If you are planning your visit to Ireland, I highly recommend one of Treasa’s Walking Tours of Tara. They take about two hours, and must be pre-booked, as there are only thirty places available on each tour. Be dressed for inclement weather… this is Ireland, after all!
One of the four ancient Irish pre-Christian festivals, Lughnasadh was celebrated on the night of the full moon midway between the summer solstice and autumn equinox, around August 1st. But was it a celebration of thanksgiving for the harvest, or a remnant of some ancient fertility rite, or a monument to love?
Teltown is a vast and complex ancient site of some significance dating to the Iron Age. Features include the remnants of mounds, ring forts, earthen ramparts, artificial lakes, and an ancient roadway, but much of these have been erased from the landscape through the actions of farming over the years.
Clochafarmore, or Cloch an Fhir Mhóir in Irish means ‘the stone of the big man’, and is located in the townland of Rathiddy, at Knockbridge, in County Louth. You might be thinking GIANT, and in a way, you’d be right… this particular man was a giant in reputation, if not in physicality. You probably know him as Cuchulainn, legendary hero of Ulster.
In Ireland, these magical beings are known as ‘the Sidhe’ (prounounced Shee), also the Aos Sí, and Daoine Sídhe, and in Scottish lore, the Sith. They are named after the mounds which dot the Irish landscape, and which are said to lead to their homes below the ground. In folklore, they are often referred to as ‘the Fair Folk’ (hence fairy), or the ‘little people’, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Well. You know what I mean.
You might think that Irish mythology is full of giants, what with Fionn building the Giant’s Causeway, and the number of ancient stone monuments named ‘The Giant’s Bed/ Leap/ Grave’, but you’d be wrong. There is, however, a specific reason why giants exist in local Irish folklore.
Being a small island, peoples lives have been dominated by the sea. In mythology, the Danann, the Milesians, and various other races came to Ireland from the sea. According to legend, Ireland had two sea deities: Lir, and Manannán mac Lir, which means ‘son of Lir’, or ‘son of the sea’.