Ireland is a truly magical place, and has been for centuries. With a strong history and a very distinctive culture, Ireland has become a fascinating landscape with a rich heritage, particularly for folklore and myths. While many of them are just folklore, they are stories that have been passed down generations and still continue to be popular today. With so many different myths associated with Irish history, we picked just a few to show you just how special Ireland is.
Ireland’s most prolific mythical creature, the leprechaun is often represented by a small man often wearing green. However, this wasn’t always the case. The original myth states that they were originally known as tall fairies, appearing as old men to humans.
Tricksters who were notorious for being untrustworthy, they hide their gold at the end of a rainbow and if caught by a human, they must grant them 3 wishes in order to be released.
Finn MacCool, or Fionn mac Cumhaill as he may also be known, is well known in Irish folklore for being part of the band of warriors who created the Giants Causeway. With so many stories surrounding this particular character, he is a popular part of Irish mythology.
He first became known due to famously eating the Salmon of Knowledge which meant he gained all the knowledge in the world. Soon after that, it is said he built the Giants Causeway to reach Scotland to battle a rival!
Children of Lir
This particular story centres around 4 siblings, who’s mother died. Their father, Lir, remarried a woman named Aoife who was jealous of the children. She planned to kill them, but was too cowardly and turned the children into swans for 900 years instead, so that she could have their father all to herself.
Lir found out, turned the children back and transformed Aoife into a demon for the rest of her days!
A changeling was a fairy child that had been left in the place of a human child. Secret exchanges took place without the parents knowing. This often happened because the fairies loved the child, wanted a servant or sometimes for malicious reasons too.
The Irish believe that being envious of someone’s child or being a new mother increased the chances of being swapped for a changeling! Changelings became more well-known after Shakespeare included them in ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’.
Many non-Irish people may not know the full story of Ireland’s patron saint. The real St Patrick was actually kidnapped and sent to Ireland for 7 years, before he escaped. However, voices told him to return to Ireland, and he became a devout Christian.
Another part of the Irish folklore surrounding St Patrick was that he banished all snakes from Ireland; however, we now know there could never have been snakes in the first place due to the climate! It is possible that the snakes were a representation of evil.
So, next time you visit Ireland, make sure you check out all the fascinating sites and even follow in the footsteps of some of the most famous Irish mythological creatures!