Irish Mythology: Dive into its Finest Legends and Tales

Updated On: April 21, 2024 by   Ciaran ConnollyCiaran Connolly

Mythology is important. Despite being untrue -partially untrue-it is a significant part of every culture worldwide. It makes up a substantial portion of history, traditions, and beliefs. More precisely, mythology refers to a group with certain beliefs or myths. Some people also refer to mythology as godlore.

Myths supposedly tell tales of history and nature. However, the reason some people say godlore is probably the fact that mythology is mostly about gods, either mythical or real. The same goes for the Irish mythology. It is a deep ocean of tales about Ireland’s gods, history, customs, and more—a combination of exciting traditions and religious rituals that made up Ireland’s most popular stories.

Irish Mythology

Table of Contents

The Significance Of Mythology

Again, mythology refers to what each group of people used to believe in. However, mythology is also a study that some people pursue. For example, people who study Irish mythology learn all about the beliefs and rituals of the ancient Irish.

Alan Dundes was a folklorist who defined the study of myths as a sacred narrative. He believed so because mythology narrated the precise evolution of the world and humanity to what they became today. More accurately, Dundes stated that those sacred narratives directly defined how the world viewed cultures. Mythology explains different aspects of the world and social and psychological practices.

On the other hand, some scholars once described mythology as a presentation of ideas in narrative form, while others referred to mythology differently. Thus, mythology can have many meanings depending on your perspective and culture. Nonetheless, how you define mythology does not change its significance in tales telling and unfolding the history of cultures.

All About The Irish Mythology

Every culture certainly has its myths and legends. However, Ireland is one of the most popular countries in art. Irish mythology has always been interesting. It is full of famous stories and ancient tales that people worldwide still narrate to this very day. Interestingly, Irish mythology also contains four different cycles. These cycles are the Mythology cycle, Fenian cycle, Kings’ or Historical cycle, and Ulster cycle.

Each cycle embraces a wide range of characters and stories and has a specific theme. They also refer to different eras; each cycle includes the characters and tales of a particular period. Shortly, we will get to the precise details of each cycle and learn about the stories and characters they contain. Above and beyond, we will introduce you to Irish mythology’s most famous tales, warriors, races, and gods.

Before going into further details, it is essential to know that these cycles did not belong to the mythology itself. They were methods that researchers and folklorists used to make analyzing each era easier. Thus, they had to divide the characters and stories into four sections.

Mythological Cycle

The mythological cycle is the first one in the cycles of the Irish mythology. This cycle is the section that revolves around tales of gods and other myths. It is a major cycle, embracing many significant legends and stories. Specifically, the mythology cycle includes all of the tales that, supposedly, were told by the Tuatha De Danann. The latter was a race in the ancient Irish who made up most of the stories of this cycle -we will get into more details about them later-.

Going back to the mythology cycle, the characters of this cycle were formerly gods that ancient Irish people believed in. This era in which the cycle is set belongs to when Christianity had not arrived in Ireland for so long. However, according to some scholars, all those beliefs connected with gods were not as portrayed.

Those scholars believe that the characters people believed to be gods were more godlike characters rather than actual gods. Some sources claim that the reason scholars stated goes back to their Christian beliefs.

Known Stories of the Mythology Cycle

The cycle includes many works, including verse texts and prose tales. One of those works was The Book of Invasions. This cycle contains many romances, but some sources claim that these tales date to modern times. Some of these stories were Cath Maige Tuired and The Fate of the Children of Tuireann. Other stories in the mythological cycles involve people transmitting them orally through the years.

Folk tales are what researchers call these stories; they belong to an age that was long before the mortal men ruled over Ireland. The mortal men were races, including the Milesians and their descendants. The Children of Lir is another famous tale in Irish mythology; it also falls into the mythological cycle along with The Dream of Aengus and Wooing of Etain.

Ulster Cycle

Then comes the Ulster cycle, one of the prominent cycles of Irish mythology that revolves around legends of the heroes of Ulaid. It is eastern Ulster and northern Leinster. Manuscripts on which these legends exist have been around since the Medieval period. On the other hand, some stories of these cycles belong to the period of Early Christianity in Ireland.

Historians have controversial opinions when it comes to this specific cycle. Some of them believed that the cycle is of a historical category as the events of it took place during the time of Christ. Others thought that the cycle was chastely legendary and untrue.

Like any cycle, the Ulster cycle includes many stories. One of the most important stories is the Cattle Raid of Cooley, in which Queen Connacht Medb and Ailill, her husband, started a war against Ulaid. Above and beyond, Deirdre of the Sorrows is another significant story of this cycle. It is a story about the most beautiful woman in Ireland who died after setting examples of lust and love.

Fenian Cycle

This cycle has multiple names, including the Fenian and Finn Cycle, and some people call it Finnian tales. It is one of the most significant ones in Irish mythology. It revolves around superheroes and warriors of ancient Ireland. Some people confuse this cycle with the Ulster cycle due to the similarities between the worlds they evoke. The Fenian cycle also exists in the mythology of Scotland. However, Irish mythology takes place in the 3rd century.

On the other hand, the tales of the Fenian cycle tend to be more romantic ones rather than epic. That is precisely the difference between the stories of this cycle and those of the Ulster one. Most of the stories and legends of this cycle revolve around plots of warriors and heroes who spend their time fighting and hunting. They also embark on journeys and adventures in the world of spirits.

Unlike the mythological cycle, this cycle is not concerned with gods and ritual beliefs. However, this era was all about people and races worshipping heroes rather than gods or any other divine form.

The Story Behind the Different Names of the Fenian Cycle

The Fenian cycle embraces more than a few stories about legendary warriors and superheroes. The most important story is the tale of Fionn Mac Cumhall or Finn MacCool. The different derivatives of the cycle’s name also come from Finn’s or Fionn’s name. He was a legendary warrior in Irish mythology.

All of the stories of this cycle revolve around the mythical hero Finn MacCool and his army of warriors, the Fianna. Those warriors lived as bandits and hunters in the forests of Ireland. On the other hand,  some historians and sources refer to this cycle as the Ossianic cycle rather than the Fenian or Finn one. The reason for that goes back to the name of Finn MacCool’s son, Oisin. He was a poet, and most of the poems of this era were his own, so the cycle shared similarities in terms of names.

Irish mythology provides us with tales and stories, so some would fall into this cycle. The Fenian cycle is complete; all revolve around tales of the invincible warrior, Fionn mac Cumhall.

Salmon of Wisdom is one of the famous stories in this cycle. It is about Fionn’s challenges to become the leader of the Clan Bascna. You will get to the descriptive details about this tale in a later section. The other two famous tales that this cycle embraces are The Pursuit of Diarmuid and Gráinne and Oisín in Tír na nÓg.

Kings’ Cycle

Historians refer to this cycle as either the King’s or Historical Cycles. The tales of this cycle seem to belong to the medieval period. Thus, it is full of very significant stories in Irish mythology. Bards existed in Ireland during that very same period. Bards were professional poets who served kings and families. Some tend to refer to those bards as Court Poets. They were also good at recording the history of the people they served to remain memorable throughout the years.

Many sources claim that those bards were the reason the fourth cycle exists. That is because all of the cycle’s tales belonged solely to them. They wrote poems that narrated the history and combined it with mythological tales, resulting in even more exciting stories.

The historical cycle holds more than a few popular stories, including the tales of the High Kings, as Labraid Loingsech and Brian Boru, and also included the Frenzy of Sweeney. Historians and commentators describe this tale as the Glory of the Historical Cycle. It dates back to the 12th century, and people learn about it through either prose or verse.

Races That Existed In Irish Mythology

Irish mythology may have four cycles, each embracing many tales and characters. The characters of Irish mythology have their origins as well. These races descended for many generations, resulting in Ireland’s long history. The most popular group of folks that Irish mythology keeps telling their tales over and over are the Tuatha De Danann, the Fomorians, the Gaels, and the Milesians.

The Tuatha De Danann

The race of the Tuatha De Danann is the most popular in Irish mythology. It is also the race from which some of the most prominent characters originated. Some sources claim that despite all of the races of the Irish mythology, the Tuatha de Danann makes up most of the legends’ history.

So, who exactly was the Tuatha De Danann? They were a group of people who possessed supernatural and magical powers. This race existed in ancient Ireland for a specified period. They represented the ancient folks who lived before Christianity rushed to the borders of Ireland.

However, what exactly happened to them remains ambiguous. Most of them disappeared when other races managed to take over. Regarding the etymology of the name, the literal meaning of the Tuatha de Danann is the Tribe of the God. More precisely, the God they refer to in the race’s name, a goddess, was Danu or Dana.

The Origin of the Tuatha de Danann

To get to the point, they were a leading race in Irish mythology. The Tuatha de Danann has also descended from equally prominent races, such as the Nemeds. The Nemeds existed long before the Tuatha de Danann did and were Ireland’s rulers.

This conclusion was reached, for both races came from the same cities. In other words, they shared their exact origin and hometown. Those cities were Falias, Gorias, Murias, and Finias. Each city existed in Northern Ireland, and all happened to be home to the Tuatha de Danann and the Nemeds.

The Battle against the Fomorians

When the Tuatha de Danann arrived in Ireland for the first time, Nuada was their king. However, they fought against the Fomorians, and their king died. The king of the Fomorians, Balor, was the murderer of Nuada. He had super-powerful eyes, which he used to poison the other king. For revenge, Lugh slew Balor, for he was the champion of the Tuatha De Danann. Thus, he deserved to take over the kingship of his race, so he became a king.

Their Disappearance

The literature of Irish mythology claims that the Tuatha de Danann originally belonged to the Sidhe -pronounced as Shee-. It was a place where the fairies lived. Thus, they disappeared for good. Conversely, they did not die but appeared in other tales. They even occasionally appeared in tales that belonged to different cycles, worlds different from theirs.

The literature states that they hid through a fairy mist; this mist worked as a cloak where nobody could see them when passing near their fairy mounds, the side. What proves the point of cloaking and not dying is that they were guests in many significant tales. For example, Lugh, the champion, appeared to Cuchulainn, the Ulster hero, as a divine father. Above and beyond, Morrigan, a Tuatha de Danann figure, seemed to him as Nemesis.

The Fomorians

They are another supernatural race that existed in Irish mythology. The tales usually depict them as hostile creatures living in the waters or underground. However, literature later portrayed them as giant beings and sea raiders.

The Fomorians have been around since the beginning of time. The first settlers of Ireland were enemies of the Fomorians. They were also opponents of the Tuatha de Danann and went into battles against one another. Surprisingly, both races were enemies yet shared relations and connections, making it hard to name their relationship. Members of both races married one another and had children together who belonged to the two of them.

Historians claim that the Fomorians were godlike creatures like the Tuatha De Danann. However, unlike their counterpart race, they presented powers of destruction and harm. They were a pure representation of death, disfigurement, chaos, darkness, and scarcity.

According to Irish mythology, the Fomorians were enemies of many settlers. Some sources suggest that there was a reason behind the Fomorians’ hostility. It probably was that they ascended from a group of gods whom a newer group exiled for good.

The Etymology of the Word Fomorians

The Fomorians were not only a race in the Irish mythology. There had always been counter-opinions about them and the meaning of their name. There have been a lot of controversial opinions about the meaning of the name Fomorians.

The name has two different parts. The first part, Fo, is the only part that scholars and researchers agree upon. Fo is an Old Irish word that means lower, below, or under. Here comes the debate about the second part of the name, “morians.” Many suggestions had popped up when explaining the second part of the word.

Suggestions of the Irish Writers and Scholars

  • The Medieval Irish writers claimed that the word comes from the Old Irish mur, which means the sea. This proclaims that if that first suggestion were right, the whole word would mean “The Undersea Beings.” Scholars shared agreements upon this specific suggestion. Irish mythology has always depicted them as sea raiders or creatures that live under the sea.
  • The second suggestion declared that the second part of the word derives from the Old Irish, mor, which means great or big. That suggestion would give the whole word a new meaning: “the big underworld” or “the giants of the underworld.”
  • Scholars have supported the third suggestion more than the others. The third claims that the second part of the word comes from a hypothetical Old Irish term. This term supposedly means a demon or a ghost. It is also found in the name Morrigan, and its English equivalent is the word mare. Subsequently, the whole word would mean “demons of the underworld.”

Their Outer Appearances

Irish mythology can be confusing in terms of the description of races and characters. The Book of the Dun Cow dates back to the 11th century. It contains a text that briefly explains what the Fomorians looked like. This text claims that they had a head of a goat and a body of a human. Other sources claimed they had only one arm, leg, and eye.

Conversely, some of them had beautiful appearances, including the character Elatha, the father of Bres. He was attractive. Different sources stated that they were aquatic people; they belonged to the sea.

Battles between the Fomorians and the Nemeds

Irish mythology narrates many battles between its races. This one was a significant combat. The Nemeds were the ancestors of the Tuatha de Danann. They arrived in Ireland when it was almost empty, and most of its people had died. Some died because of the Fomorians, but others died due to other factors.

As soon as the Nemeds arrived, the Fomorians started attacking them. They went into several battles against one another. Later, the Nemeds defeated them and killed their kings, Sengann and Gann. However, the Fomorians seemed immortal, for another two leaders showed up, Conand and Morc.

The king of the Nemeds, unfortunately, passed away. Right after that, the two kings of the Fomorians enslaved the Nemeds. But it was not long before the son of the deceased king of the Nemeds came into the picture. His name was Fergus Lethderg. He made a giant army to destroy the massive Conand tower.

However, Morc, the other Fomorian king, attacked the Nemeds with his fleet. Both sides witnessed a significant number of casualties. Several survivors survived, but not all of them made it. The sea drowned most of them, but some Nemeds survived and fled to different parts of the world.

Battles against the Tuatha De Danann

According to Irish mythology, the Fomorians have always been betrayed. They went into battles against almost every race of the Irish mythology. The Tuatha De Danann were the successors of the Nemeds. They arrived in Ireland and took over after the Battle of Mag Tuired. Nuada was the king of the first Tuatha De Danann who arrived in Ireland. He lost an arm during their battle, so Bres, half-Fomorian and half-Tuatha De Danann, received the kingship instead.

According to what the Irish mythology claims, Bres was outstanding despite being partially a Fomorian. However, his Fomorian part seemed to take over, for he, as a king, enslaved the Tuatha de Danann. This enslavement was negligence to his duties as a king. Thus, he lost his authority, and Nuada became the king again and tried to resist the Fomorians’ oppression.

Bres was unsatisfied with losing his authority. He turned to his father for help, but he ignored him. So, Bres had to seek assistance from Balor, and they raised an army against the Tuatha De Danann.

The Twisted Connection Between the Two Races

Previously, we mentioned that the two races shared an ambiguous relationship. People from both races married and had children together. The evidence is clear since Bres himself was a result of such intermarriage. Going back to the war they prepared, Lugh was the champion of the Tuatha De Danann. He decided to lead the army in this battle, and he killed Balor.

The Irish mythology seems to be full of surprises, for Lugh was Balor’s grandson. In Irish mythology, Balor knew through a prophecy that he would die by his grandson. Thus, Balor had to lock his daughter, Ethniu, in a glass tower so she would never meet a man or conceive.

The twist takes place when Balor steals a magical cow from Cian. That was when Cian decided to break into the tower and seduce Balor’s daughter. When the latter happened, Ethniu gave birth to three children. However, Balor ordered his servants to drown all of them. Two of them drowned and changed into the first seals of Ireland, but a druidess saved the third child. That one child was Lugh. The Tuatha De Danann took him and fostered him all through his adulthood. Besides, the war god, Neit, was an ancestor of the two races.

The Second Battle of Mag Tuired

As Lugh became an adult, Nuada gave him access to his court and command over the army. He led the army of the Tuatha De Danann’s army, and Balor led his army on the other side. Balor managed to kill Nuada during the battle with his poisonous eyes. Lugh took revenge by killing Balor, his grandfather, on his own. Lugh succeeded in defeating the army of the Fomorians and killing their king. Afterwards, they turned back to the sea and the undergrounds for good.

The Gaels

The Gaels are another race that Irish mythology keeps mentioning throughout its legends and tales. Some sources claim that the Gaels originally came from Central Asia and entered Old Europe centuries ago. Those people, the Gaels, sailed to Ireland and, like any other race, went into a battle against an opponent race. This time, it was the Gaels against the Tuatha De Danann.

The battle was witchery, and Ireland worshipped the goddess of the land, Eriu, by that time. That goddess promised the Gaels to own the land of Ireland as long as they kept praising her. That was the time when the Tuatha De Danann went underground forever. The two races agreed to divide the land between them. The Tuatha De Danann accepted taking the below world while the Gaels took the world above and ruled Ireland for so long after that.

The Milesians

Since Irish mythology is an ocean of exciting tales, things can get puzzling often. The Milesians are also a race that Irish mythology has mentioned more than a few times. According to Irish mythology, they happen to be the successors of the Gaels. The Milesians were the final race that inhabited Ireland; they remained so for a long time. They represent the Irish people.

The Irish mythology also claims that the Milesians were originally Gaels who arrived in Ireland through the sea. Before they reached Ireland, they used to inhabit Hispania. They settled there after roaming the earth for centuries. Again, they were the ones who agreed with the Tuatha De Danann to inhabit the underworld of Ireland while they inhabited the above one.

Invading Ireland for Revenge

It was one of the Milesians, or Gaels, by that time. He sailed to Ireland with a group of men and met the three kings of Ireland by that time. They were Mac Cecht, Mac Greine, and Mac Cuill. All of them were members of the Tuatha De Danann. They were also the ruler of Ireland.

Out of the blue, unknown attackers slaughtered Ith, escorting his men back to where they came from. After that incident, the sons of Ith’s brother wanted to avenge the death of their uncle. As a consequence, they invaded the lands of Ireland and battled to take over them. They went into a battle against the residents of Ireland, who were the Tuatha De Danann by that time. They wanted to build up their royal capital under the name of Tara.

Naming their Royal Capital

The Milesians chose Tara for the land they owned. However, on their way to their land, they met three women: Fodla, Eriu, and Banba. They were the wives of the three kings of Ireland. Irish mythology claimed that they were a trio of land goddesses.

Each one of those women convinced the Milesians to name the land after her name if they wanted good fortune. Amergin, one of the Milesians, did not dispute against the ladies; he seemed to believe in what the goddesses claimed.

Upon Reaching the Royal Capital

When the Milesians arrived at Tara, they met the three kings, who refused to share the kingship of the land and asked the Milesians or the Gaels to stay nine waves away from it. The Milesians agreed and shipped away; however, the Tuatha De Danann wanted to ensure they would not sail back to the land.

Subsequently, they invoked a storm to stay as far from the land as possible. However, Amergin managed to stop the storm and returned to the land. That was when the two parties decided to divide the land between them.

The Most Substantial Tales In The Irish Mythology

Eventually, mythology is all about legends and tales. To be more precise, tales and legendary myths seem to be what people enjoy the most. Some of them were true, while other tales were only the production of some creative writers. However, mythology plays a significant role in shaping how people think and behave. Since it is also highly related to gods and goddesses, it can take a toll on what people believe in.

For years and centuries, people have been unaware of whether what they believe in is genuine or a myth. The Irish mythology is no exception. It impacted the culture of Ireland in so many ways, with the tales that people keep narrating to this day.

Some of those Irish tales are popular worldwide, not only in Ireland. Seemingly, Irish mythology is quite fascinating in that it has piqued the interest of the whole world. These tales include the tragedy of the Children of Lir and the Leprechauns. Those two tales and many others have been benchmarks in Irish mythology. Keep reading if you want to learn about Irish mythology’s top legends.

People of ancient Ireland used to believe in witchery stuff and the power of magic. Their beliefs seem to have impacted the legends and myths that people of the modern world narrate. Even if you are unaware of Irish mythology, you may come across a tale you have heard of.

THE TRAGEDY OF THE CHILDREN OF LIR

Children of Lir
Children of Lir: Irish Mythology

The Children of Lir is one of the most famous tales of Irish mythology. Most, if not all, people have encountered at least one version of that story. Even children know about it, although it is tragic and sad. There is more than one version; the differences usually lie in the ending, not the plot.

Each legend of Irish mythology has a stream of prominent characters. We will stress the depiction of each character and its role in Irish mythology. Interestingly, every character in the Irish legends seems to relate to characters from different tales and legends. This makes things sound interesting, yet it can sometimes result in misapprehension and confusion.

The Original Story of the Children of Lir

The story revolves around four children. They were the children of Lir, who married the king’s daughter, and they conceived those four beautiful kids. The king had the best moments with his family. Their happiness fell short as soon as the mother got very sick and died.

Gloominess took over the castle in which they lived. The children’s grandfather, Bodb Dearg, felt sad for losing his daughter and for the depression they went through. Thus, he offered his second daughter, Aoife, to Lir for marriage. He thought marriage would make Lir feel better, and the children would have a mother to look after them. Lir accepted the king’s offer and married Aoife right away.

Things were great at first, and the children were happy. However, the happiness ended with Aoife’s plan to get the king away from the children. She was jealous of the love and time he gave to the children. At first, she ordered one of her servants to kill them, but she refused. Thus, Aoife decided to take control of matters.

Aoife took the four children to a lake, where they had a great time. As soon as they were leaving the lake, she cursed them, and they turned into swans. The spell lasted for three hundred years, and they spent every century on a different lake.

The Significant Characters in the Children of Lir

The story of the children of Lir featured more than a few characters who played a role in Irish mythology. Above all, all the characters belonged to the Tuatha de Danann. Some of the characters may seem secondary in the story, secondary in terms of not weighing in regarding its plot. However, they connect with gods and other prominent characters in Irish mythology.

The characters appearing in the Children of Lir’s story were Bodb Dearg, Lir, and Aoife. The characters they are related to will be briefly mentioned.

1. King Lir

Well, he was not a king, but he got into the nominations for kingship. Those nominations were right after the Tuatha De Danann won a battle. Lir believed he should have been the king of the Tuatha De Danann. However, Bodb Dearg took over the kingship. Lir got very frustrated about losing the opportunity to be a king. Bodb Dearg was a caring person; he realized Lir’s sadness. Thus, he decided to make up for him by offering his eldest daughter for him to marry.

Lir and Aoibh married and had four beautiful children.  According to the story, Lir was a caring father who dedicated his whole life to his children. He always devoted his time to them, driving his second wife jealous. Even after the children turned into swans, Lir lived by the lake where they swam.

Lir in the Irish Mythology

According to mythology, Lir has always been connected to the hill of the white field. In other cases, folks of ancient Ireland regarded him as a divine figure. The reason behind that was that Lir was the son of Manannan, the God of the Sea. However, some sources claim that Lir was the God of the Sea himself.

Manannan, the God of the Sea, was usually called Manannan Mac Lir. The English equivalent of “Mac Lir” is actually “the Son of God.” That is why confusion has always risen with those two names. Despite Manannan’s significance, he rarely appeared in any of the tales. However, that never changed his connotation in the Irish legends and myths.

A Swine and a Horse

According to Irish mythology, Manannan had creatures that possessed supernatural powers. Those animals included a swine and a horse. The swine’s flesh regenerated daily, providing sufficient food for celebrations and feasts. The horse’s name was Enbarr the Flowing Mane because it was capable of walking over water with great ease.

The Magical Objects

The God of the Sea owned several magical objects. As interesting as it could get, those objects made great plots of Irish mythology tales. One of the prominent items was the enchanted Goblet of Truth that Cormac mac Airt, the Son of Art, received. The other object was a brilliant boat that sailed independently; all it needed to sail off was the waves. The boat’s name was the wave sweeper.

Above and beyond, the items included a sword; the Fragarach was its name, and it meant the Answerer. The sword’s name was due to its ability to force its target to faithfully answer any raised question. It also had the ability to penetrate steel armour. Those objects also included a cloak of invisibility and a flaming helmet.

2. Bodb Dearg

Bodb Dearg was another significant character in the tale of the Children of Lir. He received the kingship instead of Lir, and according to trish mythology, he was a king that people worshipped. Bodb Dearg was resourceful; people turned to him to solve their problems.

When he became the king of the Tuatha de Danann, he learned about Lir’s frustration for not being elected. As a result, he wanted to make up for him by giving him one of his precious daughters. Bodb Dearg offered his eldest daughter for Lir to marry, and they had four beautiful children. His role in the tale was as significant as he was. As a considerate person, he offered the other daughter. Aoife, when Aoibh passed away. He wanted Lir and the Children to be happy again and have a mother to look after them.

In spite of being a caring father, Bodb was also a man of justice. As soon as he learned about what Aoife did to the children, he turned her into a demon for eternity and exiled her to the otherworld, where she could never come back. Bodb’s consideration extended to joining Lir by staying by the lake when the children changed into swans, and the spell was irreversible. He loved listening to the children’s voices, as swans, when they sang.

Bodb Dearg’s Connection to Other Gods

Bodb Dearg was a noteworthy character in Irish mythology. The Children of Lir was not the only tale in which Bodb Dearg appeared. He also appeared in prominent Irish legends and shared relations with other gods in Irish mythology.

Bodb Dearg and Angus Og had a connection. Angus Og was a god and the son of two divine figures. His father was the Daghda, the Huge father-god figure, and his mother was Bionn, the Goddess of the River Boyne. Bodb Dearg’s brilliance was obvious in most of the tales in which he appeared; he was always the person with the solution to every problem.

In a tale about the God Aongus, Bodb Dearg is the one whom the Daghda, Angus’ father, sought assistance from. Angus saw a woman in his dreams, and he mysteriously fell in love with her. This eccentric form of love puzzled the Daghda, so he asked Bodb Dearg to help him.

Consequently, Bodb starts inspecting and searching for the beautiful woman that Angus fell in love with, and he finds her. That woman was Caer, a swan her father kept as a maiden. Angus was delighted to see the woman of his dreams; he openly expressed his love for her and had to change into a swan so they could live happily ever after.

3. Aoife

Aoife indeed played a significant role in the plot of the tale. She is a dynamic character, for she is the reason behind all the tragedy in the story. She was Aoibh’s daughter and Lir’s second wife. She married him after her sister passed away.

Obviously, she was not as loving as her sister; Aoife was a symbol of jealousy and mistrust. She betrayed her stepchildren to have Lir’s undivided attention, but things did not go her way. However, throughout the tale, you may realize that Aoife had some feelings of regret for what she had done.

However, even her regret could not reverse the spell, and the children had to spend 900 years as swans. Eventually, Aoife received her karma when her father changed her into a demon and exiled her.

To gain more insight into Aoife, Bodb Dearg was not her birth father. In fact, she was the daughter of Ailill of Aran. However, Bodb Dearg raised and fostered both her and her sister. According to other tales in Irish mythology, Aoife was also a warrior. She was a woman of power despite her jealousy.

Ailill of Aran

Well, Ailill was not one of the characters of the Children of Lir. However, we mentioned his name in the Aoife section. Since he was one of the prominent characters in Irish mythology, his name was worth mentioning. Above and beyond, Ailill was highly connected to the characters of the Children of Lir. First, we will briefly introduce Ailill before proceeding to his connection to the other characters of Irish mythology.

Ailill was one of the champions of the Irish mythology. He was in one of the tales in which Queen Meadhbh appeared. That queen enjoyed marrying multiple times. He dumped the third husband so she could marry Ailill. What the queen liked the most about Ailill was not being a champion; she liked that he was not the jealous type. The reason behind that was the queen’s love for having affairs with other men even when she was married.

The queen had an affair with the king of Ulster, Fearghus MacRioch. Unexpectedly, Ailill’s jealousy was more potent than his will, and he murdered the man whom his wife was cheating on him with. Sadly, the queen ordered someone to murder her husband as a punishment for what he did.

Ailill’s Connection to Other Characters

Ailill was the birthfather of Aoibh and Aoife, the two wives of Lir. He was also an excellent friend to Bodb Dearg. He was the one who helped Bodb during his investigation in Angus’ case, who fell in love with the woman of his dreams. According to Ailill’s mentioned stories, he died because of his wife. So, maybe that was why Bodb Dearg had to take the two girls, Aoibh and Aoife, and raise them as their own.

That is only a suggestion that goes well with the stories we mentioned about Ailill. However, the reason that Bodb Dearg was the one to raise the two daughters was not apparent in the tale of the Children of Lir. However, in Irish mythology, there may be a reason behind it that other tales revealed.

Finn MacCool And The Giant Causeway

Another popular tale in Irish mythology was the tale of Finn MacCool and the Giant Causeway. In Irish mythology, Finn MacCool was a warrior. Scottish mythology also included him as a warrior in their tales. Sometimes, the Old Irish states that Finn’s name can sometimes be Fionn Mac Cumhall. All of the stories that include Finn MacCool were actually part of the Fenian Cycle, the cycle that evoked worlds of heroes and warriors.

The Original Story

Finn MacCool was an enormous being, about 55 feet tall. According to Irish mythology, he was the builder of the Giant Causeway, a popular path in Ireland connecting it to Scotland. This path lies on the Antrim Coast. His story was famous among generations and in different cultures, including Ireland and Scotland.

Supposedly, Finn lived with his wife, Oonagh, and they led a happy life. Shortly after, Finn MacCool became aware of his Scottish rival, Benandonner, and he started getting frustrated. Finn MacCool began to lose his temper due to Benandonner’s constant insults. Consequently, he tried to throw a giant mud at him; however, it landed in the sea, for Benandonner lived across the Irish Sea. After that, Finn built the Giant Causeway so he could reach Benandonner and properly fight against one another.

The Gigantic Size of the Scottish Rival

After building the causeway, Finn was ready to reach the other side. But as soon as he approached, he realized Benandonner’s gigantic size, so he returned home. He lost one of his giant boots while running away, and that’s why people believe it still exists where it fell.

Upon reaching his hometown, he told his wife about Benandonner’s size and asked her to help him hide. He wanted to hide in a place where it was tough for Benandonner to have the chance to find him. His bright-minded wife suggested he disguised himself as a child and that Benandonner wouldn’t go after him. 

That plan was brilliant, for Benandonner thought the bed he saw belonged to a sleeping child. The latter sent a shiver down his spine because he felt a child of this size’s parents would be enormous. Thus, he ran away for good.

Other Tales about Finn MacCool

The Irish mythology claims that Finn MacCool became the leader of the Fianna after his father’s death. Finn was granted the leadership after taking down Aillen mac Midgna, a goblin. Killing that goblin saved the people who lived on the Hill of Tara.

The goblin used to manipulate the people of the hill by playing on his harp. His music was so captivating that it left the warriors helpless and inefficient. On the other hand, Finn MacCool was the only one who possessed immunity against the music of the goblin’s harp.

The Relation between Finn MacCool and Other Characters of the Irish Mythology

Finn MacCool was the son of MacCool or Cumhall and the father of Oisin. Both of them took significant roles in the tales of the Irish mythology. Starting with Finn’s father, he was the leader of the Fianna, a group of warriors who lived in the wild to hunt. Later, Finn himself took the lead of the Fianna after his father.

Finn was the son of Cumhall and Muirne, the daughter of the druid Tadg mac Nuadat. His parents fell in love with one another, but Muirne’s father refused Cumhall, so they had to elope together. The High King learned about what happened regarding Tadg’s daughter and decided to help him by starting a battle against Cumhall. Cumhall survived this battle, but he seemed to have more enemies.

Cumhall got into a battle against Goll mac Morna. It was the Battle of Cnucha, and Goll started it off, for he wanted to murder Cumhall and take the lead of the Fianna. Unfortunately, Goll succeeded in killing Finn, thinking that the leadership was his. However, to Goll’s surprise, Muirne was already pregnant with Finn mac Cumhall, and the leadership was waiting for him. Years later, Finn became the leader of the Fianna and Cumhall’s brother, Crimmal, supported him.

The Tale Of Tir Na Nog (The Land Of The Young)

Tir na nOg is an adventure tale in Irish mythology in which Oisin is the protagonist. The one who played a role in the plot of this tale, alongside Oisin, was Niamh Chinn Oir. She was a fairy woman with golden hair and one of the daughters of Manannan mac Lir, the God of the Sea.

According to Irish mythology, the fairy woman was the granddaughter of Lir, the father of four swan children. Most of the characters in Irish mythology are related to each other, either directly or indirectly, which makes the tales even more enjoyable. The Tir na nOg tale was Oisin’s most significant adventure tale.

The tale was actually about that fairy woman. She came from the land of the young and was in love with Oisin. Thus, she visited him, declaring what she felt for him and asking him to accompany her. She convinced Oisin that travelling with her would keep him young for an eternity.

They left for Tir na nOg and had two children: a boy, Oscar, and a girl, Plor na mBan, meaning the Flower of Women. After a while, Oisin thought about going back to his hometown. He felt that only three years had passed, but three centuries had passed.

Enbarr, the Flowing Horse

Enbarr was one of the creatures that Manannan mac Lir possessed. It could walk over the water. The fairy woman Niamh warned Oisin that returning to Ireland meant he would age three hundred years and die. So, she gave him Enbarr, stating that his feet should not touch the ground. He should stay mounting the horse no matter what, or he will die.

Oisin followed Niamh’s instructions and stayed on the horse. Once he reached his hometown, he found his parents’ house ruined and abandoned. He was unaware of all the years that had passed while he stayed in the land of the young.

Like many tales of Irish mythology, Oisin has a sad ending. The ending of Oisin’s famous tale has two different versions. One version claims that Oisin ran into Saint Patrick, who told him everything about his life. Right after, he just died.

On the other hand, the other version contained a bit more suspense regarding the ending. It claimed that Oisin was passing by a road in Gleann na Smol, and he met some men building. He decided to assist them in picking stones, but he had to stay on the horse. Thus, he was trying to pick a stone and accidentally tumbled over the ground. At that instant, he turned into an older man, and the horse flew to the land of the young.

The Significant Characters of Tir na nOg

Finn MacCool was the father of one of the prominent poets in Irish mythology. His son was Oisin, pronounced Osheen, who wrote most of the poems of the Fenian cycle. Hence, some people refer to the Fenian cycle as the Ossianic cycle, named after Oisin. Besides being a poet, Oisin was also an unassailable fighter. He combined the best of both worlds: the world of arts and the world of war.

Oisin’s name means young deer, and there is a story behind this name. He was also a very significant character in Irish mythology; he appeared in more than a few tales. Interestingly, Oisin’s mother was Sadhbh, and she was Bodb,earg’s daughter. According to Irish mythology, Oisin and Finn did not meet when Sadhbh first gave birth to their child.

The Story of the Deer

Oisin’s name means the young deer. We have already mentioned that, but we haven’t mentioned his relation to that creature. Well, Oisin’s mother, Sadhbh, was actually a deer. Fear Doirche was a druid; he was the one responsible for turning Sadhbh from a human being into a wild deer. The good news was that Finn was a hunter, and on one fine day, he came across Sadhbh, the deer.

When they met, Sadhbh turned to her original form, escorting Finn to quit hunting. He wanted to settle down with her for good. They lived happily until Fear Doirche found Sadhbh and again turned her into a deer. She was pregnant at that time. The reason why fear turned her into a deer was not apparent in Irish mythology. In the end, Finn and Sadhbh forcefully went their separate ways.

Father-Son Relationship

Sadhbh gave birth to Oisin while she was a deer. Thus, the meaning of his name was the most convenient one. The sad part was that Finn never met his son when he was firstborn, but they eventually met. According to Irish mythology, Finn met his son, Oisin, in two different ways. One of those versions includes Finn finding his son when he was a child, seven years old, naked in the wild, and their father-son story begins from here.

On the other hand, the second version states that they have not met until Oisin was already an adult. According to Irish mythology, there was a roasting pig that both Finn MacCool and Oisin were fighting over. However, at some point during their fight, Finn realizes who the guy he is fighting with is. Some sources claim that Oisin recognized his father as well. They both stopped the fight as soon as they recognized one another.

The Legend Of Pookas In The Irish Mythology

Irish mythology is full of surprising and remarkable legends. Pooka is one of the myths that people of ancient Ireland believed in. You can find different forms of the name, including Puca, Plica, Puka, Phuca, or Pookha. However, they all refer to the same creature.

Pooka derives from the old Irish word, Puca; it means a goblin, an ugly dwarf-like creature. Other sources claim that Pooka is a Scandinavian word, Puke or Pook. The word’s literal meaning is the nature spirit or the spirit of nature. Irish people fear the Pooka, a mischievous creature that enjoys causing chaos.

Okay, let’s get to the point of what the Pooka actually is. The Pooka is a creature that can take any form; people refer to this kind of creature as shapeshifters. It could be a goat, goblin, rabbit, dog, or even a human being, an old man in particular. Besides, it only appears at night. Despite all of those forms, people are familiar with the Pooka as a dark horse with golden eyes.

Above and beyond, they possess some powers that make them capable of communicating with humans. Those dark horses were able to speak just like human beings. Interestingly, their amusement lies in exaggerating the truth to make whom they talk to stray. Despite their bad reputation, no records ever proclaimed that a human being had experienced any damage from them.

Tales about the Pookas

In Irish mythology, Pookas tend to appear in as many tales as possible. There aren’t tales that are all about Pookas. However, there are plenty of tales where they show up in the plots; they appear in all of their forms as well. Again, in the stories, Pookas always perform fearful acts. They supposedly enjoy scaring people and acting wildly even though they are not hostile. Here are some of the behaviours that Pookas perform frequently, on the word of the tales of the Irish mythology.

Mounting a Pooka on the Way Home

Pookas take the form of a dark horse with bright golden eyes. As a horse, a Pooka tends to have fun in its very own way. Their definition of entertainment may include searching for someone who is semi-drunk. Their targets are always people who exit a pub and are ready to take their way home. Pookas invite that person to mount them and, unknowingly, ride a hell of a roller coaster.

Once the rider decides to jump over their back, they will embark on one of the wildest journeys in their life. That is when the Pooka feels entertained, making the rider incredibly terrified. On the other hand, only one man in Irish mythology was able to ride a Pooka. That one man was Brian Boru, the High King of Ireland. He possessed the power to control the wild magic of the Pooka.

Brian Boru controlled the Pooka using a collar through three hair strands of its tail. Besides, Brian Boru had an implausible physical power. It helped him stay still on the back of the Pooka, escorting it to exhaustion until it had to be submissive.

The Pooka’s submission encouraged Brian Boru to order it to do two things. They were as follows: never torture or ruin the properties of Christians or perform violence against Irish folks. However, Irish mythology reveals that the Pooka had probably ditched the promise a few years later.

Facts about Pookas

Pookas are creatures that usually populate the hills and mountains. Irish mythology narrates that Pookas ordinarily cause disasters. Conversely, this creature’s behaviour differs according to which part of Ireland you come from. In some parts of Ireland, Pookas help farmers harvest and cultivate. Opinions seem to have differed regarding the nature of this creature, but people still believe that seeing it is a sign of bad luck.

The Pooka are sneaky, sly, cheaters, and skilled at deception. People refer to them as fertility spirits, for they have the power to destroy and craft. Most importantly, they can speak as fluently as human beings and give accurate predictions and prophecies.

Going back to the frequency of appearing as a horse, Irish mythology states that they perform certain acts. The Pooka usually roams around the countryside, performing chaotic acts like destroying gates and knocking down fences.

The Pookas and the Halloween

People of ancient Ireland used to believe that November was the month of the Pooka. They even used to wear customs on Halloween as Pookas. Others stayed at their homes, afraid of the stories that they heard about them; they believed that they did harm to children.

What makes Irish mythology interesting is its connection to the mystical creatures of the modern world. The Pooka incarnation includes the Boogeyman and the Easter Bunny. Some sources claim that those fairy-like creatures are derived from Pooka.

Despite all of the different forms Irish mythology provides, Irish writers and poets provided many more. For example, Brian O’Nolan, an Irish novelist, once depicted the Pooka as a dark spirit. On the other hand, Yeats once portrayed it as an eagle.

The Frenzy Of Sweeney Tale

One of the most extraordinary tales in Irish mythology is The Frenzy of the Sweeney. The Old Irish name of Sweeney was Suibne. The tale revolves around a pagan king of Dal Araidhe. Suibne once attacked a priest. Thus, the priest cursed Suibne for life. He became half a man, and the other half was a bird creature.

Suibne had to stay in the woods for the rest of his life until he died in the Battle of Mag Rath. The story’s plot was so captivating that Irish poets and writers had to translate and adopt it in their writings.

Every tale of Irish mythology may have more than a few versions, and The Frenzy of Sweeney is no exception. Most of the plots narrate that he lived as a bird travelling here and there. Conversely, the 12th edition of the tale provided insights into the battle, not detailed ones. It also stated that at the end of the tale, Sweeney converted to Christianity.

The Plot of the Story

In Irish mythology, sometimes it is referred to the tale as the Frenzy of Mad Sweeney. The story’s plot starts with Suibne going mad as soon as he hears the bells of a church. Saint Ronan was the one who established a new church and he was starting activities around the place. What escorted Suibne to madness was the fact that St. Ronan was using his territory.

Eorann was Suibne’s wife. She tried to stop him before he stormed out of the house. However, she failed while grabbing his cloak; it only fell off. Suibne exited the house naked and snatched the Holy Book out of Ronan’s hand, throwing it in a lake. Right after, he dragged the Saint away. For the Saint’s luck, a messenger interrupted Suibne’s actions and informed him that he should put his oar in the Battle of Mag Rath.

Spelling the Cast

One day after the incident, an otter swimming in the lake managed to take the Holy Book out. The Saint found it and decided to curse Suibne as a punishment for his earlier actions. The curse included that Suibne would endlessly fly around the world while naked. The Saint wanted Suibne to die miserably and by a spike.

Moreover, St. Ronan was performing church activities by sprinkling holy water around. He also sprinkled Suibne, but Suibne was sure the Saint was teasing him. Consequently, he murdered one of the bishop’s psalmists with a spike and cast another at the Saint, causing a hole in the bell.

Furiously, the Saint repeated the curse, but Suibne was half a bird at that time and aimlessly wandered around. He wanted Suibne to jump from one tree to another at the sound of the church’s bell. Besides, he wanted to make sure Suibne would die the same way he killed one of the monks.

The Battle of Mag Rath resumed, but Suibne could not join them due to the curse. The noises of the battles and the armies drove him to madness. He tried to join, but his hands were numb, and he could not use the weapon. Beyond his own will, Suibne ditched the battlefield and had to leave. He kept wandering until he reached Ros Bearaigh, a forest in Glenn Earcain, suspending himself on a yew tree.

Suibne’s Life after the Curse

Aongus the Fat was among the armies of the Battle of Mag Rath; though, he made his departure and withdrew from the battle. At that instant, he met Suibne. Later, Suibne departed the yew tree and landed on another one in Tir Conaill. After spending seven years around Ireland, Suibne returned to his hometown. He felt nostalgic for his land, the territory of Glenn Bolcain.

As soon as he returned to his place, he went to visit his wife to discover she was living with another man. This man was actually one of Suibne’s rivals in the kingship. Eorann, his wife, loved him, but he had been gone for almost seven years. She claimed she would rather be with him; however, Suibne urged her to stay with her new man. At that instant, Loingsechans’s man stormed in, but Suibne managed to flee away.

Loingsechan always attempted to capture Suibne; he had the chance at his millhouse, but he failed. Thus, Loingsechan tracked every movement of Suibne, hoping to capture him soon. He failed repeatedly, waiting for a new chance every time. Eventually, Suibne returned to the Yew Tree in the forest of Ros Bearaigh. But he realized that even his wife was after him, so he left for another tree in a different place, Ros Ercain. They discovered him again.

Loingsechan’s Intentions

After the armies could reveal Suibne’s hidden spot, Loingsechan managed to deceive him. After delivering false news about his family, he talked him out of the tree. Once Suibne was out, Loingsechan succeeded in retaining his insanity and converting him into an average person. While Suibne receded, the milling urged him to compete in leaping. They did, but Suibne heard noises of a hunting party and went mad again.

The millhag happened to be Loingsechan’s mother-in-law, and she fell off, crashing into pieces. Consequently, Suibne could no longer return to his hometown without receiving a punishment, so he kept wandering around Ireland. He also reached parts of England and Scotland. Eventually, he met a madman like himself and spent a year together. Irish mythology refers to him as Fer Caille, meaning Man of the Wood.

The Wail Of A Beautiful Woman

Among the fascinating legends of the Irish mythology lies the tale of the Banshee. It is another mythical tale that people of ancient Ireland used to believe in. However, there are parts of this myth that people strongly claim to be accurate. In the end, we will have to ask what the Banshee is.

According to Irish mythology, the Banshee is a female spirit who lives by the rivers and appears as an old lady. However, like Mother Gothel, the Banshee can also appear as a pretty young lady.

Despite its attractiveness and beauty, people believe the Banshee is a sign of doom and demise. Old Irish people used to claim that the Banshee wailed at the funerals to alert people of what was coming. On the other hand, Irish women have that tradition of wailing at funerals, so they raise people’s suspicion by doing so.

In a different region in Ireland, people claim that the Banshee is a bird-like creature and not a woman. They claim that the Banshee sometimes lands on someone’s window and stays there until death approaches. Those who believe in the bird-like theory claim that the Banshee vanishes into darkness after they make people aware of their approaching destiny. At the instant where they disappear, a flapping sound similar to that of the birds appears.

The Role of the Banshee

Again, Irish mythology usually describes the Banshee as a woman, either old or young. She appears however she likes. Aside from being a bird-like creature, according to some people, Irish mythology frequently narrates that the Banshee constantly weeps.

Irish mythology states that she usually wears a green dress over which a grey cloak lies. Her hair is flowingly long, and her eyes are always red due to her constant lamentation. At other times, the Banshee appears as a red-headed woman with a grim complexion and wearing all-white attire. No matter how the Irish mythology describes the Banshee, there is no debate over her being a weeper.

Some Irish writers suggested that the Banshee was not a spirit as the Irish mythology claims. They indicated that the Banshee is a chosen young virgin who receives orders from external power. In other words, invisible powers give a young virgin of a family the mission of becoming the sign of their upcoming death. Her mission is to inform her earthly corresponding creatures of their fate and destiny when death is approaching.

The opposing opinions believed the Banshee to be a woman wearing a veil and lamenting beneath the trees. They also claim that she sometimes flies while wailing to inform a particular family of the approaching death. The Banshee also predicts death and warns people about being in a dangerous situation by yelling and screaming.

The Banshee and the Pure Milesians

Regarding the beliefs shared around the Banshee, the weeping part seems to be the one everyone agrees upon the most. However, there are other beliefs that not everyone shares an agreement over. One of those beliefs includes the fact that every family has its own Banshee. Another belief states that the Banshee only warns and laments those who purely descend from the Milesian race. Some believe that the Milesians are usually those whose last name starts with a Mac, O’, or Mc.

The Death of a Great or Holy Person

Among all the beliefs of the Banshee, sources have claimed that a woman named Aibell was the ruler of Banshees. Supposedly, she ruled 25 of them, usually in her attendance. The latter belief is probably the reason that evoked a brand-new notion. This notion states that lamenting more than a few banshees is a sign that a great person is about to die.

The Origin of the Banshee’s Legend

The Banshee is said to be fairies of some supernatural race. The Irish mythology declares that the Banshees descend from the Tuatha De Danann. The Irish mythology contains more than a few mythical creatures that appear in captivating legendary tales. These creatures are usually fairies, elves, animals from the dead world, or even supernatural beings.

What the Banshees are exactly remains a bit mysterious. However, that does not change the belief that most people share. This belief is that the Banshees are women who died while giving birth or who died ahead of time. This widespread notion explains that the Banshee creates gloominess to avenge their unjust death.

Depiction of the Banshee in Other Cultures

Irish mythology was not the only one to depict and believe in the Banshees. Other cultures adopted this notion, providing several illustrations of this creature’s appearance. The most famous depiction of the Banshee is an older woman with a fearful appearance; she sits under the trees and weeps. This portrayal is the most widespread of all the other depictions; it is also popular in different cultures.

The most common depiction also portrays the Banshee as a beautiful young woman. The legends of Irish mythology usually describe the Banshee as a woman with long grey hair. She wears a white gown and keeps brushing her pale-coloured hair with a comb. This comb is always silver in colour, and she uses it to lure innocent beings into her inevitable doom.

Aside from Irish mythology, Scottish folklore seems to have a slightly different depiction. It pictures the Banshee as a laundress who washes attires full of bloodstains. Other sources claim that she was a washerwoman who washed the armour of those soon-to-die soldiers.

Above and beyond, some cultures do not depict the Banshee as a woman at all. As previously mentioned, it sometimes appears as a bird-like creature. In other tales, the Banshee seems to be an animal, usually a crow wearing a hood, a hare, or a weasel.

Leprechauns: The Tiny Fairies In Green

Irish mythology embraces several tales about mystic creatures and fairies, including the Pookas and the Banshees. Above and beyond, one of the most recognizable fairies in Irish mythology is the Leprechauns. They are probably among the few legendary creatures popular in cultures other than the Irish one.

You have perhaps seen a leprechaun in a movie or two or even read about it in tales. They look like human beings, but they are elves and originated from the world of fairies. Leprechauns are the type of fairies that can grant wishes.  Still, that doesn’t change the fact that they are neither innocent with pixie dust nor ones that have a good heart. Those fairies are not necessarily harmful; however, their interest comes first, even if their choices aren’t in your favour. On the other hand, they enjoy causing chaos and anarchy.

Moreover, Leprechauns are known to be creatures that preach isolation. They do not like spending time with other people unless they are getting some benefit. One of their hobbies is making brand shoes and mending old ones. They also love to dance to music and drink a lot. Like the Banshees, the leprechauns, and the Tuatha de Danann, the Tuatha de Danann descend from the Irish race. That is what Irish mythology claims. Thus, most of their tales fall in the mythological cycle.

What a Leprechaun Looks Like

The depiction of the leprechauns differs from one region to another. They appeared in more than a few tales in Irish mythology and many movies of different cultures. On the other hand, leprechauns were a bit confidential; they did not appear so frequently. The reason behind that was their insignificance in Irish mythology. Later, they became more noticeable in the modern times.

Anyhow, Leprechauns are recognizable to most of the people. They are fairies that have tiny bodies and usually have heavy beards. People refer to them as short men. Most regions, or even all of them, agreed on those traits.

The attire of the leprechauns was unspecified in Irish mythology. Leprechauns wear suits, and green is the most significant colour people have come to terms with. Other depictions included red attire, which was the most common in ancient times. Conversely, green is more common in modern ones.

leprechauns, Irish Mythology
Leprechauns in Irish Mythology

Roles of Leprechauns in the Irish Mythology

Leprechauns were sly creatures who enjoyed deceiving people to get money. Although they may enjoy spending time alone, that doesn’t change their capability to deal with others. Irish mythology includes narrations that fairies can grant wishes. For example, people who capture a leprechaun can have three of their wishes turn into reality.

However, their sly nature enables them to elude before they do their capturer any favour. But, if the capturer happens to be more innovative, they cannot be granted freedom until they grant the wishes of their capturer. The famous trick that leprechauns performed was persuading wealthy men that they hid a pot of gold. Once their victim pays them for the location of the pot, they claim it’s at the end of the rainbow.

Irish Mythology - Leprechauns
Irish Mythology – Leprechauns

Creatures that Look Like the Leprechauns

Irish mythology asserts that the leprechauns have relatives and creatures that look like them. These creatures are the Clurichauns. People usually confuse both of them; their names are pretty similar.

The tales announce that Clurichauns are mainly leprechauns but are nocturnal. Those creatures are always drunk; even some poets claim they are the drunken version of leprechauns. They say that those creatures are initially leprechauns, but they are the ones who keep drinking at night until they pass out.

Regarding hobbies and skills, leprechauns and clurichauns are a bit different. Leprechauns love dancing, singing, and, most importantly, mending shoes. On the other side, clurichauns have tales in Irish mythology. These tales state that they are skilful sheep riders and dog tamers.

Clurichauns’ nature depends on the wines, but they are not hostile. They are friendly as long as you treat them well. Conversely, they can wreak havoc and cause chaos if you have wronged them. You are probably wondering what this has to do with the wines. Well, clurichauns protect your wine cellar if they like. If they don’t, they will call destruction upon your wine stock.

Other parts of Irish mythology claim that the clurichauns are not very similar to the leprechauns. They are described as taller men in appearance.

Leprechauns and Christmas

Leprechauns were not that popular in Irish mythology, but they have several tales. They have a chaotic nature, but some tales reveal the reason behind their hostility. At some old time, there were lands where dwarfs, elves, and hobbits resided. They all lived peacefully, side by side, and they also intermarried. This intermarriage resulted in a new race, the leprechauns.

This new race was trying to convey the importance of helping the poor. They were very brilliant and kind; their brilliance helped them master deception and betrayal. The leprechauns started as kind creatures but ended up exiled from their land. The reason that leprechauns had to leave their hometown lies in a famous tale about the Christmas holiday.

This tale was about Santa Claus learning about the genuine message of leprechauns. He knew that they loved helping others and were good at craftwork. Consequently, he invited them to help him with the Christmas gifts and work at his workshop in the North Pole. A large number of them left for their awaiting jobs; they were ready to create happiness and delight.

The Dominance of Their Troublemaking Nature

Leprechauns were genuine in trying to make Christmas a happy time. However, their chaotic nature started to take a toll on what was supposed to happen and didn’t. The elves once fell asleep, and the leprechauns wanted to play games. It was only a few days before Christmas Eve. They stole the toys, hid them secretly, and kept laughing about it.

The next day, a natural disaster was evoked, turning the secret place where the toys were to ashes. Because of what the leprechauns did, the poor toys’ destiny was destruction.

Because Christmas Eve was approaching, there wasn’t enough time to create new ones and deliver them as scheduled. The incident set a raging fire inside Santa; he was overwhelmed and unsure what to do. In a moment of fury, he exiled the leprechauns and prohibited them from returning to the North Pole eternally.

Words Spreading As Fast As the Wind

Leprechauns had to leave for a different place. To their surprise, word had spread around, reaching long distances. Their reputation ceased employers from hiring them in fear of disasters. People didn’t even want to have them around, and they faced bullies for their different appearances. They looked strange to the world, for they were the production of intermarried races.

The leprechauns bewailed their lousy fortune for a long time until they had had enough. They decided to right what they did wrong and dedicated their lives to doing good deeds. They stole, but only to help those in need, and they thought it was right. They intended to steal only the wealthy people by giving false promises of guiding them to hidden treasures. Their only condition was having a down payment; it was usually toys, gold, or expensive stuff.

HOW THE IRISH MYTHOLOGY EVOKED EVERLASTING CUSTOMS AND TRADITIONS

Obviously, Irish mythology has many tales with fascinating and captivating plots. There are too many stories in this article. However, the previous ones are some of the most famous tales in Ireland. Those tales were so dominant that even some Irish traditions date back to them. Every strange notion that the Irish people have the impulse to believe dates back to the plots of those tales. No matter how odd or eccentric some beliefs may seem, they are all interesting.

Swans in the Irish Mythology

Remember what happened to Lir’s four children? Yes, they turned into beautiful swans, and for that reason, people have compassion toward swans. Swans are gorgeous creatures; they symbolize beauty and peace. Those creatures have always participated in Irish mythology, not just in the Children of Lir. However, the Children of Lir played a significant role in shaping people’s perspectives of swans. They treat them with great respect, and there is even a lake where people go to watch them.

Irish mythology has always portrayed swans and humans as part of one another, as shapeshifters. This persistent portrayal has made people believe that swans and humans are alike. People in Ireland refer to swans as Eala; they keep them in captivity to ensure a long life.

Any culture that has compassion toward animals would treat swans respectfully. Conversely, the role of Irish mythology lies in the misconception that some people tend to believe. This fallacy involves the Irish people’s faith in the ability of swans to travel between different worlds.

Irish people also believe swans are initially humans who can shift their shape according to their preferences. Besides, Irish mythology was very accurate in using swans as a symbol of love and purity. Real-life swans have more than a few types.

Irish Mythology: Dive into its Finest Legends and Tales
Swans in the Irish Mythology (Photo by Austin Woodhouse from Pexels)

The Causeway Creation Myth

In Ireland, there is a giant path, the causeway, which connects the country with Scotland. For many generations, people have always claimed that the Giant warrior of the Irish mythology, Finn McCool, created it. The warrior had always been part of the creation story.

Besides, part of the tale included Finn building it to challenge Benandonner and fight him appropriately. But he ran away as soon as he realized his gigantic size. While he was fleeing, one of his enormous boots fell off and landed on a stone above the lake. Nowadays, many people claim that the boot still exists on the shore exactly where Finn dropped it. They also swear by its unbelievably massive size.

Oisin’s Burial Site

At the end of the tale of Tir na nOg, Oisin fell off his horse. Enbarr, the horse, returned to the land of the young without Oisin. A lot of people wondered what happened to Oisin after he fell. Because there is always more than one version, people come up with their own conclusions. Some claim that Oisin’s burial site is in Glenalmond in Perth, Scotland. However, there is a place in Ireland called Oisin’s Grave. It exists in the Nine Glens of Antrim, and people still call it Oisin’s Grave.

A Conversation with a Pooka

The tales of the Pookas always contained themes of thrill and mystery. This involves that Pookas like chatting and giving advice and eccentric predictions. Since the Irish people enjoy the thrilling legends, they say that Pookas never say goodbye.

To be more accurate, Irish mythology always narrates tales about Pookas conversing with someone and then suddenly disappearing. This out-of-the-blue disappearance will cause you to question their existence. It also says that Pookas never leave traces behind so that people may regard you as mad.

The Banshee and the Silver Comb

Irish mythology has many stories and myths about the Banshee’s nature. In the end, most people believe it is a woman. In Ireland, there is a tradition of singing laments at funerals. Some still believe the woman who wants to sing a lament is originally a Banshee.

Another weird belief about the Banshee is that they lure people through their silver combs. Banshees have long grey hair; it is fair enough and needs to be constantly brushed. Thus, the Banshee uses a silver comb to take care of it and leave it on the ground. People always suggest that you should never pick up a comb if you happen to see one. Picking a silver comb up means a bad fortune is awaiting you.

The European Law Protects Leprechauns

This may sound funny, but some people claim they discovered real leprechauns. They also stated that they were wearing green. Anyhow, in Europe, the Caverns of Carlington Mountain exist. Some claim it is a sanctuary that embraces over 200 leprechauns and protects them from harm.

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