Two myths about how the Rockabill islands were formed

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.

Magic cow

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.

Winter sunrise at Rockabill viewed from Baltray standing stones.

Astronomical alignment

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.

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Baltray standing stones

Celebrating the 20th anniversary of Baltray alignment discovery

Reimagine Rockabill: myths

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This page was last updated on 3rd November 2019 @ 6:47 PM