Loughcrew/Sliabh na Caillaigh is group of neolithic passage tombs like Newgrange. Theyre older and more technologically advanced than the pyramids at Giza and the non representational art on the tombs doesnt occur again in europe until the 19th century.

Loughcrew is different to newgrange. Loughcrew is aligned to the equinoxes rather than the solstices so for the week of the equinox sunlight travels into the heart of the passage tomb and lights up a chamber thats been dark except for those times for more than 5000 years

Loughcrew is also older than newgrange and might be the product of a different tribe of the same ethnic group. While Loughcrew faces sliabh Gullion mountain in Armagh in Ulster, Newgrange faces the Wicklow mountains in Leinster and is decorated with quartz quarried there.

 Loughcrew was in use much longer than newgrange. It was occupied in the Iron Age and might have been both a slaughter site and site for workshops. There have been la tene decorated tools made from iron and bone found there that people cant figure out a use for.

Today its the home of the cultic cailleach, an expression of the feminine divine in Irish cultures that may have roots in polytheism. She shapes the landscape, The shape shifts, is ancient, supernaturally strong and fertile and a source of knowlege. Shes even immanent in grain harvests.

Everything enigmatic and man made in the landscape is built by her. Theres a story that the Cailleach was building a round tower until a little boy looking up at her shouted haha I can see your bum. Then she dropped to the ground giving out to the kid that she wouldve built it to the sky if he hadnt been so cheeky.


The Cailleach might originate as an Ancient Mother Earth Goddess.

In the late medieval and contemporary folklore she is an ancient but ageless creature that personifies the supernaturals affect on the fertility of the land that often runs around in the form of a Hare.

The hare is a symbol of fertility and prophecy, it even replaces the man on the moon in traditional irish culture. Like the hare the Cailleach has children everywhere and she is a source of knowlege because shes been around so long she knows everything. Ive never heard the moon called the cailleach but theres probably a link in both their functions.

The Cailleach isnt just fertile she is super strong, she creates geographical features purely by heaving earth around or throwing huge boulders and everything enigmatic in the landscape is built by her. Round towers, passage tombs and dolmens for example.

Carlingford in County Louth is a Norse Gael place name meaning the inlet/Fjord of the Hag. But what its really interesting about it beyond the ethnic diversity is it describes the Cailleachs one flaw. She has to head into the water at places like Carlingford once every hundred years to renew her youth.

Unfortunately one day a mortal man interferes with her getting to the sea to renew herself because he wont look away to save her modesty while she runs into the sea naked and she dies. Stories like that might be about the conquering of feminine divinity in a male world or be about conquering the fertility of the land by agriculture.


Irish placenames can be fairly funny in English.

We have names like Muff a village in Donegal home to the famous “Muff Diving Club” one of irelands oldest and most popular clubs providing scuba equipment and diving lessons.

But funnier in an odd way are the gaelic names that just dont fit. For example Muff village is given the gaelic name Magh meaning plane/flat space for grazing cattle etc. Ok its a little phonetically like muff (not much) but it doesnt reflect the topography of the area. Muff village is on a penninsula by the mouth of Lough Foyle. Thats why theres a muff diving club.

The reason lots of gaelic names dont fit is they havent always been there. In the early 20th century members of the ordinance survey department put medieval gaelic place names anywhere they thought theyd fit. It was an effort to promote a gaelic monocuture to support independance. But the realities of a multiethnic culture means the words that sound similar are from different languages and dont describe the area well.

Some of the funniest place names include Spunkane in Kerry and Cum in Mayo. I dont recommending googling cum, mayo to see the road sign. It didnt work out for me.

Robin is a sacred bird in most of europe. The story to justify its status is the story of how he got his red breast. A robin tried to stop jesus bleeding to death on the cross when a drop of blood fell on him it marked him forever as blessed.

A similar story exists about the Robin in an Irish context. Robins are called bird of the O sullivans in the province of Munster because of a contemporary folk tradition explaining the surname Sullivan. Its phonetically similar to Suil abhain - One Eye and the story of the surname goes that Suildubhain mac Maolughra gave his eye in payment to a demanding poet, loosing his kingship because of the flaw only to regain it when his eye was magically restored. Maybe the Robin tried to stop him bleeding too.

Even though the robin is a sacred animal its bad luck to see a Robin sit on your window ledge singing. Robins care so much for people that they sing to soothe the dying.

A short scots poem about the robin

The Cailleach in Ogham ^
The Cailleach in Irish culture is a very different thing conceptually to the thing described by the word cailleach in Scotland. People dont understand how wildely Irish and Scottish cultures can differ and the similarity of the languages on paper misleads people into thinking cultures are more similar than say spain and italy whose languages share a common ancestor too.

Neither culture uses the word as it was originally, the latin for Nun. That shows you how things can change over time and words can end up describing things COMPLETELY different than the dictionary meaning. In Ireland the Cailleach is ancient but ageless. Vigorous and super fertile. In Scotland she is a withered hag, the personification of winter.

While the word looks the same one group uses it to mean ancient like immortal while the other uses it to mean aged as in withered.

The Major difference is in how the Scottish Cailleach exists as an expression of feminine divinity compared to the irish version. The Cailleach transcends geography and any boundry as a purely spiritual thing. The Cailleach brings winter in and she takes over from Saint Brigid who brings spring. They are females in charge, they fight over symbols of fertility and win and loose seasonally.

The Irish cailleach is immanent in the geography she literally is the harvest. The Lunasa a famous harvest festival was also called Bron Trogain/the sad harvest in the medieval because feminine divinities die at that time of year.

Another major difference is the Scottish idea fits in well with pagan ideas like the wheel of the year and green men. The man dies and comes back seasonally. Paganism started out in the UK so its not surprising that its more in line with Scottish folk tradition than Irish but the difference in cultures means the Green man is the wrong gender in Ireland. Itd be a green woman. The Cailleach.

The Demon, the Morrigan!

Irish mythology is written in 3 bursts across history and over time we can see the morrigan go from polytheist deity to a word for nightmarish airbourn demons

In the 8th century Second Battle of Moytura the Morrigan is a Sovereignty Queen, in the 11th Century Cattle Raid of Cooley The Morrigan is just a supernatural woman who shapeshifts into a Crow, to the 16th century when the words the Morrigan dont indicate a character any more they just mean a flock of evil Birds.

As Polytheism gave way to Monotheism inauguration rituals where the king married a sovereignty queen/tutelary goddess fell out of use. The morrigan was the personfication of Sovereignty Queens and her function dwindled so did she.

But the rituals didnt die off immidiately, the church denounced them and called the Morrigan a Lamia, and that demon form in literature outlasted the original. To the point that there was very little of her left.

Roman Ireland: Silver dogs and death

Nationalism in Ireland and nativism in its universities has meant people deny any roman influence in ireland. But it might be more political wrangling than truth and there might be things that show a significant roman influence on Irish culture.

We tend to hear rome and think of the roman army but it was an empire famous for trade too and in places like pre roman britian we can see that romanization happened long before an invasion happened

In Ireland we never developed currency on our own and used cows as movable wealth until the colony forced it on us. But in the iron age we have roman coinage and in brehon law, one of the oldest codified legal systems in europe there are measurements in silver. And whats more they come from the roman system of weights and measures. Scripulus and uncia.

In one hoard of roman silver in Ireland we have 210 ounces in silver ingots and 210 ounces in Coins. The matching measurements might mean the hoard wasnt stolen from roman britain but might have been a payment. Or since rome debased its coinage maybe it was stored there by way of a bank because of its high silver content.

Other evidence of trade is in roman lit describing Irish wolf hounds brought to Rome itself and an assesment of the country for invasion by a roman general. There are roman ship builders in ireland, high status burials of romans from rome and evidence of roman religion in those burials with Charons obol coins left in the mouths of the dead to pay the ferryman to take them to the land of the dead.


The bronze age saw the culture in Ireland become very militarized. One of the features of the bronze age apart from spears and swords was large bronze musical horns. They were far too loud to be played indoors and might have been used along with large ceremonial halberds to frighten opposing armies.

Two types are alway found together, one thats end blown and another thats side blown. The side blown ones are rare in bronze age Europe but neither one is easy to play people died trying. In 1857 Robert Ball tried to make high pitched trumpet sounds with them in the national archaeological museum and he tried and failed so many times he burst a blood vessel.

Theirs very little precision or pitch control because the bore on the horns is rough, but its probably not by accident because the rest of the horn is a major feat of metalwork. The current theory on how they were played is you blow softly and the horns produce a sustained drone similar to a modern didjeridu

Horns also cause death in Irish mythology but from pleasure. So from a functional view we could say they are more than pure signalling instruments. In the cattle raid of Froich after Ailill tricks the semi divine Froich into a pool with a water monster his Horn players play causing 30 of Ailills closest friends to die in extacy.

This is a vid of some archaeologists trying out the horns.


The song is called Sheebeg Sheemore and comes from a famous blind harper called o carolan in the 18th century. Its about two sacred hills in co. Leitrim with cairns and passage tombs on them.

The story is the fairies live from May/Bealtaine to October/Samhain in one and October/Samhain to May/Bealtaine in the other. So youve to be very careful building in the area between the two incase youre in their path and they cause havok for you.

The trick is you put a rowan stake at the four corners of your foundations when youre heading home and if theyve been knocked down in the morning you know youre in the wrong place.

There are some mad superstitions about the hills, one was even dug up to see if there was buried treasure inside. Its a very celticy song too but its tied up with an ethnic diversity in Irish culture that might not be celtic related.

O Carolan was the last of a dying breed and the harping tradition that brought this song down to us was only saved by the patronage of the Ulster Scots ethnicities. He was commissioned to write it by a Leitrim man George Reynolds, a french anglo norman name another ethnicity in Ireland.

Even the Rowan stick trick is borrowed from the Norwiegan love for the plant. Originally only the big trees here like the Ash and Oak were significant. Today though the rowan is a seemless part of folk trad as Irish as anything else just like the norse and the norman french became as irish as anyone else.


Waylander Lamh Dearg.

Lamh Dearg is the red hand and its a symbol used across ethnicities and communities in the north. Something that unites our ethnicities rather than divides them like the nation state in the republic.

Waylander are a paganfolk metal band from Ulster. The members of the band are Ulster Scots and others Gaelic speakers and from talking to the boys theyve seen some of the worst of the war in the north. But they still love their trads, see no conflict in their ethnicities and make some proper metal.

Lamh Dearg ABU!