Ireland’s myths and legends speak of giants, gods, warriors and heroes. The Boyne Valley region is the heartland of many of these stories. The most important myths and monuments from the past are based in this area.
To counteract the negativity and anxiety around the Covid-19 (coronavirus) outbreak here in Ireland, I have started a new series of live broadcasts featuring readings and discussion of Irish myths and legends.
I've been re-reading one of the old stories about Newgrange. It's called Altram Tíge Dá Medar, which means something like "the fosterage of the houses of the two drinking vessels". It There are some very interesting aspects of the story which may describe aspects of the monument.
In 'The Myth of the Eternal Return', Mircea Eliade writes about rites and beliefs from disparate traditions (e.g. Egyptian, Hebrew, Iranian, Babylonian, North American Indian, etc) concerning the "regeneration of time", especially with regard to the year, the new year and cosmogony. Anthony Murphy discusses some parallels with the mythology of Síd in Broga (Newgrange).
Anthony Murphy takes a look at two myths about how the Rockabill islands were formed.
An investigation of some of the prominent places associated with Ireland's patron saint, Saint Patrick, and associated mythology, cosmology and alignments, throws up some very interesting surprises. Anthony Murphy of Mythical Ireland investigates some of the myths behind the man, and his journey across Ireland.
This is a beautiful and yet heartbreaking insight into a possible meaning of the "nut lamentation" which is one of the stories from the Dindshenchas about how the great passage-tomb of Knowth got its name. It was contributed to the Irish-Stones group by Helen McKay.
Ireland has long been divided. Today, there is an invisible border that separates the Republic of Ireland from Northern Ireland. In mythology, the division of Ireland into provinces began with the Lebor Gabála Érenn, the Book of the Takings of Ireland, a pseudo-historical cosmogonic narrative that was compiled in Christian times but which related to events which were said to have occurred in prehistory.
I've been reading the Cath Maige Tuired (The Second Battle of Moytura). I purchased Elizabeth Gray's translation a while back and it's a fascinating read. The text is featured with the original Irish on the left-hand pages and the English translation on the right.
Dagda Mór, the supreme deity of the Tuatha Dé Danann, was said to have been the one who built and owned Síd in Broga (Newgrange). He was later tricked out of ownership of Newgrange by his son, Oengus Óg. Afterwards, he retired to another, smaller mound. Here, I discuss which one he went to.
The festival of Lughnasa, marking the beginning of the harvest and the end of summer, might well be a prehistoric celebration. One of the most noticeable aspects of this time of year is the noticeable contraction of the days, and the lengthening of night.
In a brand new episode of The Meaning of Myth, Anthony Murphy and Treacy O'Connor discuss the symbol of the hawk from Irish mythology, and how the myth of Fintan mac Bóchra inspired the novel The Cry of the Sebac.
The Tuatha Dé Danann are the early gods of Ireland, associated with the great sídhe or passage-mounds of Brú na Bóinne. There is some debate about their original name, whether it was Tuatha Dé Danann or just Tuatha Dé, and attempts have been made to link them with the Tribe of Dan, one of the 12 tribes of Israel. Anthony Murphy briefly investigates.
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 mythic and symbolic importance.
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 new book retells an ancient myth about how the great god Lugh of the Tuatha Dé Danann defeated the Fomorian king, Balor of the Evil Eye. The story is beautifully retold from versions of the tale told in County Donegal.
The following is taken from a chapter of Candle of Vision by A.E. (George William Russell), published in 1918. The chapter is called The Celtic Imagination.To one who lay on the mound which is called the Brugh on the Boyne a form like that the bards speak of Angus appeared, and it cried: "Can you not see me? Can you not hear me? I come from the Land of Immortal Youth."
Many people look for meaning in the symbols carved in stone at the great monuments of the Boyne. Sometimes the most facile examination (and perhaps the most puerile too!) is to indulge in pareidolia. When I took this image at Knowth/Cnogba today, I was conscious of the image of the Cailleach, having been reading about her quite a lot lately. I will quote the lovely words of the late Patricia Monaghan, whose book 'The Red-Haired Girl From the Bog' I am currently reading:"Rock is the hag's prime element, her stony spine.... Cailleach time moves form moon to moon, harvest to harvest. It is pagan time, rooted in the eternal return rather than the once-off redemption."