Killeavy, Co. Armagh
The earliest oral traditions speak of the Dé Danann. Later poets re-worked these legends into ballads celebrating the conflicts with the Viking. Thus the terms Danann and Dane became confused, with the Danes given the credit for the construction of the ancient monuments.
Cushendall, Co. Antrim
This tomb was known as “Cloughbrack” on early maps. It is unclear when it became connected with Ossian and the effort to reclaim Ireland’s ancient folkloric patrimony from the fabrications of an upstart Scotsman.
Portballintrae, Co. Antrim
In legend, these 40,000 interlocking blocks of stone were the first segment of a roadway stretching across the sea to Scotland. It was built, the story goes, by Fionn mac Cumhaill so that he might battle Benandonner, his rival across the sea.
The Burren, Co. Clare
This exquisitely-proportioned monument sits just off a main tourist route, its spacious new parking area accommodating dozens of buses disgorging daily many hundreds of their polyglot passengers. Some arrive sadly misinformed.
Burt, Co. Donegal
Bus loads of schoolchildren drive up the winding road where the Grianán of Aileach dominates the summit. As the youngsters disperse to explore the fort they may not realize that it was actually assembled in 1837 from a disorganized jumble of stones.
Rostellan, Co. Cork
Nearly submerged by the tide, the Rostellan Dolmen is the only example of such a “Diarmuid and Gráinne’s Bed” to wear a garland of seaweed. In legend, Diarmuid placed seaweed on a sheltering dolmen to protect his lover and himself from Fionn’s magic vision.
Camp, Co Kerry
Cú Roí mac Dáire was a legendary sorcerer, an evil magician who resided in the south of Ireland in the brutal tribal era of the prehistoric Iron Age. He has given his name both to the mountain and to the stone fort near its peak.
Oldcastle, Co. Meath
On his visit to the Loughcrew hills, also called Sliabh na Caillíghe (The Hill of the Witch) Jonathan Swift heard tales of the “monster woman” who once ruled the area. She was the local incarnation of An Cailleach Bhéara, the Hag of Beare.
Myths and Megaliths
The ancient Irish made their mark on the land with great stone and earthen structures. The legends that developed were thought to be among the earliest voices from the dawn of western civilization.