Story Archaeology

Uncovering the layers of Irish Mythology through a regular podcast and related articles.

Author Archive: Chris Thompson

Uaimh na gCait (Oweynagat)

The Cave of the Cats Taken from a personal journal entry after an early visit to the cave …..“There it is, by that house” and we tumble out of the car into the everlasting drizzle. The cave of Cruachán was said to be the most notorious otherworld entrance in folktale and legend. From here, so …

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Other Appearances of The Morrigan

As discussed in the podcast, there are several other notable appearances which the Mór Rígan makes through Irish Mythology.  Below, I have produced a translation of the Dindshenchas poem, “Odras”.  Before we get to her, here are links to some of her other roles: Esnada Tige Buichet, “The Melodies of the House of Buchet”. This is …

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Series 5,episode 6: Encountering The Morrigan

The Morrigan,  is a multi textured mythological figure, She may take  the role of war correspondent, and diplomat and record keeper. She can be sensual, uncompromising and occasionally even downright scary but then, above all, she is the perfect exemplar of the poet’s skill. Come an explore her fascinating complexity with the story archaeologists as they follow …

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Fochard Bríde

According to the early hagiographies, St. Brigid was born at Fochard Muirtheimne, a few miles north of Dundalk, about 450 CE. Though  of the strength of this tradition, the place  later became known as Fochard Bríde. On the hill nearby, are the remains of an Iron Age fort, a Norman motte-castle and a medieval church. St Brigid’s …

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Brig and Rúadán

It was the first time keening had been heard in the green land of Ireland.  The poetry of mourning, the ritual of the eulogy.  Brig keened for her lost son, her impetuous red-headed boy, Rúadán. Rúadán was dead, killed by the spear of Goibniu, and the smithcraft of the Dé Danann, killed as a spy …

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Heapstown Cairn ~ The Well of Octriul

Heapstown cairn is not impressive; well, not at first view.  Not far away, high on the slopes of the Bricklieve hills, set against the skyline are the bald, one-eyed heads, like ancient Formoire giants.  There are so many cairns, each evoking mystery and speculation. Then there is Heapstown, the greatest of all cairns outside the Boyne …

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A Pilgrimage to Abydos

Getting to Egypt had always been the goal of a pilgrimage for me. This had been the case since my uncle, a very scholarly man, with a wonderful sense of humour and a gift of teaching, first took me to the British museum. I was ten and putting together a school project on 12th century illuminated …

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John Barleycorn

John Barleycorn is the titular character of a popular English and Scottish  folk-song,  found in a number of versions  going back, at least, to the sixteenth century. John Barleycorn is given as  the personification of  ‘the nut brown ale’ (or the uisce beatha) and all the process the grain goes through in order to provide the welcome drink.  The …

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Airmed’s Story

The green grey morning is soft with mist. Airmed sits on the soft earth of the mound, her yellow cloak spread empty before her covering the damp earth. All around her lie green herbs, no longer fresh and growing for they were harvested in hope and are now scattered in sadness. Airmed gathers the measure …

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Jeremiah Curtin and the Oral Tradition

In our update on Ethliu, Mythical Women revisited: Series 5.3, we discussed the story of the birth of Lugh. The only available version of this story, Balor on Tory Island is to be found in “Hero Tales of Ireland” a book of orally narrated stories collected by folklorist and ethnologist Jeremiah Curtin and published in 1894. Jeremiah …

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