A rich folklore also infuses Ireland’s Neolithic and Early Christian sites. Look at Oweynagat – or the Cave of the Cats – in County Roscommon. This deep hole topped by a large stone was once thought to be an opening to the otherworld.
Then there’s the 40,000 ring forts or raths that dot the landscape – ancient structures that over the years came to be associated in folklore as home to the fairies. Dolmens (ancient megalithic structures) also feature strongly in Irish myths, with many being known as Diarmuid and Gráinne’s bed, or as graves for famous heroes.
Of course, many of Ireland’s myths have made it worldwide, the leprechaun (little bearded man) being the most well known of them all. But this strange world of fantasy creatures is also peppered with banshees (female spirit who wails when someone is about to die), and púcas (spirit shape-changers).