Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 17, 1906.djvu/74

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64 The European Sky -God.

Another sacred ash, the Crann a hulla, in the parish of Clenor, county Cork, has been estimated at some- thing over three centuries old, but is probably a seedling or off-shoot from the parent tree, which it has replaced : its sanctity may be judged from the fact that, though fuel is exceedingly scarce in the locality, it has never had a branch lopped off.^ Doubtless the Ancient Tree of Dathe was comparable to these veterans. The fact that the Fir Bile were named after it recalls the tradition that Bile was the forefather of the Gaels.^ Dr. Stokes observes that the Fir Bile inhabited what is now the barony of Farbill in the county of West- meath.^

With regard to the Tree of Uisnech we are told : ' Due northward fell the Ash of Usnech, as far as Granard in Cairbre, in the time of the sons of Aed Sldne.' * Uisnech, according to Dr. Stokes, is now Usnagh Hill in the county of Westmeath,^ and Granard in Cairbre is now Granard in the county of Longford.^ Usnagh Hill, once called the Hill of Balar,'^ was the spot where Tuathal the Acceptable, king of Ireland in the first century, instituted the festival of Beltaine ; and it was consequently regarded as the chief centre of the Druidic fires kindled on May i.^ We shall not be far wrong, if we suppose that the solar fires of Beltaine were the ritual of the sky-god connected with the Ash of Uisnech. For fires used to be kindled under these

^Wood-Martin ib. ii. 158 f., with a photographic block (fig. 45), repro- duced from the Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society.

^ Supra p. 59.

^Whitley Stokes 'The Rennes Dindsenchas^ in the Revue celtique xvi. 279.

  • Id. ib. 5 Id. ' The Bodleian Dinnshenchas ' in Folk-lore iii. 476.

'^ Id. 'The Rennes Dindsenchas' in the Revue celtiqtie xvi. 279.

'Squire Mythology of the British Islands pp. 69, 324. See also Rhys Hibbert Lectures p. 192 f.

    • Joyce Irish Names of Places ed. 2 p. 193.