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Irish and Celtic myths and legends, Irish folklore and Irish fairy tales and Legendary Places in Ireland
An ancient mystery
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 Mountain, and what we call Mount Leinster today, which was known to the old people as Suidhe Laighen, or the seat of the meeting place of the men of Leinster.
For uncounted centuries they have stood lonely watch over the gorse and bracken, the heather and bilberry, their only companions an occasional passerby and the red grouse flying overhead. Glittering quartz, much favoured by the ancient Gaels for their construction, is scattered about.
A cairn built five thousand years ago looks down upon them from the nearby mountain top and standing among them you can see Croaghaun where Saint Finian, tutor to the Saints of Ireland, built a house. On the mountainside can be seen two tracks made by the feet of a giant's daughter as she slid down into the valley below.
Local legend has is that Saint Moling was walking along the road between these two peaks and he happened across an old man who had loaves of bread in his bag. Being starved, he asked the old man for one, but was told there was nothing but rocks in his bag.
“Well,” says he “if there are only rocks in your bag, let them be turned to bread! And if bread, may they change to rocks,” and with that, the bag burst asunder and nine rocks fell out.
Other stories tell that nine shepherds lay buried under the nine stones, while yet others say that nine Carlow soldiers who were coming home from the war in Wexford during the 1798 rebellion died on that spot. Older tellings speak of nine bandits and yet older, of nine chieftains of the Gaels whole lie there, the unknown warriors.
The truth is, nobody really knows who put them there or why, and sure wouldn't it be a slow life without mystery!
It used to be the custom of those who walked near them to leave a small pebble on each of the stones, which can be found on the map below.
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Legendary Places in Ireland
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]