MYSTERIES OF CREATION SINCE THE STARS BEGAN TO SHINE
was a mythical figure in Irish literature and folklore. His
name, according to Daithi O hOgain, represents the adjective
'donn', meaning 'brown'. It is possible his name also meant
'dark', and O hOgain tells us his character is associated
with the shadowy realm of the dead. One reference describes
him as 'Donn, king of the dead at the red tower of the dead'.
His three sons are reported to have said 'we ride the horses
of Donn - although we are alive, we are dead!'
name Donn is tentatively associated with the bull through
the story of another Donn, one of the sons
of Mil, who was drowned at Inbhear Sceine (Kenmare Bay,
Co. Kerry), and this story echoes an earlier tradition which
said the deity Donn lived on an island in the Bay called Teach
Duinn, now called Bull Rock. This island was said to have
been the 'place where the dead assemble' and was also regarded
as the westernmost part of Ireland.
meaning darkness, could also be the opposite of Find (or Finn)
meaning brightness. In the Tain
Bo Cualnge, the two bulls were called Finnbheannach, 'the
white horned one' and Donn Cuailnge, the dark bull. Donn sometimes
rode his horse through the sky, suggesting some kind of astronomical
link, and he was regarded as a personification of the weather.
When there was thunder and lightning it meant that he was
travelling wildly through the sky, and if it was cloudy over
Knockfierna that meant he would soon make it rain.
folk tale tells how a man being brought into a fine palace
in Knockfierna (a hill in Co. Limerick) finds Donn as an old
man, clothed in white, instructing a large number of students
in 'the mysteries of the creation since the stars began to
HOSTS ABOVE THE SUNSET CLOUDS
mythology from the Tain Bo Cuailnge, IX - The Pact is Broken:
The Great Carnage The four provinces of Ireland settled down
and camped on Muirtheimne Plain, at Breslech Mor (the place
of their great carnage). They sent their shares of battle
and plunder southward ahead of them to Clithar Bo Ulad, the
Cattle-Shelter of Ulster. Cuchulainn took his place near them
at the gravemound in Lerga. At nightfall his charioteer Laeg
mac Riangabra kindled a fire for him.
And he saw in the distance over the heads of the four provinces
of Ireland the fiery flickering of gold weapons in the evening
sunset clouds. Rage and fury seized him at the sight of that
army, at the great forces of his foes, the immensity of his
enemies. He grasped his two spears, his shield and his sword
and he shook the shield and rattled the spears and flourished
the sword and gave the warrior's scream from his throat, so
that demons and devils and goblins of the glen and fiends
of the air replied, so hideous was the call he uttered on
high. Then the Nemain stirred the armies to confusion. The
weapons and spear-points of the four armed provinces of Ireland
shook with panic. One hundred warriors fell dead of fright
and terror that night in the heart of the guarded camp.
WATCHES THE STARS
From Martin Brennan's
Stones of Time"
ancient Irish literature and place-names there are a number
of astronomical references concerning the site of Tara. In
view of this, it is interesting that the remains of what was
once the Hall of Tara seem to be in alignment with the megalithic
mound north-south, marking the position of the midday sun.
is a very curious tale in one of the ancient Irish manuscripts
concerning Conn, a High King, and the Ri Raith (Royal Fortress)
at Tara which encompasses the megalithic mound. The manuscript
is entitled 'The Magical Stone of Tara', and it states:
evening, Conn of the Hundred Battles repaired at sunrise to
the Ri Raith at Tara, accompanied by his three druids, Mael,
Bloc and Bluicne, and his three poets, Ethain, Corb and Cesare;
for he was accustomed every day to repair to this place with
the same company, for the purpose of watching the stars, that
no hostile aerial beings should descend upon Ireland unknown
SKY - from Daithi O hOgain's "Myth, Legend and Romance"
sky and its phenomena are an obvious subject of lore. The
druids are said to have been students of the heavenly bodies,
and the early literature has several mentions of oaths being
taken by reference to sun, moon and stars. The sun figured
most prominently in ancient tradition, and the myth of Lugh
shows how it could be personified.
There are other indications, such as in descriptions of the
mythical Brighid, Conaire, and in seasonal lore generally,
of how the sun was understood to be the source of energy,
both agricultural and mystical. In folk speech, the sun and
moon are sometimes referred to as if they have influence on
human affairs, and in Irish 'by the strength of the sun and
moon' was a common exclamation.
appear to be echoes of ancient beliefs are the idea that if
a woman slept in the sunlight she was more likely to become
pregnant, and that the waxing of the moon was a propitious
time to undertake new work, whereas its waning was the opposite.
The light of the full moon was said to make fairies more active
in their affairs, and it was also supposed to cause insanity
to some people. Fanciful explanations were offered, especially
to children, of the obvious aspects of these bodies. The sun
was said to be inhabited by a fox, and food melting due to
its heat was said to be eaten by him, while the 'man in the
moon' was said to have once been a boy who was transported
there due to his laziness at sweeping with a brush or drawing
water with a bucket. Various stories told of how persons were
born under a certain star and as a result had either good
or bad fortune in their lives, while a meteor was taken to
be a soul passing from purgatory to heaven. A sunburst through
clouds, causing clear rays to descent to the earth, was interpreted
as the track made by the souls of good people passing to heaven
immediately after death.
story of Balor
and the Cow and Calf is fascinating in light of how it
seems to describe the movement of the rising sun along the
horizon as far as Rockabill, where sunrise occurs on Winter
Solstice as viewed from the standing stones at Baltray,
at the mouth of the Boyne River.
GODS IN THE SKY
the ancient people see their gods among the constellations?
Were the Tuatha De Danann
beings of the sky? Read this
page for some fascinating stories relating to the ancient