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Irish Gods and Goddesses List and Descriptions

Updated on April 28, 2018
kittythedreamer profile image

Nicole believes our ancestors' beliefs may still convey deep and profound meanings in our lives. She continually studies mythology.

Brigid was the goddess of craftsmanship, fire, and renewal.
Brigid was the goddess of craftsmanship, fire, and renewal.

Irish Gods and Goddesses

Before the rise of Christianity, Ireland was a wild green land filled with the powers of the ancient deities. Who were these ancient Irish Gods and Goddesses? What lore surrounded these Irish Gods and Goddesses and why did the ancient Irish Celts and even modern-day Pagans still worship these Irish Gods and Goddesses?

Come with me on a journey to the emerald isle in search for the most ancient and majestic Irish Gods and Goddesses. Maybe you'll even discover your Matron Goddess and Patron God along the way.

**Keep in mind that this is a fairly comprehensive Irish Gods and Goddesses list, but by no means covers all of the ancient Irish Gods and Goddesses.**

Danu & Dagda

Danu is the Mother Goddess of the Tuatha de Danann and one of the most well known of the Irish Gods and Goddesses. Her name Danu can be seen in many different place-names such as the River Danube and River Don. She is said to have given birth to many other Irish Gods and Goddesses and is therefore the high Mother Goddess over the others. Danu's name also pops up in Indian Hindu legends, surprisingly.

Many of the Irish Celts believed that Danu was the creator of the Earth, that from her womb flowed the rivers of life which gave birth to the world as we know it. Danu can be viewed as the mother Goddess aspect of the triple-goddess in Irish Gods and Goddesses lore. I see Danu as a beautiful woman in her forties, with long flowing red hair and a pregnant belly. She is bursting forth with life and love for her people and the world.

Dagda is known as the father of the Tuatha de Danann, also known as the "All-Father". Some Irish texts say that Dagda was the son of Danu, while others say that he was actually the father of Danu. Dagda protects the Irish tribes and watches over his people. He is one of the most powerful and fierce and yet also one of the most loving of the Irish Gods and Goddesses. His brothers are the Irish gods Ogma and Lir.

Dagda was depicted as a great god with a club that he could use to kill nine men in a single swipe; however, the other end of the club was used to breath life back into the dead or injured. Dagda is said to have had a lover, the Irish Goddess Boann (whom we will talk about in a bit) and a daughter named Breg. Legends say that Dagda played a magical harp in order to "put the seasons back in order" (wikipedia) and he also had two pigs. One of the pigs was said to be forever growing, while the other pig was always roasting. Dagda represents the fruitfulness of the land, protection of his people, and justice when justice is truly needed.

I picture Dagda as a fatherly type. Strong, fierce, and yet loving on the other hand. A tall man with dark brown, curly hair, broad shoulders and muscles. Attractive, yet to be feared. He is the Father of humanity, and should be one of the most revered of the Irish Gods and Goddesses.

Danu was the Mother Goddess of the Tuatha de Danann.
Danu was the Mother Goddess of the Tuatha de Danann.

Brigit

Brigit (or Brighid) is the one Irish Goddess whose name has been literally absorbed into Catholicism. She was originally an Irish Goddess but as the Catholics converted the Irish from their Pagan ways, they also converted Brigit from an Irish Goddess to a patron Saint of the Church (Saint Brigid). There is even a day on the Catholic calendar known as Saint Brigid's Day which is February 1st (coincidentally or perhaps not so coincidentally, this day is also the Pagan festival of Imbolc).

Also called the "Exalted One", Brigit is the daughter of the Dagda and also the wife to the Fomorian God, Bres. Brigit has two sisters with the same name as herself and is therefore considered another form of the triple-goddess divinity. Brigit in her triple-goddess form is a healer, a poet, and a smith (she is said to have created the whistle). Brigit is one of the Irish gods and goddesses who is known to be a protector of child-bearing and childbirth. Some Pagans believe Brigit to be present at every woman's child delivery.

Brigit's element is fire, as she is also known to rule over high places and the highest flames. The hearthfire is sacred to Brigit and is lit every Imbolc to honor this beautiful, ubiquitous Irish Goddess.

Cernunnos was lord of the forest and fertility.
Cernunnos was lord of the forest and fertility.

The Mists of Avalon - Watch a Clip of The Horned God (2 min. in)

The Horned God

There's something about the image of The Horned God that has always invoked a sense of knowing in my spirit. I don't even know if that makes sense to anyone else but me, but any time I picture the young God - I picture a beautiful, young and strong male running alongside the stag, ready for the hunt and prepared to spread his seed upon the earth.

The Horned God isn't just one of the Irish gods and goddesses, he is a part of many ancient cultures' gods and goddesses lists including England, Wales, and Scotland.

The image of a man with a pair of antlers or horns on his head, sitting in a lotus position between wild animals is the image that has been around for centuries from different parts of Europe. The Horned God is actually a god that was worshiped by many different Celtic tribes, all over Europe at one point. Now The Horned God, as one of the Irish Gods and Goddesses and Celtic Gods, is worshiped among new Pagans and Wiccans today.

What does The Horned God represent? Who is this Horned God?

The Horned God is one of the Irish Gods and Goddesses who represents the male aspect of divinity, but he also represents the earth and the changing seasons.

At Imbolc, The Horned God is a young boy playing in the meadows. By Beltane, he is a fertile, virile young man ready to mate with the Goddess. By Samhain, he is old and dying but will be reborn again on Yule. The Horned God is one of the Irish Gods and Goddesses who spans across continents and is seen as the male aspect of divinity for many Wiccans today.

The Cailleach was the quintessential wise old woman.
The Cailleach was the quintessential wise old woman.

Cailleach

Cailleach is one of the Irish gods and goddesses who is considered a "crone", or an old wise woman. She has also been called such names as "death hag", and is also called Cailleach Bheur which literally translates to "old woman" while some say it means "Veiled One". If you think about the belief that Celts held of there being a "veil between the worlds" of the living and the dead, then "Veiled One" is an appropriate name for this Irish Goddess. Cailleach is the Irish Goddess who embodies old age, wisdom, and ultimately is the bringer of death. Because of this, Cailleach is also seen as a guardian or guide to the Underworld/Otherworld. Winter is her season, and earth is her element.

Cailleach is also thought to be a deified aspect of the Irish ancestors of old. When Spring comes back around and specifically on February 1st, the Cailleach takes the young form of the Maiden (the first and youngest aspect of the triple-goddess figure).


Boann was a beautiful river goddess.
Boann was a beautiful river goddess.

Boann

The lover (though not the wife) of Dagda, Boann is an Irish Goddess of the River. The River Boyne is named after her, as the Irish poem says that Boann is the creatress of the River Boyne. It is speculated that Boann could have been the mother of the Irish Goddess Brigit, but she was also written to have given birth to the Irish God Aengus, who was the son of Dagda.

Boann is an Irish Goddess of fertility and her element is water. She is also an aspect of the Mother Goddess and can be called upon for aid in conception, childbearing and childbirth. I envision the Irish Goddess Boann as a beautiful blonde woman, holding her baby on her side in utter freedom.

Llew or Lugh

Lugh is one of the ancient Irish Gods and Goddesses and an important one. Lugh is an Irish God who was born to both a Fomorian and a Tuatha de Danann and therefore had to prove himself to the court of the Tuatha de Danann to inevitably be one of them. Lugh is seen as a hero and High King of the Irish Gods and Goddesses and represents strength, athleticism, heroism, and perseverance. Lugh is also known as a Celtic Sun God and provides a golden harvest in the month of August.

The Pagan Sabbat of Lughnasadh is named after the Irish God Lugh. Lugnasadh is the first of three harvest festivals and is held on August 1st of every year. We can honor Lugh by celebrating Lughnasadh and thanking him for the bounty given to us by the earth.

Macha, part of The Morrigan, was a fierce warrior goddess.
Macha, part of The Morrigan, was a fierce warrior goddess.

Macha

Macha is an Irish Goddess linked with the Morrigan, a triple-goddess of war and death. Macha is directly related to the Raven, as pictured here. For personal reasons, I relate to the Macha in certain mysterious ways. Macha represents the unknown, darker side of life. She carries the weight of the world on her shoulders and yearns for vengeance upon her enemies. Macha is an Irish Goddess who is seen a minimum of three times in Irish lore and history. She is also associated with horses, sovereignty, and the "sites of Armagh and Emain Macha in County Armagh, which are named after her." (wikipedia)

Look to Macha of the Irish Goddesses for guidance when going into a legal situation or when in need of justice. Macha will also be there as a guide upon death, similar to the Cailleach. She is loyal to her people, but don't wrong her...she has a warrior side.

© 2011 Nicole Canfield

Comments

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  • Guckenberger profile image

    Alexander James Guckenberger 

    8 months ago from Maryland, United States of America

    Ireland is where some of my ancestors came from, and it is fascinating!

  • kittythedreamer profile imageAUTHOR

    Nicole Canfield 

    11 months ago from Summerland

    Vikkilyn - Nice to meet you! And thank you for the amazing compliment. I hope to honor all gods and goddesses with my writing and research.

  • Vikkilyn profile image

    Vikkilyn 

    11 months ago from Wyoming, USA

    I enjoyed this article. I've been practicing Celtic Wicca for over 20 years and was impressed with your knowledge and handling of our deities. Blessed Be!

  • kittythedreamer profile imageAUTHOR

    Nicole Canfield 

    3 years ago from Summerland

    Thank you, David.

  • DavidCombs profile image

    DavidCombs 

    3 years ago

    Great hub, Being a Celtic Wiccan myself I know how hard it is to find info on some of our gods or goddesses.

  • Kimb8094 profile image

    Ryan 

    3 years ago from United States

    Nice article! The horned god is Cernnunos I believe. :)

  • profile image

    samantha supreme 

    4 years ago

    cool thanks

  • Rodric29 profile image

    Rodric Anthony Johnson 

    5 years ago from Peoria, Arizona

    This is an interesting hub. I linked it to one of mine. I enjoyed reading about the gods and goddesses. I voted it up. Thanks for sharing.

  • kittythedreamer profile imageAUTHOR

    Nicole Canfield 

    6 years ago from Summerland

    Thanks, glad you enjoyed it!

  • Voronwe profile image

    Voronwe 

    6 years ago

    A very interesting read! I was familiar with only a couple of the Goddesses from the Arthurian legends. Great hub!

  • kittythedreamer profile imageAUTHOR

    Nicole Canfield 

    6 years ago from Summerland

    voodoo123 - I feel the same! Thanks for reading and blessings to you.

  • voodoo123 profile image

    voodoo123 

    6 years ago from Provo, Utah,United States

    great post share and When I read something about Gods and Goddesses i feel bursting the forth with life and love for her people and the world.

  • kittythedreamer profile imageAUTHOR

    Nicole Canfield 

    6 years ago from Summerland

    pmccray - Thanks for voting!

  • pmccray profile image

    pmccray 

    6 years ago from Utah

    Voted up, awesome and interesting. Very well written.

  • kittythedreamer profile imageAUTHOR

    Nicole Canfield 

    6 years ago from Summerland

    Eiddwen - Thank you so much, you are too kind.

    andycool - I feel the same way. It just sucks me right in. Thanks for reading and the encouragement.

    lucybell - Glad you liked it!

  • lucybell21 profile image

    Bonny OBrien 

    6 years ago from Troy, N.Y.

    Very interesting and imformative hub. I learned so much reading your hub. Voted up!

  • profile image

    andycool 

    6 years ago

    I'm very inclined to the Celtic culture including the Irish tradition. When I read something related to the ancient Celtic tradition I tend to get too absorbed in it! This hub is an extraordinary piece of writing. Congratulations to you and looking forward to your profile page for more such awesome writings on the Celts! - andycool

  • Eiddwen profile image

    Eiddwen 

    6 years ago from Wales

    This hub was so interesting and full to the brim of brilliant facts.

    I vote up up and away.

    I wish you a great weekend.

    Eiddwen.

  • kittythedreamer profile imageAUTHOR

    Nicole Canfield 

    6 years ago from Summerland

    Paradise - Happy you enjoyed it!

    AP - I agree, they do get overlooked but are just as intriguing as the other ancient cultures' gods. Thanks for reading and I'm happy to amuse you.

  • Alastar Packer profile image

    Alastar Packer 

    6 years ago from North Carolina

    The Celtic Gods get over-looked cause they didn't leave much in the way of written records so it was interesting to discover some of these Kitty. Really like your envisions and pics on the Gods too. Great research and topic.

  • Paradise7 profile image

    Paradise7 

    6 years ago from Upstate New York

    This really was interesting. Erin go Braugh!

  • kittythedreamer profile imageAUTHOR

    Nicole Canfield 

    6 years ago from Summerland

    cresentmoon - Awesome, I love Brigit too. Thanks!

    WoodlandFae - Thanks to you too!

  • WoodlandFae profile image

    WoodlandFae 

    6 years ago from Queen Creek, AZ

    Loved, Voted up :)

  • Cresentmoon2007 profile image

    Cresentmoon2007 

    6 years ago from Caledonia, MI

    Thank you for sharing this hub. I've always been interested in Brigit so I appreciate reading about her as well as the others you have mentioned. Voted up.

  • kittythedreamer profile imageAUTHOR

    Nicole Canfield 

    6 years ago from Summerland

    Thanks, Kelly and Daniella.

    amymarie - It is quite intriguing how much of the Pagan deities and even rituals/holidays were incorporated into Catholic and Christian belief systems and practices.

  • kittythedreamer profile imageAUTHOR

    Nicole Canfield 

    6 years ago from Summerland

    Vinaya - Interesting that she's the mother of demons in Hindu beliefs...wow. Thanks for sharing!

  • amymarie_5 profile image

    amymarie_5 

    6 years ago from Chicago IL

    Hi Kitty,

    I've heard of most of the goddesses and gods listed here but never in such detail. Most interesting of all is that the Catholic church's many saints were orinally pagan dieties. It's great that you mentioned that here. I truly enjoyed this hub!

  • Daniella Lopez profile image

    Danielle Lopez 

    6 years ago from Spain

    Great hub! I learned about some deities I had never even heard about before. Voted up!

  • KellyPittman profile image

    Kelly Pittman 

    6 years ago from Walker, LA

    Voted up, useful and interesing. I really enjoyed this topic.

  • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

    Vinaya Ghimire 

    6 years ago from Nepal

    Hello Kitty

    Danu is the mother of demons in Hindu mythologies. According to the Vedas, Danu is the sister of Aditi, mother of gods, which means gods and demons are cousins.

    Thanks for this interesting article. I enjoyed very much. I hope to read more from you.

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