Mainstream and Alternative readings.

As with much of mythology going down through history there are mainstream and alternative views on the myths. Sometimes it is distortion from the ruling empire of the time, of of different epochs, and sometimes there is Contemporary Projection of current political or sociological views upon the past to justify present conditions.

Mainstream History, Distant Past and More Recent Past

Many think that the Celtic Druids didn’t have any religious books, but they did. Celtic Brehon Law is probably the best known, but there are many Celtic language written inscriptions, such as Celtic Lepontic and Gaulish, as well as the many Ogham inscriptions, as well as major works such as the Coligny Calendar. There are several other works which form the basis for the myths and moral laws that form the Druid religion. The mainstream “accepted” historical sources of the Greek, Roman and Vatican monks, historical recordings of Celtic history have to be seen with the awareness that these empires had political and sociological agendas of their times. So while they have information, they also have disinformation and distortions.

Contemporary Projections

These are contemporary projections of current sociological view onto the past. Often this is considered by some as New Age Paganism. Many people try to justify whatever their current lifestyle or beliefs are onto the past and recreate the Celtic Gods and Myths according to what makes them feel good in their lives today.

Alternative Readings

These can be detailed study and research, reading between the lines of accepted empire history, on to what really happened. Not just the details, but what were the motivations and the unseen story behind these recorded actions. These are often dispassionate studies of what actually was going on without contemporary colored glasses or prejudice to fit any established orthodoxy.

This Celtics film series looks into and brings to life the actual Celtic gods and with them the very possibly true history of these ancient and mysterious times.

Druid Religion books
Celtic Brehon Laws (2300 BC)
The Metrical Dindshenchas (Irish)
Book of Taliesin (Welsh)
Ossian Tales (Scottish)

Mysterious Celtic Druid Book

Rare undeciphered Celtic Druid book of wisdom

The Druid religion was still going strong in the 1600’s with laws against it in Yorkshire, and the Druid religious wedding ceremony of Handfasting lasted up until 1939 when it was banned in Scotland. As well as the Scottish and English Witch trials, and the Witch trials of  Salem, Massachusetts in New England, America.

Celtics or Druids?

Some mainstream sources say only a few of the Celtic people were actual Druids. But that’s like saying since the majority of France were not Christian Priests, that the French were not Christians. Degree of practice of a religion does not qualify you for being or not being of that religion. So it can be said that all of the Celtic lands from 10,000 BC to 400 AD were Celtic Druids, even if most were not Druid priests.

Bringing to Life the Mythology and Gods of the Celtic Druids.

The series also goes into detail and depth with bringing the Elves, Hobbits, Sprites, Faeries, and many other mythological beings, into visualization. The Gods, the demi-Gods, the mortals, and all the various forces, come alive.

BRIGID, about the God

Mainstream and Alternative readings of BRIGID

Brigid, meaning ‘exalted one’ from Old Irish),[1] Brigit or Bríg is a goddess of pre-Christian Ireland. She appears in Irish mythology as a member of the Tuatha Dé Danann, the daughter of the Dagda and wife of Bres, with whom she had a son named Ruadán.[a]

She is associated with wisdom, poetry, healing, protection, blacksmithing and domesticated animals. Cormac’s Glossary, written in the 9th century by Christian monks, says that Brigid was “the goddess whom poets adored” and that she had two sisters: Brigid the healer and Brigid the smith.[3][4] This suggests she may have been a triple deity.[5] She is not related to a British goddess at the time of the Roman occupation, Brigantia, a personification of the hegemony of the Brigantes tribe of Northern England, but is sometimes associated with her due to the similarity in names.

In early Irish literature
Cormac’s Glossary, written by Christian scribes in the 9th century and based on earlier sources, says that Brigit was a goddess and daughter of the Dagda. It describes her as a “goddess of poets” and “woman of wisdom” or sage, who is also famous for her “protecting care”. It says that Brigid has two sisters: Brigit the physician or “woman of healing”, and Brigit the smith.[4] It explains that from these, all goddesses in Ireland are called Brigit; suggesting that it “may have been more of a title than a personal name”.[7]

The Lebor Gabála Érenn also calls Brigit a poetess and daughter of the Dagda. It says she has two oxen, Fea and Femen, from whom are named Mag Fea (the plain of the River Barrow) and Mag Femin (the plain of the River Suir). Elsewhere, these are named as the two oxen of Dil, “radiant of beauty,” which may be a byname for Brigid.[8] It also says she possesses the “king of boars”, Torc Triath (from whom the plain of Treithirne is named), and the “king of wethers”, Cirb (from whom the plain of Cirb is named).[9] The animals were said to cry out a warning and this suggests Brigid was a guardian goddess of domesticated animals.[3][10]

In Cath Maige Tuired, Bríg is the wife of Bres and bears him a son, Ruadán. It says she began the custom of keening, a combination of wailing and singing, while mourning the death of Ruadán.[3] She is credited in the same passage with inventing a whistle used for night travel.[11]

In her English retellings of Irish myth, Lady Augusta Gregory describes Brigit as “a woman of poetry, and poets worshipped her, for her sway was very great and very noble. And she was a woman of healing along with that, and a woman of smith’s work, and it was she first made the whistle for calling one to another through the night.”[12]

The tradition of female priestesses tending sacred, naturally occurring eternal flames is a feature of ancient Celtic Druid pre-Christian spirituality.

Thig an nathair as an toll
Là donn Brìde,
Ged robh trì troighean dhen t-sneachd
Air leac an làir.

The serpent will come from the hole
On the brown Day of Bríde,
Though there should be three feet of snow
On the flat surface of the ground. [17]

The Gaelic festival coincides with Imbolc the first day of Spring in Irish tradition, and because St Brigid has been theorised as linked to the goddess Brigid, some associate the festival of Imbolc with the goddess Brigid.[19] Brigid is an important figure for some, who emphasize her triple aspect. She is sometimes worshipped in conjunction with Cernunnos. [20][21][22][23]

Old Irish Brigit came to be spelled Briġid and Brighid by the modern Irish period. Since the spelling reform of 1948, this has been spelled Bríd. [24][25]


[1] Campbell, Mike Behind the Name. See also Xavier Delamarre, brigantion / brigant-, in Dictionnaire de la langue gauloise (Éditions Errance, 2003) pp. 87–88: “Le nom de la sainte irlandaise Brigit est un adjectif de forme *brigenti… ‘l’Eminente’.” Delamarre cites E. Campanile, in Langues indo-européennes (“The name of the Irish Saint Brigid is an adjective of the form *brigenti… ‘the Eminent'”), edited by Françoise Bader (Paris, 1994), pp. 34–40, that Brigid is a continuation of the Indo-European goddess of the dawn like Aurora.

[2] Stifter, David. “Study in red”. In: Sprache 40/2 (1998), pp. 202–223.

[3] Ó hÓgáin, Dáithí. Myth, Legend & Romance: An encyclopaedia of the Irish folk tradition. Prentice Hall Press, 1991. p.60

[4] Wright, Brian. Brigid: Goddess, Druidess and Saint. The History Press, 2011. pp.26-27

[5] Sjoestedt, Marie-Louise (18 September 2000). Celtic Gods and Heroes. Dover Publications. pp. 21, 25. ISBN 0-486-41441-8.

[6] Berger, Pamela (1985). The Goddess Obscured: Transformation of the Grain Protectress from Goddess to Saint. Boston: Beacon Press. ISBN 9780807067239.

[7] Koch, John. Celtic Culture: A Historical Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO, 2006. pp.287-288
The Metrical Dindsenchas: “Mag Femin, Mag Fera, Mag Fea,” Poem 36

[8] Macalister, R. A. Stewart. Lebor Gabála Érenn. Part IV. Irish Texts Society, Dublin, 1941. § VII, First Redaction, ¶ 317.

[9] Ellis, Peter Berresford. “Celtic Women.” Wm. B. Erdmans Publishing, Grand Rapids, MI, 1995, p. 28.

[10] Cath Maige Tuired (The Second Battle of Mag Tuired), translated by Elizabeth A. Gray. ¶ 125

[11] Gregory, Isabella Augusta (1904). Gods and fighting men : the story of the Tuatha de Danann and the Fiana of Ireland. Yeats, W. B. [Lexington, KY]:  p. 24. ISBN 9781495385148. OCLC 907958219.

[12] “Saint Brigid: St Brigid’s Fire”. Cill Dara Historical Society. Cambrensis, Giraldus. “The Topography of Ireland” (PDF). York University. pp. 54, 59.

[13] Healy, Elizabeth (2002) In Search of Ireland’s Holy Wells. Dublin, Wolfhound Press ISBN 0-86327-865-5 pp. 12–19, 27, 56–7, 66, 69, 81.

[14] Logan, Patrick (1980) The Holy Wells of Ireland. Buckinghamshire, Colin Smythe Limited. ISBN 0-86140-046-1. pp. 22–3, 95.

[15] Carmichael, Alexander (1900) Carmina Gadelica: Hymns and Incantations, Ortha Nan Gaidheal, Volume I, p. 169 The Sacred Texts Archive

[16] Jones, Mary. “Brigit”. Jones’ Celtic Encyclopedia.

[17] John T. Koch (2006). Celtic Culture: A Historical Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. p. 287. ISBN 978-1-85109-440-0.

[18] Magliocco, Sabina (28 January 2001). Neo-pagan sacred art and altars : making things whole. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi. p. 30. ISBN 9781578063918. OCLC 46573490.

[19] Matasović, Ranko, Etymological Dictionary of Proto-Celtic (Leiden Indo-European Etymological Dictionary Series no. 9), Brill, 2009, pp. 78-79

[20] Mallory, J. P. and Adams, Douglas Q. (eds.), Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture, Taylor & Francis, 1997, p. 269

[21] Hilaire Wood. “Brigit’s Forge”. Retrieved 24 April 2015.

[22] Bitel, Lisa M. 2001. St. Brigit of Ireland: From Virgin Saint to Fertility Goddess

[23] MacKillop, James. 1998. Dictionary of Celtic Mythology. (Oxford: Oxford University Press) ISBN 0-19-280120-1

[24] The Slaney Press. 1994. Lady Gregory’s Complete Irish Mythology. (London: The Slaney Press)

[25] Catháin, Séamas Ó. “Hearth-Prayers and Other Traditions of Brigit: Celtic Goddess and Holy Woman.” The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, vol. 122, 1992, pp. 12–34. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/25509020.

BELENUS, about the God

Belenus – Celtic God of Light and Sun. Creator of all Life on Earth.

Belenus – is a sun god from Celtic mythology and, in the 3rd century, the patron deity of the Italian city of Aquileia. Called the “Fair Shining One” (or “The Shining God”), he was one of the most ancient and most-widely worshiped Celtic deities and is associated with the ancient fire festival and modern Beltane.[1] He was associated with the horse (as shown by the clay horse figurine offerings at Belenos’s Sainte-Sabine shrine in Burgundy) and also the wheel. Perhaps like Apollo, with whom he became identified in the Augustan History,[2] Belenos was thought to ride the Sun across the sky in a horse-drawn chariot.[3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11]


[1] “Belenus.” Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online Academic Edition. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2014. Web. 02 Jul. 2014.

[2] Nicole Jufer & Thierry Luginbühl (2001). Les dieux gaulois : répertoire des noms de divinités celtiques connus par l’épigraphie, les textes antiques et la toponymie. Paris: Editions Errance. ISBN 2-87772-200-7.

[3] Roman Inscriptions of Britain Archived July 13, 2007, at the Wayback Machine (RIB 611).
Koch, John T. (2006). Celtic Culture: A Historical Encyclopedia. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, Inc. ISBN 1-85109-440-7.

[4] Kropej, Monika. Supernatural beings from Slovenian myth and folktales. Ljubljana: Institute of Slovenian Ethnology at ZRC SAZU. 2012. p. 217. ISBN 978-961-254-428-7

[5] Maier, Bernhard (2012). Geschichte und Kultur der Kelten. C.H.Beck.
Helmut Birkhan, Kelten. Versuch einer Gesamtdarstellung ihrer Kultur, p. 583.

[6] BELANO DEO S(ERVIVS) LVCANIVS V(OTVM) S(OLVIT) L(IBENS) M(ERITO) “Servius Lucianus has freely and rightly fulfilled his vow to the god Belanus”. The appearance of the regular spelling in an inscription found at nearby Bardonecchia suggests that this Belanus is a faulty spelling rather than a true regional variant of the name. Patrice Lajoye and Pierre Crombet, Encyclopédie de l’Arbre Celtique, citing J.-J. Hatt, Mythes et dieux de la Gaule: Les grandes divinités masculines, Picard, 1989.

[7] Herodian’s History, book 8; this taken as a likely corruption of the manuscript text for Belinon, the accusative of Belinos. Belin, in Gilles Ménage, Dictionnaire étymologique de la langue françoise, 1750.

[8] Mythology – General Editor C. Scott ISBN 978-1-84483-061-9
Bernhard Maier, Lexikon der keltischen Religion und Kultur, 40 f.

[9] John Bell, Or, Historical Dictionary of the Gods, Demi-gods, Heroes, and Fabulous Personages of Antiquity, 1790, 128f.

[10] Belin, in Gilles Ménage, Dictionnaire étymologique de la langue françoise, 1750. Ménage constructs a derivation of both the “Chaldean” Bel and the Celtic Belin from a supposed word for “ball, sphere”, whence “head”, and “chief, lord”.

[11] Dictionary of Celtic Myth and Legend. Miranda Green. Thames and Hudson Ltd.

AERONWEN, about the God

Ayrownwen – Goddess of Fate on the battlefield. Wives of warriors would make sacrificial offerings on the river Dee to her, in the hopes she would save their husbands or give them a merciful death without pain and suffering. Famously Welsh, was a  wide ranging Celtic Goddess name for the River Ayr in Scotland, later applied to the River Aeron in Wales as well. The claim is linguistic and first appeared in William J. Watson’s Celtic Placenames of Scotland (1926).[1] Watson suggested the River Ayr in Scotland could be worked back to a powerful Celtic “river goddess of slaughter and carnage” and that the deity name was Ayronwen.[2][3][4][5][6][7]


[1] Watson, William J: The Celtic Placenames of Scotland. Birlinn (1926, reprinted 2004). ISBN 978-1-84158-323-5

[2] Matson, Gienna. Celtic Mythology A to Z; p. 1. Chelsea House (2004). ISBN 978-1-60413-413-1

[3] Ekwall, Eilert. English River-Names. Oxford University Press (1928, reprinted 1968).

[4] Pughe, William Owen, A Dictionary of the Welsh Language: Explained in English, Volume 1; p. 23 (1803).

[5] Berresford Ellis, Peter. Dictionary of Celtic Mythology (Oxford Paperback Reference), Oxford University Press (1994). ISBN 0-19-508961-8

[6] MacKillop, James. Dictionary of Celtic Mythology. Oxford University Press (1998). ISBN 0-19-280120-1.

[7] Wood, Juliette, The Celts: Life, Myth, and Art, Thorsons Publishers (2002). ISBN 0-00-764059-5


DANU, about the God


Danu – Mother goddess of the Tuatha Dé Danann (Old Irish: “The peoples of the goddess Danu”). To Dany the forest is her People, her Nation. All about her is her Nation.  Though primarily seen as an ancestral figure, some Victorian sources also associate her with the land.[1] Danu has many surviving myths or legends associated with her in any of the medieval Irish texts. The closest figure in Irish texts to a “Danu” would then be Danand, daughter of Delbáeth. In the Lebor Gabála Érenn: The Book of the Taking of Ireland, it is noted the Tuatha Dé Danann get their name from the three sons of Danand: Brian, Iuchar, and Iucharba. These three are known as the “Gods of Dannan.”[2] However, Cormac’s Glossary, a text that predates the Lebor Gabala Erenn, names the goddess Anu as the mother of the gods. [3][4][5][6][7]


[1] Squire, Charles Celtic Myth and Legend, p. 34: “Danu herself probably represented the earth and its fruitfulness, and one might compare her with the Greek Demeter. All the other gods are, at least by title, her children.”

[2] MacKillop, James (1998) Dictionary of Celtic Mythology Oxford: Oxford University Press ISBN 0-19-280120-1 pp.10, 16, 128

[3] Koch, John, ed. (2006). Celtic Culture: a Historical Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. p. 569.

[4] Hamp, Eric (2002). “The Dag(h)d(h)ae and his relatives”. In Sawicki, L.; Shalev, D. (eds.). Donum grammaticum: Studies in Latin and Celtic Linguistics in Honour of Hannah Rosen. Peeters. pp. 163–169.

[5] O hOgain, Dáithí (1999). The Sacred Isle : Belief and Religion in Pre-Christian Ireland (1. publ. ed.). Woodbridge: Boydell [u.a.] p. 65. ISBN 9780851157474.

[6] Bartrum, Peter C., A Welsh classical dictionary: people in history and legend up to about A.D. 1000, Aberystwyth: National Library of Wales, 1993, pp. 230-231.

[7] Macalister, R. A. Stewart, Lebor Gabála Érenn : The book of the taking of Ireland, Dublin : Published for the Irish texts Society by the Educational Company of Ireland, 1941.

LUGH, about the God

Celtic God of Justice – Lugh. Long Arm of Lugh with his Mythological Spear.

Lugh – Brilliant as the Sun. Oaths, truth and the law (Celtic Brehon Law), rightful kingship. warrior, a king, a master craftsman and a savior. Irish, Scot, Welsh, or English accents a plus. Lugh has come down to the Celtic lands to help defend them from the Roman Empire which has invaded and enslaved the people. Lugh appears many times in the series to guide the people. A Brehon, a judge, an administrator of Celtic Brehon Law, Luch carries his heavy 12 pound steel book of Celtic Brehon Law around with him wherever he goes, as well as his legendary spear that he could throw 1,000 yards, The Spear of Lugh, also called the Long Arm of Lugh.[1][2][3][4]


[1]  Monaghan, Patricia. The Encyclopedia of Celtic Mythology and Folklore. Infobase Publishing, 2004. pp.296-297

[2] Ó hÓgáin, Dáithí. Myth, Legend & Romance: An encyclopaedia of the Irish folk tradition. Prentice Hall Press, 1991. pp.273-276

[3] Macalister, R.A.S., ed. (1941), “Section VII: Invasion of the Tuatha De Danann”Lebor gabála Érenn, Part IV

[4] O’Rahilly, Cecile. “Táin Bó Cúalnge Recension 1”Corpus of Electronic Texts. University College, Cork

MAEVE, about the God

Maeve – Goddess of War, Fertility and Nation. Sometimes spelled as Medb (db in Gaelic is pronounced “v” in English), thus often anglicised as Maeve,  is queen of Connacht in the Ulster Cycle of Irish mythology. Her husband in the core stories of the cycle is Ailill mac Máta, although she had several husbands before him who were also kings of Connacht. She rules from Cruachan (now Rathcroghan, County Roscommon). She is the enemy (and former child bride in forced marriage) of Conchobar mac Nessa, king of Ulster, and is often defamed by the monks who wrote that  she did  the Táin Bó Cúailnge (“The Cattle Raid of Cooley”) to steal Ulster’s prize stud bull Donn Cúailnge, which was only a minor story in her life. Her real story it told by reading between the lines.

Maeve is as survivor. Escaping a childhood arranged marriage to the King of Ulster, which apparently involved rape and left a lasting mark on her entire life. She had to become strong-willed, moral, ambitious, strategic and attractive, and became the archetypal warrior queen.[1] She is believed by some to be a manifestation of the sovereignty goddess.[2][3][4] Maeve of Connacht is probably identical with Maeve Lethderg, the sovereignty goddess of Tara, and may also be linked with the Morrígan.[5] She may be the inspiration for the fairy Queen Mab found in William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and other media.

Maeve is described as a fair haired wolf queen, whose form was so beautiful that it robbed men of two-thirds of their valor upon seeing her.[6]

Childhood Arranged Marriage and Escape
How Maeve came to power in Connacht and married Ailill mac Máta is told in the tale Cath Bóinde (“The Battle of the Boyne”), also known as Ferchuitred Medba (“Medb’s man-share”).[7] Her father, Eochaid Feidlech, the High King of Ireland, married her as a child bride to Conchobar mac Nessa, king of Ulster, because he had killed Conchobar’s purported father, the former High King Fachtna Fáthach, in battle. She was brutally raped, was a child, and was forced to bear him a son, Glaisne, but the child rape “marriage” was a horrific and she ran away. Eochaid gave Conchobar another of his young daughters, Eithne (or Clothru),[8]  She too was child raped by the Ulster king, and asked Maeve to kill her while she was pregnant; her son Furbaide was born by posthumous caesarian section.[9]

Eochaid deposed the then-king of Connacht, Tinni mac Conri, and installed Maeve in his place. However, Tinni regained a share of the throne when he and Maeve later became lovers. Conchobar raped the adult Maeve again after an assembly at Tara, and war ensued between the High King and Ulster. Tinni challenged Conchobar to single combat, and lost. [10] Eochaid Dála of the Fir Domnann, who had been Tinni’s rival for the kingship, protected the Connacht army as it retreated, and became Maeve s next husband and king of Connacht. Maeve demanded her husband satisfy her three criteria—that he be without fear, meanness, and loyalty. The last was particularly important, as she had only one lover — her husband and many men wanted her, but she refused and remained loyal, which created the jealousy by the men and their attacks and slander on her. While married to Eochaid Dála, she took Ailill mac Máta, chief of her bodyguard, as her lover. Eochaid discovered the affair, challenged Ailill to single combat, and lost. Ailill then married Medb and became king of Connacht. [11][12]

Maeve’s Assasin Sons

Queen Maeve and the Druid by Stephen Reid, from Eleanor Hull’s The Boys’ Cuchulainn (1904)
Maeve and Ailill had seven sons, all called Maine. They originally all had other names, but when Maeve asked a druid which of her sons would kill Conchobar, he replied, “Maine”. She did not have a son called Maine, so she renamed all her sons as follows [12]:

Fedlimid became Maine Athramail (“like his father”)
Cairbre became Maine Máthramail (“like his mother”)
Eochaid became Maine Andoe (“the swift”) and was also known as Cich-Maine Andoe or Cichmuine[14]
Fergus became Maine Taí (“the silent”)
Cet became Maine Mórgor (“of great duty”)
Sin became Maine Mílscothach (“honey-speech”)
Dáire became Maine Móepirt (“beyond description”)
The prophecy was fulfilled when Maine Andoe went on to kill Conchobar, son of Arthur, son of Bruide — not Conchobar, son of Fachtna Fathach, as Maeve had assumed the druid meant.[12] Maeve and Ailill also had a daughter, Findabair.[13]

Cattle Raid of Cooley – Táin Bó Cúailnge
A rather minor cattle raid that the Vatican monks blew up into a major story, trying to make her into a vain and criminal person.

Miosgán Médhbh (Medb’s cairn) at Knocknarea
According to legend, Maeve is buried in Miosgán Médhbh, a 40-foot (12 m) high stone cairn on the summit of Knocknarea (Cnoc na Ré in Irish) in County Sligo. Supposedly, she is buried upright facing her enemies in Ulster. Her home in Rathcroghan, County Roscommon is also a potential burial site, with a long low slab named ‘Misgaun Medb’ being given as the most likely location.

Historians suggest that she was probably originally a “sovereignty goddess”, whom a king would ritually marry as part of his inauguration.[15] Maeve Lethderg, who performs a similar function in Tara, is probably identical with or the inspiration for this Medb.[15][16] Her name is said to mean ‘she who intoxicates’, and is cognate with the English word ‘mead’; it is likely that the sacred marriage ceremony between the king and the goddess would involve a shared drink. Recently, Irish and Irish-American poets have explored Medb as an image of woman’s power, including sexuality, as in “Labhrann Medb” (“Maeve Speaks”) by Irish-language poet Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill [16] and “Intoxication” by Irish-American poet Patricia Monaghan.[16]

The name “Connacht” is an apparent anachronism: the stories of the Ulster Cycle are traditionally set around the time of Christ, but the Connachta, after whom the province is named, were said to have been the descendants of Conn Cétchathach, who is supposed to have lived several centuries later. Later stories use the name Cóiced Ol nEchmacht as an earlier name for the province of Connacht to get around this problem. But the chronology of early Irish historical tradition is an artificial attempt by Christian monks to synchronise native traditions with classical and biblical history, and it is possible that the cycle has been chronologically misplaced.[16]


[1] Fraser, Antonia (1990). The Warrior Queens. Canada Ltd, 20801 John Street, Markham, Ontario L3R 1B4: Penguin Books: Penguin books. pp. 15, 16, 17. ISBN 0-1400-8517-3.

[2] Ó hÓgáin, Dáithí. Myth, Legend & Romance: An encyclopaedia of the Irish folk tradition. Prentice Hall Press, 1991. pp.294-295

[3] Monaghan, Patricia. The Encyclopedia of Celtic Mythology and Folklore. Infobase Publishing, 2004. p.319

[4] Koch, John T. Celtic Culture: A Historical Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO, 2006. p.1282
Irslinger, Britta. “Medb ‘the intoxicating one’? (Re-)constructing the past through etymology”. Ulidia 4: Proceedings of the Fourth International Conference on the Ulster Cycle of Tales, 2013.

[4] Monaghan, Patricia. Goddesses in World Culture. ABC-CLIO, 2011. pp.226-227
Bearna Mhéabha/Barnavave. Placenames Database of Ireland. Bovevagh. Place Names NI.
Meascán Mhéabha. Placenames Database of Ireland. Millín Mhéabha/Milleen Meva. Placenames Database of Ireland.

[5] The Metrical Dindsenchas “Fert Medba” Poem 128
“Cath Bóinde”, tr. Joseph O’Neill, Ériu 2 (1905) 173–185. [1]

[6] Vernam Hull, “Aided Meidbe: The Violent Death of Medb”, Speculum vol. 13 issue 1, Jan 1938, pp. 52–61 “Revue celtique”.

[7] A. H. Leahy (ed. & trans.), “Tain Bo Fraech”, Heroic Romances of Ireland vol. II, 1906.
Kuno Meyer, “The Cherishing of Conall Cernach and the Deaths of Ailill and of Conall Cernach”, Zeitschrift für celtische Philologie vol. 1, 1897, pp. 102–111

[8] Tristram, Hildegard L. C. (1 January 1998). Neue Methoden Der Epenforschung. Gunter Narr Verlag. ISBN 9783823354178

[9] Carson, Ciaran. “Guerilla Tactics.” The Tain. New York: Penguin Group, 2007. 56–58.

[10] Kuno Meyer, “The Death of Fergus mac Róich”, The Death-Tales of the Ulster Heroes.
Dexter, Miriam Robbins. “Indo-European Reflections of Virginity and Autonomy.” Mankind Quarterly, 26 (1–2): 57–74 (Fall/Winter 1985)

[11] Byrne, Francis John, Irish Kings and High-Kings. Four Courts Press, Dublin. 2nd edition, 2001

[12] T. F. O’Rahilly: Early Irish History and Mythology, Dublin 1946 – cited in Thomas Kinsella: THE TAIN Dolmen Press, Dublin 1969/1986 ISBN 0-85105-178-2

[13] Dexter, Miriam Robbins. “The Brown Bull of Cooley and Matriliny in Celtic Ireland” in From the Realm of the Ancestors: Essays in Honor of Marija Gimbutas: 218–236. Joan Marler, ed. Manchester, Connecticut: Knowledge Ideas and Trends, 1997.

[14] Ní Dhomhnaill, Nuala, “Rogha Dánta/Selected Poems”, Raven Arts Press, 1988

[15] Monaghan, Patricia, “The Red-Haired Girl from the Bog,” New World Library, 2003, p. 75-106

[16] Francis J. Byrne, Irish Kings and High Kings, Four Courts Press, 2001, p. 50

MACHA, about the God

Macha – Goddess of War, Fertility, Sovereignty[1][2] of ancient Ireland associated with the province of Ulster, particularly the sites of Navan Fort (Eamhain Mhacha)[3] and Armagh (Ard Mhacha),[4] which are named after her.[5] Several figures called Macha appear in Irish mythology and folklore, all believed to derive from the same goddess. She is said to be one of three sisters, similar to another Celtic Druid God triumvirate ‘the three Morrígna’. Like other sovereignty goddesses, Macha is associated with the land, fertility, kingship, swords and war..[6]

Proinsias Mac Cana discusses three Machas: Macha wife of Nemed, Queen Macha wife of Cimbáeth, and Macha wife of Crunnchu who caused defeat of Ulster.[6] Gregory Toner discusses four, with the addition of Macha Mong Ruad.[7][8]

Macha, daughter of Partholón
A poem in the Lebor Gabála Érenn mentions Macha as one of the daughters of Partholón, leader of the first settlement of Ireland after the flood, although it records nothing about her.[9]

Macha, wife of Nemed
Various sources record a second Macha as the wife of Nemed, a certain leader at Newgrange, Ireland. She was a prominent member of Nemed’s ruling aristocratic clan at Newgrange, to Geoffrey Keating,[10]  It is said that the hilltop where she was buried was named after her: Ard Mhacha, “Macha’s high place”. The surrounding woodland was cleared by Nemed’s folk and named Magh Mhacha, “Macha’s plain”.[11] She is described as the daughter of red-weaponed Aed, as the raven of the raids and diffuser of all excellences.[12]

Macha, daughter of Ernmas
Macha personified as daughter of Ernmas, of the Tuatha Dé Danann, appears in many early sources. She is often mentioned together with, “Badb and Morrigu”.[13] The three (with varying names) are often considered a triple goddess associated with war.[14] O’Mulconry’s Glossary, a thirteenth-century compilation of distortions from medieval manuscripts preserved in the Yellow Book of Lecan, describes Macha as “one of the three morrígna” (the plural of Morrígan), and says the term Mesrad Machae, “the mast of Macha”, refers to “the heads of men that have been slaughtered”. A version of the same gloss in MS H.3.18 identifies Macha with Badb, calling the trio “raven women” who instigate battle.[15] Keating explicitly calls them “goddesses”,[16] but Christian monk medieval foreign regime agents wanted to remove all traces of Irish pre-Christian religion. Macha is said to have been killed by Balor during the battle with the Fomorians, but the existence of Fomorians, as desicrbed is disputed as it served the foreign regime invasion myth beginning after 400 AD.[17][18]

Macha Mong Ruad
Macha Mong Ruad (“red hair”), daughter of Áed Rúad (“red fire” or “fire lord” – a name of the Dagda), was, according to medieval legend and historical tradition, the only queen in the List of High Kings of Ireland. Her father Áed rotated the kingship with his cousins Díthorba and Cimbáeth, seven years at a time. Áed died after his third stint as king, and when his turn came round again, Macha claimed the kingship. Díthorba and Cimbáeth refused to allow a woman to take the throne, and a battle ensued. Macha won, and Díthorba was killed. She won a second battle against Díthorba’s sons, who fled into the wilderness of Connacht. She married Cimbáeth, with whom she shared the kingship. Macha pursued Díthorba’s sons alone, disguised as a leper, and overcame each of them in turn when they tried to have sex with her, tied them up, and carried the three of them bodily to Ulster. The Ulstermen wanted to have them killed, but Macha instead enslaved them and forced them to build Emain Macha (Navan Fort near Armagh), to be the capital of the Ulaid, marking out its boundaries with her brooch (explaining the name Emain Macha as eó-muin Macha or “Macha’s neck-brooch”).[19] Macha ruled together with Cimbáeth for seven years, until he died of plague at Emain Macha, and then a further fourteen years on her own, until she was killed by Rechtaid Rígderg.[20][21] The Lebor Gabála synchronises her reign to that of Ptolemy I Soter (323–283 BC).[22] The chronology of Keating’s Foras Feasa ar Éirinn dates her reign to 468–461 BC, the Annals of the Four Masters to 661–654 BC.

Marie-Louise Sjoestedt writes of this figure: “In the person of this second Macha we discover a new aspect of the local goddess, that of the warrior and dominator” [23]

Macha, wife of Cruinniuc
Macha, daughter of Sainrith mac Imbaith, was the wife of Cruinniuc, an Ulster farmer. Some time after the death of Cruinniuc’s first wife, Macha appears at his house. Without speaking, she begins keeping the house and acting as his wife. Soon she becomes pregnant by him. As long as they were together Cruinniuc’s wealth grew. When he leaves to attend a festival organised by the king of Ulster, she warns him that she will only stay with him so long as he does not speak of her to anyone, and he promises to say nothing. However, during a chariot race, he boasts that his wife can run faster than the king’s horses. The king orders Cruinniuc be held on pain of death unless he can make good on his claim. Although she is heavily pregnant, Macha is brought to the gathering and the king forces her to race the horses. She wins the race, but then cries out in pain as she gives birth to twins on the finish line; a boy named Fír (“True”) and a girl named Fial (“Modest”).[4] For disrespecting and humiliating her, she curses the men of Ulster to be overcome with weakness—as weak “as a woman in childbirth”—at the time of their greatest need. This weakness would last for five days and the curse would last for nine generations. Thereafter, the place where Macha gave birth would be called Emain Macha, or “Macha’s twins”.[24][25]

This tale, The Debility of the Ulstermen (Noínden Ulad) explains the meaning of the name Emain Macha, and explains why none of the Ulstermen but the semi-divine hero Cúchulainn could resist the invasion of Ulster in the Táin Bó Cuailnge (Cattle Raid of Cooley).[5][25] It shows that Macha, as goddess of the land and sovereignty, can be vengeful if disrespected,[2] and how the rule of a bad king leads to disaster.[26]

This Macha is particularly associated with horses—it is perhaps significant that twin colts were born on the same day as Cúchulainn, and that one of his chariot-horses was called Liath Macha or “Macha’s Grey”—and she is often compared with the Welsh mythological figure Rhiannon.[5]

Relationships of the Machas
Macha is named as the wife of Nemed, son of Agnoman, or alternately as the wife of Crund, son of Agnoman, which may indicate an identity of Nemed with Crund. Macha is also named as the daughter of Midir and Aed the Red.[4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15]


[1] Ó hÓgáin, Dáithí (1991). Myth, Legend & Romance: An encyclopaedia of the Irish folk tradition. New York: Prentice Hall. pp. 284–285.

[2] Green, Miranda (1997). Celtic Goddesses: Warriors, Virgins and Mothers. London: British Museum Pressl. p. 77.
Toner (2010), p. 86.

[3] Stokes, Whitley, ed. (1870), “The Rennes Dindsenchas”, Revue celtique, 16: 44–46. “94. Ard Macha”.

[4] Koch, John T. Celtic Culture: A Historical Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO, 2006. p.1231
Mac Cana, Prionsias. “The Goddesses of the Insular Celts”. Celtic Mythology. Hamlyn, 1970.
Toner (2010), p. 81.

[5] Proto-Celtic lexicon,  Lebor Gabála Érenn §38

[6] Keating, Foras Feasa ar Éirinn 1.7, Annals of the Four Masters M2850

[7] The Metrical Dindsenchas “Ard Macha” Lebor Gabála Érenn §62, 64 A

[8] James MacKillop, Dictionary of Celtic Mythology, Oxford University Press, 1998, pp. 281–282
Angelique Gulermovich Epstein, War Goddess: The Morrígan and her Germano-Celtic Counterparts, September 1998, pp. 49–52.

[9] Geoffrey Keating, Foras Feasa ar Éirinn 1.11
Lebor Gabála Érenn §60, 62, 64

[10] Whitley Stokes (ed & trans), The Second Battle of Moytura, p. 101
Eugene O’Curry, Lectures on the Manuscript Materials of Ancient Irish History, 1861, Appendix No. XXXVIII

[11] Geoffrey Keating, Foras Feasa ar Éirinn 1.27-1.28
Annals of the Four Masters M4532-4546

[12] R. A. Stewart Macalister (ed. & trans.), Lebor Gabála Érenn: The Book of the Taking of Ireland Part V, Irish Texts Society, 1956, p. 263-267

[13] Sjoestedt, Marie-Louise (1982). Gods and Heroes of the Celts. Translated by Myles Dillon (2nd ed.). Berkeley, CA: Turtle Island Foundation. pp. 28–9. ISBN 0-913666-52-1.

[14]The Debility of the Ulstermen”, Hull, Vernam, tr., ed. (1968), “Noínden Ulad: The debility of the Ulidians”, Celtica, 8: 1–42

[15] Fee, Christopher and Leeming, David. The Goddess: Myths of the Great Mother. Reaktion Books, 2016.


CERRIDWEN, about the God

Cerridwen  – Celtic Goddess of Wisdom. She was an enchantress in Welsh medieval legend. She was the mother of a hideous son, Morfran, and a beautiful daughter, Creirwy. Her husband was Tegid Foel and they lived near Bala Lake (Llyn Tegid) in north Wales. Medieval Welsh poetry refers to her as possessing the cauldron of poetic inspiration (Awen) and the Tale of Taliesin recounts her swallowing her servant Gwion Bach who is then reborn through her as the poet Taliesin. Cerridwen is regarded by many Celtic Druid pagans as the Celtic goddess of rebirth, transformation, and inspiration. [1][2]

According to the late medieval[8] Tale of Taliesin, included in some modern editions of the Mabinogion, Cerridwen’s son, Morfran (also called Afagddu), was hideously ugly – particularly compared with his beautiful sister Creirwy – so Cerridwen sought to make him wise in compensation. She made a potion in her magical cauldron to grant the gift of wisdom and poetic inspiration. [3]

The mixture had to be boiled for a year and a day. She set Morda, a blind man, to tend the fire beneath the cauldron, while Gwion Bach, a young boy, stirred the concoction. The first three drops of liquid from this potion gave wisdom; the rest was a fatal poison. Three hot drops spilled onto Gwion’s thumb as he stirred, burning him. He instinctively put his thumb in his mouth, and gained the wisdom and knowledge Cerridwen had intended for her son. Realising that Cerridwen would be angry, Gwion fled. Cerridwen chased him. Using the powers of the potion he turned himself into a hare. She became a greyhound. He became a fish and jumped into a river. [4]  She transformed into an otter. He turned into a bird; she became a hawk. Finally, he turned into a single grain of corn. She then became a hen and, being a goddess she found and ate him without trouble. But because of the potion he was not destroyed. When Cerridwen became pregnant, she knew it was Gwion and resolved to kill the child when he was born. However, when he was born, he was so beautiful that she could not do it. She threw him in the ocean instead, sewing him inside a leather-skin bag (or set him in a coracle, depending on the story). The child did not die, but was rescued on a Welsh shore – near Aberdyfi according to most versions of the tale – by a prince named Elffin ap Gwyddno; the reborn infant grew to become the legendary bard Taliesin. [5]

Later interpretations
It has been suggested that Cerridwen first appeared as a simple sorceress character in the Tale of Taliesin. Its earliest surviving text dates from the mid-16th century, but it appears from its language to be a 9th-century composition, according to Hutton. References to Cerridwen and her cauldron found in the work of the 12th century Gogynfeirdd or Poets of the Princes (such as Cynddelw Brydydd Mawr) he thus considers later, derivative works. In them, according to Hutton, Cerridwen is transformed from a sorceress into a goddess of poetry. Citing this and a couple of other examples, Hutton proposes that the Gogynfeirdd substantially created a new mythology not reflective of earlier paganism.[6] Nonetheless, references to Ceridwen’s cauldron (pair Cerridwen) are also to be found in some of the early mythological poems attributed to the legendary Taliesin in the Book of Taliesin.[7]

The Victorian poet Thomas Love Peacock also wrote a poem entitled the Cauldron of Ceridwen.[8] Later writers identified her as having originally been a pagan goddess, speculating on her role in a supposed Celtic pantheon. John Rhys in 1878 referred to the Solar Myth theory of Max Müller according to which “Gwenhwyfar and Ceridwen are dawn goddesses.”[9] Charles Isaac Elton in 1882 referred to her as a “white fairy”.[10] Robert Graves later fitted her into his concept of the Threefold Goddess, in which she was interpreted as a form of the destructive side of the goddess.[10]


[1] A. O. H. Jarman (ed.). Llyfr Du Caerfyrddin (University of Wales Press, 1982), 3.3.
Ronald Hutton, The Pagan Religions of the Ancient British Isles: Their Nature and Legacy, Blackwell Publishing, 1993, p. 323

[2] Rachel Bromwich (ed.), Trioedd Ynys Prydein (University of Wales Press, 1991), pp. 308–9.
Rachel Bromwich (ed.), Trioedd Ynys Prydein (University of Wales Press, 1991), p. 308.

[3] George Oliver (1846). An account of the religious houses formerly situated on the eastern side of the river Witham. R. Spencer. p. 165.

[4] John Dudley (1846). Naology: or, A treatise on the origin, progress, and symbolical import of the sacred structures of the most eminent nations and ages of the world. F. and J. Rivington. p. 270.

[5] Edward Davies (1809). The Mythology and Rites of the British Druids… J. Booth. pp. 402–3.
This story is first attested in a sixteenth-century manuscript; the prose is late medieval, while the orthography is modern. The version found in Lady Charlotte Guest’s printing of the Mabinogion is not reliable, as it was in part forged by Iolo Morganwg. (Williams, Ifor (1944) Lectures on Early Welsh Poetry ch. 3. Dublin: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies.)

[6] J. Gwenogvryn Evans (ed.), The Book of Taliesin (Llanbedrog, 1910), 33.10; 27.13–14; 33.10.

[7] Thomas Love Peacock, The Works of Thomas Love Peacock: Including His Novels, Poems,  Fugitive Pieces, Criticisms, R. Bentley and Son, 1875, p. 113.

[8] John Rhys, Lectures on Welsh Philology, Trübner, 1879, p. 305

[9] Charles Isaac Elton, Origins of English History, B. Quaritch, 1882, p.253.

[10] Ronald Hutton, The Triumph of the Moon: A History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft, Oxford University Press, 2001, p. 192. Cerridwen: Keeper of the Cauldron

fionn, about the God

Fionn mac Cumhaill  – Celtic God of Battle and War. Often rendered as Finn McCool or Finn MacCool in English, was a mythical hunter-warrior in Irish mythology, occurring also in the mythologies of Scotland and the Isle of Man. The stories of Fionn and his followers, the Fianna, form the Fenian Cycle (an Fhiannaíocht), much of it narrated in the voice of Fionn’s son, the poet Oisín. [1][2]

In Old Irish, finn/find means “white, bright, lustrous; fair, light-hued (of complexion, hair, etc.); fair, handsome, bright, blessed; in moral sense, fair, just, true”.[3] It is cognate with Primitive Irish VENDO- (found in names from Ogam inscriptions), Welsh gwyn, Cornish gwen, Breton gwenn, Continental Celtic and Common Brittonic *uindo- (a common element in personal and place names), and comes from the Proto-Celtic adjective masculine singular *windos (likely derived from the Proto-Indo-European root *weyd- “to know, to see”).[4][5]

Irish legend
Fionn’s birth and early adventures are recounted in the narrative The Boyhood Deeds of Fionn and other sources. Finn was the posthumous son of Cumhall, leader of the Fianna, by Muirne.[6] Finn and his father Cumhall mac Trénmhoir (“son of Trénmór”) stem from Leinster, rooted in the tribe of Uí Thairsig (“the Descendants of Tairsiu”)[7][8] There is mention of the Uí Thairsig in the Lebor Gabála Érenn as one of the three tribes descended from the Fir Bolg.[9]

The mother was called Muirne Muincháem “of the Fair Neck”[10] (or “of the Lovely Neck”,[10] or “Muiren smooth-neck”[10]), the daughter or Tadg mac Nuadat (in Fotha Catha Chnucha) and granddaughter of Nuadat the druid serving Cathair Mór who was high-king at the time,[11][12] though she is described as granddaughter of Núadu of the Tuatha Dé Danann according to another source (Acallam na Senórach).[13] Cumhall served Conn Cétchathach “of the Hundred Battles” who was still a regional king at Cenandos (Kells, Co. Meath).[14][15] Cumhall abducted Muirne after her father refused him her hand, so Tadg appealed to the high king Conn, who outlawed Cumhall. The Battle of Cnucha was fought between Conn and Cumhall, and Cumhall was killed by Goll mac Morna,[16] who took over leadership of the Fianna.[17]

Muirne was already pregnant; her father rejected her and ordered his people to burn her, but Conn would not allow it and put her under the protection of Fiacal mac Conchinn, whose wife, Bodhmall the druid, was Cumhall’s sister. In Fiacal’s house Muirne gave birth to a son, whom she called Deimne literally “sureness” or “certainty”, also a name that means a young male deer; several legends tell how he gained the name Fionn when his hair turned prematurely white.[17][18]

Fionn and his brother Tulcha mac Cumhal were being hunted down by the Goll, the sons of Morna, and other men. Consequently, Finn was separated from his mother Muirne, and placed in the care of Bodhmall and the woman Liath Luachra (“Grey of Luachra”), and they brought him up in secret in the forest of Sliabh Bladma, teaching him the arts of war and hunting. After the age of six, Finn learned to hunt, but still had cause to flee from the sons of Morna.[19][20]

As he grew older he entered the service – incognito – of a number of local kings, but each one, when he recognised Fionn as Cumhal’s son, told him to leave, fearing they would be unable to protect him from his enemies. [21]

Salmon of Knowledge
Fionn was a keen hunter and often hunted with Na Fianna on the hill of Allen in County Kildare, it is believed by many in the area that Fionn originally caught the Salmon of Knowledge in the River Slate that flows through Ballyteague. The secret to his success there after when catching “fish of knowledge” was to always cast from the Ballyteague side of a river. He gains what commentators have called the “Thumb of Knowledge”[c] after eating a certain salmon, thought to be the Salmon of Wisdom.[21][22] The account of this is given in The Boyhood Deeds of Fionn.[23]

Young Fionn, still known by his boyhood name Demne, met the poet Finn Éces (Finnegas), near the river Boyne and studied under him. Finnegas had spent seven years trying to catch the salmon that lived in Fec’s Pool (Old Irish: Linn Féic) of the Boyne, for it was prophesied the poet would eat this salmon, and “nothing would remain unknown to him”.[23] Although this salmon is not specifically called the “Salmon of Knowledge”, etc., in the text, it is presumed to be so, i.e., the salmon that fed on the nut[s] of knowledge at Segais.[24] Eventually the poet caught it, and told the boy to cook it for him. While he was cooking it, Demne burned his thumb, and instinctively put his thumb in his mouth. This imbued him with the salmon’s wisdom, and when Éces saw that he had gained wisdom, he gave the youngster the whole salmon to eat, and gave Demne the new name, Fionn.[25] Thereafter, whenever he recited the teinm láida with his thumb in his mouth, the knowledge he wished to gain was revealed to him.[25] Finn’s acquisition of the Thumb of Knowledge has been likened to the Welsh Gwion Bach tasting the Cauldron of Knowledge,[25] and Sigurðr Fáfnisbani tasting Fáfnir’s heart.[26][27]

Fire-breather of the Tuatha de Danann

Fionn fighting Aillen, illustration by Beatrice Elvery in Violet Russell’s Heroes of the Dawn (1914)
One feat of Fionn performed at 10 years of age according to the Acallam na Senórach was to slay Áillen , the fire-breathing man of the Tuatha Dé Danann, who had come to wreak destruction on the Irish capital of Tara every year on the festival of Samhain for the past 23 years, lulling the city’s men to sleep with his music then burned down the city and its treasures. [28][29]

When the King of Ireland asked what men would guard Tara against Áillen’s invasion, [30] Fionn volunteered.[f] Fionn obtained a special spear (the “Birga”) from Fiacha mac Congha (“son of Conga”), which warded against the sleep-inducing music of Áillen’s “dulcimer” timpán when it was unsheathed and the bare steel blade was touched against the forehead or some other part of the body. This Fiacha used to be one of Cumall’s men, but was now serving the high-king. [31]

After Fionn defeated Áillen and saved Tara, his heritage was recognised and he was given command of the Fianna: Goll stepped aside, and became a loyal follower of Fionn,[32][33] although a dispute later broke out between the clans over the pig of Slanga.[34]

Almu as Eric
Before Finn completed the feat of defeating the firebrand of the fairy mound and defending Tara, he is described as a ten-year-old “marauder and an outlaw”.[35] It is also stated elsewhere that when Finn grew up to become “capable of committing plunder on everyone who was an enemy”, he went to his maternal grandfather Tadg to demand compensation  for his father’s death, on pain of single combat, and Tadg acceded by relinquishing the estate of Almu (the present-day Hill of Allen). Finn was also paid éric by Goll mac Morna.[36]

Fionn’s sword was called “Mac an Luinn”.[37]

Love life
Fionn met his most famous wife, Sadhbh, when he was out hunting. She had been turned into a deer by a druid, Fear Doirich, whom she had refused to marry. Fionn’s hounds, Bran and Sceólang, born of a human enchanted into the form of a hound, recognised her as human, and Fionn brought her home. She transformed back into a woman the moment she set foot on Fionn’s land, as this was the one place she could regain her true form. She and Fionn married and she was soon pregnant. When Fionn was away defending his country, Fear Doirich (literally meaning Dark Man) returned and turned her back into a deer, whereupon she vanished. Fionn spent years searching for her, but to no avail. Bran and Sceólang, again hunting, found her son, Oisín, in the form of a fawn; he transformed into a child, and went on to be one of the greatest of the Fianna.[37]

In The Pursuit of Diarmuid and Gráinne the High King Cormac mac Airt promises the aging Fionn his daughter Gráinne, but at the wedding feast Gráinne falls for one of the Fianna, Diarmuid Ua Duibhne, noted for his beauty. She forces him to run away with her and Fionn pursues them. The lovers are helped by the Fianna, and by Diarmuid’s foster-father, the god Aengus. Eventually Fionn makes his peace with the couple. Years later, however, Fionn invites Diarmuid on a boar hunt, and Diarmuid is gored. Water drunk from Fionn’s hands has the power of healing, but each time Fionn gathers water he lets it run through his fingers before he gets back to Diarmuid. His grandson Oscar shames Fionn, but when he finally returns with water it is too late; Diarmuid has died.[39]

According to the most popular account of Fionn’s death, he is not dead at all, rather, he sleeps in a cave, surrounded by the Fianna. One day he will awake and defend Ireland in the hour of her greatest need. In one account, it is said that he will arise when the Dord Fiann, the hunting horn of the Fianna, is sounded three times, and he will be as strong and as well as he ever was.[39]

Many geographical features in Ireland are attributed to Fionn. Legend has it he built the Giant’s Causeway as stepping-stones to Scotland, so as not to get his feet wet; he also once scooped up part of Ireland to fling it at a rival, but it missed and landed in the Irish Sea — the clump became the Isle of Man and the pebble became Rockall, the void became Lough Neagh. In Ayrshire, Scotland a common myth is that Ailsa Craig, a small islet just off coast of the said county, is another rock thrown at the fleeing Benandonner. The islet being referred to as paddys’ mile stone in Ayrshire. Fingal’s Cave in Scotland is also named after him, and shares the feature of hexagonal basalt columns with the nearby Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland. [40[42]

In both Irish and Manx popular folklore,[38] Fionn mac Cumhail (known as “Finn McCool” or “Finn MacCooill” respectively) is portrayed as a magical, benevolent giant. The most famous story attached to this version of Fionn tells of how one day, while making a pathway in the sea towards Scotland – The Giant’s Causeway – Fionn is told that the giant Benandonner (or, in the Manx version, a buggane) is coming to fight him. Knowing he cannot withstand the colossal Benandonner, Fionn asks his wife Oona to help him. She dresses her husband as a baby, and he hides in a cradle; then she makes a batch of griddle-cakes, hiding griddle-irons in some. When Benandonner arrives, Oona tells him Fionn is out but will be back shortly. As Benandonner waits, he tries to intimidate Oona with his immense power, breaking rocks with his little finger. Oona then offers Benandonner a griddle-cake, but when he bites into the iron he chips his teeth. Oona scolds him for being weak (saying her husband eats such cakes easily), and feeds one without an iron to the ‘baby’, who eats it without trouble. [42]

In the Irish version, Benandonner is so awed by the power of the baby’s teeth and the size of the baby that, at Oona’s prompting, he puts his fingers in Fionn’s mouth to feel how sharp his teeth are. Fionn bites Benandonner’s little finger, and scared of the prospect of meeting his father considering the baby’s size, Benandonner runs back towards Scotland across the Causeway smashing the causeway so Fionn can’t follow him. [43] The Manx Gaelic version contains a further tale of how Fionn and the buggane fought at Kirk Christ Rushen. One of Fionn’s feet carved out the channel between the Calf of Man and Kitterland, the other carved out the channel between Kitterland and the Isle of Man, and the buggane’s feet opened up Port Erin. The buggane injured Fionn, who fled over the sea (where the buggane could not follow), however, the buggane tore out one of his own teeth and struck Fionn as he ran away. The tooth fell into the sea, becoming the Chicken Rock, and Fionn cursed the tooth, explaining why it is a hazard to sailors. In Newfoundland, and some parts of Nova Scotia, “Fingal’s Rising” is spoken of in a distinct nationalistic sense. Made popular in songs and bars alike, to speak of “Fingle,” as his name is pronounced in English versus “Fion MaCool” in Newfoundland Irish, is sometimes used as a stand-in for Newfoundland or its culture. Folktales involving hero Fin MacCool are considered to be classified in Aarne-Thompson-Uther Index as ATU 369, “The Youth on a Quest for his lost Father”,[45] a tale type that, however, some see as exclusive to South Asian tradition, namely India.[45][46][47] Not just Geoffrey Keating, the compiler of the 17th century history, but other eminent Irish scholars of the 19th century[i] held the view that Finn mac Cumhall was based on a historical figure.[48] The hypothetical identification with Caittil Find (d. 856) a Norseman based in Munster, was even proposed by Heinrich Zimmer. This personage had a Norse name (Ketill) but also an Irish nickname Find “the Fair” or “the White”, which might match Finn mac Cumhall. But Ketill’s father must have had some Norse name also, certainly not Cumall, and the proposal was thus rejected by George Henderson.[49][50] T. W. Rolleston compiled both Fenian and Ultonian cycle literature in his retelling, The High Deeds Of Finn and other Bardic Romances of Ancient Ireland (1910). James Stephens published Irish Fairy Tales (1920), which is a retelling of a few of the Fiannaíocht. Finn mac Cumhal was transformed into the character “Fingal” in James Macpherson’s poem cycle Ossian (1760), which Macpherson claimed was translated out of discovered Ossianic poetry written in the Scottish Gaelic language.[52] “Fingal”, derived from the Gaelic Fionnghall, was possibly Macpherson’s rendering Fionn’s name as Fingal based on a misapprehension of the various forms of Fionn.[49] His poems had widespread influence on writers, from the young Walter Scott to Goethe, but there was controversy from the outset about Macpherson’s claims to have translated the works from ancient sources, been based on fragments of Gaelic legend. “Tooth of Knowledge/Wisdom” in the Acallam na Sénorach. The teinm láida, glossed as “illumination (?) of song” by Meyer, is described as “one of the three things that constitute a poet” in this text, but glossed by the 12th century Sanas Chormaic as one of the three methods of acquiring prophetic knowledge. The episode is also briefly told in Macgnímartha Finn, but there the name of the TDD villain is Aed . The Fenians were supposed to be devoted to the service of the High King and to the repelling of foreign invaders. It is not clear what sort of stringed instrument.O’Grady’s translation leaves the word in the original Irish, and O’Dooley and Roe as “dulcimer”. T. W. Rolleston rendered it as a “magic harp”, though he uses the term “tympan” elsewhere. In the Acallamh na Sénorach, the recollection of the Birga event is preceded by an explanation of Almu, which says Cumhall fathered a son by Alma daughter of Bracan, who died of childbirth. Finn is not specifically mentioned until Caílte follows up with a story involving Almu that took place in the time of Conn’s grandson Cormac.[52] John O’Donovan and Eugene O’Curry. Also W. M. Hennessy before having a change of heart.[33][34][35][36][37][38][39][40[41][42][43][44][45][46][47][48][49][50][51][52]


[1] Meyer, Kuno, ed. (1897), “The Death of Finn Mac Cumaill”, Zeitschrift für Celtische Philologie, 1: 462–465, doi:10.1515/zcph.1897.1.1.462, S2CID 202553713text via CELT Corpus.

[2] Stokes (1900), pp. xiv+1–438. Electronic Dictionary of the Irish Language, finn-1; dil.ie/22134
Matasovic, Ranko, Etymological Dictionary of Proto-Celtic, Brill, 2009, p. 423

[3] Delamarre, Xavier, Dictionnaire de la langue gauloise, Editions Errance, 2003 (2nd ed.), p. 321.

[4] Meyer (1904) tr. The Boyish Exploits of Finn, pp. 180–181

[5] Stokes (1900) ed. Acallm. 6645–6564 Cumhall mac Treduirn meic Trénmhoir; O’Grady (1892a) ed., p. 216 Cumhall mac Thréduirn mheic Chairbre ; O’Grady (1892b) tr. p. 245 Cumall son of

[6] Tredhorn son of Cairbre; Dooley & Roe (1999), pp. 183–184: “Cumall, son of Tredhorn, son of Trénmór

[7] Meyer (1904) tr. The Boyish Exploits of Finn, p. 180

[8] Macalister, R. A. S. (1941) ed. tr. LGE ¶282 pp. 12–13

[9] Hennessy, William Maunsell, ed. (1875), “Battle of Cnucha”, Revue Celtique, 2: 86–93 (ed.

[10] “Fotha Catha Cnucha inso” , tr. “The Cause of the Battle of Cnucha here”).
Dooley & Roe (1999), pp. 183–184.

[11] O’Grady (1892b), p. 245.

[12] Fotha Catha Cnucha, Hennessy (1875), p. 92, note 7: “Almu. hill of Allen, near Newbridge in the country of Kildare”.

[13]Tadg mac Nuadat was also a druid, and the clan lived on the hill of Almu, now in County Kildare. Windisch, Ernst, ed. (1875), Fotha Catha Cnucha in so, 2, pp. 86–93, Wórterbuch, p. 127: “Cenandos”, now Kells.

[14] Rolleston, T. W. (1911). “Chapter VI: Tales of the Ossianic Cycle”. Hero-tales of Ireland. Constable. p. 252. ISBN 9780094677203.

[15] Macgnímartha Find, Meyer (1904), pp. 180–181 and verse.

[16] Acallam na Senórach, O’Grady (1892b), p. 142. That is, until Finn at age ten saved Tara from Aillen of the Tuatha Dé Danann, cf. infra.

[17]  Macgnímartha Find, Meyer (1904), pp. 181–182.

[18] Acallam na Senórach 203, Stokes (1900) ed., p. 7 and note to line 203, p. 273;

[19] Dooley & Roe (1999), p. 9 and note on p. 227.

[20] Scowcroft (1995), p. 152.

[21] “knowledge”, Mackillop (1998) ed., Oxford Dictionary of Celtic Mythology, p. 287

[22] Meyer (1904) tr. The Boyish Exploits of Finn, pp. 185–186; Meyer (1881) ed., p. 201

[23] “teinm laída”, Mackillop (1998) ed., Oxford Dictionary of Celtic Mythology

[24] Scowcroft (1995), pp. 152–153.

[25] Scowcroft (1995), p. 154

[26] Scott, Robert D. (1930), The thumb of knowledge in legends of Finn, Sigurd, and Taliesin, New York: Institute of French Studies

[27] Stokes (1900) ed. Acallm. 1654–1741; O’Grady (1892a) ed., pp. 130–132 O’Grady (1892b) tr. pp. 142–145; Dooley & Roe (1999), pp. 51–54

[28]. “timpán”, ‘some kind of stringed instrument ; a psaltery (?) ‘.
Rolleston (1926), p. 117.

[29] Acallam na Senórach, O’Grady (1892b) tr. pp. 142–144; Dooley & Roe (1999), pp. 51–53

[30] Acallamh na Sénorach, O’Grady (1892b) tr. pp. 144–145; Dooley & Roe (1999), p. 53–54

[31]  Macgnímartha Find, Meyer (1904), p. 188 and verse.

[32] Fotha Catha Cnucha, Hennessy (1875), pp. 91–92 and verse.

[33] Acallamh na Sénorach, O’Grady (1892b) tr. p. 142; Dooley & Roe (1999), p. 52: “an outcast engaged in scavenging”.

[34] Acallamh na Sénorach, O’Grady (1892b) tr. pp. 131–132; Dooley & Roe (1999), pp. 39–40

[35] “BBC Radio nan Gàidheal – Litir do Luchd-ionnsachaidh, Litir do Luchd-ionnsachaidh”. BBC. Retrieved 27 October 2019.

[36] Manx Fairy Tales, Peel, L. Morrison, 1929

[37] Harvey, Clodagh Brennan. Contemporary Irish Traditional Narrative: The English Language Tradition. Berkeley; Los Angeles; Oxford: University of California Press. 1992. pp. 80-81 (footnote nr. 26). ISBN 0-520-09758-0

[38] Aarne, Antti; Thompson, Stith. The types of the folktale: a classification and bibliography. Folklore Fellows Communications FFC no. 184. Helsinki: Academia Scientiarum Fennica, 1961. p. 128.

[39] Beck, B. E. F. “Frames, Tale Types and Motifs: The Discovery of Indian Oicotypes”. In: Indian Folklore Volume II. eds. P. J. Claus et al. Mysore: 1987. pp. 1–51.

[40] Mazharul. Folklore, the Pulse of the People: In the Context of Indic Folklore. New Delhi: Concept Publishing Company. 1985. pp. 100 and 166.

[41] Rolleston, T. W. (1926) [1910]. “The Coming of Lugh”. The High Deeds Of Finn and other Bardic Romances of Ancient Ireland. George G. Harrap. pp. 105ff. Irish Fairy Tales

[42] Hanks, P; Hardcastle, K; Hodges, F (2006) [1990]. A Dictionary of First Names. Oxford Paperback Reference (2nd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 402, 403. ISBN 978-0-19-861060-1. “Notes to the first edition”. Sundown.pair.com.

[43] Judkis, Maura. “TBD Theater: Finn McCool”. TBD. TBD.com.
Bibliography (Acallam na Senórach)

[44] Tales of the Elders of Ireland. Translated by Dooley, Ann; Roe, Harry. Oxford University Press. 1999. pp. 152–154, 155–158, 174–176 (and endnote) p. 171ff. ISBN 978-0-192-83918-3.

[45] O’Grady, Standish H., ed. (1892a), “Agallamh na Senórach”, Silva Gadelica, Williams and Norgate, pp. 94–232

[46] O’Grady, Standish H., ed. (1892b), “The Colloquy with the Ancients”, Silva Gadelica, translation and notes, Williams and Norgate, pp. 101–265

[47] Stokes, Whitley, ed. (1900), Acallamh na Seanórach; Tales of the Elders, Irische Texte IV. e-text via CELT corpus.

[48] Henderson, George (16 January 1905), “The Fionn Saga”, Folk-lore, London, 28: 193–207, 353–366

[49] Meyer, Kuno (1881), “Macgnimartha Find”, Revue Celtique, 5: 195–204, 508

[50] Meyer, Kuno (1904), “The Boyish Exploits of Finn” [tr. of Macgnimartha Find], Ériu, 1: 180–190

[51] Mackillop, James (1985), Fionn mac Cumhail: Celtic Myth in English Literature, London: Syracuse University Press, ISBN 9780815623533

[52] Scowcroft, Richard Mark (1995), “Abstract Narrative in Ireland”, Ériu, 46: 121–158, JSTOR 30007878