GALLERY: Irish Goddesses



All images and words are copyright to Jane Brideson © 2013 and are available to purchase as large art cards - for more info on ordering click HERE
If you would like to use any of my images please email for permission HERE

To view some of the models with their portraits go to Models 1 and to Models 2
Please click on the pictures to enlarge.

ANU

ANU - available as art card & poster - 

Watercolour, gouache & pastel on watercolour paper 15" x 22"
Model: Carole Larkin



Anu became known as Danu, the Mother of the Irish Gods and in this painting her hair flows out into the universe and her body is the land of Ireland. 
On the horizon are Da Chích Anann, 'the two breasts of Anu', mountains in Co. Kerry topped by cairns which give the appearance of erect nipples, their entrances aligned to the setting sun. 
Below lies Gleann Freaghan, Glen of the Ravens, birds associated with the Morrígan.
As a goddess of prosperity and abundance Ánu produces the druachtu déa, 'dew of the goddess', which gives milk and corn to sustain her people. In her right hand is the fertile land, a harvest 
of oats and wheat and in her left, the abundant sea and nourishing milk. 
She is also identified with cattle and the townland of the Paps, Derry na Finnia, 
'oak grove of the white cow', may link this area to Bealach na Bó Finne, 'the way of the white cow', the Milky Way, seen below her left hand.




At the centre of the painting is the bubbling well outside the northern wall of Cathair Crobh Dhearg, 'Fort of the Red Claw', at the foot of the Paps, which are the remains of a Neolithic monument considered to be one of the earliest settlements in Ireland and as such has been a place of spiritual devotion since pre-christian times. To the right is the silhouette of Cnocbúi, 'mountain of Búi', another name for An Cailleach, which lies due South of The Paps and to left, Beanna Bó, 'Cow's Horns', Benbo Mountain, Co. Leitrim.
The well outside the 'Fort of the Red Claw', at the foot of the Paps. Pic © Jane Brideson.
In the centre is Toberaune, 'the well of Anu', one of six wells at Cnoc Barrainn, Knockbarron, Co. Offaly, the spring of which is surrounded by a stand of birch trees. 
At the bottom of the painting Anu connects once more to water and the circle of life.



Poem DANA by AE - George William Russell.





BOANN

BOANN  - available as art card & poster - 


Also known as Boand
Watercolour & gouache on watercolour paper 15" x 22"
Model: Fiona Young

The name Boann may derive from the Celtic ‘Bou-vinda’ meaning ‘the white lady with bovine attributes’ and she became known in later times as ‘She of the White Cattle’.
Above her is the night sky showing Bealach na Bó Finne, the Way of the White Cow, the Milky Way. Boann sits at the centre, around her neck is a silver version of the gold 'lunulae' or collar, linking her to the brightness of the moon, its' cycle and the description of the river Boyne as "the Great Silver Yoke".
Beneath her is Brú na Bóinne, Newgrange, before its reconstruction with Knowth and Dowth to either side of Boann. She rests her arms on the Brú na Bóinne kerbstone with it's famous spiral carving offering us the water of life and the nourishment of milk.
Below the goddess flows the River Boyne, named after the goddess.
Leaping from the rivers' depths is the salmon of wisdomwho gained his knowledge by eating the nine hazelnuts which fell into the Well of Seagais. 
The Well itself was prohibited to all but its' guardians but Boann disobeyed and walked around the Well three times, anticlockwise, causing the waters to rise up in three waves and flood the land, thus bringing wisdom to Ireland and creating the River Boyne. 


ÁIRMID
Áirmid  - available as art card & poster -



Also known as Áirmed
Watercolour and gouache on watercolour paper 15" x 22"
Model: Áine-Máire Ní Mhurchú

The goddess Áirmid was the daughter of Dían Cécht.
Together with her father and her brother, Miach, she healed those injured in the Second Battle of Magh Tuiredh and by singing incantations over the well of Sláine were able to resurrect the dead warriors.
Dian Cécht created a working, silver arm for King Nuada after his had been cut off but later Miach and Áirmid were able to re-attach his natural arm. 
Dian Cécht became angry with jealousy at his sons' superior healing skills killed Miach. 
As Áirmed wept over her brother's grave her tears watered all the healing herbs of Ireland, some say that 365 herbs sprung from the earth over Miach's body. Áirmid gathered and organised them all by spreading them on her cloak but once again Dían Cécht became angry and scattered the herbs across the land and it is for this reason that no human in Ireland knows all the secrets of herbalism and only Áirmid remembers.
And Dían Cécht said, “Though Miach is not, Airmed will persist.”
Áirmid stands above the Well of Áirmid, now Christianised and known Lady's Well, which can be found in the grounds of Slane Castle, Co. Meath. 
The waters from Áirmid's well flow into the nearby River Boyne.
More on Áirmid's healing herbs HERE


BRIGHID

BRIGHID  - available as art card & poster - 

Also Bríd, Brigit.
Watercolour, gouache & pastel on watercolour paper 20" x 27".
Model: Shirley Swan.

The name Bhríde, has its' roots in Bríg meaning 'exalted' or 'high', a meaning also incorporating ideas of power, strength, vigour and authority. 
As a triple goddess Brigid is known as Brigit of Poetry, Healing and Smith-craft and she illuminates the dawn sky as three swans fly overhead. In her hands she holds the triple flame as well as the three-armed Brigid's cross, once common in Co. Donegal.
Fastening her cloak is a gold disc, one of a pair discovered in the roots of a tree at Tedavnet, Co. Monaghan and dating from the Early Bronze Age.
To either side of the main figure can be seen two mounds, part of Loughcrew, Co. Meath, the openings of which are aligned to the Imbolc sunrise around 7th February, the original date of the fire festival.
St. Brigid's day, is now celebrated on the 1st February and marks the beginning of Spring.

Below the hands of the goddess can be seen Croghan Hill, Co. Offaly where it was said locally that Brigid was born near the foot of the hill which she visited later as St. Brigid.
Croghan Hill itself is an extinct volcano and it is beneath here that Brigit Begoibne had her smithy where she created beautiful cauldrons.
The bronze vessel in the painting is from the Early Iron Age and was discovered at Fore, 
Co. Westmeath. From Croghan Hill flow three springs which at one time fed the three sacred healing wells at its' base. 
Below the spread of Brigid's cloak can be seen the oak tree and the ridge of clay, where 
St. Brigid founded Cill Dara, 'the Cell of the Oak', Kildare and it was here that Brigid had her shrine and perpetual flame. At the bottom of the painting, surrounded by reeds and reflecting the gentle sunlight at Imbolc, is a well in Co. Laois symbolising the sacred wells of Brigid throughout Ireland. 
The gold disc & bronze vessel are on display in the National Museum of Ireland, Dublin. 



MÓR-RÍOGHAIN

MÓR-RÍOGHAIN - available as art card & poster -



Also Morrigán, Morrigu
Watercolour, gouache & pencil on watercolour paper 20" x 27".
Model: Carmel Ní Dhuibheanaigh.

Mór-Ríoghain means either ‘great queen’ or ‘phantom queen’ and she is a triple goddess, her sisters being Badbh, Macha, Nemhain or Ánu depending on which source is consulted. Collectively they are known as the Morrigán. 
The painting portrays the Morrigán adorned in raven's wings as the Queen of Landand Goddess of Sovereignty with her sisters, the hag and the scald crow of battle to either side.
They raise their hands in prophecy, one telling of prosperity, the other of ruin, which the Morrigán gave after the second battle of Magh Tuireadh.
The Mór-Ríoghain offers a gateway into darkness seen as the entrance to her cave, Uaigh na gCat, Owenygat, Co. Roscommon.
To the left are the two mounds near Brú na Bóinne known collectively as Mur na Morrigna, 
the mound of the Morrigán or later as Da cich na Mórrigna, the Paps of the Morrigan. 
Below them stand the stone known as the Lia Fáil on the Hill of  Tara, Co. Meath where the Mór-Ríoghain resided for a time. The stone now commemorates the graves of the Croppy Boys of 1798.

To the right can be seen the Paps of Anu where lies Gleannfreagham, 'The Glen of the Ravens', a bird associated with the Morrigán and Badbh. 
Below the Paps is Gort-na-Morrigna, Morrigan’s field, Co. Louth, which was a gift to Morrigán from her husband, An Dagdha.
Several ancient cooking places within the landscape are known as Fulacht na Morrigna
Morrigáns' hearth and the one shown here can be found in Co. Tipperary. 
Within the hearth sits a cauldron from the Late Bronze Age discovered in a bog in Castlederg, Co. Tyrone and believed to have been made for ritual purposes.
Within the rising steam curls an eel, a raven and a wolf, each of which Morrigán, as shape-shifter, transformed into. 
The final element of the painting, a ford on the River Barrow, is a reference to the 'Washer at the Ford' aspect of this goddess, a figure who prophecies the death of warriors in forthcoming battle by standing in a stream washing their bloody armour. 
The bronze cauldron is on display in the National Museum of Ireland, Dublin. 
More on Morrigán HERE

AN CAILLEACH

An Cailleach  - available as art card & poster - 


Watercolour, gouache & pastel on watercolour paper 20" x 27".
Model: Siobhán ní Ghabhann.

Cailleach means 'old woman, hag or veiled one'. She is the hag who, when embraced by the hero, becomes the beautiful Goddess of Sovereignty and is associated with the sea, the formation of the land and various horned animals. 

At the top left, beneath the waxing moons and the Milky Way can be seen Slieve Gullion Co. Armagh, where the southern cairn is known as the Calliagh Berra's House. Beneath this is a small herd of red deer, the only species native to Ireland, having had a continuous presence here since the end of the last Ice Age. On the right, beneath the waning moons, lies Knowth, Co. Meath, also known as Cnoc Buí where it is believed that the ancestor, Buí, "cow like one", another name for An Cailleach, is buried.

An Cailleach herself sits at the centre of the painting, within the western recess of Cairn T on Sliabh na Caillí, part of the Loughcrew passage tomb complex, surrounded by richly decorated stones which line the tomb. Behind her is the 'Equinox' stone of the recess which is illuminated by the rising sun at the Autumn and Spring Equinoxes. Around her neck hang some of the objects discovered in the excavations of the mounds which took place in the 1860's.
The complex of Loughcrew spreads across the lap of An Cailleach, with Patrickstown Hill to the left, Carnbane East with Cairns T, U and V at the centre and Carnbane West on the right, showing Cairns D and L. Her hands are placed in the crack of the sill stone as she connects the earth, the sea, the moon and the sun.

To the left can be seen the pale 'Calendar Stone' from Cairn X thought to show both solar and lunar cycles. On the right is kerbstone 15 from Knowth also thought to be a Calendar Stone depicting the suns' annual journey.
Below this is Carrauntoohil, Co. Kerry with the Hag's Tooth visible.
To the left is Oiléan Buí , Buí's Island, off the Bheara Peninsula, Co. Cork.

At the centre bottom is An Cailleach Bhéarra, The Hag of Beara, an erratic stone. 
One local myth tells us that An Cailleach turned herself to stone so that there would always be a hag on Beara. Another tells that as she stands on the hillside gazing out over the 
Atlantic Ocean watching for the return of her lover Manannán Mac Lír.



ÉRIU, BANBA & FÓTLA 

Ériu, Banba & Fótla  - available as art card & poster -


Watercolour & gouache on watercolour paper 20" x 27".
Model: Marie O'Dwyer.

Ériu, Banba and Fótla are three sisters and the great Sovereignty goddesses of Ireland. 
Ériu's name may come from the Celtic root iveriu, meaning 'land of abundance' and she is described as being a beautiful queen who could change shape into the form of a "sharp beaked grey crow".  
Éiru is the wife of Mac Gréine, 'son of the Sun' and she wears a gold disc which was found in a bog at 
Lattoon, Co. Cavan and dates from the Late Bronze Age.
Ériu is said to have founded the Bealtaine festival at Uisneach, Co. Meath and is associated with the wedding feast of kingship in which the Goddess of Sovereignty has intercourse with the king and offers him a libation of mead or ale. Here Éiru and her sisters offer the libation in a container known as a lestar. 
This ancient Irish drinking vessel is made from a single piece of oak, carved with interlaced work and discovered in a bog. The Lia Fáil, the Coronation Stone of the Irish High Kings, which stands on Tara 
can be seen below.

On the left stands Banba. In an 8th Century text Ireland is described as "The Island of Banba of the Women" as she was the leader of "three times fifty women and three men" who were the first settlers here.
According to legend when Amergin arrived in Ireland he met each Goddess of Sovereignty, firstly Banba at Sliabh Mis, Dingle.(silhouette within of her body) 
Amergin asks her permission to invade Ireland and she gives her consent providing he names the land for her. The goddess tells him she is "Banba, wife of Mac Cuill, Son of the Hazel". 
The hazel tree in the painting, shown from catkin to falling leaf, was considered a magical tree, 
producing the nuts from which the salmon obtained his wisdom.

On the right stands Fódhla with Sliabh Eibhlinne, Co. Limerick, forming her body. 
She too gives her consent to the invasion, telling Amergin that she is "Fódhla, wife of Mac Cecht, 'Son of the Plough'. The goddess also asks that Ireland be named for her.
The land here is seen as the 'four green fields'  from ploughed furrow to a harvest of oats, barley and wheat. 
One corner of a field is left uncut, an ancient Irish custom enabling the hare to escape during reaping. 

Finally Amergin meets Ériu on the hill of Uisneach, Co. Westmeath were she too gave her permission for the invasion as long as the land was named for her. 
Uisneach is known as the centre or navel of Ireland and on it stands 'Aill na Mireann', the 'Stone of Divisions'. It is here that the five ancient provinces - Connachta, Connaught, Laighin, Leinster, Mumhain, Munster, Ulaidh, Ulster meet at the centre, Midhe. 
The stone has five clear divisions each representing a province.
Surrounding Ériu, Banba and Fótla is the island of Ireland showing a part of each province united by the green, white and orange of the tricolour and the Aill na Mireann.

Today Ireland is only known by the name of Ériu, but if you travel to Cionn Mhálanna, Malin Head, 
Co. Donegal and further, to the most northerly point of this land you will find that place is still 
called Banba's Crown.
The gold disc is on display in the National Museum of Ireland, Dublin.




Cailleach an Mhuilinn - Hag of the Mill & Mother of the Herd 



To read about the Cailleach please click HERE




SHOP for Irish Goddess Art Cards & Prints HERE

10 comments:

  1. Wonderful blog depicting some interesting characters in both realms. By that I am including both models and the deities - ok :)

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  2. This is fascinating information. I'll look forward to your book, or is it out already and I've missed it?

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  3. Thanks Carol - no I'm still writing - or taking a break from writing the moment.

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  4. I love particularly the way you treated the flowers on Airmid's robe, it has something from the way of the ancient medieval tapestries. Lovely.

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  5. Lisa Elen Atkin19 June 2015 at 11:18

    I've just come across your stunning stunning work for the first time today , it's beautiful, and with such detail and information in there !!
    And through this I've been able to name the energy coming through in my own work ... I didn't know who she was , and now I do ( it's An Cailleach )... lol, though I don't have a clue how to pronounce that .
    Thank you so much xx

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  6. Thank you for your lovely comment Lisa Elen - let me know where I can find your work please. Is it online?

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  7. Oh, my! I am just discovering your beautiful words and paintings. Glorious. Thank you so much for your tender care in depicting the Blessed Ones. Like no others I have seen, and they resonate so much more deeply and truly for me. Blessings to you.

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  8. Many thanks for your lovely comment Beth. I am so glad that you have enjoyed my work & that you were able to connect with The Ever-Living Ones. With Blessings x.

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  9. Lunaea Weatherstone4 August 2015 at 16:13

    Such powerful work! I'm very glad to have found you, and I look forward to exploring your blog. Bright blessings!

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  10. Thank you Lunaea - I hope you enjoy your visit! Blessings to you too.

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