Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 17, 1906.djvu/75

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The European Sky -God. 65

sacred trees, as is clear from the numerous localities named Billatinny, that is 'the bile of the fire.' ^ Irish custom in this respect was identical with that of the Greeks ^ and Italians.^ A further inference seems legiti- mate. The name Billatinny^ or rather Beltany as Dr. Joyce* spells it, gives us, if I am not mistaken, the much needed clue to the meaning of the term Beltefte, i.e. Beltaine. The second element of this compound, as has long been known, is pre-Irish * tenia- (according to Dr. Stokes, for *tepnia-) a collateral form of * tenet- {tene^ teine), 'fire.' I would suggest that the first element is

  • belo- a collateral form of * belio- {bile), ' tree.' The

word would thus denote 'the fire of the bile' or perhaps rather ' the fire of Bile! The connexion of the Beltaine fires with the Hill of Balar would then be clear; for Balar^ is but another form of Bile, the divinised tree.

' The Tree of Tortu was an ash, and due south-eastward it fell as far as Cell Ichtair Thfre.'^ Tortu was a place near Ardbraccan in county Meath.^ Its famous Tree was first seen in the time of the sons of Ugaine (circ. 594 B.C.), therein resembling the Tree of Mugna and the Tree of Dathe ^ ; and it fell in the time of the sons of Aed Sldne together with the Tree of Mugna ^ and the Tree of Uisnech.^^ The Ancient Tree of Tortu was thus believed to synchronise with the oak of Mugna, which, as we have seen, attained the age of some 500 years. In the Annals of Tighernac for the year 621 A.D. the

1 Wood -Martin Elder Faiths of Ireland ii. 157 f. "^Folk-lore xv. 306 ff.

2 Classical Review xviii. 370, with fig. 3.

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

^^Sitpra p. 59.

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

Id. ib., citing Chron. Scot. pp. 46, 76, 190.

^ Id. ib. XV. 445.

^ Id. ib. XV. 420. ^" Id. ib. xvi. 279.