November 20, 2016
The beautiful island known as, errr, Ireland, is surrounded by one vast Atlantic Ocean and one very choppy Irish Sea, so you could forgive the historic inhabitants of the Emerald Isle for wondering how this isolated land acquired its wildlife.
We know now that the landmass of Ireland has physically flirted with mainland Europe multiple times throughout history - due to glacial periods and the rise and ebb of sea level - so this indicates that some animals could have been there for an incredibly long time: but what about the Irish fox, did it waltz over westerly from mainland Europe, or did it foxy-paddle across the Irish Sea? Daniel's Fox in the Snow design appears to be sniffing out his route!
Well, it was once believed that the Irish vulpine residency was due to the Vikings, with the fox being amongst the cargo of the first wave of Norseman to "visit" these shores. Not only was it thought that the Scandinavian warriors kept foxes for dogs, but also weasels for cats.
Prior and during this period, neighbouring Britain had been preoccupied with their own Roman, Germanic and Viking visitors, which meant Ireland hadn't experienced any outside threat for around 800 years. So the sight of the opportunistic Vikings, (accompanied with their eccentric pets) must have been truly alarming. Coincidentally there is an Irish superstition which foretells bad luck to anyone who meets a fox (or even a woman with red hair) first thing in the morning, especially if they're about to embark on a fishing trip!
One explanation for the Irish belief that the fox was a 'Norseman's best friend' is the Icelandic Sheepdog, widely used by the Vikings, with an impressive stature and elegant fox-like features.
Wherever the fox resides, whether it be the Emerald Isle, or the far flung islands of Japan (home of the kitsune), vulpes have acquired a somewhat bad reputation due to man's cynical take on the animal's remarkably clever and canny nature. Not all foxes are depicted in a negative light. In C.S. Lewis' novel, 'The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe', the fox is amongst of the party of Narnians to receive gifts and a feast from Father Christmas himself! Later on when the White Witch interrogates the animals as to where they acquired this banquet, it was the fox who was brave enough to tell her the truth; alas, he would pay for his honesty by being turned into stone!
So in this case our friend the fox was certainly not on Santa's 'naughty list'.
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Welcome to The DM Collection, a collection of products by award winning Artist Daniel Mackie.
All cards, prints and coasters are printed and made in the UK.