While it’s not as known as Greek, Roman or Egyptian mythology, Ireland‘s ancient traditions are just as fascinating as those of the classical cultures. Much of Ireland’s mythology centres round tales of the Tuatha Dé Danann, a group of otherworldly heroes, and how they ruled Ireland in its early years. Over time, the Tuatha were outgrown by legendary heroes and villains like Cuchullain and Medb, iconic figures known around all of Ireland.
There’s a whole lot of ancient sites associated with the Tuatha Dé Danann and more of the legendary heroes around Ireland, and we’ve put together this guide to show you around a few of the must sees for anyone interested in finding out more about Ireland’s mythology. Definitely some great choices for days out, with the sites we’ve suggested combining picturesque natural beauty with real historical and cultural intrigue.
The Hill of Uisneach is a real must visit for anyone interested in Irish mythology. Originally thought of as the absolute centre of Ireland, the Hill is only a few miles from the actual geographic centre and has some incredible attractions. We’re told that the Hill is only accessible on weekends between April and October, but if you can get there, we really recommend a visit.
Around the hill, you’ll find areas believed to be the graves of some of the Tuatha Dé Danann, like the sun god Lugh and Eriu, the goddess who gave Ireland its name. The hill’s long been a popular destination for anyone interested in mythology and history, with dozens of historical sites around the area. Because the property is private land, you’ll have to take a guided tour around, but with the tour showing you everything, you’ll have a fantastic time.
We stayed over at the Travelodge Galway Hotel, a budget hotel just outside of central Galway, a beautiful city right by the sea. The hill is about an hour away from Galway, but we definitely recommend a visit if you’re around for the weekend.
Rathcroghan is a bit more recent than the Hill of Uisneach. The area was the home of Ailill and Medb, the villains of the famous Táin Bó Cúailnge, who fought a war against the iconic hero Cuchullain. You’ll find a huge ring fort believed to have been their home, along with a few more unique mythological sites. The Oweynagat cave is believed to be a hole into the underworld, from which monsters used to emerge into reality. Definitely a surprising sight. Rathcroghan is some distance from any major Irish city, so we stayed over at the Percy French Hotel when we visited, a comfortable hotel in Strokestown, just a short journey from Rathcroghan itself.
According to mythology, Ireland used to be ruled by a line of High Kings, who were crowned on the Hill of Tara, a beautiful natural area just a short journey from Dublin. While there’s not much to see apart from natural views, there’s a couple of interesting areas that make the Hill a great choice for anyone planning on a natural day. Check out the Lia Fáil, the famed coronation stone for the High Kings. There’s a huge number of hotels around Dublin, so we went for a low cost and stayed in the Travelodge Dublin Phoenix Park, just to the west of the city centre.