Romans Holiday; Roman About: Atlas Based on a Map by Claudius Ptolemy, Inset

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QUESTION Did the Romans come to Ireland more than 2,000 years ago?

HISTORY tells us that the Romans never came as far west as Ireland, but modern-day revisionists, backed by archeological finds, are now disputing this.

The main evidence that the Romans may indeed have landed here and traded with our ancestors is to be found on Drumanagh promontory, just north of Rush in north Co. Dublin.

Coins, brooches and copper ingots from the first century AD have been found on the site, suggesting that this promontory was a beachhead, while there are suggestions that Romans may also have settled at Newgrange.

Dr Richard Warner, the retired Keeper of Antiquities at the Ulster Museum in Belfast, is convinced that the Romans occupied large tracts of Ireland.

He points to legends from those times containing references to Roman landings in Ireland.

What is certain is that the Romans were aware of Irelands existence. The great topographer Claudius Ptolemy draws the shape of Ireland in his 150AD map.

He also named places that still have a resonance today, such as Iverni for south-west Ireland (Kerry) and Eblana for the site of the present-day Dublin.

The Drumanagh relics are kept in storage at the National Museum of Ireland.

Veronica Browne, Cork.

QUESTION Where is Irelands oldest brewery?

IN A country so fond of a tipple, its no surprise Ireland boasts a number of old, established breweries.

Guinness was first produced in 1759 at St Jamess Gate, Dublin. The brewery, so synonymous with the black stuff, is still going strong and is to undergo a e650million renovation, with owner Diageo also pledging to build a greenfield brewery in Grangecastle, Clondalkin, Dublin.

Beamish & Crawford started making beer in Cork in 1792. Cherrys Brewery in Waterford also began life in the same year, but unfortunately closed down just five years ago.

However, to find Irelands oldest brewery we must look to Kilkenny, where John Smithwick first produced his distinctive ale in 1710.

He was, though, merely carrying on the tradition of the monks of the Franciscan abbey that had previously occupied the site.

They had been making beer in the town since the 14th century.

Brewing reached its peak in Ireland in the 19th century and by 1850 there were 95 sites across the country. Favourites such as Findlaters in Dublin and the Ulster Brewery in Belfast have long passed into history.

Rationalisation has been the bane of the trade, with Beamish in Cork under threat following Heinekens acquisition of Scottish & Newcastle. The Dutch giant already owns Murphys in Cork and the purchase saw it take over the rights for Beamish as well.

Ireland has belatedly joined the microbrewery revolution, with a number springing up across the country. Some though have fallen by the wayside, such as the Balbriggan Brewing Company and the Dublin Brewing Company.

David OBrien, Dublin.

QUESTION Which came up with the concept of parallel universes first science or science fiction?

FURTHER to earlier answers, modern theory indicates that there are two main types of parallel universe containing Earths that have arisen from different histories, though for literary purposes theyre usually considered as one.

While neither type has been proven, the Quantum Theory underlying both has been experimentally verified.

The branching universes theory, usually ascribed to Hugh Everett in the late Fifties, states that when an event can have two outcomes the universe splits into two, containing one outcome each. …