In Irish mythology, the Tuatha De Danann are the gods and goddesses of ancient Ireland and had a strong relationship with Ireland’s mountains. Thanks to Robert Malseed for writing this up.
Long ago, when the ancient land of Ireland was young and called Ériu (old Irish, or Éire in modern Irish), and not long after the land was free from the great ice, an ancient race of gods came to this virgin land, and arrived in dark clouds on the mountains of the Commaicne Rein in Connachta.
This majestic arrival was such wondrous delight that the stone of destiny, the Lia Fail, one of the four treasures of the Tuatha De Danann sang. The song was so beautiful and melodious that no other words or songs could ever compare. It was this song that the heralds took with them to the twelve great mountains of Ériu, to proclaim to the people of the land that the race of gods have arrived. So fleet of foot did the heralds move ascending the great mountains that the song was heard across all land at the same time, this was the great song of Ériu. From such lofty heights the heralds saw the land in its entirety and the love for the land and the people within stirred in their hearts. Through this love the heralds settled upon all the mountains, and with love in their hearts became known as the Bean Sidhe, the Women of the Hills. Here they dwelt in their glorious Sidhe Mounds, with the Men of the Hills, the Fir Sidhe at their side and they became known as the Aos Sí. At certain times of the year, this ancient race of gods, the Aos Sí would leave their sidhe in great lofty places in the land of Ériu and race across land on foot and up the mountains in great celebration.
No matter how brave, strong a warrior a man may be, he could be no match for any Bean Sidhe in a foot race up a mountain. Nine by nine, did the warriors of Queen Meabh falter and fail in the foot race up the mountain Nephin against the bean sidhe, Nochta, during the Táin Bó Flidhais. The foolish pride of warrior men in that they would challenge a woman such as the magnificent Nochta, in a foot race up a mountain that the loss of so many warriors was terribly grievous to Queen Meabh. When the time came for Queen Meabh herself to rest eternal with her ancestors, she retired to a sidhe on top of Knocknarea. It is within her sidhe on Knocknarea she rests, upright in her military regalia, that the descendants of her warriors still to this day compete in the Warriors challenge, a foot race that recalls such folly of her ancient warriors.
In time the land of Ériu became known as Ireland, and the people never forgot majestic Aos Sí and the great lofty places and mountains where they reside. It is from these great places that the Aos Sí still call to us, to be like them, and to race on foot the great heights.
We look forward to extending a warm, heartfelt welcome all those from other lands, near and far, coming to join us in September in a great celebration that will the 21st World Masters Mountain Running Championship.