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1 The fairy goddess, patroness of love, desire, and fertility whose usual seat is at Cnoc Áine or Knockainy in east Co. Limerick, near Lough Gur. Many commentators have felt that this Áine draws much from Ana, the goddess after whom the Tuatha Dé Danann are named. T. F. O'Rahilly argued (1946) that the evidence of her name suggests she was originally a sun-goddess. Different sources speak of her father as Fer Í [Ir., man of yew] or as Eógabal, a foster-son of Manannán mac Lir. Fer Í may be the father and Eógabal the grandfather, or Eógabal the father and Fer Í a brother; or they may be one and the same.

Áine has a series of lovers, both mortal and immortal. The best known of them is probably Maurice, Earl of Desmond, who fell in love with her at first sight. He gained control over her by seizing her cloak, and made her his bride. Their son was Gerald, Earl of Desmond, who still lives, according to legend, deep in the waters of Lough Gur, reappearing every seven years to ride around it on a shining white horse. He may also swim across the lake in the form of a goose. Some Munster families claim descent from him. The story bears much resemblance to the Welsh Gwragedd Annwn. Áine may be an ancestor of the character known as Black Annis in Leicestershire folklore. Folk motifs: C30; C31; F302.2.

Áine was ravished by Ailill Aulomm, by whom she became the mother of Eógan, ancestor of the Eóganacht. Although less well known, this story may have served as the model for Maurice's begetting of Gerald, Earl of Desmond. In some Eóganacht genealogies Echdae [Ir., horse-god (?)] is described as the husband of Áine.

Many stories link Áine with Manannán mac Lir, the sea-god. Áine's brother Aillén (1) was in love with Manannán's then (but unnamed) wife, just as Manannán was in love with Áine. Áine's remedy for the unrequited passion was to have Manannán deliver his wife to Aillén so that the god could be with Áine. Manannán took her to Tír Tairngire [the Land of Promise]. Variant texts assert that Manannán was either the father or husband instead of lover of Áine.

In the north of Ireland Áine was thought to be a mortal woman who was spirited away at night from her husband's side. In the south she was thought to have a neighbour named Grian, a goddess who dwelt at Cnoc Gréine, a hill about 7 miles distant from Cnoc Áine. She is also linked to Cnoc Áine and the well Tobar Áine near Lissan, Co. [London]Derry, and Cnoc Áine near Augher, Co. Waterford. As Grian is also descended from Fer Í or Eógabal, some commentators believe she is the same figure as Áine under a different name. Áine is often thought to be a counterpart of both Aíbell and Clídna.

2 This lover of the Fenian Cycle may be a different character, or she may be Áine of Cnoc Áine with a different genealogy. Her father is either Cuilenn, a smith, or a king of Scotland. In some versions she would sleep with no man but Fionn, who wooed and won her, giving her two sons. In another version Áine and a sister, Milucra, both loved Fionn, but neither could have him. Milucra transformed Fionn into an old man, but Áine gave him a potion that restored his youth. Despite this kindness, Fionn would not marry Áine.


Subjects: Religion.

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