ow the first part of this is a quiz. Ready? Did you think that the O in front of Possum was an accident. You’ve always been told it was a silent O, right?
Well here’s your first O’Possum’s history lesson. The O isn’t silent! It’s just that, over the years, the apostrophe has been left off. Put the apostrophe back in its proper place and you have the name of one of the, if not the actual, oldest clans in Ireland. At least we’ve caught this error in time to correct it. It’s really too late for the Clan O’Salmon. And even without the O, that pronunciation has gone to the dogs.
The Oldest Family In Ireland
The O’Possum Clan is said by many to be the oldest family in Ireland. Their history predates Stonehenge in England. It is said that the O’Possum Clan climbed down from the trees many years before the first Irish clan ancestors made any claim to the Beautiful Emerald Isle.
Clan O’Possum has lived and thrived in all parts of Ireland, Scotland, England, Wales, the US, France, and most of Province Québec in Canada. It appears that the Clan did begin in Ireland, however. According to the book Clan O’Possum In Irish Life by Gary O’Blarney (1996), evidence has been found that members of The Clan were heavily involved in the construction of Newgrange and other Neolithic sites in Ireland. Their principle job in Newgrange seems to have been facilitating the transport the massive stones from the Wicklow mountains before the invention of the wheel. Apparently there was some discussion about inventing the wheel first just to make the whole thing easier, but the other clans were anxious to get going. Unknown members of The Clan suggested the stones be gotten from the mountains as it would make a lot of sense to simply “roll them down the hill.” They would have been much praised in literature of the time, had there been any literature at the time.
(An apocryphal footnote in O’Blarney’s work suggests that members of Clan O’Possum may have tried to persuade others of their Neolithic brothers and sisters out of building sites such as Newgrange at all. While they were just as Pagan as anyone else, The Clan had been around long enough to know that the winter was going to end and summer was going to come without making any sacrifices. They illustrated the phenomenon with artwork that intertwined. They were in more of a “let’s just celebrate” mood and give the sacrifice to the poor, but they were overruled by those in positions of authority. There’s quite a history of this sort of thing.)
Descended from The Wicklow Mountains
The familiarity of Clan O’Possum with the Wicklow mountains was natural as it seems this is where The Clan first came down from the trees. The mountains are beautiful to this day and have some of the purest water in the world. It may have been that water that inspired very early members of Clan O’Possum to consider that good water and try a few things. Well what they came out with was one of the greatest things before sliced bread. From O’Blarney: “Clan O’Possum wanted to have goods to trade with the clans in the fine lowlands on the eastern side of Ireland, and while they had wonderful water, the lowland clans felt that had pretty good water too, thank you very much! As a result Clan O’Possum did roll enough stones to the lowlanders so that they might build a few walls and they paid our intrepid rock-rollers in grain. This worked out well for The Clan as they were able to make a course brown bread to go with the root vegetables that they gathered. (And no… they were not potatoes.)
It was, however, a not-particularly-bright member of The Clan called Mashash whose attempt to make bread by putting the grains in boiling water that caused a happy accident. This young man was chastised by his mother and the mash, as they called it mockingly for its inventor, was set aside while they pondered what to do with it. While it was sitting, however, it began to bubble and had a delicious smell. Most clans would have considered it evil and immediately dumped the mixture and sacrificed something (trendy at the time), but as The Clan was not particularly superstitious, they continued to monitor Mashash’s experiment until it calmed down. And then some bold individual took a drink, and there, that day, beer was born.” (There is more to this story as Mashash’s sister, Distillata, tried further experiments, but that is for a later chapter.)
So there it is. Without Clan O’Possum, we would be drinking only plain water or maybe some sort of cola product, probably only diet, but that would be it. So thank The Clan O’Possum each time you hoist a beer and drink the health of all!