The Myths and Legends of Ireland

The most eloquent man in the world, Frank Delany says, “Every field in Ireland contains a tale; there’s a myth on every mountain. For legends, follow the stream of any river – and soon you’ll understand why Ireland’s national art form is the story…” words from a renowned broadcaster, journalist and novelist about his homeland shouldn’t leave an iota of doubt — Ireland has housed some myths and legends on her soil, stories which run deep within the cultures of its people and resonate to this day.

Children of Lir Sculpture Ballycastle










Children of Lir sculpture, Ballycastle

Frank didn’t just utter those words, he had a mountain of literary works to draw on – storytellers of tales such as; James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, Bram Stoker, CS Lewis, Joseph O’Connor, Maeve Binchy, Seamus Heaney and Bernard McLaverty to name but a few have all contributed their own modern versions of Ireland’s ancient myths and legends.

TreesFor you to have a grasp of Ireland myths and legends you have to turn back the hands of time in her history. Fortunately, we still have all these tales intact for us to read and see…they weren’t only passed from one generation to another; they were written down and preserved — so the coming generation could have them.

Examples are;

Book of Leinster at Dublin’s Trinity College Library and Book of Ballymote (ancient tomes) at Royal Irish Academy, which are known to consist of the early records of Ireland’s myths.

The Ireland Leprachauns (Wee Folk)

To begin with our Irish legendary and mythical tales, “The leprachauns” ( leipreachán) cannot be left out. This legendary creature are known to be tiny men in dapper green coat and hat, does evil, create and mend shoes and hides pot of gold at the end rainbows.

Tom O’Rahilly, the Curator of the Dublin Leprechaun Museum opens up on some secret about leprechauns. He said, “Leprechauns have been in Ireland for thousands of years, indeed the first recorded sighting dates back to the 8th century. What might surprise many people is that there are female leprechauns, too. As shoemakers to the fairies, leprechauns have amassed great amounts of money.”

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Four Swan Statue (Children of Lir)

Have you seen four bright white swans statue at the green patch of Antrim’s Ballycastle seafront?

These swans remain midair, they are known as “The Children of Lir”. Tales have it that, a jealous stepmother turned her four stepchildren into birds and their relatives were resident of Lough Derravaragh in Westmeath and the island of Inishglora off Mayo’s coast for 300 years.

As at now, a sanctuary is located across the statue’s location – The beautiful Rathlin Island off the coast of County Antrim. Though, we’ve got different endings to this very tale but Rathlin Island is acknowledge to be the location where this swans transformed back to their human form before giving up the ghost.

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The Ardee Battle (Cú Chulainn and Ferdia)

Do you know the tales behind these names?

To let you in on the secret, the town of Ardee is a town land in County Louth very close to the River Dee in Ireland. Ardee, which means “Ferdia’s ford”, is known to be the location of an ultimate fight in Irish folklore.

According to tales, the royal palace (king and queen) sent forth a Connacht warrior called Ferdia to conquer a mighty warrior called Cú Chulainn by the river. Meanwhile Ferdia and Cú Chulainn were best friends, in fact foster brothers. These two brothers challenged each other for good three days but when night falls they tends to each other’s wounds.  In the end, Ferdia died in Cú Chulainn’s arms…the statue close to River Dee depicts this.

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This may be a myth, but that doesn’t mean this Ireland’s mythology has no power, tragedy or lessons to learn from…all these still live on.

Even if, ireland legends seems to be a fantasy…the location of the each legends and the attached feelings are real. In fact all these made the tales very interesting that you’ll want to know more.
Well if you don’t know yet, these three tales we shared here are just a little of Ireland’s mythological and legendary tales…

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