In this article we take a look at some of the famous female characters that feature in Celtic stories; legends of powerful leaders and brave warriors, goddesses with magical powers and women who showed mighty strength, resilience, empathy and kindness.
The Morrigan was the name given to a shape-shifting goddess of war and fertility from Irish mythology. Most commonly associated with transforming herself into a raven, she is also said to have attacked Cú Chulainn in the form of a heifer, an eel and a female wolf. The Morrigan was believed to have the power to inspire warriors to call upon their own inner strength to achieve greatness. Some have said that the Morrigan and Dana, the mother goddess of the Daghda, are one and the same.
Brigid or Brigit, is a goddess of health, fertility, poetry, prophecy, learning, hearth fire and smithcraft. Brigid is featured in many Irish myths and legends. She was said to have been a daughter of the Daghda, the wife of Bres, the mother of Ruadan and stories often tell of her having two sisters.
Irish legends tell of Eriu, Banbha and Fódla the three goddesses who protected the sovereignty of Ireland. The name Eire is derived from Eriu.
Queen Medb of Connaught
Mebd was a goddess queen associated with war and strength in battle. She is famous for leading the Cattle Raid of Cooley in an attempt to capture Donn Cuailgne, the mighty Brown Bull of Ulster.
Other stories told of women who possessed great strength, grace and kindness. Melangell was a Celtic princess who escaped an unwanted arranged marriage. She took refuge in the Pennant Valley, a sacred place in the Bronze Age, and created a peaceful sanctuary for animals and people in need. Melangell became the abbess of a small religious community and passed the rest of her days in this place. Many were the miracles she wrought for those who sought shelter. Later a Christian church was built on the site, surrounded by ancient yew trees. Pennant Melangell has been a place of peace and pilgrimage for centuries. The hare was a sacred animal for the Celts, a symbol of abundance, prosperity and good fortune. Melangell remains the Patron Saint of hares to this day.
This story was the inspiration for our bronze sculpture entitled "Melangell and the Hare".