We have started to trace an incredible connection that explores the existence of the Paper in Iceland and links the threads to Teelin in Co. Donegal . In 2010, we came across an oracle: Impressions of Ireland by Professor Einar Ól Sveinsson that led us to a house by the lake in Reykjavik in March 2013 to visit Mr. Sveinn Einarsson . Over a pot of tea we listened to his illuminating stories about his journey to Ireland reflecting his father’s footsteps. He came to Donegal in 2005 to launch the book and became immersed in the Irish lineage & traditions that fascinated his parents and even met the Rolling Stones along the way. It was magical to make these connections from the past to the present and fit some parts of the cultural jigsaw together. We heard stories about Hermann Pálsson, Magnus Magnusson and their penchant for the Irish language. We explored links between the Sagas and the early Irish manuscripts and even a connection to this artist that shows up in Heima and also in Donegal.
In 1947 Professor Einar Olafur Sveinsson from Iceland, accompanied by Hermann Palsson, a research student, and James Hamilton Delargy, Director of the Irish Folklore Commission, visited Teelin, Glencolumbkille and the Bluestacks. Back in Iceland Professor Sveinsson wrote an article in which he paints a vivid picture of folklife in Donegal. He emphasises the links between Iceland and Ireland and recalls the ancient legends of the ‘papar’, the early Christian monks who went from Teelin to Iceland. The book, published in 2005, relates this story in the original Icelandic, English and Irish.
Our oldest source for the existence of Papar in Iceland comes from the historical work Íslendingabók (‘Book of the Icelanders’), written by Ari fróði Þorgilsson some time in the years 1122-1133.In a geographical work written in Latin by an Irish monk called Dicuil early in the 9th century, there is an account of the wanderings of holy men in lands to the north and of their time spent in these places. Dicuil’s account has often been interpreted as providing evidence for the existence of Papar in Iceland. This led to a phone call to Tim Severin as St Brendan wasn’t in the directory. But thats another story…..