Away With The Fairies: Danu, The Tuatha Dé, The Land & Me

Unsuspecting, fairy agnostic Bee landed in Ireland in 2001 and settled in the shade of Slieve Anieran, the mountain where the Tuatha dé Danaan first arrived in what was known as Erin. Over the years a relationship with the goddess they worshiped has unfolded with the land, even more than the myth associated with this band that latterly became the fairy race of Ireland, being spirit guide and mentor.

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Betwixt & Between with Bee in Tuatha dé Danaan Land

Welcome to my world one that is quite literally magical. In this blog I’ll share how a relict goddess, the legends of her devotees and the earth that is their homeplace have nurtured my spiritual path.

In 2001 after a protracted leave taking from England, my Irish born partner and I were led to Ireland guided by Yeats’ synchronicities, goddess guidance and the ridiculous spinning of a pendulum over a map in County Cavan, a place neither of us remotely entertained as our new Irish residence.

However Brigit and Yeats’ and the pendulum knew better than our scepticism. By various meaningful coincidences we landed in Dowra, the first village on the river Shannon. It is a village that spreads over two counties, Cavan and Leitrim. Moreover, there is rumoured to be a remnant of the Black Pig’s Dyke, an earthwork defence to keep marauding Ulsterman out of Connaught, behind Oliver McGrail’s house. So we also bestride two ancient kingdoms of Ireland. To complicate matters still, this corner of northwest Ireland was also a subkingdom – Breifne – which actually does accurately follow the geological contours that the ice sheets sculpted millennia ago.

So we dwell in a neither here nor there and simultaneously both sort of place. This tends to addle one’s daily mindset.


The Cuilcagh Mountain range is Breifne’s spine. Slieve Anieran is on the far side of the parish. Translating as Iron Mountain, this is the place in the mythic invasion tales of Ireland where the Tuatha dé Danaan first landed on this island. As the myths tell us eventually they were vanquished and went to ground, virtually literally, at their homeplace after the second battle at Moytura. They transformed into the folkloric fairy race.

The Tuatha dé were worshippers of the goddess Danu. She’s a mysterious one, virtually lost from written record. She’s a memory or spiritual atavism who may havehad Her roots in India. Yet she is also indubitably Celtic and disputably distinguishable from Anu. See, no one can agree.


Shortly after we moved to our acre and bit on the Cavan side of the village I became unsettled in my flame tending for Brigit. It became a struggle and eventually I realised that a local deity desired my attention and acknowledgement. Each night I would walk our lane with our dogs and face the Playbank, a rocky escarpment at the termination of Slievenakila. “Who are you? Please tell me your name.” I asked and asked and finally it emerged – Danu.

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Bee is a former columnist for Sagewoman, published poet, Brigit and Danu devotee (more about this later) and creatrix of guided walks and talks on the theme of Fairy Ireland and pilgrimage leader for Imbolc celebrations of Brigit in Ireland. She is the author of ebook "Brigid's Way: Reflections on the Celtic Divine Feminine." You can learn more about tours on her website


  • Lisa Allen
    Lisa Allen Sunday, 25 August 2013

    Wonderful blog post - shared! :-) Cannot WAIT until I go to Ireland (hoping sooner than later!)

  • Bee Smith
    Bee Smith Sunday, 25 August 2013

    This region is off the well worn tourist track so offers much to surprise even the seasoned Ireland visitor.

  • Siobhán MacMahon
    Siobhán MacMahon Thursday, 29 August 2013

    Wonderful blog Bee. Looking forward to more :)

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