Mystery, magic, drama, romance, and war—Irish mythology is devoid of none of these. Power-packed stories rich with adventure, these tales have inspired the arts of the country by leaps and bounds. Dating back to the Celtic rule, Irish mythology is generally classified into four cycles—the Mythological, the Ulster, the Fenian, and the Historical Cycle—each representing major events. With all that it promises, it is likely that one would love to plunge into the heart of these stories. Well, there is a way. Here are some attractions in Ireland that you can visit to relive the tales of Ireland's vivid mythology:
Given a choice between a scientific explanation or one featuring a mythical giant, it comes as no surprise that many prefer the latter. Giant’s Causeway is an area consisting of 40,000 basalt columns that came to existence as an aftermath of a volcanic eruption. However, the legend satisfies a much more active need for excitement. As the story goes, an Irish giant called Fionn mac Cumhaill, better known as Finn McCool, built the causeway to challenge Benandonner, a rival Scottish giant. Upon seeing the larger opponent from closer proximity, Finn retreated to his wife Oonagh, who disguised him as a baby. When Benandonner chased Finn to their house, she invited him in to see the “baby.” Fearing the size of the giant that birthed such a large baby, Benandonner ran away, destroying some of the Causeway. Another legend says that Finn fell asleep on the Causeway when Oonagh had the smart idea to cover him.
This Stone of Destiny sits atop the Hill of Tara in Ireland, a destination brimming with a myriad of myths. It is believed to be brought to its current location by the Tuatha De Dannan, the ancestors of Ireland, as a part of their four treasures. The myth suggests that all high kings were crowned at this spot and the stone would let out a cry across the country if the rightful ruler’s feet touched it. The stone was split by Cu Chulainn, a mythical figure, when it did not scream for his disciple. Ever since, the stone has only let out a cry a for one High King—Conn of the hundred battles.
Lough Leane is the largest lake of the three of Killarney, a town in the country. The legend begins on the shores of this lake and the giant Fionn Mac Cumhail’s son (the real one), Oisin, is the main character. The Fianna warriors were hunting on these shores when Oisin met and fell in love with Niamh Cinn iir, a beautiful woman on a white horse. She invited him to Tir na N’og, her homeland where people never grew old. He stayed with her for three years (300 in mortal years) happily, but soon longed to visit his land. She warned him that he must not step on the ground, lest he lose the effect of the land of the young. He came back on horseback to a completely different land than he had left. Upon seeing a few men attempting to move a boulder, he took the challenge upon himself to show his strength. Bent over the horse, he picked up the stone with one hand but the saddle broke and he fell to the ground. Contact to the land rendered him a withered old man, who now had to live out his old age.
Oweynagat cave is known as the Cave of Cats; the name, however, has nothing to do with feline creatures. ‘Cats’ is derived from the word cath, translating to battle. The cave is known to be the gateway to the underworld. It is here that the warrior and hero of the Cattle Raid of Cooley, Queen Medb was born. The story starts with the fairy queen Etain eloping with her lover Midir. Midir wished to visit his relative Sinech who lived in the cave. A maidservant named Crochan fell in love with the site and was eventually given it by Etian. Here, Crochan gave birth to the much-adored Queen Medb.