Aideens Grave – One of Ireland’s ancient Megalithic portal tombs
Howth is very centred around its history. And we have an abundance of pride for everything that’s happened here on our small little headland. Aideens Grave is the oldest monument that was uncovered her thanks to the the stories and myths of the Fianna. The Fianna were reputable hunter warriors, known to travel throughout Ireland during their band of reign, leaving legendary folk tales behind in almost every county. The first leader of na Fianna wasn’t Fionn Mac Cumhaill but he was said to be the greatest one. His tale begins with the Salmon of Knowledge, a popular and well-known story among all of the Irish.
Although history states that Fionn himself never visited Howth, his grandson Oscar did. Oscar’s collection of stories known as ‘The Fenian Cycle’ tells all of the mythological tales of the Fianna.
The Salmon of Knowledge
As a young man, Fionn Mac Cumhaill visited the Boyne River with his druid tutor. Alone, he started fishing despite being told by the Wise man not to eat anything from the river without asking him. Despite this, Fionn caught a huge and mighty Salmon and intending to cook and serve it to his tutor, the fish was immediately fixed on a spit. Intent on making sure it was cooked all the way through, he burnt his thumb when checking the meat and immediately put it into his mouth to soothe.
His tutor immediately recognized something in Fionn’s eyes that hadn’t been there before. After asking him had he eaten any of the Salmon, and Fionn swearing he hadn’t? His tutor realized the power of the fish’s knowledge. And so Fionn was encouraged to eat all of it to himself. This is the moment wherein he became one of the most remarkable men in all of Irish mythology. As a result, every person that was born into this ancestral line has been major figures in Irish history.
Howth has direct lineage with this particular family through Fionn’s grandson, Oscar. Oscar was known to be a great warrior as well as one of the greatest poets in Irish mythology. After marrying Aideen, the daughter of the Ruler of Howth, Oscar went to fight in the Battle of Gabhrá. Having slain the first three kings, he was severely wounded and died shortly after his heroic effort. And when news of his death made it to Howth, Aideen too died, only she died of heartache and sorrow. Her body was laid to rest in Howth in what is now known as Aideens Grave. With Oisín and the Fianna helping to erect the tomb in her honour. Although collapsed, it’s still as enchanting as ever and deemed a sacred site of Ireland. And with a capstone weighing an estimated 75 tons, it’s still remarkably impressive even in its ruin.
Aideen’s Grave is located behind the Deer Park Hotel on the grounds of the Howth Castle estate and can be found quite easily. Over time the walls of this portal tomb have collapsed under the weight of the capstone, but two of the wall stones and the door stone still stand.