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Mythical Ireland

The Hag's Chair covered with frost

The Hag's Chair covered with frost

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Following a deep freeze, the landscape was coated with frost. I visited Slieve na Calliagh at Loughcrew, where the Hag's Chair was covered with ice!
There is a widespread belief in Ireland that the Cailleach was associated with winter.
MacKillop says: 'The blue-faced Caolleach Bheur was a daughter of the pale winter sun of 1 November to 1 May. As she is born old and ugly (i.e. at the beginning of winter) and ends her time young and beautiful (i.e. as spring) she also presents a parallel with the ever-renewing Cailleach Bhéirre and Cailleach Beinne Bric.'
The Hag's Chair at Cairn T (the Hag's Cairn) on Slieve na Calliagh (Hill of the hag/witch/crone/veiled one/Cailleach) is a most extraordinary kerb stone – the most unusual of any Irish passage-tomb. It faces to the north, and it is imagined that from this seat the great hag watches towards the north (i.e. away from the sun), from whence the cold and dark is imagined to come.
Even by midday, her chair was coated with ice crystals, and even though the winter days are beginning to lengthen, no sunlight was able to reach the stone at any time on the day this photo was taken. The picture demonstrate aptly, perhaps, why the Cailleach is associated with winter.
In the folklore of the Loughcrew hills, it was the Cailleach who built the great megalithic chambered cairns. She jumped from hill to hill, from west to east, tipping out some stones from her giant apron full of rocks as she alighted on each hill. It is said that when she reached Patrickstown, the easternmost hill, she fell and broke her neck and was buried in a cairn on its eastern slopes.
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