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.
The late Irish poet William Butler Yeats needs no introduction. He is probably Ireland's most famous poet, and is acknowledged as a significant figure in literary modernism and twentieth-century European letters. Here, I look at one of his poems (and one of my favourites), the Song of Wandering Aengus, and examine briefly some of its mythical and symbolic importance.
My journeys to and from the megalithic monuments of Brú na Bóinne always involve the Drogheda to Slane Road, the N51. Sometimes, I take a left at Townley Hall on the old Dowth road. More often than not, I carry on past that turn, through Sheepgrange and Rossin, and hang a left after Dolly Mitchell's pub at Monknewtown. I feel as if I've been travelling those roads for centuries.
While the whole population of Ireland and people of Irish descent around the world celebrate Saint Patrick's Day this coming Saturday, not many people will know that the day after, March 18th, is dedicated to Patrick's wife, Sheelah. Yes, Saint Patrick was married, according to tradition!
A team of researchers has begun searching for "the lost landscapes" of the Irish Sea that were flooded as the sea level rose in ancient times. The team, from the Irish Marine Institute and IT Sligo, has joined with a University of Bradford "Lost Frontiers" programme to explore the extensive submerged landscapes between Ireland and Britain.
A new study in the journal Nature suggests that the Neolithic population of ancient Britain was almost completely replaced by newcomers, the Beaker people, by about 2500BC. The huge study involved the extraction of DNA from 400 ancient Europeans, including samples from Neolithic, Copper Age and Bronze Age peoples, 226 of them from the Beaker period.
I was honoured to be asked to launch the 11th annual Brigid of Faughart Festival in Dundalk on Thursday 11th January 2018. Here are the notes of the talk which I gave at the launch night, which was held in the Louth County Library in Dundalk.