Monday, August 2, 2010

Sliabh na Caillighe - The Mountain of Witches

Here is an interesting story about some of the goings on at  the Le Chéile Art & Music festival in Oldcastle, Co Meath, Ireland; as reported by Michael Harding from the Irish Times:

"The speaker was introduced, and the talk commenced. He focused particularly on Sliabh na Caillighe, or The Mountain of Witches, where, according to legend, thousands of years ago, a woman was made leap from hill to hill with an apron of stones. She tried hard, but failed. The stones always fell from her apron, and finally she broke her neck and is buried on the slopes of that place now known as Sliabh na Caillighe.

The story is perhaps a folk memory of how matriarchal power was broken by the early Christians, but the narrative also implies that her power is still hidden in the same hills. Until the last century, the hill was still covered with quartz stones, brought from Wicklow, possibly by sea and then up the river Boyne, and records suggest that the light of a full moon on the white stones was utterly magnificent. When stone crushers were invented, the quartz began to be stripped off the hills for use in graveyards."  ...(Cont.)...