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 mythical 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."