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Looking from the shore of Lough na Suil to the ridge of Moytura.
Looking from the shore of Lough na Suil to the ridge of Moytura. The neolithic cairn, Shee Lugh is perched on the highest point, and has one of the finest views in County Sligo. The Lake was formed by Balor's burning eye as it plunged into the earth at the climax of the Battle of Moytura.

Lough na Suil

Many of the sites around Moytura have been woven into the fabric of the Second Battle, and none more so than Lough na Suil, the Lake of the Eye. At the climax of the Battle, Lugh of the Long Arm was placed sitting on the neolithic cairn which bears his name, Shee Lugh. From that vantage point, guarded by a ring of warriors, he followed the events of the conflict as they unfolded below him.

Balor of the Evil Eye.
Balor of the Evil Eye illustrated by Simon Bisley.

Balor of the Strong Blows, the Formorian wizard and grandfather of Lugh, joined the fighting and no warrior could stand before the incinerating power of his Evil Eye. From his lofty seat, Lugh watched as Nuada of the Silver Arm, High King of the Tuatha De Danann, and Macha were destroyed by a flaming ray cast from Balor's Eye. Unable to restrain himself any longer, Lugh jumped over the protective ring of warriors surrounding him. He leapt down from Shee Lugh and entered the Battle chanting a war spell.:

Havoc its strain of battles shared death there.
In this a battle after foreigners
broke (our) shared settlement
by destruction of it.
They will be defeated by hosts.
O Fairy-hosts, land of men on guard,
birds of prey rain down (on them),
men without choice.
Be hindered (the) foreigners.
Another (the other) company fears,
another company listens,
they are very terribly in torment,
dark (sad) men (are they).
Roaring brightly ninefold are we!
Hurrah and Woe!
Leftward! O you my beautiful ones!
Sacred will be the sustenance after cloud and flowers
through its powerful skills of wizards.
My battle will not dwindle until (its) end.
Not cowardly my request with (their) encountering me
with a land of rushes laid waste by fire
death's form established, death on us given birth.
Before (the presence of) the Sídhe with each of them,
before Ogma I satisfy,
before the sky and the earth and the sea,
before the sun and the moon and the stars.
O Band of warriors my band here to you
My hosts here of great hosts sea-full
(of) mighty sea-spray (boiling)
smelted golden powerful, conceived,
may it be sought upon the field of battle.
Joint death its strain.
Havoc its strain.

Lugh's Crane Magic translated by Seán Ó Tuathail

The place where Nuada and Macha were killed is said to be marked by the Labby Rock, a massive neolithic portal dolmen with a capstone estimated to weigh about seventy tons.

David Faces Goliath.
David Faces Goliath.

This archetypal story has been told many times by many different cultures. It was used as the basis for the first Star Wars movie, where Balor of the Evil Eye is represented by Darth Vader, and his grandson Lugh of the Long Arm is the model for Luke Skywalker. Indeed, in the story the Battle was fought using the Sword of Light, one of the four treasures of the Tuatha Dé Danann.

Lugh Faces the Evil Eye by Jim Fitzpatrick.
Lugh Faces the Evil Eye; ilustration © Jim Fitzpatrick.

The climax of the Second Battle arrives when Lugh hurls his spear or his slingstone through the Evil Eye of his grandfather; Luke Skywalker fires his photon torpedo into the exhaust vent of the Death Star; and Isildur cuts the One Ring from Sauron's hand.

The Death Star.
Luke Skywalker destroys the Death Star © George Lucas.

The grandfather/grandson mythic archetype is also explored in the novel Dune by Frank Herbert. A very fine retelling of the story is found in the Lyonesse novels by Jack Vance, a friend of Frank Herbert.

Lough na Suil from the air.
Lough na Suil from the air. Photo © James Connolly.

Back at Moytura, when Lugh destroys the Evil Eye, his grandfather falls dead, and the baneful power of the Eye kills a number of Formorian warriors. The flaming Eye rolls down the hill until it comes to a stop, where it burns a hole in the ground. Finally the Eye meets water, and the fire is quenched, and Lough na Suil is formed in the process.

Lough na Suil in 2006 when the lake had drained
Lough na Suil in 2006 when the lake had drained. Every twenty years or so the water levels drop and fill until the lake completely empties. The lake is said to have been formed when Balor's fiery eye burned a hole in the ground at the end of the Second Battle of Moytura.