Emerald Isle

Dun Ailinne

Irish and Celtic myths and legends, Irish folklore and Irish fairy tales and Legendary Royal Sites in Ireland

Dun Ailinne

Dún Ailinne is one of the great Royal Sites of Ireland, where great ceremonies, rituals and gatherings took place, seat and crowning-place of the Gaelic Kings of Leinster. All that remains of it now is a large circular embankment and ditch covering the hilltop of Cnoc Ailinne, but it has been in continuous use since the Neolithic at least, and became home to a great hall during the Iron age. There are also come large boulders in the centre, which might once have been standing stones, although they have been destroyed. Old tales tell that a giant called Buireach threw them into their present location.

The site doesn't appear to have been lived in all year round until the Iron age, but was used for ceremonial feasting and festivals during the Spring and Summer. Many charred and scraped bones have been found nearby, from cows, sheep, pigs, deer and horses. A La Tène style sword and Roman bronze fibulae have also been found at the site.

The great legend associated with the area tells how a daughter of the King of Leinster, Aillinn, was kidnapped and died, followed shortly by her lover who perished of a broken heart. Two trees grew from their graves, one an apple, the other a yew, and after seven years these were shaped into wooden tablets, upon which were written all the love poems and traditions of Leinster. When the two wooden tablets were bought to the court of King Cormac Mac Art, they leaped together and could not be separated.

Royal Sites of Ireland

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