Celtic Mythology

he Irish chroniclers of the early medieval period provide us with lists of kings, dates, and battles. What these lack is any account of how the people lived, what they believed in, and how society operated. That information comes from the great medieval works of Irish literature, written from the eleventh century onward and closely based on earlier oral histories that were passed down from one generation to the next by the late Celtic bards.

Although most of these chronicles deal with Ireland after the arrival of Christianity, some describe an earlier time, as orally recorded, when Celts were still a vibrant force outside the fledgling Roman Empire. As such these works provide us with a unique opportunity to examine the Celtic world as it existed in Gaul and Britain before the coming of the Romans.

Other works describe the pantheon of Celtic gods, although these accounts are influenced by the prejudices of the Christian scribes who recorded them. These literary works portray a world where mythical and historical figures were constantly influenced by the Celtic gods and by supernatural forces. These works also reflect the richness of Celtic life, and the unique perspective that helped create the artistic marvels of the Celtic Renaissance.

Apart from anything else, early Irish literature contains enchanting tales, and poetry that still delights the reader. These are the accumulation of centuries of stories told around the Irish royal hearths during wintertime. Their eloquence is as powerful today as when they were first told.

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Celtic Ireland from 500-800, showing the major monastic centers, royal residences, and the other main sites.

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3J Inishmurray

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