The Intersection of Irish Folklore and Real History: Tomb of the Fairy Queen Maeve

Real History |

The Irish are well-known for their fairy tales, or as they call them, "legends." But one particular story about a fairy queen named Maeve might have some legitimacy. She is a hero of the Knocknarea region (Knocknarea means "hill" in Irish) and has a tomb that is visited by thousands of people each year. Those who visit her final resting place are there to find evidence into the mysticism of Irish fairy tales.

Researchers believe that the name Knocknarea came from the phrase "hill of the moon," but others believe it means "hill of the kings." Indeed ancient rulers could very well be patrolling these lands today, we just don't know it.

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This 1,073-ft limestone hill stands overlooking the Cuil Irra peninsula between the bay of Sligo—west of the town—and Ballysadare. At the summit is believed to be the ancient tomb.

Although the area has never been excavated, it is rumored to contain one of two things. First, it could contain a passage tomb dated to the Neolithic period. Second, it could hold the actual Fairy Queen. Either way, that would be a lot of limestone to dig through.

The area of this site with the biggest archaeological implications is called Medb's Varin—180-ft wide and 33-ft high. Medb also means Maeve, making this the tomb of Maeve, and it is estimated at 5,000 years old.


The Fairy Queen of Irish Wuthering Hills has quite a backstory. She was a cruel young lady who was known for being a strong warrior. As the wife of Ailill (king of the Connachta), she had seven sons. Unfortunately, Maeve would be murdered by a man who sought to avenge the death of his mother. Yep, Maeve was a killing machine when she needed to be.

Visitors flock to this site today. Many stay at the nearby Strandhill, a coastal resort sitting at the western foot of Knocknarea. Miles of beachfront makes for breathtaking views and ample space for outdoor fun, weather permitting. Unfortunately, some visitors are causing damage to Meabh's Cairn by climbing on it and taking stones, even though they're told not to.

It's unknown whether anyone has encountered Maeve's spirit while exploring the area. If they had recently, they probably would've shared the experience on social media.

Rumor has it you can 'summon' Maeve by using a spell. Author and self-proclaimed folk magician, Patricia Telesco, says to try the following:

"Take a piece of white bread and toast it until it's golden brown. Scratch into the bread a word or phrase representing your goal. Distribute the crumbs from this to the birds so they can convey your need directly to Maeve's ears."

If it works, be ready to fight. Maeve past behavior indicates she may not arrive in peace.

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