Hill of Allen

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[cf. OIr. Almu; ModIr. Almhain, Almhaine (gen.), Almha, Almhuin, Allmhuinn; thought to be named after a daughter of a warrior in the Tuatha Dé Danann].

Also anglicized as Alvin. A hill in Co. Kildare, 676 feet high, about 6 miles NE of Kildare town. The Hill is conventionally portrayed as the home or ‘palace’ of Fionn mac Cumhaill and his Fianna in the Fenian Cycle. Fionn won the residence by compelling his maternal grandfather, Tadg mac Nuadat, to surrender it. Nuadu Necht, an aspect of Nuadu Air getlám, had been an earlier resident of the Hill. Although archaeological evidence does not indicate the presence of any castle or palace, the Hill is thought to occupy the site of a prehistoric tumulus. The Hill of Allen is the site of an early 8th-century battle, during which Fergal, the king of Tara, was killed. In celebrations after the battle, the severed head of the retainer Donn Bó sang in honour of Fergal's severed head; see Nora K. Chadwick, ‘Geilt’, Scottish Gaelic Studies, 5 (1942), 106–53; Pádraig Ó Riain, Cath Almaine (Dublin, 1978). In 1859–63 Sir Gerald Aylmer of Donadea built a tower here, a great 19th-century folly. Today, the Hill is locally called an ‘island’ because it is surrounded by bog-land. See also ALLEN, BOG OF.

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