Irish and Celtic myths and legends, Irish folklore and Irish fairy tales and Legendary Places in Ireland
The home of King Finnbheara
Knockma of the mists is a place wreathed in secrets and myth where they say sleeps the greatest king of the Sidhe, he whose name was Finnbheara! Should you go for a walk around Knockma Hill, pay close attention to that which you cannot see – a warm breeze meant a good fairy was passing by, and a sudden shiver meant an evil one was close!
Just before the Great Hunger, the people around Knockma reported seeing hundreds of fairies fighting in the sky above the high cairns, and battling their way towards Galway too. Those who saw the duelling factions knew that a great disturbance was coming to Ireland, and the famine which followed was no surprise to them.
There are three cairns atop Knockma, one of which is said to be the palace of King Finnbheara, while another is meant to be the tomb of Queen Medb of Connacht who strove so mightily with Cú Chulainn, and the last, Carn Ceasra, is said to be none other than the abode of Césair, the very first woman to set foot in Ireland!
Her expedition was ill-fated, sadly, although she is credited with introducing sheep to Ireland, and was thought by early Christian chroniclers to have been the grand daughter of Noah. They also believed she had been denied passage on the ark, and so created an idol which told her to flee to Ireland to escape the flooding to come, since being previously uninhabited, it was thought to be free from sin, and should therefore escape the deluge.
They were on the sea for seven years and a quarter until they arrived at Dún na mBarc. Two of her three ships were lost in the journey, and before long there was but a single survivor of them all, Fintan the shapeshifter.
The great age of the monuments and ruins around Knockma lends weight to the possibility that she was buried nearby, for they are of tremendous antiquity, going back seven thousand years and more! And among them can be found deep tunnels, fortresses and more cairns.
The Kirwans held sway over Knockma for some time and local legends tell of their conflicts with the Sidhe. Lady Eithne Kirwan was kidnapped by the fairies, and her husband had to dig deep in the centre of the mound to rescue her. But even after her rescue, she slept for a year and a day until he managed to remove the magical girdle that Finnbheara had placed around her waist! The hole can still be found to this day.
And another tale speaks of how Lord Kirwan met King Finnbheara riding on a horse made of fire, and he was blessed with luck at the races forever after.
“Knock Ma, which you see over there, is said to contain excavated passages and a palace where the fairies live, and with them the people they have taken. And from the inside of the hill there is believed to be an entrance to an underground world.
It is a common opinion that after consumptives die they are there with the fairies in good health. The wasted body is not taken into the hill, for it is usually regarded as not the body of the deceased but rather as that of a changeling, the general belief being that the real body and the soul are carried off together, and those of an old person from Fairyland substituted. The old person left soon declines and dies.”
Testimony of a local priest in 1911
Knockma Hill can be found on the map below!
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Legendary Places in Ireland
Knockma of the mists is a place wreathed in secrets and myth where they say sleeps the greatest king of the Sidhe, he whose name was Finnbheara! Should you go for a walk around Knockma Hill, pay close attention to that which you cannot see – a warm breeze meant a good fairy was passing by, and a sudden shiver meant an evil one was close! J ... [more]
Nine is a mystical number in Irish folklore, being thrice three, itself known from ancient times as a mysterious symbol, and so should you happen across nine stones, you would do well to be extra careful! For who knows what might lie sleeping just below the surface. And such a place can be found on the saddle between Sliabh Bán, the White ... [more]
Once upon a time there were many kingdoms in Ireland, and many kings, or perhaps they would have been better known as chieftains, but kings they were for all that. As time went by each of these kingdoms fell and were joined one into the other, but yet a single kingdom still remains in the farthest north and farthest west of the country, and this is ... [more]
Ireland's bones are made of stories, you can hardly step over a rock or walk past an old mound but if it could speak, it would tell you tales you could hardly imagine. But of all the legended glens and fields misty with memory in this ancient nation, there are few with as many secrets hidden in their depths as Lough Gur in county Limerick. S ... [more]
There are tens of thousands of round stone forts in Ireland, some say as many as fifty thousand, if you can believe it, and one of the finest examples we have is at Kilcashel in County Mayo, which comes from the Irish Coill an Chaisil, the woods of the stone fort. Almost perfectly circular in construction, with thick walls two broad men could walk ... [more]
Scattered throughout the Irish countryside are hundreds if not thousands of holy wells, almost all of great antiquity, even predating Christianity. They can take almost any form and show up in any place, shimmering in the shadow of engraved stone monuments, in lapping sea caves where the fresh and salt waters mingle twice a day, as natural springs ... [more]
In county Roscommon there's a place of great antiquity called Oweynagat, which some have mistakenly thought to mean the Cave of Cats, although it has nothing to do with cats - “cath” being the Irish word for “battle” and so it should rightfully be called the battle cave. Indeed it has a long association with the Morrigan ... [more]
The Burren is one of the wonders of Ireland. A rolling rocky landscape of limestone hills and plains, it is marked with history stretching back thousands of years. Nestled in between the limestone slabs are herbs and plants you'd be hard pressed to find elsewhere, hailing from places as far afield as the Arctic and the Mediterranean, kept warm ... [more]
Older than Stonehenge and the great pyramids of Giza stands Newgrange, the heart of legends and mysteries stretching back five thousand years. Situated along the river Boyne near to numerous other such places like Knowth and Dowth, that very same river where Fionn Mac Cumhaill was said to have first found and tasted the salmon of knowledge, and the ... [more]
The seat of the High Kings of Ireland of old, Tara or Temair as it was known then, is said to have been the seat of a hundred and forty two kings, kingships won by battle, contest and merit, not passed down father to son as in more primitive cultures. One of the most important monuments in the sacred Boyne valley, its history stretches back four th ... [more]
Dun Aengus means "the Fort of Aenghus", and remains one of the most impressive ancient monuments in Ireland, Europe or the world. Perched on the edge of a high and jagged cliff with the grey-green waters of the Atlantic battering below, it gained its name from its original builders, who were called the Fir Bolg, some of the first to arriv ... [more]
Crannogs, the name meaning "young trees" for reasons which aren't too clear, were dwelling places for people in Ireland from the time of the Tuatha de Dannan right up to the seventeenth century. They were built on shallow lakes or pools on top of tree trunks stuck into the lake bottom, piles of rocks, mud and other debris or on natura ... [more]
Croagh Patrick or Patrick's Stack is an important place of pilgrimage for Christians throughout Ireland and the world today, some even walking the ascent in their bare feet as penance for their sins. However it was considered a holy place long before St Patrick came to visit, even though it is said he banished the snakes from Ireland while stan ... [more]
Rising from the ocean a short distance off the coast of county Kerry in southern Ireland, Skellig Michael and its smaller brother rear up out of the Atlantic ocean like jagged grey teeth. Famous poet George Bernard Shaw who visited the place in 1910, called it an "incredible, impossible, mad place" and "part of our dream world". ... [more]