Lunasadh

Rath Dhu, Teltown, County Meath, Ireland.

Rath Dhu is an ancient earthwork dating to around 2000 B.C.E. Legend says that the first Lughnasadh Festival was held here, a harvest festival and funeral games in honor of Tailtiu, wife of the last great Fir Bolg king, Eochaid mac Eirc, and foster-mother of the great hero Lugh Samildánach, who became king of the Tuatha de Danann. Tailtiu is said to have died of exhaustion after clearing the plains of Ireland for agriculture. Her final request was that annual games be held here in her honor.

The games:

which consisted of hurling, athletic, gymnastic and equestrian contests of various kinds, and included running, long-jumping, high-jumping, hurling, quoit-throwing, spear-casting, sword and-shield contests, wrestling, boxing, handball, swimming, horse-racing, chariot-racing, spear or pole jumping, slinging contests, bow-and-arrow exhibitions, and, in fact, every sort of contest exhibiting physical endurance and skill.   A universal truce was proclaimed in the High King’s name, and all feuds, fights, quarrels and such-like disturbances were strictly forbidden and severely dealt with; and all known criminals were rigorously excluded from both the games and the assembly.

In addition, there were literary, musical, oratorical, and story-telling competitions; singing and dancing competitions, and tournaments of all kinds. Also, competitions for goldsmiths, jewellers, and artificers in the precious metals; for spinners, weavers and dyers; and the makers of shields and weapons of war. The fair lasted for a fortnight.

Source: http://www.meath.ie/Tourism/MeathsTownandVillages/Teltown/

On this, the first day of the month of Lúnasa, and the beginning of the harvest in the Northern Hemisphere, the annual Tailteann Games continued to be held until the rule of the High Kings of Ireland was ended by Norman conquest in 1186.

Today, on the first day of Lúnasa, I give thanks for the beginning of the harvest.

Hail, Tailtiu, munificent goddess and renowned Queen! You completed a mighty endeavor with the last of your strength, to make fertile the land to nurture your people!

Hail, Lugh, skilled in all arts, faithful son and benevolent king! Your mercy on the battlefield of Magh Tuireadh won for your people the secrets of bountiful harvests!

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3 Comments Add yours

  1. Small correction: Tailtiu was Lug’s foster-mother, not mother.

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    1. honorthegodsblog says:

      Thanks for the correction. Ireland isn’t a huge place, nor culturally distant, but it’s ridiculously difficult to find reliable information about ancient deities and archaeological sites.

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      1. Sadly true…that’s one of the major factors that lead me to live there for five years and obtain a Ph.D. in the subject, interestingly enough! 😉

        (And then, upon my return, some people have had the nerve to say such things as “Well, you didn’t really need to go all then way to Ireland to do that–just a few purchases at any good new age bookstore would have taught you all you need to know.” Uhh…nope, not even close!)

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