Tailtiu, Co Meath

Tailtiu is also known as Tailteann, Tailtinn and Teltown. It is a Hamlet in Co Meath, 4 miles SE of Kells, site of the ancient Tailtiu celebration. After the first battle of Mag Tuired Tailtiu, queen of the Fir Bolg, came to Coill Cuan and the wood was cut down within one year to make a clover-plain. She led her people in the clearing of the forest, which by implication becomes all of Brega or what is today Co Meath, some of Ireland’s best farmland. Some commentators see in this identification evidence that she was originally a kind of earth goddess. But the work of clearing proves so onerous as to break her heart, in the words of the text. On her deathbed she asks that funeral games be held annually on the cleared ground. She died in Tailltiu and her grave is north-east of there. Her games were celebrated each year and her lamentation sung by Lug a fortnight before Lugnasad and a fortnight after. Lug leads the first games of horse-racing and martial arts at the time of Lughnasa (1 August), singing a lamentation. Important events taking place at Tailtiu unrelated to the óenach include Éremón and the Milesians’ victory over the Tuatha Dé Danann, and the deaths of Banba, Ériu, and Fódla. It was also described as the burial-place of the Ulaid. For more information and interactive pictures on Teltown, visit http://www.voicesfromthedawn.com/teltown/

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