Myths & Legends

Brú na Bóinne; the legends behind the tombs

Brú na Bóinne is one of the most important prehistoric megalithic sites in Europe drawing thousands of visitors daily. Each of the tombs has their own myths to explore against the beautiful backdrop of the gently meandering River Boyne. You will marvel at the skill of these prehistoric builders The Dinshenchas, from the Book of Leinster (a manuscript from the 12th century) is a very useful source for anyone interested in Irish mythology. This collection of poems tells the origin of place names, events and characters. It recounts the legends behind Brú na Bóinne, the Palace of the Boyne.

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Brú na Bóinne; the legends behind the tombs

Inbher Copla; the Gateway to the Boyne Valley

The area just south of Inbher Colpa (the mouth of the River Boyne) has some beautiful beaches stretching from the north of Mornington through Bettystown as far south as Laytown. Typical of the Boyne Valley, each of these coastal towns and villages has their own interesting folklore.

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Inbher Copla; the Gateway to the Boyne Valley

Kildemock`s Jumping Church

One of the Boyne Valley`s most puzzling mysteries can be found just outside Ardee in Co. Louth. The picturesque ruins are set against the backdrop of Carlingford and the Mourne Mountains. The history of the church dates back to the 12th century but it wasn`t until 1715 that this sacred place became shrouded in mystery.

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Kildemock`s Jumping Church

Tlachtga (Hill of Ward), Athboy

This humble hill in Athboy is home to a feast known as Samhain celebrated on the 31st of October every year. In modern times it's known as Halloween. In the time of Tuatha Dé Danann, legend says the hill took its name from Tlachtgla. She was the daughter of the druid, Mogh Ruith. Tlachtga fled her father's house and gave birth to three sons; Dorb, Cuma and Muacth and then died. She was buried on the hill. In the Celtic period Tlachtga was a religious centre. Festivals such as Samhain, the first day of winter, and the day of the dead were celebrated here.

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Tlachtga (Hill of Ward), Athboy

Old Mellifont Abbey; European monastic life comes to Ireland

Sadly the practices of the Celtic Monastic period became questionable and by the 12th century abbeys such as Monasterboice were in demise. Rome with reform in mind decided that the monasteries would be the vehicle for change in Ireland. Ireland`s first European style monastery came only a few miles down the road from Moansterboice at Old Mellifont Abbey where St. Malachy, Archbishop of Armagh, who along with a group of Irish monks had trained in the Cistercian order at Clairvaux, Burgundy. Along with the help of some French monks St. Malachy founded the abbey in 1142.

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Old Mellifont Abbey; European monastic life comes to Ireland

Monasterboice; the finest High Cross in Ireland

Monasterboice, near Drogheda, was founded in the 5th century by St. Buite, one of St. Patrick's original followers. Today the impressive set of ruins contains a graveyard, two churches, a sundial and a round tower. The site is best known for its collection of High Crosses. There are three fine examples most notably the South Cross (or Cross of Muiredach) and the West Cross (or Tall Cross). These crosses depict stories from the Old and New Testament that would have been used to educate early Christians.

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Monasterboice; the finest High Cross in Ireland

Millmount; the resting place of Ireland`s first great poet Amergin

The Martello tower atop Millmount takes pride of place overlooking Drogheda, one of Ireland's most picturesque medieval towns. Millmount's history dates back much further however. Local folklore says that Amergin, the great poet and son Míl is buried at Millmount. He is said to be the first Milesian to set foot in Ireland, on the banks of the Boyne, upon which he recited his famous poem. Amergin then divided Ireland into two kingdoms for his brother's éremón and Eber, using Millmount to mark the border between north and south.

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Millmount; the resting place of Ireland`s first great poet Amergin

Loughcrew Cairns; Hill of the Witch

The grandest concentration of Neolithic passage tombs in Ireland can be found at Loughcrew. Local folklore maintains that the site is the work of the “monster woman” who once ruled the area. Loughcrew`s name in Irish is Sliabh na Callaí meaning “Hill of the Witch” or “Hags Hill.” The name of the ancient hag was Garavogue, known locally as An Cailleach Bhéara. This witch or hag may have had her origins in the Celtic goddess Buí, whom we encounter at Knowth in Brú na Bóinne. She was a Moon Goddess or Earth Mother.

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Loughcrew Cairns; Hill of the Witch

Kells; the home of Ireland`s finest treasure

Kells is synonymous with early Christian architecture and it remains one of Ireland`s greatest monastic settlements. Before the arrival of Christianity Ceanannas Mór, the Irish for Kells, meaning “great residence,” was a royal residence much like the famous Hill of Tara. It wasn`t until the 6th century that Kells came to prominence as a monastic settlement. St. Colmcille or Columba was granted Kells by the then High King, Diarmuid MacCarroll, of the Uí Neill. He was the cousin of Colmcille and it is said that the two had many disagreements.

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Kells; the home of Ireland`s finest treasure

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