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What are the locations behind Ireland’s myths and legends?

What are the locations behind Ireland’s myths and legends?

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Posted Tue 9 Jun 2020 10:30 AM
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Ireland is a land that’s rich with history, so as you’d expect, it’s filled to the brim with fascinating mythology and memorable stories. And where would a good story be without a great location?

The first one that springs to mind is the Giant’s Causeway. This stunning rock formation in County Antrim is an incredible sight to behold – and it has a fantastical origin story to match. Irish hero Fionn mac Cumhaill had a dispute with Scottish giant Benandonner across the sea. One day after enduring insults from Benandonner, Fionn built a path to use as stepping-stones to reach Scotland, which was then ripped up by Benandonner – and so the Giant’s Causeway was born.

Alongside the River Boyne in County Meath you’ll find the seat of the High Kings of Ireland, the Hill of Tara. The Neolithic people believed it to be the dwelling place of the gods and an entrance to the otherworld. In County Armagh you’ll find Tara’s northern equivalent, The Navan Fort which boasts an equally legendary pedigree - it was the setting for several famous Ulster Cycle stories, and was the stronghold of the famed hero Cu Chulainn.

One of the most famous ancient sites in Ireland has to be Newgrange. It sits in the Boyne Valley near the Hill of Tara and predates both the pyramids of Egypt and Stonehenge! It’s famous for the winter solstice ritual in December, when the morning sunlight bathes the chamber in a mystical glow. It’s incredible to think that people built this ingenious tomb with only the skies as their guide.

Rathcroghan in County Roscommon was the seat of Queen Maeve and the Kings of Connacht. It’s the oldest and largest unexcavated royal complex in Europe. One of its most famous sites is the Oweynagat cave which, if the myths are to be believed, is an entrance to the otherworld...

Lastly, there are the statues that show the mystical Children of Lir. The sad tale tells of four children who were transformed into swans by their jealous stepmother and lived on Ireland’s lakes for 900 years. In Dublin, you’ll find a beautiful sculpture of the four swans in the Garden of Remembrance. There’s another statue of the four swans on Ballycastle’s seafront in County Antrim.

That’s just a few of Ireland’s mythological sites. Does anyone from our Community have a favourite?

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