'As he spoke, he paused before a great mound grown over with trees, and around it silver clear in the moonlight were immense stones piled, the remains of an original circle, and there was a dark, low, narrow entrance leading therein. "This was my palace. In days past many a one plucked ere the purple flower of magic and the fruit of the tree of life. . ."
And even as he spoke, a light began to glow and to pervade the cave, and to obliterate the stone walls and the antique hieroglyphics engraven thereon, and to melt the earthen floor into itself like a fiery sun suddenly uprisen within the world, and there was everywhere a wandering ecstasy of sound: light and sound were one; light had a voice, and the music hung glittering in the air....
"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 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."'
The story of the original owners of Newgrange is lost in Ireland's misty pre-history.
It is quite a famous place in medieval Irish mythology, and is mentioned
many times in various texts and annals. It seems to have been more a famous
site than Knowth or Dowth, though Newgrange escaped the plunderings by
the Norsemen the other two mounds suffered as mentioned in the Annals
of the Four Masters.
The mythological stories we have today come from medieval manuscripts compiled
by Irish monks and scholars a thousand years ago. The myths are though
by some to be the remenants of the iron age religious or spiritual beliefs.
The first mythological owner of the Mansion on the Boyne was Elcmar the
Druid, the husband of the Boann, the Goddess of the River Boyne.
a fiesty, earthy god desired the beautiful Boann and he sent Elcmar was
away on an errand. Then the Dagda appeared and courted Boann, and they slept together and concieved a child. So that her husband would
not know about their affair, the Dagda, a marvellous magician, caused
nine months to pass in one day, or the sun to stand still for nine months,
and so Aongus Og, the Young God was born on the same day that he was concieved:
Elcmar of the Brug had a wife whose name was Eithne, and another name for her was Boand. The Dagda desired her in carnal union. The woman would have yielded to the Dagda had it not been for fear of Elcmar, so great was his power. Thereupon the Dagda sent Elcmar away on a journey to Bres son of Elatha in Mag nInis, and the Dagda worked great spells upon Elcmar as he set out, that he might not return betimes [that is, early] and he dispelled the darkness of night for him, and he kept hunger and thirst from him.
He sent him on long errands, so that nine months went by as one day, for he had said that he would return home again between day and night. Meanwhile the Dagda went in unto Elcmar's wife, and she bore him a son, even Aengus, and the woman was whole of her sickness when Elcmar returned, and he perceived not her offence, that is, that she had lain with the Dagda.
Then the Dagda took possession of the mound from Elcmar and lived there for
many years, presumably with Boann, the nearby river Boyne. Aongus grew
up to become the god of love of the Túatha Dé Danann. He
is always associated with birds, especially swans.
During the Dagda's
reign at Brú na Boinne, which means the Palace on the Boyne, the
mound was always associated with magic and wonder. It is the most mentioned
monument in ancient manuscripts, and was called by many names such as
'yonder Bru of the many coloured Chequered Lights'.
One day Aongus went to his father and asked for possession of the mound for
a day and a night, to which the Dagda agreed. When he came back the next
day, his son informed him that since all eternity is made up of day and
night, the Dagda had given Aongus the mound for ever. And so it became
the Brú of Aongus Og.
is mentioned in many Celtic sagas; in one three sons of kings are advised
to go to the Brú and fast for three days, after which they are
rewarded with land, wives and wealth.
It is the place where the Ulster
hero, Cuchulain was concieved in a tale from the Ulster cycle; and it
is interesting to note that in the early mythology the mound/womb is a
place of conception and birth. The assocations with death and funerals
tend come from later Christain and antiquarian writings.
When Cormac mac Art, the glorious High
King of the Celtic Golden Age died, he could not be buiried at Newgrange,
as the River Boyne rose up against the funeral procession. It is thought
that this may be early political writing by the hand of a rival clan.
The symbolism of Newgrange fits in with Christian lore from a much later time
as well: a magical child is born in the middle of winter, who later spends
three days in a stone tomb and emerges reborn: these symbols may well
be a part of the original rituals of the site.