GALLERY: Irish Gods



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 -HERE
If you would like to use any of my images please email for permission first at -
morrigan@mac.com


To view some of the models with their portraits go to Models 1 and Models 2

AENGUS ÓG

AENGUS ÓG  - available as art card & poster -
Watercolour & gouache on watercolour paper 15" x 22"
Model: James Crowley

"I am Aengus…men call me the Young. 
I am the sunlight in the heart, the moonlight in the mind; 
I am the light at the end of every dream, 
the voice for ever calling to come away; 
I am the desire beyond joy or tears. 
Come with me, come with me: 
I will make you immortal; for my palace opens into the Gardens of the Sun, 
and there are the fire-fountains which quench the heart’s desire in rapture.”

From " A Dream of Angus Og" by Æ - George William Russell 1897.


Aengus Óg, 'young Aengus' is the Irish god of love, youth and poetic inspiration. 
At the top left can be seen the Milky Way, in which the constellation of Cygnus, the Swan, is rising. Below is Red Mountain, Co. Meath where the sun rises at Winter Solstice before entering Newgrange.
To the right is Dún Aonghasa, the prehistoric fort on Inis Mór, Aran Islands. 



The twisted gold collar circling the neck of Aengus dates to the early Iron Age and was found at Ardnaglug, Co. Roscommon.

Aengus is associated with the 'new' sun at Winter Solstice and within his body can be seen the sunlight entering the passage at Newgrange. As the reborn sun his gentle light illuminates the land, shining on the Brú and bringing the promise of spring.
At the bottom is the River Boyne on which swim two swans, Aengus and Caer, the swan-girl he fell in love with after seeing her in a dream.
The twisted gold collar is on display in the National Museum of Ireland, Dublin. 

AN DAGDHA

AN DAGDHA  - available as art card & poster -

Watercolour & gouache on watercolour paper 15" x 22"
Model: Mel Lloyd

The Dagdha's name may mean the 'Good God' or 'Fire of God' and he has many titles including 'Red Fire of All Knowledge', 'Great Father' and 'Good / Beautiful Fire'.
In the clouds can be seen a white horse referring to another title, Eochaid,  'Horseman', which may 
link him to the imagery of the sun as horseman of the heavens. 
His rays of light illuminate sky and land bringing warmth and fertility to the blossoming countryside. 

Around his neck sits a gold gorget of the late Bronze Age, found at Borrisnoe, Co. Tipperary.



An Dagdha offers the viewer the massive, carved, stone bowl from Cnóbha, Knowth, symbolising one of his treasures, the Cauldron of Plenty, from which none would leave hungry. 




To the left in the distance can be seen Slieve Dagdha, Sugar Loaf Mountain, Co. Wicklow. 



To the right are some of the earthworks upon Cnoc Uisnigh, the Hill of Uisneach, Co. Meath, associated with the fire ritual at Bealtaine and the horse god himself.
Below An Dagdha spreads the Hill of Uisneach, where he was said to live and upon which can be seen Aill an Mireann, the 'Stone of Divisions', also known as the Navel of Ireland or the Cat Stone. 
At the bottom is the Well of Brighid at Uisneach, originally known as the Well of the Dagdha. 
At either side of the water are two stones from Knowth showing rock art depicting the sun's cycle.



The gold gorget is on display in the National Museum of Ireland.



DIAN CÉCHT

DIAN CÉCHT  - available as art card & poster -

Watercolour, gouache & pencil on watercolour paper 15" x 22"
Model: Fred Mathews

Dian Cécht was the god of healing and health. Dian means 'swift' and kekt 'step, move on', referring to the speed in which his healing works or his ability to travel and cure. Dian Cécht was also known as Cainte, a chanter of spells and prophecy. His titles include 'god of power and health' and 'sage of leechcraft'. 
The top of the painting shows Lough Ennell and Loch Owel, Co.Westmeath, which together with Lough Iron, were said to have originated from three belches given by a patient cured by Dian Cécht.
Around the god's neck can be seen a perforated bone pendant found in Poulnabrone dolmen in the Burren, Co. Clare and thought to date to the Neolithic period. 
Detail from painting
Original pendant discovered at Poulnabrone.
Heapstown Cairn sits in the centre of the painting built by the Formorians after the 2nd Battle of Mag Tuired to cover the healing well. 
Heapstown Cairn, Co. Sligo Pic © sligoscenes.com

Below the cairn is the god's Well of Health, Tiopra Sláine, which contained every herb that grew in Ireland. 
At the battle Dian Cécht and his children sang incantations over the well and bathed the wounded warriors of the Tuatha Dé Danann so that they were healed to fight again. 





A prescription for Dian Cécht's porridge is the oldest known Irish medical remedy and consists of oatmeal, dandelion, hazel buds, chickweed and wood-sorrel which Dian Cécht adds to the well in the painting. To either side of him grow elder, hazel, hawthorn and oak, all used in herbal remedies of the past. 
Below the well grow the seven herbs of "great value and power" and the seven herbs "that nothing natural or supernatural can injure" : Speedwell, Self-Heal, Foxglove, Dandelion, Meadowsweet, Chickweed, Eyebright, Groundsel, Yarrow, Comfrey, Vervain, St. John's Wort, Mallow and Ground Ivy. The perforated bone pendant can be seen in Clare Museum. 


MANANNÁN MAC LÍR


Watercolour, gouache & pastel on watercolour paper 15" x 22"
Model: Flor Burke

The name Manannán is thought to mean 'from the Island of Man' and mac Lír indicates that he is the Son of the sea god Lír.
Manannán is cloaked in his magical mist offering a golden boat, one of the treasures from the Broighter Hoard, Co. Derry, which was discovered in a flooded area and is considered to be a votive offering to Mannanán. He rests his arms upon the isolated Carrickmannon, Manannán's rock, which lies off Kinbane Head. At high tide this rock is submerged, while at low tide the breaking waves accentuate its visibility. From the waves emerge Manannán's horse,Aonbharr and the Salmon of Wisdom who lives in the well at Emhain Ablach, one of Manannán's home.

Manannán is also associated with lakes and several castles, such as Castle Mannin, Co. Mayo, which can be seen on the right of the painting and Mannin Castle, the remains of a ringfort, in Co. Monaghan near a lough known as Mannin's Pool. Local folklore tells that St. Patrick fought here with Manannán and defeated him by confining him to the water. Manannán however escapes on occasion and has been seen by local people in the form of a hare.
To the right can also be seen the Bann Estuary, Túag Inber named after the maiden Túag with whom Manannán fell in love when he met her at Tara. She returned to the estuary to await him but died in the flood of a high tide.
The Isle of Man, on the left, took it's name from Manannán and Manx legend tells us that the island is hidden by his cloak of forgetfulness when invaders or the English royal family attempt to land there.
Above the island flies the crane, a bird associated with Manannán and his crane bag.
At the heart of Manannán is the full moon shining on water and it is from this tranquility that we journey outwards in the golden boat to the Blessed Isles, to Tír Fo Thonn, the Land Beneath Wave and Tír Na Nog, the Land of Youth. The gold boat is on display in the National Museum of Ireland, Dublin.


LUGH

LUGH  - available as art card & poster -

Watercolour & gouache on watercolour paper 15" x 22"
Model: Eoghain Mac Connell

The derivation of Lugh may have its roots in early words such as leuk, 'light', or lug, oath. 
His titles include Lámfhada, Long Arm and Samhildánach, Equally Skilled in Many Arts, Lonnbeimnech, Fierce Striker and by the epithet Lethsuanach, having "red colour on him from sun set to morning".
He is seen here as part of the night sky next to the Milky Way, Sliabhbra Luigh, Lugh's Chain 
and the constellation of Orion, below which is Mizen Head, Co. Cork. 




To the right is Lugh as a red comet, an idea suggested to M G L Baillie of Queen’s University, 
Belfast by a description of Lugh in one myth as ‘coming up in the west, as bright as the sun, with a long arm’. 
Below this can be seen Oileán Thoraigh, Tory Island, Co. Donegal where Lugh's Formorian grandfather, Balor na Suíle, Balor of the Eye, had his fort. 
It was prophesied that Lugh would kill Balor so he was raised by Tailtu, his foster mother and later by Mannanán fom whom he received his "spear of victory". 
To the left, in silhouette is Cruachan Aigle, now Croagh Patrick, associated with Lugh and on the right are the Slieve Bloom mountains where the Lughnasadh fire was lit. 


Errigal Pic © donegalcottageholidays.com

At the centre is An Earagail, 'The Oratory', Errigal, Co. Donegal whose quartzite rock glows pink in the light from the setting sun. At the foot of the mountain lies the village of Dunlewy, Lugh's fort, and it was in the nearby 'poisoned' glen that Lugh, in one myth, finally beheaded Balor after wounding his evil eye at the 2nd battle of Mag Tuired.
Below the mountain is Shee Lugh, a cairn on top of Moytura Hill, known as Lugh's Seat, to the left of which can be seen the Hill of Tara where Lugh joined the court of king Nuada of the Tuatha Dé Danann. On the right is Brú na Bóinne where Lugh was said to be interred.

In his hands Lugh holds his spear as his light shines upon Rath Lugh, Co. Meath.
At the bottom of the painting sits the hazel tree at Carn Uí Néid, Mizen Head where, in another myth, Lugh chases and finally kills Balor. 
His grandfather, knowing his death is imminent, tries to trick Lugh by asking that he behead him and place the head upon his own in order to receive Balor's knowledge. Lugh wisely places the head in the crook of a hazel tree instead where it splits the tree in two. Many years later Mannanán makes a shield from the wood of this hazel which is given to the great hero, Fionn mac Cumhaill.
Bronze spear head, described by William Wilde in 1861, now in the National Museum of Ireland, Dublin.


GOIBNUI
GOIBNUI  - available as art card & poster -

Watercolour & gouache on watercolour paper 15" x 22"
Model: Antoine O'Loughlainn

Goibnui, the Smith of the Tuatha Dé Danann, holds a decorated, flint macehead found at Knowth, Co. Meath, a ritual tool dating from the Neolithic period.
Around his neck he wears a bullae, a rare, gold covered lead amulet which believed to confer protection on the wearer. This amulet was discovered in the Bog of Allen, Co. Kildare and is thought to date from the Bronze Age.
Goibnuis' name and cult are very ancient and with his brothers, he was responsible for crafting bronze, brass and gold into magical shields, sword hilts and spear tips for the Tuatha Dé Danann, which never missed their target or became blunt.
He is surrounded by the many metal mines of Ireland, some dating back to the Bronze Age, which include Slieve an Inrainn, Iron Mountain, Co. Leitrim, Mount Gabriel, Co. Cork, 
the 'Copper Coast' around Tramore, Co. Wexford, Silvermines, Co. Tipperary and the area around Allihies, Co. Cork which was mined for copper from the Bronze Age until 1912.
To the right is Ross Island on the Lake of Killarney, Co. Kerry which has evidence of the oldest copper mines in Ireland dating back as far as 2400 BCE.
At the centre of the painting sits Druim na Tinne, 'the Ridge of Fire', Co. Meath, the home of Goibnui.

The Divine Smith was also known as the provider of the Otherworld feast. This involved drinking mead made by Goibnui which bestowed immortality on those who partook of it. From Goibnui's hands flow crafted gold, molten metal and mead.
The gold cauldron is part of the Broighter Hoard, Co. Derry and it rests upon a tiny island, Aolbhach, found at the tip of the Reen promontory on the Bheara peninsula, one of several places which had a forge of Goibnui and the Otherworldly Glas Ghoibhneann, a grey cow which would never run dry. 
As well as being a smith, Goibnui was known for his healing and his name was invoked as a part of  several charms.
There are saints whose names reflect Goibnui's, most notably St. Gobnait of Ballyvourney, 
Co. Clare, known for her healing abilities, especially for the use of honey and she is the patron saint of bee keepers. On the lip of the gold cauldron sits a bee.
The decorated macehead, amulet & gold cauldron are on display in the National Museum of Ireland, Dublin. 


DONN


DONN  - available as art card & poster -
Watercolour & gouache on watercolour paper 15" x 22".  
Model: Seámus Ó Ceallaháin

Donn was considered to be the god to whom people went after their death.
In the painting the gold collar about his neck was discovered in Killarney and dates to the Early Bronze Age.
On the left can be seen the silhouette of Benaughlin in Co. Fermanagh. 
Benaughlin, Binn Eachlabhra, 'the peak of the speaking horse' had into modern times an outline of a white horse at its' base and Donn is described in several texts as Donn Tétscorach,  
'Donn abounding in furious horses'. 
On the right is Skellig Michael, on whose highest peak sits the Stone of Donn. 
In the centre is Teach Duinn, the House of Donn, off the coast of Dursey Island, Co. Cork. 
The rock, with its natural archway, is described as 'Donn's house behind Ireland'. In a 19th century text Donn tells people "To me, to my house you shall come after your deaths." This phrase may reflect an earlier belief in the afterlife when the spirits of the dead were thought to travel across the sea along a path illuminated by the setting sun to Donn's House in the Otherworld.

In his hands Donn holds a reconstructed funerary urn made from baked clay discovered in Dumha na nGiall, the Mound of the Hostages on Tara, it dates from the Bronze Age.
Below can be seen Cnoc Fírinne, the Hill of Truth, Co. Limerick wherein lies Donn's palace and offerings were left to Donn here at Bealtaine and Samhain. 
Beneath Cnoc Fírinne is Glownanérha, 'the glen of broth', believed to be plentiful in the palace of Donn so that people would never go hungry in the Otherworld.
Donn was also known in Dunbeg and Donaghmore, Co. Clare as Don na Duimche, 
'Donn of the Dunes', where he was seen riding across the sands on his white horse.
The gold lunulae & funerary urn are housed in the National Museum of Ireland, Dublin.


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4 comments:

  1. These gods look like their models, yet not, I like how you got the twinkle in Mel's eyes to be part of Dagda, and Flor as Manannan mc Lir, yet somehow I could see the personalities of the guys, too.
    Very well done, you truly are the artist. I don't think I would have recognised the guys behind the deities, if I didn't know them.
    Loads of love, Hannele

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  2. Hello Hannele - good to see you!
    You have described them perfectly - just what I was aiming for : )

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  3. Thank you for showing your work. The art work is lovely and I learned something today. Will you be showing other Gods/Goddesses such as Brigid, the morrigan and Cuchlan? I'd love to see more please.

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  4. Hello Mark - glad you enjoyed them. The Goddess Gallery is here - http://theeverlivingones.blogspot.ie/p/gallery-of-goddesses.html

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