Lughnasadh poem

This poem, which appears in my second book Bard Song, was originally written for a Lughnasadh ritual several years ago. It is based on the myth that the goddess-queen of ancient Connaught (or Connachta as it was then) saw that her people, the Fir Bolg, were starving because they were poor hunters and lived in a densely wooded and marshy area which was ill suited to them. Tailtiu went forth and cleared the land (deforestation sits ill with modern pagans of course, but bear with it) so that her tribe could have farmland and feed themselves. At the end of the clearance she keeled over dead with exhaustion and was duly buried. Her devoted foster-son, Lugh, instituted a funeral feast in her honour which became an annual event. For reason's that are never entirely clear, the festival becomes named after the man who instituted it rather than the woman for whom it was set up.
The poem was read this afternoon at the Pagan Heritage Day discussed in an earlier post. The myth serves as an interesting counterbalance to the more widely heard stories about John Barleycorn and the death of a male figure. For me, Tailtiu's story is a reminder that, more often than not, it has been women who have worked themselves to exhaustion and an early grave to tend to their kinfolk. Lughnasadh has become a time for me to reflect on female ancestors.


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