The origins of Navan

  • Region: Navan ,
  • Navan

While in Spain, éremón (son of Míl Espáine) married Odhbha, who bore him three sons. After a time he abandoned her in favour of a Dé Danann woman (Tea, who would later give her name to Tara). When éremón invaded Ireland his wife Odhbha followed him. Stricken by the grief of her husband's rejection she died soon after arriving. Her three children raised a mound in which to bury her. It is thought that Navan may take its name from the Irish word for cave (An Uaimh) – the cave within the mound in which Odhbha's remains have rested for the past three thousand years.

The Salmon of Knowledge: The Salmon of Knowledge (in Irish, An Bradán Feasa) is a creature from the Fenian Cycle of Irish Mythology. It features in the narrative “The Boyhood Deeds of Fionn,” which recounts the early adventures of the legendary Irish hero Fionn Mac Cumhaill.

According to Irish mythology the first thing to ever come into creation was a hazel tree, and in its branches was contained all the knowledge of the universe. This hazel tree flourished over the Well of Wisdom (Tobar Segais) within which lived a great speckled salmon. The story goes that the salmon ate hazel nuts which on occasion fell into the well, thus acquiring all the wisdom of the universe. It was foretold that the first person to catch and eat the salmon would gain this knowledge and that a man by the name of Fionn would be the one to do so. Nonetheless, many tried and failed, until a poet named Finnegas having spent seven years fishing the Boyne caught it. He is believed to have caught the salmon at Féc's Pool (Linn Féic), known as the ‘Pool of the Boyne,' near Slane, Co. Meath.

Finnegas instructed his apprentice, a young boy named Deimne Maol, to prepare it for him. Deimne burned his thumb bursting a blister on the salmon while it cooked. Instinctively he put his thumb into his mouth to ease the pain and in an instant he acquired all of its knowledge. When Deimne brought the cooked meal to Finnegas, his master saw something in the boy's eyes that had not been there before. When asked by Finnegas, Deimne denied he had eaten the fish. When pressed, he admitted his accidental taste. What the old poet hadn't known was that Deimne had another name, given to him by his mother – Fionn, meaning her fair-haired one. It was the incredible knowledge and wisdom gained from the salmon of Knowledge that allowed Fionn Mac Cumhaill to become the leader of the Fianna, the famed heroes of Irish myth. He was killed at áth Brea or ‘Ford of Brea' on the Boyne.

The Ramparts, starting in Navan, offers a beautiful walk along the banks of the Boyne as far as Stackallen Bridge near Slane. Be sure to keep a look out for the local fishermen and hazel trees.

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