Tailteann

(Loacated near the Blackwater River, not too far from Kells, County Meath)


This was once a huge complex but many parts have been destroyed (as recent as the 1980’s) by local farmers. This is one of the major sites where the great harvest festival, Lughnasadh, occurred.  This festival is dedicated to the God Lugh who was one of the most important Gods of the Celtic Pantheon.  The town Teltown is named after the Goddess Tailtiu (pronounced Tawl-Tay or Tell-Tayl). The myth tells us that Tailtiu died having cleared the forests from the plains of County Meath. It’s not clear how she died but following her death, Lugh decreed that funeral games should be held in her honor. No one is really sure why Tailteann became the central point of this festival but at some point, the followers of Lugh must have established its center around this site. Tailteann never became a royal seat like its neighbor, Tara, but it was a Pagan cemetery, a site for festivals, rituals and a place of great importance.

Tailteann is also associated with the “Teltown Marriages” where young women would put their hand through a hole in a wooden door. The men, in turn, would choose one of the women based soley on the look of their hand. The couple would then live together for a year and a day and after that they could separate if they wished. The trial marriages were held at this site because it was believed to help promote fertility. Lack of fertility was the reason why many of the marriages were dissolved.

Assemblies at Tailteann were known to have survived into the 19th century until the clergy discounted it. But at one time they were formal, organized games that were considered to be an Irish Olympics of sorts. Nasad is Irish for games or assembly, hence the name, “Lughnasadh”.

The main purpose of the festival was that it celebrated the beginning of the harvest of crops. In earlier times it was corn. Later, it became potatoes. Potatoes were not introduced to Ireland until the 17th century and by the end of the 18th century, it became the staple diet.