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Sacred Hill


Taken from Sacred Ireland by Cary Meehan

"is traditionally known as the 'Hill of Truth'. It is said to personify Donn Fírinne, the Celtic God of death and fertility. In folklore he is seen as a giant or the Fairy King. He is said to live at the bottom of a deep hole in the hillside called 'Poll na Bruinne' and anyone trying to investigate this entrance to the Otherworld will not come away unscathed and may even be drawn in, never to be seen again. There are many cautionary tales to deter the curious. However, good custodians are rewarded. One local farmer was granted temporary entrance to Donn's world under the hill where he met with a brother and sister, both of whom had died many years before.
Donn is closely associated with weather omens. He is said to collect the clouds on his hill and hold them there for a while to warn of approaching rain. Sometimes he is said to be in the clouds if the weather is particularly bad. He is also said to be flying abroad when someone dies.
There is a cairn on the top of Knockfeerina called 'Buachaill Bréige', meaning 'the false or lying boy' and it was the custom, and indeed the duty, of local people, to carry a stone up the hill to put on this cairn once a year. The hilltop has traditionally been a popular Lughnasa assembly site visited at harvest-time, and at this time freshly picked berries and flowers were strewn around the cairn as offerings for the hill's fairy inhabitants. On the eves of the festivals of Bealtaine and Samhain, young girls used to leave gifts high up on the side of the hill below the western ridge called 'the Stricken'.
Like the hills to the east, Knockfeerina is also associated with the adventures of the Fianna. On the Stricken is a large ring-fort called 'Lios na bhFian' or 'Fort of the Fianna'. One such adventure is named after the 'Palace of the Quicken Trees' where the Fianna become the victims of an act of revenge after being lured to a feast in an imaginary palace.
A little wary of the invitation, Fionn had left his son Oisin and a number of the Fianna behind. And sure enough, while they waited for the food to arrive, the fire began to send out black clouds of evil-smelling smoke. The palace around them disappeared and they found themselves sitting on the hillside and fixed to the ground, unable to rise.
Fionn put his thumb to his month, which he did when he wanted to see to the heart of things, and found that the spell that held them had been cast by the three kings of the Island of Torrent. These kings where marching on the palace to kill them and only the blood of these three kings could undo the spell.
When Oísín and the other Fianna came to see if they were alright, Fionn warned them not to come in. He explained what they must do to stop the kings. Evenutally the Fianna managed to intercept and then kill the three kings. They took their heads and sprinkled the blood around their companions. Thus the spell was broken.
Issues of revenge and death are common in Fianna stories. This particular story also illustrated the dark side of Knockfeerina and its reflection in the human psyche. On a lighter note, folk tradition has it that Donn and his followers fought battles on behalf of the countryside. They might take the form of a cross-country hurling match against the fairy people of Knockainy. The winner would take the best of the potato crop to their side of the county"
bawn79 Posted by bawn79
4th January 2006ce
Edited 4th January 2006ce

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