Mythical Ireland was established in March of the year 2000 by journalist, author and researcher Anthony Murphy. The website represents a journey into the ancient past, and attempts to cast new light on a sometimes obscure period of the early history of Ireland. This exploration takes place through many different disciplines, which include, but are not limited to, archaeology, anthropology, astronomy, mythology, spirituality and geodesy.
The great 5,000-year-old megalithic passage-tombs of Brú na Bóinne in the Boyne Valley represent the zenith of a phase of Irish prehistory that began with the introduction of farming around 6,000 years ago. Newgrange, Knowth and
Dowth are huge, enigmatic structures, that are the finest examples of a type of monument that is found scattered throughout Ireland, and of which there may be as many as 1,500 examples. None can compare to these three, though, in terms of size, grandeur, and their illustrious prominence in the ancient myths.
Anthony’s exploration encompasses many different facets of these great monuments. He invites you to step into this ancient world, and through the various media of words, photography and video/film, to enjoy a unique glimpse a past that seems very much alive.
Enter the ‘Ancient Sites’ section of this blog for a fascinating and wide-ranging exploration of the megalithic and sacred sites of Ireland. Find out all about the Stone Age and prehistoric ruins and learn more about the possible functions and alignments of these sites. Visit the great temples of Brú na Bóinne, the Hill of Tara, the ancient cairns of Loughcrew among many others.
Explore the ancient myths, legends and folklore of Ireland and their meaning. Read the epic Táin Bó Cuailnge, or the place-name myths in the Dindshenchas. Learn about how the Tuatha Dé Danann and the Milesians came to Ireland and how the early texts describe various invasions of prehistoric Éire. Hear about Fionn and the Fianna, and discover how some myths might contain information about astronomy and the stars.
There is no doubt that the ancient megalith builders had a substantial knowledge of the movements of the sun, moon, planets and stars through the heavens. Learn more about just how complex and impressive this knowledge was. There is evidence that the people of the Neolithic knew about the 19-year Metonic cycle of the moon, as well as being able to predict eclipses.
Sophisticated archaeological techniques were unable to determine with any certainty whether the mound supporting the Martello tower of Millmount, Drogheda, could be older than Norman times, as suggested in local folklore.
Twenty years ago, in the summer of 1999, Michael Byrne placed his binoculars along the edge of the larger of two standing stones at Baltray, Co. Louth, and found that he could see the islands of Rockabill in his field of view. That was to lead to the discovery of the winter solstice alignment of the large stone towards Rockabill. Michael, Richard Moore and Anthony Murphy returned to the stones for a 20th anniversary celebration.
During the excavations of Newgrange in the 1960s and 1970s, Professor Michael J. O'Kelly investigated an area at the rear of the great cairn, opposite the entrance, because several kerb stones on that side had fallen over. What he found is intriguing, and led him to speculate that a structure – possibly a smaller passage-tomb – pre-dating Newgrange might yet be found.
The Bealtaine Fire Festival at the Hill of Uisneach is a spectacular event. I went along with my camera to capture some of the scenes at this wonderful reinstitution of a very ancient celebration on the hill that marked the sacred centre of Ireland.
In the latest Mythical Ireland podcast, Anthony Murphy interviews American writer Judith Nilan about her two books and her interest in Irish sacred sites, our old myths, the Tuatha Dé Danann and what it means to be an elder.
Author Anthony Murphy has just signed a book deal with his publisher, The Liffey Press, for a book about the discovery of Dronehenge at Newgrange last summer. The book will be published in October.