dioscouri carried both women to Sparta and raped them and they each had a son. Mnesileos belonged to Phoebe and Pollux and Anogon belonged to Hilaeria and Castor. This created a family feud between the Dioscouri and their cousins. The cousins carried out a cattle raid but had a dispute over the distribution of the meat. They butchered and roasted the calf before eating it and before they started eating, Idas said they should divide the meat into two instead of four, depending on which pair of cousins finished their meat first. Castor and Pollux lost all their meat but vowed to have revenge. Idas and Lynceus were visiting their uncle but he was on his way to Crete so he left Helen in charge to entertain both sets of cousins and Paris, prince of Troy. Castor and Pollux realized that would be the best time to get their revenge. They went and stole their cousins cattle and Idas and Lynceus left to go back home, leaving Helen alone with Paris who kidnapped her. Meanwhile Castor and Pollux were in the middle of setting the cattle free. Castor climbed a tree and watched Pollux free the catte. Lynceus, given the power to see in the dark, saw Castor in the tree and was so furious that he threw his spear, wounding Castor. Castor warned Pollux and Pollux killed Lynceus. Idas was about to kill Pollux, but Zeus watching from Mount Olympus, threw a lightening bolt killing Idas instantly. Zeus then gave the choice to Pollux to give some of his immortality to his brother in order for him to live. Pollux chose to have them both be able to alternate between Olympus and Hades. As a result, the two of them became the brightest stars in the constellation, Gemini. 

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