Ireland’s Myths & Legends Trip Ideas

April 5, 2017
History, Legends

The most amazing places in Ireland are suffused with myth, from the wildest peninsulas of Cork to the lakes of Derry~Londonderry

The people of Ireland love to tell stories and over the years, these stories have become part of our heritage. Ireland’s great tales have been told for thousands of years in every town and village, no matter how small. Travelling through the island following these stories is a once-in-a-lifetime experience – you might even call it legendary…

Ireland’s Myths and Legends

Legends of the Northwest

This part of the world is famous for its stories, many of which are based on Irish mythology. Stories of ruthless queens, evil magicians and wars of the world abound here – prepare to feel chills as you journey throughout Donegal, Sligo and Roscommon.

TRIP A 

driving

2 hrs 35 mins

Tory Island

Evil Eyes on Tory Island

County Donegal’s Tory Island is a beautiful spot to visit, home to distinctive scenery, monastic ruins and locals with fascinating stories to tell. You would never know that one of mythology’s most fearsome men is said to have lived here once. Balor of the Evil Eye was a ruthless and brutal magician, notorious for both his powers and for possessing an eye in the middle of his forehead and another at the back of his head. It was on Tory that he ruled and imprisoned his only daughter, Ethnea, until she betrayed him and brought about his downfall.

DON’T MISS

While you’re exploring County Donegal, discover the Wild Atlantic Way’s Northern Headlands, including the mysterious Bloody Foreland.

TRIP B

driving

1 hr 38 mins

Queen Medbh’s burial site Queens and Cattle Raids

Atop Knocknarea mountain in County Sligo, you’ll find a pile of thousands of stones –beneath it lies a queen. Long ago, the fearsome Queen Medbh of Connacht was consumed with the thought of acquiring a magnificent bull as she wanted to ensure her wealth equalled that of her husband. She set her sights on the legendary Brown Bull of Cooley in the province of Ulster and what happened next has been immortalised in The Cattle Raid of Cooley – the great epic of Irish mythology.

 

Knocknarea is an integral part one of this famous story – so climb to the top, soak up

the atmosphere and enjoy the views.

IF YOU HAVE MORE TIME

Look out for Oweynagat – or the Cave of the Cats – in nearby County Roscommon. This deep hole was once thought to be an opening to the Otherworld.

TRIP C

Cong, County Mayo

The Tribe of the Gods and an otherworldly war Strolling around the pretty village of Cong, County Mayo (known to many from its scenic cameo in The Quiet Man), you’d never think that a cataclysmic battle once took place here between two warring magical clans. The supernatural warriors of the Tuatha Dé Danann (“Tribe of the Gods”) defeated the Fir Bolg (another race of ancient Irish warriors) and won control of Ireland. Nowadays, Cong is home to the stunning Ashford Castle as well as the magnificent Cross of Cong, a must-see for anyone interested in Ireland’s Christian Heritage.

IF YOU HAVE MORE TIME:

Pop into the Hungry Monk café – possibly Ireland’s best-named eatery – for homebaking and local specials.

Glenbeigh Beach Legends of the Southeast

Counties Kerry, Cork and Waterford are steeped in Celtic mythology. The most famous of all Ireland’s tales – the story of Tir na nÓg – began here, along with tragic family sagas and some very interesting vampires. All that, and you’ve got the Wild Atlantic Way to explore, too.

TRIP D

driving

2 hrs 26 mins

Glenbeigh, County Kerry

A trip to Tír na nÓg Glenbeigh beach is simply stunning: silver sands, wild blue ocean and… a white horse? Keep your eyes peeled and you just might see one. It was from Glenbeigh that Oisín and his great love, Niamh, set off for Tír na nÓg (Land of Eternal Youth) on the back of a magical horse. Stroll along the strand and you might wonder how Oisín could have left all this behind – the land of eternal youth could hardly have been more breathtaking than the views of the shoreline and Seefin Mountain.

DON’T MISS:

In Kerry and Cork, you’re on Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way: some of the best scenery in the world is at your disposal!

TRIP E

Allihies, County Cork

The final resting place of The Children of Lir At the picture-perfect village of Allihies on Cork’s Beara Peninsula, you’ll find some large white boulders where it’s said the Children of Lir are buried. These are the four offspring of King Lir, who were turned into swans and banished by their evil stepmother to live on Ireland’s lakes for 900 years. Returned to their human form by a local monk, they die instantly, and, it’s said, are buried at this beauty spot.