Emain Macha

The great northern fastness of Emain Macha means “Macha’s twins” or “Macha’s pair”, and its tale is bound tightly with the local goddess Macha, after whom is also named Armagh, Ard Macha. The ancient Greek philosopher Ptolemy drew a map of the world, upon which he marked a place called Isamnion in southern Ulster, which may have come from the Proto-Celtic isa-mon, meaning “holy mound”, and eventually translated to Emain.

Another story tells that Macha was a great queen of the Ulaid, the people of Ulster, and she drew the plans for Emain Macha with her neck-brooch or eomuin, before forcing the sons of her enemies to build it. Today it is called Navan fort, an anglicisation of the Irish “An Eamhain”.

Mighty King Conchobar mac Nessa built his towering hall here, called Chraebruad – the red-branched or red-poled edifice, and within he began a school to train the finest fighters in Eriú. His feared royal warriors were named the Red Branch Knights. It was also home to legendary figures like Cú Chulainn, Amergin the poet, Cathbad the wise druid, Deirdre of the Sorrows, and Naoise, her brave lover.

Situated on a low hill, today there are several large earthen mounds and ring barrows at Emain Macha, with marks suggesting a huge wooden roundhouse had been built on top of one. This had been filled with stones in a spoked-wheel pattern – taken from a nearby passage tomb – to a height of 3 metres and ritually burnt before being covered with more earth at some time in the past. Whether this was done as part of a sacrifice, the work of an enemy, or simply to create the mound itself is not known.

Read more here: https://emeraldisle.ie/emain-macha