Fianna were small, semi-independent warrior bands in Irish mythology. They are featured in the stories of the Fenian Cycle, they are based on historical bands of aristocratic landless young men in early medieval Ireland. The historical institution of the fiann is known from references in early medieval Irish law tracts. A fiann was made up of landless young men and women young aristocrats who had not yet come into their inheritance of land. A member of a fiann was called a fénnid. Geoffrey Keating, in his 17th-century History of Ireland, says that during the winter the fianna were quartered and fed by the nobility, during which time they would keep order on their behalf, but during the summer, from Beltaine to Samhain, they were obliged to live by hunting for food and for pelts to sell. Keating's History is more a compilation of traditions than a reliable history, but in this case scholars point to references in early Irish poetry and the existence of a closed hunting season for deer and wild boar between Samhain and Beltaine in medieval Scotland as corroboration.
Some legendary depictions of fianna seem to conform to historical reality: for example, in the Ulster Cycle the druid Cathbad leads a fiann of 27 men which fights against other fianna and kills the 12 foster-fathers of the Ulster princess Ness. Ness, in response, leads her own fiann of 27 in pursuit of Cathbad. However, the stories of the Fiannaíocht, set around the time of Cormac mac Airt, depict the fianna as a single standing army in the service of the High King, although it contains two rival factions, the Clann Baíscne of Leinster, led by Fionn mac Cumhaill, the Clann Morna of Connacht, led by Goll mac Morna, lives apart from society, surviving by hunting; the Dord Fiann was the war-cry of the Fianna, they employed its use prior to and amid battle, either as a mode of communication or to put fear into their enemies. In the legend "The Death of Fionn", Fionn raises the Dord Fiann when he sees his grandson Oscar fall in battle against the armies of Cairbre Lifechair, proceeds to strike back at the enemy with great furiosity killing many dozens of warriors.
The Battle of Gabhra marked the demise of the Fianna. They had three mottoes: Glaine ár gcroí Neart ár ngéag Beart de réir ár mbriathar Fionn mac Cumhaill: last leader of the Fianna Cumhall: Fionn's father, the former leader Goll mac Morna Caílte mac Rónáin Conán mac Morna Diarmuid Ua Duibhne: a warrior of the Fianna who ran off with Fionn's intended bride Grainne and was killed by a giant boar on the heath of Benn Gulbain. Foster son of Aengus. Lughaid Stronghand: sorcerous warrior, nephew of Fionn mac Cumhaill, one of the four who could have untied the knots Diarmuid bound the sea-kings with, but refused to do so. Lover of Aife, daughter of Manannan Oisín, son of Fionn mac Cumhaill: Oscar, son of Oisín Cael Ua Neamhnainn In more recent history, the name Fianna Éireann has been used, as Fianna Fáil has been used: as a sobriquet for the Irish Volunteers, on the cap badge of the Irish Army, the name in Irish of the Army Ranger Wing, in the opening line of the Irish-language version of the Irish national anthem, as the name of the Fianna Fáil political party.
Irish Fairy Tales, a 1920 book by James Stephens containing many tales of the Fianna
Benbulbin, sometimes spelled Ben Bulben or Benbulben, is a large flat-topped rock formation in County Sligo, Ireland. It is part of the Dartry Mountains, in an area sometimes called "Yeats Country". Benbulbin is a protected site, designated as a County Geological Site by Sligo County Council. "Ben Bulben", "Benbulben", "Benbulbin" are all anglicisations of the Irish name "Binn Ghulbain". "Binn" means "peak" or "mountain", while "Ghulbain" means jaw in Irish. The literal translation is therefore "beak" or "jaw" peak; the name is echoed in the name of the king Conall Gulban, a son of Niall of the Nine Hostages, associated with the mountain. However, whether he was named after the mountain or the mountain after him is not clear. Benbulbin was shaped during the ice age, it was a large plateau. Glaciers moving from the northeast to southwest shaped it into its present distinct formation. Benbulbin, the Dartry Mountains as a whole, are composed of limestones on top of mudstones; these rocks formed in the area 320 million years ago in a shallow sea.
Uppermost in the limestone layer is a thicker, harder limestone called the Dartry Limestone Formation. Below this is a thinner transitional limestone formation – the Glencar Limestone Formation. Further down, the lower slopes consist of shaly mudstone known as the Benbulben Shale Formation. Scree deposits are found near the base. Fossils exist throughout the layers of the mountains. All layers have many fossilised sea shells; the shale layer holds some corals. Baryte was mined at Glencarbury near Benbulbin in the Dartry range between 1894 and 1979. Benbulbin is an established walking destination. If climbed by the north face, it is a dangerous climb; that side bears the brunt of the high storms that come in from the Atlantic Ocean. However, if approached by the south side, it is an easy walk, since that side slopes gently. From the summit there are views over the coastal plain of the Atlantic ocean; the land adjacent to the western edge of the ridge is owned farmland and not accessible to the general public.
However, there is a paved path up the south face to the east near Glencar Waterfall just over the County Leitrim border. One of the trails running alongside Benbulbin mountain is the Gortarowey looped walk, it runs both out in the open overlooking Benbulbin and the bay of Donegal. It is 5.5 kilometres in length and takes 1.5 hours to walk. Benbulbin hosts a variety including some organisms found nowhere else in Ireland. Many are Arctic–alpine plants, due to the mountain's height, which allows for cooler temperatures than is normal; these plants were deposited. Wild hares and foxes inhabit Benbulbin. In 2012, research revealed that the Fringed Sandwort had survived the Ice Age and is 100,000 years old. In Ireland the plant is unique to Benbulbin; the discovery calls into question the prior consensus that Ireland's flora and fauna date from or after the end of the Ice Age. Benbulbin is the setting of several Irish legends, it is said to be one of the hunting grounds of the Fianna, a band of warriors who are said to have lived in the 3rd century.
One example is the story of The Pursuit of Diarmuid and Gráinne, in which the warrior Diarmuid Ua Duibhne is tricked by the giant Fionn mac Cumhaill into fighting an enchanted boar, which kills the warrior by piercing his heart with its tusk. McCool is said to have found his long-lost son Oisín at this location; the mountain is said to be Gráinne's resting place. In the 6th century, St. Columba fought a battle on the plain below Benbulbin at Cúl Dreimhne for the right to copy a Psalter he had borrowed from St. Finnian. On 20 September 1922, during the Irish Civil War, an Irish Republican Army column, including an armoured car were cornered in Sligo; the car was destroyed by another armoured car belonging to the Irish Free State's National Army, six of the IRA soldiers fled up the Benbulbin's slopes. In the end, all were killed after they had surrendered, they are known as the "Noble Six". Brigadier Seamus Devins TD, Div. Adj. Brian MacNeill, Capt. Harry Benson, Lieut. Paddy Carroll, Vols. Tommy Langan and Joe Banks were those killed on the mountain.
The six anti-treaty fighters were hunted down on the slopes of Benbulbin and put to death by Free State forces which were out to avenge the killing of Brigadier Joseph Ring eight days earlier. Two of those killed and Ring were ancestors of current and recent politicians: Ring is the grand uncle of Michael Ring, McNeill is the uncle of former Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Law Reform Michael McDowell and Devins is the grandfather of Jimmy Devins. Mary O'Rourke once narrated a radio documentary telling how her grandmother's home was used as a safehouse. During World War II there were two plane crashes in the Dartry mountains close to Benbulbin. On 9 December 1943, a USAAF Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress plane crashed on Truskmore just east of Benbulbin. 10 airmen were aboard, of whom three died, two at the scene and one from injuries sustained in the crash. Local residents undertook a rescue mission, taking the injured off the mountain where they were transferred to Sligo County Hospital. Substantial wreckage of the plane stayed on the mountain for many years following the crash and today limited amounts of aircraft fragments still remain at the site.
Near the location of the Flying Fortress crash, there was an earlier crash involving a military aircraft. On 21 March 1941, an RAF Catalina flying boat using the Donegal C
Salmon of Knowledge
The Salmon of Knowledge is a creature figuring in the Fenian Cycle of Irish mythology. The Salmon story figures prominently in The Boyhood Deeds of Fionn, which recounts the early adventures of Fionn mac Cumhaill. According to the story, an ordinary salmon ate nine hazelnuts that fell into the Well of Wisdom from nine hazel trees that surrounded the well. By this act, the salmon gained all the world's knowledge; the first person to eat of its flesh would in turn gain this knowledge. The poet Finn Eces spent seven years fishing for this salmon. Finn caught the salmon and gave the fish to Fionn, his servant and son of Cumhaill, with instructions to cook it but on no account to eat any of it. Fionn cooked the salmon, turning it over and over, but when he touched the fish with his thumb to see if it was cooked, he burnt his finger on a drop of hot cooking fish fat. Fionn sucked on his burned finger to ease the pain. Little did Fionn know that all of the salmon's wisdom had been concentrated into that one drop of fish fat.
When he brought the cooked meal to Finn Eces, his master saw that the boy's eyes shone with a unseen wisdom. Finn Eces asked Fionn. Answering no, the boy explained. Finn Eces realized that Fionn had received the wisdom of the salmon, so gave him the rest of the fish to eat. Fionn in so doing gained all the knowledge of the world. Throughout the rest of his life, Fionn could draw upon this knowledge by biting his thumb; the deep knowledge and wisdom gained from the Salmon of Knowledge, allowed Fionn to become the leader of the Fianna, the famed heroes of Irish myth. In Welsh mythology, the story of how the poet Taliesin received his wisdom follows a similar pattern. In 1999, in celebration of the return of fish to the River Lagan, the city of Belfast erected a sculpture titled The Salmon of Knowledge but locally called The Big Fish. Fisher King Mead of poetry Hallucinogenic fish The boyhood of Fin mac Cumhal In: T. W. Rolleston The High Deeds of Finn and other Bardic Romances of Ancient Ireland, G. G. Harrap & Co.
1910, pp. 106–115. The Salmon of Knowledge Celtic.org. Retrieved 14 December 2011; the Boyhood Deeds of Finn mac Cumhaill
A druid was a member of the high-ranking professional class in ancient Celtic cultures. Best remembered as religious leaders, they were legal authorities, lorekeepers, medical professionals, political advisors. While the druids are reported to have been literate, they are believed to have been prevented by doctrine from recording their knowledge in written form, thus they left no written accounts of themselves, they are however attested in some detail by their contemporaries from other cultures, such as the Romans and the Greeks. The earliest known references to the druids date to the fourth century BCE and the oldest detailed description comes from Julius Caesar's Commentarii de Bello Gallico, they were described by Greco-Roman writers such as Cicero and Pliny the Elder. Following the Roman invasion of Gaul, the druid orders were suppressed by the Roman government under the 1st century CE emperors Tiberius and Claudius, had disappeared from the written record by the 2nd century. In about 750 CE the word druid appears in a poem by Blathmac, who wrote about Jesus, saying that he was "... better than a prophet, more knowledgeable than every druid, a king, a bishop and a complete sage."
The druids also appear in some of the medieval tales from Christianized Ireland like the "Táin Bó Cúailnge", where they are portrayed as sorcerers who opposed the coming of Christianity. In the wake of the Celtic revival during the 18th and 19th centuries and neopagan groups were founded based on ideas about the ancient druids, a movement known as Neo-Druidism. Many popular notions about druids, based on misconceptions of 18th century scholars, have been superseded by more recent study; the modern English word druid derives from the Latin druidēs, considered by ancient Roman writers to come from the native Celtic Gaulish word for these figures. Other Roman texts employ the form druidae, while the same term was used by Greek ethnographers as δρυΐδης. Although no extant Romano-Celtic inscription is known to contain the form, the word is cognate with the insular Celtic words, Old Irish druí ‘druid, sorcerer’, Old Cornish druw, Middle Welsh dryw ‘seer. Based on all available forms, the hypothetical proto-Celtic word may be reconstructed as *dru-wid-s meaning "oak-knower".
The two elements go back to the Proto-Indo-European roots *deru- and *weid- "to see". The sense of "oak-knower" or "oak-seer" is supported by Pliny the Elder, who in his Natural History considered the word to contain the Greek noun drýs, "oak-tree" and the Greek suffix -idēs. Both Old Irish druí and Middle Welsh dryw could refer to the wren connected with an association of that bird with augury in Irish and Welsh tradition. Sources by ancient and medieval writers provide an idea of the religious duties and social roles involved in being a druid; the Greco-Roman and the vernacular Irish sources agree that the druids played an important part in pagan Celtic society. In his description, Julius Caesar claimed that they were one of the two most important social groups in the region and were responsible for organizing worship and sacrifices and judicial procedure in Gaulish and Irish societies, he claimed that they were exempt from military service and from the payment of taxes, had the power to excommunicate people from religious festivals, making them social outcasts.
Two other classical writers, Diodorus Siculus and Strabo wrote about the role of druids in Gallic society, claiming that the druids were held in such respect that if they intervened between two armies they could stop the battle. Pomponius Mela is the first author who says that the druids' instruction was secret and took place in caves and forests. Druidic lore consisted of a large number of verses learned by heart, Caesar remarked that it could take up to twenty years to complete the course of study. What was taught to druid novices anywhere is conjecture: of the druids' oral literature, not one certifiably ancient verse is known to have survived in translation. All instruction was communicated orally, but for ordinary purposes, Caesar reports, the Gauls had a written language in which they used Greek characters. In this he draws on earlier writers. Greek and Roman writers made reference to the druids as practitioners of human sacrifice. According to Caesar, those, found guilty of theft or other criminal offences were considered preferable for use as sacrificial victims, but when criminals were in short supply, innocents would be acceptable.
A form of sacrifice recorded by Caesar was the burning alive of victims in a large wooden effigy, now known as a wicker man. A differing account came from the 10th-century Commenta Bernensia, which claimed that sacrifices to the deities Teutates and Taranis were by drowning and burning, respectively. Diodorus Siculus asserts that a sacrifice acceptable to the Celtic gods had to be attended by a druid, for they were the intermediaries between the people and the divinities, he remarked upon the importance of prophets in druidic ritual: "These men predict the future by observing the flight and calls of birds and by the sacrifice of holy animals: all orders of society are in their power... and in important matters they prepare a human victim, plunging a dagger into his chest.
Hill of Allen
The Hill of Allen is a volcanic hill situated in the west of County Kildare, beside the village of Allen. According to Irish Mythology it was the seat of the hunter-warrior Fionn mac Cumhaill and the Fianna; the site is part-owned by Roadstone Dublin Limited and extensive quarrying has noticeably changed the profile of the hill. The hill is situated at the easternmost point of the Bog of Allen and it is from this hill that the bog gets its name. According to legend, Fionn mac Cumhaill had a fortress on the hill and used the surrounding flatlands as training grounds for his warriors. In 722 A. D. the Battle of Allen was fought between the Leinstermen, led by Murchad mac Brain Mut, the forces of Fergal mac Máele Dúin in close proximity to the hill. In 1859 Sir Gerard George Aylmer, the 9th Baronet of Donadea began building a circular tower on the top of the hill, completed in 1863; the tower was a folly and the names of the workmen are inscribed on the steps. During the construction of the tower a large coffin containing human bones was unearthed which were said to be those of Fionn mac Cumhaill.
These were re-interred under the site. As of 2008 most of the site is under the ownership of Roadstone Dublin Limited and much of the western side of the hill has been quarried. An agreement between Roadstone Dublin Limited and Kildare County Council allows quarrying to be carried out for a period of 50 years from 15 October 2008 Fionn mac Cumhaill Bog of Allen Allen, County Kildare Dún Ailinne List of mountains in Ireland Hill of Allen Action Group
Oisín (Irish pronunciation:. He is the son of Fionn mac Cumhaill and of Sadhbh, is the narrator of much of the cycle and composition of the poems are attributed to him, his name means "young deer" or fawn, the story is told that his mother, was turned into a deer by a druid, Fear Doirche. When Fionn was hunting he caught her but did not kill her, she returned to human form. Fionn gave up hunting and fighting to settle down with Sadhbh, she was soon pregnant, but Fer Doirich turned her back into a deer and she returned to the wild. Seven years Fionn found his child, naked, on Benbulbin. Other stories have Oisín meet Fionn for the first time as an adult and contend over a roasting pig before they recognise each other. In Oisín in Tir na nÓg, his most famous echtra or adventure tale, he is visited by a fairy woman called Niamh Chinn Óir. Niamh's father turned her head into a pigs head because of a prophecy, she tells this to Oisín and informs him she would return to her original form. He agrees and they return to Tir na nÓg where Oisín becomes king.
Their union produces Oisín's famous son, a daughter, Plor na mBan. After what seems to him to be three years Oisín decides to return to Ireland, but 300 years have passed there. Niamh gives him her white horse and warns him not to dismount, because if his feet touch the ground, those 300 years will catch up with him and he will become old and withered. Oisín finds the hill of Almu, Fionn's home, abandoned and in disrepair. While trying to help some men who were building a road in Gleann na Smól lift a stone out of the way onto a wagon, his girth breaks and he falls to the ground, becoming an old man just as Niamh had forewarned; the horse returns to Tir na nÓg. In some versions of the story, just before he dies Oisín is visited by Saint Patrick. Oisín tells Saint Patrick the stories of the Fianna and shortly after he dies; the interaction between St. Patrick and Oisín has been said to be more complicated, it is said. St. Patrick attempted to convert Oisín. One of the stories of the two involves Oisín fighting a bull for St. Patrick.
Oisín kills the bull and when St. Patrick comes to see how the results of the fight, Oisín is asleep in the bull's hide. In return for killing the bull, Oisín asks to be buried facing the east on Co.. Armagh, it is said. In the tale Acallam na Senórach, Oisín and his comrade Caílte mac Rónáin survived to the time of Saint Patrick and told the saint the stories of the fianna; this is the source of William Butler Yeats's poem The Wanderings of Oisin. In different versions of the story Oisín either defends the Druid faith, or converts to Christianity; the location of the grave site of Oisín is disputed. It is rumoured to be in Glenalmond in Scotland. Wordsworth wrote a poem on the subject entitled "Glen-Almain, the Narrow Glen". Others say it is located in the Nine Glens of Antrim at a site, known for generations as "Oisín's Grave"; the megalithic court cairn is located on a hillside in Lubitavish, near the Glenann River, outside the village of Cushendall on the North Antrim Coast, is believed to be the ancient burial place of Oísín.
Ossian, the narrator and purported author of a series of poems published by James Macpherson in the 1760s, is based on Oisín. Macpherson claimed to have translated his poems from ancient sources in the Scottish Gaelic language. Macpherson's poems had widespread influence on many writers including Goethe and the young Walter Scott, although their authenticity was disputed. Modern scholars have demonstrated that Macpherson based his poems on authentic Gaelic ballads, but had adapted them to contemporary sensibilities by altering the original characters and ideas and introduced a great deal of his own. Oisín is a minor character in The Pursuit of Gráinne from the Fenian cycle of stories; the poem "Ogum i llia lia uas lecht" in the Book of Leinster is ascribed to Oisín. Oisín, along with St. Patrick, is the main character of William Butler Yeats's epic poem The Wanderings of Oisin, he is mentioned in Yeats's poem The Circus Animals' Desertion. Tír na nÓg is the name given to a large white horse in the Mike Newell film Into the West.
In the story, Grandfather Reilly is followed to Dublin by this white horse, gives it to his grandsons and Tito. Grandfather tells them the horse is called "Tír na nÓg" and relates a version of the story of Oisín going to Tír na nÓg, the mythical Otherworld; as the family are Irish Travellers, Oisín is referred to in the grandfather's account as "the most handsome traveller who lived" rather than as the fenian character of legend. In Shadowmagic, a novel and podiobook by John Lenahan, Oisín is the king of Tír na nÓg and the father of Connor, the lead character. Oisin is a mentor of the main character that appears in the "David Sullivan series" of modern fantasy novels written by Tom Deitz. Oisin appears in Italian comic books fighting alongside Zagor; the 1981 animated short film Faeries, directed by Lee Mishkin with animation direction by Fred Hellmich, is a retelling of the Oisin myth, incorporating elements from the book Faeries, desc
The mythology of pre-Christian Ireland did not survive the conversion to Christianity. However, much of it was preserved in medieval Irish literature, though it was shorn of its religious meanings; this literature represents the most extensive and best preserved of all the branches of Celtic mythology. Although many of the manuscripts have not survived and much more material was never committed to writing, there is enough remaining to enable the identification of distinct, if overlapping, cycles: the Mythological Cycle, the Ulster Cycle, the Fenian Cycle and the Historical Cycle. There are a number of extant mythological texts that do not fit into any of the cycles. Additionally, there are a large number of recorded folk tales that, while not mythological, feature personages from one or more of these four cycles. Today some of the best known tales are of Tír na nÓg, Fionn MacCumhaill, Na Fianna, The Aos Sí / Aes Sídhe, Sétanta, The Tuatha Dé Danann, the Children of Lir, Táin Bó Cúailnge & the Salmon of Knowledge.
Depending on the sources, the importance of gods and goddesses in Irish mythology varies. The geographical tales, emphasize the importance of female divinities while the historical tradition focuses on the colonizers, inventors, or male warriors with the female characters only intervening in episodes. Goddesses are linked to a place and they seem to draw their power from that place, they are maternal deities caring for the earth itself as well as children. They are connected to poetry, smith craft, healing. Many appear to be prophetic when foretelling death as well as transformational. Zoomorphism is an important feature for many Irish deities. Badb Catha, the Raven of Battle, introduces zoomorphism to celtic deities of both sexes. Male deities are less zoomorphic than the female deities in the Irish tradition, but there are still some instances of shapeshifting among gods. There is a presence in Irish Mythology of the Triad referred to as the "power of three," which expresses the extreme potency of a deity rather than dividing the power.
It is an attribute more pronounced among female deities. Dagda is called by two other names, Lug has two brothers, there is the Three Gods of Skill There is a lack of a goddess of love equivalent to Aphrodite or Venus due to the predominance of the maternal element in the culture of the Celts. There are multiple categories of goddesses in Irish Mythology: the Mother Goddess, Seasonal Goddess, Warrior Goddess are a few; some of these goddesses are considered to be all one goddess while other stories treat them as separate. Among the mother goddesses is Anu the goddess of Danu. Additionally, Brigit is a mother goddess, sometimes considered one goddess and sometimes considered the three sisters Brigit, she is the mother goddess that watches over childbirth. She brings abundance. Brigit can be categorized as a seasonal goddess and one can win her favor by burying a fowl alive at the meeting of three waters as a form of sacrifice, she survives as Saint Brigit in the Christian faith and some modern folklore makes her midwife to the Blessed Virgin.
The function of these goddesses involves the entire cycle of life from birth through adolescence and the fertility. They are protecting forces that provide the necessities of life within the home and are envisioned as being the earth itself, their importance have led some scholars to propose a matrilineal social organization and others highlight this argument as being feminist propaganda and deny all indications of importance. These goddesses are the patronesses of feasts, they appear during great feasts of Ireland and they bring abundance. The main goddesses are the Machas: Carman, Tea, but there are other seasonal goddesses. Warrior Goddesses are linked with warrior women because there is historical evidence of women leading their tribes into battle. Oftentimes, warrior goddesses are depicted in a trio; this trio can change to include different goddesses. They reign over the battlefield without having to physically be involved, they do not need to strike a blow because they control the events while the male deities are depicted as being in the battles.
This aspect leads to the discussion of women as the gods of slaughter. Scholars note that the female deities govern the natural event while the male deities govern the social event; the main goddesses of war are Morrigan and Bodb. The Irish Gods are divided into four main groups. Group one encompasses the older gods of Britain; the second group is the main focus of much of the mythology and surrounds the native Irish gods with their homes in burial mounds. The third group are the gods that dwell in the sea and the fourth group includes stories of the Otherworld; the gods that appear most are Dagda and Lug. Some scholars have argued that the stories of these gods align with the Greek gods. Druids were held in high esteem by the community as religious leaders, their functions and origins are debated which some attribute to the fact that there was no written tradition. This lack of documentary evidence is said to be because the practices become common property and this makes the student relax their diligence.
They are figures in Irish Mythology and study astronomy. Heroes in Irish mythology can be found in two distinct groups. There is the hero outside of the tribe; the first group encompasses all, subject to man and his works must belong to the tribe and live under its laws. Within the tribe, heroes are of the race of humans and gods