Áine

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Áine (Irish pronunciation: [ˈaːnʲə]) is an Irish goddess of love, summer, wealth and sovereignty. She is associated with the sun and midsummer, and is sometimes represented by a red mare.[1] She is the daughter of Egobail, the sister of Aillen and/or Fennen, and is claimed as an ancestor by multiple Irish clans.

Áine is strongly associated with County Limerick. The hill of Knockainy (Cnoc Áine) is named for her, and was site of rites in her honour, involving fire and the blessing of the land, recorded as recently as 1879.[2]

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In Irish mythology

In early tales she is associated with the semi-mythological King of Munster, Ailill Aulom, who is said to have "ravished" her, an affair ending in Áine biting off his ear - hence "Aulom", meaning "one-eared". By maiming him this way, Áine rendered him unfit to be King, thereby taking away the power of sovereignty.[2] The descendants of Aulom, the Eóganachta, claim Áine as an ancestor.[3]

In other tales Áine is the wife of Gearoid Iarla. Rather than having a consensual marriage, he rapes her (thought to be based on the story of Ailill Aulom), and she exacts her revenge by either changing him into a goose, killing him, or both.[1] Thus the Geraldines also claim an important association with Áine. The story may have various inspirations but it is the essence of the claim that matters, and this represents the most extreme degree of Gaelicization. The FitzGeralds would become known for being "more Irish than the Irish themselves".

In yet other versions of her myth, she is the wife or daughter of the sea god Manannán mac Lir. The feast of Midsummer Night was held in her honor. In County Limerick, she is remembered in more recent times as Queen of the fairies. This is also the most commonly believed derivation of the name Áine, however there is no definitive proof that this is the case.

Related goddesses

Áine (Ir. "brightness, glow, joy, radiance; splendour, glory, fame") is sometimes mistakenly equated with Danu as her name bears a superficial resemblance to Anu.[1]

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