Áine, the legendary Irish Goddess, is the Celtic Goddess of Summer and Wealth who, while known for her healing nature, also had a dark side, as she became famous for how she took revenge on a cruel Irish king.
Áine, pronounced ‘awn-ya’, was a legendary Irish goddess who was said to represent the sun, fertility, and love. She was also said to possess the power to grant a bountiful harvest.
Áine has always been associated with the west of Ireland and with County Limerick in particular, where there is Knockainey Hill, Cnoc Áine in Irish, which was named in her honour.
Interestingly, her name is also remembered in other locations throughout the country, such as Toberanna (Tobar Áine) in Tyrone, Lissan (Lios Áine) in Derry, and Dunsany (Dun Áine) in Louth.
In this article, we will tell you the story of Áine the Irish Goddess.
Who was Áine, the legendary Irish Goddess?
Before she became known as Áine the Irish Goddess, Áine was already special as she was the daughter of a Sea God called Manannán.
She was known and well-liked for her healing nature and knowledge of natural remedies and was widely seen as a symbol of hope and love that people adored.
Áine was said to be very beautiful, and as such, it was said that she had many different lovers who would be consumed by her passion. It was also said that she had a very vengeful nature that was to be feared if provoked.
However, it was her tragic interaction with the cruel king of Munster, Oilill Olum, and its aftermath which forged her place in history as an important figure of Irish legend.
How did Áine the Irish Goddess become famous?
Oilill Olum, otherwise known as Ailill Ollamh or Ailill Aulom, was the semi-mythological King of Munster who had a huge problem.
He made the shocking discovery that the grass in his many fields simply would not grow, which meant that soon his livestock and people would starve and die.
Oilill Olum sought the help of a Druid called Ferchess, who instructed him to go to Knockainey on Samhain Eve, better known as Halloween.
When Oilill Olum arrived there, he suddenly fell into a deep sleep and had a vision of Áine, who came to him as she was the Goddess of bountiful harvests and fertility.
When Oilill Olum met Áine, instead of listening to the Goddess and heeding her advice, Oilill Olum was overcome with lust and desire and forced himself onto her.
During this assault, Áine, of course, became outraged and exacted immediate revenge by biting off his ear.
The downfall of the King of Munster
This act would go on to have huge ramifications for Oilill Olum because, according to ancient Irish law, only a person who is “unblemished” would be allowed to rule.
By biting off his ear, the mythical Goddess had forever maimed Oilill Olum, and he lost his kingdom as he was now deemed by ancient Irish law to be unfit ever to rule again as he was now imperfect.
From that time on, the surname of the king, Olum, became known as meaning “one-eared” in Irish.
Surprisingly despite this, his descendants, who went on to become known as the Eoghanachta, became a powerful Irish dynasty based in the Cashel area in Tipperary that dominated and controlled the southern part of Ireland for many years.
This fact helped the legend of the Goddess Áine to grow wide as she became associated with having the ability to grant power and sovereignty.
Áine was also widely known as the Queen of the Fairies and as Áine Chlair (Áine of the Light). Rites in her honour were held regularly as recently as 1879, where Midsummer rituals were performed by locals in hopes of encouraging fertility and bountiful harvests.
The legacy of Áine, the legendary Irish Goddess
The legacy of Áine the Irish Goddess is still strong today as she is remembered as being among one of the most revered and most powerful of the Irish Goddesses. She is also remembered for how she took revenge on a terrible king who wronged her.
Most of all, Áine, the Goddess of Healing, Goddess of Sovereignty and Goddess of Sun, will probably be remembered for the duality of her personality.
This is because she was both loving and caring whilst also being quick to get angry and vengeful. Now, she is remembered in the places that bear her name. Knockainey Hill, Toberanna, Lissan and Dunsany.
That concludes our article on the story of Áine the Irish Goddess. Have you ever heard the tale of Áine before?
Other notable mentions
Dislikes: Áine was said to have taken an oath to never sleep with a man with grey hair. This even included bushy hair with silver streaks.
Golden comb: Each year at Midsummer, Áine would emerge at her favourite spot to brush her golden hair with a golden comb.
Faery Queen: In ancient Irish myth, she is often described as the Faery Queen.
FAQs about Áine, the legendary Irish Goddess
What is Áine the Goddess of?
Áine is an Irish Goddess of many things, including Summer, Wealth, and Sovereignty.
What is the gender of the Irish name Áine?
Most commonly, Áine is a girl’s name.
What is the English equivalent of Áine?
English versions of the name include Anya, Anna and Hannah.