Skip to main content

HIST & MYTH: Lugh - God of Many Roles

Post 229. Written by Ben Kesp

Lugh is certainly a powerful deity in Irish mythology and has earned his name as the god of skill, talent and later became known more as the God of Light or Solar God similar to the Greco-Roman God Apollo. Storm God is another of his roles and it’s often mentioned in Ireland in County Mayo that during a thunder storm, Lugh and his grandfather Balor are battling in the skies overhead. 

The tale of his birth tells us that his mother Ethlinn was imprisoned in a tower on Tory Island off the north coast of Ireland by her father Balor, ruler of the mighty Fomorians, a race of giants and enemies to the Tuatha Dé Danann (Irish Gods). His reasons for doing this act was so that his daughter would never lay eyes on a man, as Balor feared a druid's prophesy that one day his grandson would kill him. However Cian, the son of Dian Cécht, God of Healing and Health of the Danann, heard of the trapped princess, and with the help of Biróg, a fairy woman, she transports him to the tower where he seduces Ethlinn. Ethlinn gives birth to triplets and Balor has the babies gathered in a sheet to drown however one survived by falling from the sheet and is saved by Biróg. 

Lugh had many weapons associated with him, even though he is not the God of War, that role falling to Néith, son of the Dagda. Lugh’s weapons included a magic spear, one of the four magical treasures brought by the Danann to Ireland. It flashed fire and tore through enemy ranks obliterating all before it. The spear is often associated as a lightning rod. Other weapons include sling stone, sling rod, magic boat and a hound. 

Many major events are associated with Lugh, including the Assembly of Talti, games similar to the Olympic Games held on the 1st of August in honour of his foster mother Tailtu at the present day town of Teltown in Co. Meath. These were held on a complex of ancient earthworks dating from the Iron Age. The Lughnasagh fairs in honour of Carmen and Nás, the goddesses of the region with the town of Naas deriving its name from Goddess Nás. All of the events and fairs included horse racing and martial arts. In 1922, the newly formed Irish Government debated to revive the ancient Assembly of Talti Games and a similar sporting festival took place in the years of 1924, 1928, and 1932, open to anyone of Irish ancestry. The new games also included motor racing, shooting and chess. Alas, the games did not continue and the intention to surpass the Olympic Games was but a dream. Lughnasagh is a celebration of Lugh and in present times it’s more associated with the time for the harvest. Celebrations are still ongoing today with the Catholic Church incorporating it as a day for blessing the fields. In the Irish language, the month of August is Lúnasa securing Lugh’s legacy. 

In Irish myth, Lugh saved the Danann at the Second Battle of Mag Tuired defeating the oppressive rule of the Fomorians and banishing the giants into the seas, never to rule Ireland again. As Balor’s prophecy had foretold, Lugh killed his grandfather by casting his spear into Balor’s evil eye striking him dead. During the same battle, Lugh came upon the defenceless Bres who begged for his life in return for granting a harvest each year and informing the Danann when to sow the crops, securing his place as the God of Agriculture

The Romans were also aware of the importance of Lugh believing most cultures worshipped the same gods by using different names. In Julius Caesar Gallic War Essays he makes references to the God of Mercury which he actually attributes to Lugh. 

Like the Dagda, Lugh has certainly transitioned from the times of old into Christianity and to the modern world where his name is still associated with annual celebrations. Many of Lugh’s former shrines and places of worship have disappeared, replaced by Christian sites like Tynagh in Co. Galway and Croagh Patrick in Co. Mayo

The next time the thunder rolls over head perhaps its Lugh in his constant battle with Balor to drive him out of the lands of Ireland!

For more on the Irish History & Myth Collection, check out its page on the Ben Kesp Website.

Image: Angels & Masters

Discover more on Ben Kesp, author and writer on the Ben Kesp Website.
Discover how to Contribute on the Ben Kesp Website

Popular posts from this blog

LITERATURE: A meeting between Susanna Westby and Katherine Villiers

Post 210. Written by Ben Kesp

Landed Estate Excerpt. Susanna Westby and Katherine Villiers meet after 18 years.
Acknowledging with a nod, Susanna steps forward entering the path lined with blooming roses. Reaching the arch way, she descends the stone steps moving into a small walled garden radiating in a multitude of colours from an array of flowers and shrubs. She spies Katherine’s white hat to her right where she is seated on a bench. Gathering her thoughts, she is unsure how to approach her. Hatred and envy created a wedge between them when they were younger. Does it still exist? She is not sure anymore. It has been a long time. Distant memories flood to the forefront of her mind and yet they stir the thoughts of yesterday. Continuing on the path in front of her, she reaches the wooden bench standing a short distance away facing the thick ivy covered wall in front of her. 
“It has been many years since I was in this garden. My mother would sit for hours in here. She loved it,” Susann…

HIST & MYTH: Knowth - An Ancient Site

Post 208. Written by Ben Kesp

Referred to as the Jewel of Europe’s Neolithic Period, the Boyne Valley or in Irish, Brú no Bóinne, Co. Meath, is the largest Megalithic site in Europe, dating back over five thousand years. The complex of the Boyne Valley has numerous ancient monuments and archaeological features but the jewels or often called the Cathedrals of the Neolithic period are the great monuments (tombs/temples) of Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth, with the three forming a triangular formation on the landscape. 
On arriving at Knowth, a sense of peace and reverence awaits you, unlike the more famous Newgrange monument which exudes its own but different presence. Knowth is peaceful as if the monument and the past it hides are slumbering, keeping its secrets buried and safe. Surrounding the great mound at Knowth are eighteen smaller mounds similar in nature. The massive mound contains two passages ending at two internal chambers. The western passage is 34 metres and the eastern passage …

HIST & MYTH: One City - Two Cathedrals Part II: St. Patricks

Post 189.

Guest Post by MikeH

I was so impressed by Dublin’s rich heritage and culture, my attention was grabbed by the very fact that it has two magnificent cathedrals; both located a short walking distance from each other in the heart of the city. This is my follow-on post on the city’s other Cathedral, Saint Patrick’s
Like Christ Church, St. Patrick’s is rich in architectural design with a vibrant history. My experience inside was amazing and on first entering what struck me the most was the mass of colours all around and the abundance of monuments instead of Saints. It is a place where I could spend hours exploring, reading, learning and soaking up this new atmosphere within a protestant Church. 
In this post I hope to cover the main aspects of the Cathedral, and as with Christ Church, it is impossible to include nearly one thousand years of historical facts and details.

Historical Background
Ireland's largest church is St Patrick's Cathedral, built between 1191 and 1270. …

LITERATURE: Mondays Book Talk

Post 203. 
Mondays Book Talk: Series 5 
Guest Talk by Victoria Libby 
Julia’s Chocolatesby Cathy Lamb 
I finished reading Julia's Chocolates by Cathy Lamb last night. It's been one of the best reads in awhile, especially for finding a book at the Doctors office, book exchange table. You don't find something you really like, a lot, on a freebie table. But then again this was a perfect place to find such a book. Julia's Chocolates is a book of healing, facing fears, growing, learning and developing wonderful friendships. 

I found I really connected with people, especially Julia and Aunt Lydia. I recognise pieces of myself in them. It felt like they could be my neighbors/friends. This is the story of Julia and her struggle of being raised by a mother who was abusive mentally/emotionally and let her low life boyfriends physically abuse Julia. There were other people along Julia’s childhood path that did their best to give help/support, which really helped in the end. 
As an a…