Newgrange and The Legend of the Banshee

Last Thursday morning, I was fortunate enough to be invited to speak on LMFM radio about my novel, Dawn Solstice. The experience was a first for me, in that I had never spoken on radio before. The interview was to go live and I would be on air at 11.15am following the last groaning notes of Maria Mc Kee’s ‘Show me Heaven.’

I had spent the morning in a flap, drinking far too much coffee – not the best beverage for calming the nerves but even in my more-than-agitated state, I thought that being on the radio did not validate drinking wine at 11am – unfortunately.

A few hours prior to the interview, the producer had generously provided me with a brief outline of the types of questions I might be asked, which of course I then obsessed about for a number of hours, completely forgetting that I had written the novel and therefore already knew the answers! But I had visions of coming across like a blithering idiot and my entire family denying all knowledge of my relation to them – ‘Who’s that one?’ someone might ask. Mam shakes head sadly, ‘Haven’t the foggiest, poor soul.’ – that kind of thing.

Of course, it all went grand as they say and the interview zipped by before I knew it. However, due to my nerves, I stumbled over one question which I wanted to put right here. It was put to me whether I had taken artistic license in bringing the subject matter of Newgrange and the Legend of the Banshee together. Without really registering the question, I answered yes and this is not entirely true.

Anyone who knows the history surrounding Newgrange and the Boyne Valley, understands that it is said to be the home of the ancient deified kings, the Tuatha De Danann. The Tuatha De Danann were a group of warriors and leaders that came to Ireland and took over or defeated (we can’t be sure which) the previous inhabitants: the Fir Bolg. We don’t know when the Tuatha De Danaan arrived in the region but the earliest recorded date of their existence is marked as the end of King Nuada or Nuadu’s reign dated at 1897 BC.Newgrange_Mary_10

Now the following is where the history becomes relevant to the Banshee Legend. According to the ancient Irish literature (Lebor Gabala), a group of warriors, known as the Sons of Mil or The Milesians came to Ireland (reportedly from Iberia region) and initially were sent packing by the Tuatha De Danann, but finally defeated the Irish tribe somewhere between 65 and 95 AD.

After the battle, the Tuatha De Danann were said to have disappeared into ground. They became known as the ‘people of the mounds’ or sidhe. Sidhe in old Irish translation means, ‘to settle’. So, the Tuatha De Danaan – the spirits of the Boyne Valley – are the people of the mounds or sidhe. In ancient Irish Legend, the Banshee or bean sidhe is one of these spirits.

So there you have it, the connection between The Banshee and Newgrange in all its historical glory.

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