A mythical journey in 9 steps

Ireland’s mythical locations map: Follow the steps of Cúchulainn, Deirdre of the Sorrows and more in a fantasy, legend-led journey around Ireland.

Have you ever travelled a country guided by its myths and legends? No? Here’s your chance! You might recognise the story behind number 9…

Download our pdf map of Ireland's mythical locations.

Legend 1

Fionn McCumhaill and the Salmon of Knowledge, Boyne Valley, County Meath.

Sucking your thumb never seemed so clever…! Our journey begins at Trim Castle on the banks of the River Boyne, County Meath, with the tale of Fionn McCumhaill and the Salmon of Knowledge. The story sees Fionn accidentally burn his thumb as he cooks the magic salmon for his cantankerous master, Finnegas. As a result of tasting the salmon first, Fionn is endowed with all the knowledge in the world. To access it, he need only suck his thumb. Finnegas, unsurprisingly, is furious.

Legend 2

Cúchulainn battles Ferdia for the Brown Bull of Cooley, Ardee, County Louth

A battle for a bull brings us to the town Ardee, County Louth and the River Dee – the waterway over which Cúchulainn and his foster brother Ferdia – fighting on behalf of Queen Medbh – battled for the Brown Bull of Cooley (more about that in Legend 6). By day they fought, by night they shared food and tended each other’s wounds. A statue in the town depicts Cúchulainn carrying Ferdia’s vanquished body.

Legend 3

Deirdre of the Sorrows, Dunseverick, County Antrim

Love can be so cruel, no more so than in the case of Deirdre and Naoise and their arrival in Dunseverick, County Antrim. This is where Deirdre and her lover Naoise return to after fleeing to Scotland under threat from King Conor. Told it is safe to return, Deidre, Naoise and his two brothers travel home, only to be assassinated by King Conor’s order. Deirdre, in sorrow, is forced to marry Conor, but controls her own destiny by throwing herself to her death from a moving chariot.

Legend 4

St Murrough O’Heaney and The Last Serpent in Ireland, Banagher, County Londonderry

Head west from Antrim to Banagher Old Church, in County Londonderry where lie the remains of St Murrough O’Heaney, famed for trapping Lig na Paiste, the last serpent in Ireland. Locals who grew Lig Na Paiste’s old hunting ground of County Derry-Londonderry say that the unusual currents found along county’s north coast are results of the evil serpent’s continued presence below the surface.

Legend 5

Balor of the Evil Eye, Tory Island, County Donegal

Keeping an eye on things in Tory Island was Balor of The Evil Eye, a brutal and gigantic magician noticeable for a single eye in the middle of his forehead and another at the back of his head. It was here, on Tory, where he ruled and imprisoned his only daughter, Ethnea, fearing she would be his downfall.

Spoiler: thankfully, she was.

Tory Island can be accessed by the Tory Island Ferry

Legend 6

Queen Medbh and the Cattle Raid of Cooley, Knocknarea, County Sligo.

In possibly one of the first ever battles of the sexes, Queen Medbh becomes consumed with acquiring the Brown Bull of Cooley. Why? Stung by the inequality of her property, The White Horned Bull of Connaught, refusing to remain in her herd (instead the bull moves next door to that of her husband, Ailil) Medbh set her sights on the Brown Bull of Cooley. Thus begins the epic saga, The Cattle Raid of Cooley.

Today, or so they say, you'll find Medbh buried in a tomb piled high with thousands of stones atop Sligo's Knocknarea Mountain.

Legend 7

The Tuatha Dé Dannan defeat the Fir Bolg for control of Ireland, Cong, County Mayo.

Silver wasn’t always just used for jewellery in Ireland, as the story of King Nuada relates...

It was at Cong, County Mayo (known to many from its scenic cameo in The Quiet Man) that the supernatural warriors of the Tuatha Dé Danann defeated the Fir Bolg race, thus winning control of Ireland. At the battle, the Tuatha Dé Dannan’s King Nuada lost his right arm. Considered no longer perfect enough to be king, he turned to physician Dian Cecht who replaced the limb with a silver copy, and, restored to perfection, Nuada reigned again.

Legend 8

Oisín and Niamh leave for Tír na nÓg, Glenbeigh, County Kerry

Is eternal youth really worth it? Find out in Kerry and Tír Na nÓg (Land of The Young/Eternal Youth). So deeply had Oisín, son of Fionn McCumhaill, fallen in love with Niamh, that he eloped with her to Tír na nÓg. The catch? Oisín could never return to Ireland. If he does, he dies. Heeding the warning but leaving anyway, Oisín and Niamh set off from Glenbeigh in County Kerry and live happily for years. Eventually, a homesick Oisín returns home, only to age instantly and die as soon as his foot touches Ireland's turf.

Legend 9

The final resting place of The Children of Lir, Allihies, County Cork.

Before Disney, there was Aluna, stepmother of all wicked stepmothers – probably! At the picture-perfect village of Allihies on Cork’s Beara Peninsula, you’ll find a series of large while boulders where it’s said the Children of Lir are buried. The Children of Lir? These are the four offspring of Lir (Aodh, Fionnuala, Conn and Fiachra) turned into swans and banished by their evil stepmother, Aluna (or Eve) for 900 years. Returned to their human form by a local monk, they die, and, it's said, are buried at this beauty spot.

How about some more fantasy Ireland style? Fionn McCumhaill's exploits continue along the Causeway Coast and this Game of Thrones itinerary visits the real Westeros.

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