Brigit, Irish Goddess of Poets

From A Smaller Social History of Ancient Ireland 1906

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CHAPTER V....continued

Brigit, daughter of the Dagda, was the goddess of Poets, of Poetry, and of Wisdom. She had two sisters, also called Brigit: one was the goddess of medicine and medical doctors; the other the goddess of smiths and smithwork.

Ana, also called Dana or Danann, was the mother of three of the Dedannan gods, whom she nursed and suckled so well that her name 'Ana' came to signify plenty; and from her the Dedannans derived their name:—Tuatha De Danann, 'the tuatha [Thooha] or tribes of the goddess Dana.' She was worshipped in Munster as the goddess of plenty: and the name and nutritive function of this goddess are prominently commemorated in the 'Two Paps of Danann,' a name given to two beautiful adjacent conical mountains near Killarney, which to this day are well known by the name of 'the Paps.'

But there were other fairy chiefs besides those of the Dedannans: and some renowned shees belonged to Milesian princes, who became deified in imitation of their fairy predecessors. For instance, the Shee of Aed-Ruad [Ai-Roo] at Ballyshannon in Donegal. Our ancient books relate that this Aed Ruad, or Red Hugh, a Milesian chief, the father of Macha, founder of Emain, was drowned in the cataract at Ballyshannon, which was thence called after him Eas-Aeda-Ruaid [Ass-ai-roo], 'Aed-Ruad's Waterfall': now shortened to 'Assaroe.' He was buried over the cataract, in the mound which was called from him Sid-Aeda—a name still partly preserved in Mullaghshee, 'the hill of the shee or fairy-palace.'

This hill has recently been found to contain subterranean chambers, which confirms our ancient legendary accounts, and shows that it is a great sepulchral mound like those on the Boyne. How few of the people of Ballyshannon know that the familiar name Mullaghshee is a living memorial of those dim ages when Aed Ruad held sway, and that the great king himself has slept here in his dome-roofed dwelling for two thousand years.

Another Milesian chief, Donn, son of Milesius, was drowned in the magic storm raised by the spells of the Dedannans when the eight brothers came to invade Ireland. But for him it was only changing an earthly mode of existence for a much pleasanter one in his airy palace on the top of Knockfierna, as the renowned king of the fairies: and here he ruled over all the great Limerick plain around the mountain, where many legends of him still linger among the peasantry.

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