Áine

Pronunciation: Awyn-yuh, Awn-uh

Other Spellings: Aine, Áine Chlair, Áine Clí

Associations: sun, sovereignty, fertility, agriculture, summer, Eoghanacht sept

Land Specific Associations: Munster, Cnoc Áine / Hill of Áine (there are several)

Known and Suspected Family: father Manánnan mac Lir, sister Grian

Etymology: lustre or brightness

Notable Myths: Lots of folklore, not so much myth

About:

There is a lot of folklore surrounding Áine, especially coming to us from medieval literature. Dáithí Ó hÓgáin writes:

“The medieval literature has several mentions of an otherworld lady called Áine. She was, for instance, claimed to have been a daughter of Manannán, and one story told of how a warrior called Étar (later, Éadar) fell in love with her but died of a broken heart when she rejected him; he was reputedly buried at the place that since bears his name, Beann Éadair (Howth, Country Dublin). The major emphasis, however, settled on a woman called Áine who was associated with Munster and particularly with the Eoghanacht sept. Her residence was an otherworld place called Cnoc Áine (the hill of Knockainey, County Limerick), which is situated in the centre of the pasturelands of the rich Munster plain. She was therefore a version of the land-goddess, and as such became the patroness of sovereignty for the Eoghanacht of that area.” (page 7)

There is a lot of folklore attributed to Áine and how she relates to various characters in Irish folklore. At the core, though, she is always seen as serving the functions of a land goddess–even if she has now been “reduced” to a fairy woman, or a woman of the sídh.

It was customary to mark Midsummer with a festival and by burning straw at Áine’s hill in Knockainey. Morgan Daimler writes, “Midsummer was her special holy day and up until the 19th century people continued to celebrate her on the eve of midsummer with a procession around the hill, carrying torches of burning straw in honor of Áine na gClair, Áine of the Wisps” (page 32-33.) People reported seeing Áine during this time too. Meanwhile the weekend after Lughnasa at Dun Áine was regarded sacred to her and people would refrain from going to sea.

By some accounts, she is the banshee of the family Ó Corra (Corr) and as such would wail her keening in preparation for deaths of that family.

While I don’t own any sources that explain the connection fully, Áine is often related to the Sun–specifically the summer sun. The Winter Sun belonging to her sister, Grian.

Anu is sometimes confused with goddess Áine, but there is no concrete evidence these two entities are one and the same; their names have no etymology similarities.

Works Cited

Daimler, Morgan. The Morrigan: Meeting the Great Queens. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.

HÓgáin, Dáithí Ó. The Lore of Ireland: An Encyclopaedia of Myth, Legend and Romance. Doughcloyne, Ireland: Collins, 2006. Print.

Related Links

  • Áine Clí” by Mary Jones (tw: rape mentioned)
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