The Lia Fáil

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There is a shed load of different beliefs and opinions regarding one of Ireland’s oldest and best known stones. This is the Coronation Stone for many of the ancient High Kings of Ireland. It is said that when touched by the rightful King of Ireland the stone would let out a mighty roar. So not only did the Lia Fáil have the magical qualities to proclaim a rightful king, but it was also said to have the ability to rejuvenate the king and ensure that he had a long reign.  One legend tells of the heroic CúChulainn whom in a fit of rage cut the Lia Fáil in half with his sword when it did not roar for Lugaid Riab nDerg. After this the stone never roared again with the exception of Conn Cétchathach.

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Today it rest’s atop An Forradh (the Kings Seat) or Inauguration Mound within the Royal Enclosure at Tara. But was not always its home. The Lia Fáil is believed to have once stood near the Mound of the Hostages until 1798, when it was moved to the Inauguration Mound to mark the grave of approx. 400 United Irishmen whom were buried their following a terrible defeat by English forces during the Rebellion of 1798. So where did the legendary Lia Fáil come from? The main belief comes from the Mythology of Ireland concerning the Tuatha Dé Danann. From the 11th century text the Lebor Gabála Na Érenn which tells of the arrival of the Tuatha Dé Danann whom brought with them four ancient treasures from their homeland. The Lia Fáil was said to have come from the city of Falias and was placed at Tara to crown every High King from this time on.

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Another account tells that this was the pillow of Jacob. Obviously a Christian influenced association into Ireland’s ancient past. The other main belief is that the Lia Fáil was loaned out by Muirchertach mac Ercae to his relative Fergus the Great for his ascension to the throne of Scotland circa 500A.D. And this is where the Lia Fáil becomes the Stone of Scone or the Stone of Destiny as it is known today. Well Edward 1 took this away and it is said to now reside under the English Coronation chair in Westminster. To be quite honest I seriously doubt that the Stone of Scone is the Lia Fáil or that it even left Ireland. Not one of the Tuatha Dé Danann’s four treasures have ever been found, so why would they have left behind such an important artefact when they retreated after their defeat by the Milesians? My guess is that the Lia Fáil never left Ireland of Tara for that matter. The stone that was taken from near the Mound of the Hostages could have been one of many standing stones that once stood on Tara. And it is my belief that the stone now known as the Lia Fáil is an imposter.  Perhaps the true Lia Fáil still lies somewhere beneath Tara, waiting for Irelands next High King to return.

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About edmooneyphotography

Photographer, Blogger, Ruinhunter, with an unhealthy obsession for history, mythology and the arcane.
This entry was posted in Diary of a Ruinhunter, Historical, Photography and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

39 Responses to The Lia Fáil

  1. Pingback: The Lia Fáil | Scenes of futures past

  2. This stuff is really fascinating, and an amazing advertisement for Irish tourism. I HAVE TO come over there and see it all.

    19.5 starts out of 10!

    • Thanks Dan, perhaps thats why the stone was moved? Tourisim? I reckon it is working 🙂

      • I think your work is the best “ad” for tourism to Ireland. You make it come alive for people who are not Irish or live in the country. Promoting Ireland to us via history and beautiful photography promote the best kind of tourism: engaged tourism, by which I mean respectful, intelligent tourism which focuses on the preservation of history and appreciation of culture, rather than just showing up to drink Guinness and kiss the Blarney Stone. I hate predatory tourism, the ” I showed up and saw one thing, now I can check Ireland off my bucket list of places to travel to…” tourism that does not engage with the locals and add to preserving cultural treasures. Ireland is not a foreign playground, it is the home to actual people engaged with their landscape and sharing in it respectfully makes it last and teaches us all to value/respect people. If that kind of tourism is to exist then your blog/photos are an addition to what is best in Irish travel/culture.

        • Dan, what can I say? Thank you so much. Im just happy that I get to share something I love with people that enjoy it.
          When I get around to doing that ‘Diary of a Ruinhunter’ book, I know whom I will be asking to write the foreward 🙂

          • I would LOVE to do it… for free and with great thanks to you for your making the world a better place through pictures and stories.

            This book MUST get out to the world…

            • Ah thanks Dan, I may have to hold you to that😁

              • You have my word. I already have a rough outline of it in my head. All I need then is to see the final draft and then I can contextualize it with what I feel about your work.

                Also, it can be any length you want. I can write the same thing in many sizes, so it can be a s long or as short as you like. Personally, I think one to two pages is usually enough to get the reader excited about the pages to come.

  3. TanGental says:

    Being a pretty ignorant Englishman, I’d not heard of the Lia Fail until yesterday when I read of it in Ali Isaac’s book Conor Kelly and here it is again, with all that lovely history and gorgeous pictures. Splendid coincidence. You did well to capture is without other visitors in shot! As with Dan above the magnetism of Irish antiquity is drawing me across the sea!

  4. jazzfeathers says:

    Such an intersting article.
    I’ve visited the Hill of Tara twice and if you believe me, I’ve never seen the stone. The first time, we were so late with the tour (the Hill of Tara was the last stop) that it was already dusk and we didn’t stop long enough to walk up to the stone.
    The second time it had been raining for two days when I visited and the soil was so slippery I simple couldn’t get to the place where the stone stands. I just saw it from afar.
    I’m visiting Ireland agan next week, but unfotunately my schedule won’t allow me to visite the Hill of Tara 😦

    Well, one day I’ll make it 😉
    I do think the Hill of Tara is one fo the most haunting places I’ve ever visited.

    Love your photos.

    • Thats a shame Sarah, Perhaps third time lucky?
      The great thing about Ireland is there are so many fasscinating places to see, Im sure you will encounter something of interest on your visit.
      And sure if ya dont, give me a shout, I might be able to point you in the right direction 🙂

      • jazzfeathers says:

        I’m going to visit the Rock of Cashel at last. Last time I went it was such a bad rainy day that they closed the rock.
        I’ll be also visiting the Cliffs of Moher again (been there years ago, staied in my heart) and the Ring of Kerry for the first time 🙂

  5. Interesting stuff Ed. Moody looking pictures as well.
    Rare talent bud.

  6. beetleypete says:

    As usual, a perfect combination of Irish history and photos that suit the mood. Great stuff, Ed.
    (I like the one of you next to the stone. Given a hammer and chisel, I reckon I could chip out your likeness quite nicely. If it’s a fake, it wouldn’t matter!)
    Best wishes, Pete.

  7. oglach says:

    You are correct in your opinion concerning the stone; I don’t know where the “real deal” is, but I know that’s not it; it’s still a thing of beauty, though. Thanks again for the photos.

  8. I like your theory about the real stone, waiting patiently, silently for the High King’s return. Enjoyed the story and the pictures, Ed.

  9. dianaed2013 says:

    What interesting research

  10. PHS says:

    Reblogged this on Archer's Aim and commented:
    For those who write Celtic-based fantasy, here’s some good background information.

  11. chattykerry says:

    I love this phallic stone – does the sun ray of base stones date back to the original date of the stone and what are they constructed of?

    • Hi Kerry, it is pretty cool, the base stones I would imagine are quite new, not sure what rock they are but the Lia Fáil was damaged twice in recent years. First it was attacked by a hammer and the fragments were taken away, then more recently some twats poured paint over it. If you look closely you can still see the stains:-(

  12. Ali Isaac says:

    Hi Ed, I read this post yesterday am while trging to get Miss Carys ready for school. Then I lost my internet connection for the rest of the day. I am now back online acter changing suppliers, thank goodness. Just wanted to sat that your photography skills make even the most insignificant pile of stones look fantastic. Like you, I suspect this is not the real Lia Fail. But you made it look good, for sure!

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