Anthony Murphy takes a look at two myths about how the Rockabill islands were formed.
In myth, there are two stories as to how the islands were formed. In one, Rockabill is the petrified dog of Bóinn, Dabilla. They were washed out to sea after Bóinn had caused the Well of Segais (Nechtain's Well) to erupt by walking around it thrice anti-sunwise, which was taboo.
In the other story, the Fomorian giant Balor of the Evil Eye stole the magic cow, Glas Gaibhneann, and her calf, from Ulster and brought them down along the coast. The Glas Gaibhneann, it was said, could fill an unlimited amount of buckets with her milk because she had an endless supply. Balor led the calf first, with its mother following.
All was going well until they crossed the Boyne. At that point, the calf lagged behind, and the Glas Gaibhneann turned around to look for the calf and could suddenly see that they were far away from home. The cow let out a great scream and Balor opened his huge, single eyelid. At that point, the cow and calf were turned into two islands - the larger (cow) island to the south and the smaller (calf) island to the north.
The larger of the two standing stones at Baltray, Co. Louth, overlooking the Boyne estuary and the Irish Sea, is aligned so that it points towards Rockabill, where, on the shortest days of the year (winter solstice), the sun rises behind Rockabill.
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.