Myths & Legends | Discover Boyne Valley

Myths & Legends

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.

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.

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.


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.

Teltown; the Táilteann Games

There was an ancient games played at modern day Teltown that predate the Olympics in Greece. The games held every year brought people from all over Ireland to compete over the course of three days. Mythology says that the games originated as a tribute to Taillte, the former wife of a slain Fir Bolg King. She remarried to a Tuatha Dé Danann. She became foster mother to Lugh. She chose her burial site at Teltown and requested that the trees be cleared to make space for her funeral games. Lugh honoured his mother with the inaugural Táilteann games when she died on the first of August.

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Co. Meath.

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Please contact Teltown House for access.


The origins of 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.