Kathleen Ní Houlihan – Ireland Personified and Irish Nationalism

Kathleen Ni Houlihan (Caitlín Ní Uallacháin, literally, “Kathleen, daughter of Houlihan”) is a mythical symbol and emblem of Irish nationalism found in literature and art, sometimes representing Ireland as a personified woman. The figure of Kathleen Ni Houlihan has also been invoked in nationalist Irish politics. Kathleen Ni Houlihan is sometimes spelled as Cathleen Ni […]

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Hy Brasil – The Lost Legendary Island of Ireland

Hy-Brasil was an island which appeared on ancient maps as early as 1325 and into the 1800s. On most maps, it was located roughly 321km (200 miles) off the west coast of Ireland in the North Atlantic Ocean. Its name is derived from Old Irish hy, a variation of í, meaning ‘island’, and brasil, from […]

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Dún Bhaloir | Balor’s Fort | The Anvil, Tory Island, Co Donegal

From its craggy cliffs to its wind-beaten shores, Ireland has long exuded an aura of mystery and magic. Its culture and traditions have been forged from a unique mixture of warrior ballads, clan sagas, fairy tales, and bardic narratives. A magnificent combination of myth, legend, and historic fact embroiders the very fabric of Irish culture. […]

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‘How Young Cormac Mac Airt was Recogised as King’

In ancient times, the people of Ireland were internationally renowned for their love of law and their intricate justice system. Law was the articulation of fairness and the embodiment of justice, the application of the law to real scenarios was seen as a manifestation of justice in action, an affirmation of the natural harmonising order […]

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Irish Superstitions

It can definitely be argued that superstitions are intrinsically tied in with traditional folklore, and with a culture as steeped in customs and fables as Ireland’s, it’s no surprise that there are more than a handful of superstitions unique to the country and its people. The phrase ‘the luck of the Irish’ isn’t all it […]

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January God

In ancient Roman religion and mythology, Janus is the god of beginnings and transitions, thence also of gates, doors, doorways, endings and time. He is usually a two-faced god since he looks to the future and the past. The Romans dedicated the month of January to Janus. His most apparent remnant in modern culture is […]

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Celtic Mythology | Five Sacred Guardian Trees of Ireland

Tree lore is a suspected ancient school of knowledge with roots stretching back into our earliest symbolic imaginations. The Tree is a common universal, archetypal symbol that can be found in many different traditions around the ancient world. Trees are symbols of physical and spiritual nourishment, transformation and liberation, sustenance, spiritual growth, union and fertility. […]

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Fáilas

Fáilas was one of the four cities of the Tuatha Dé Danann, along with Gorias, Findias, and Murias, whence they came to Ireland. Morfessa was the instructor of learning there. In their departure the Tuatha Dé Danann took the magical stone of Fál with them. That stone would cry out to choose the rightful King […]

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Irish Mythology | Donn Fírinne, The Dark One

In Irish mythology, Donn is a god of the dead. Donn is the modern Irish word for the colour brown and appears as an element in many Irish surnames like Donegan, Donovan, Donnelly and on its own as Dunn/Dunne. However in the case of Donn the word derives from the Celtic word ‘dhuosnos’ meaning dark […]

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Winter Solstice: The Holly King vs The Oak King

‘Things have to get worse before they can get better.’ With each passing day of autumn we lose daylight. However, as the Winter Solstice arrives, the shortest day arrives, and we gain more daylight going forward. Ancient people, who spent more time outdoors, were acutely aware of this annual ebb and flow of daylight, the […]

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