[Ir. wealth, abundance].
The principal goddess of pre-Christian Ireland, the mother or ‘nourisher’ of the Tuatha Dé Danann, the ‘people, tribe, or nation of Ana’. In Sanas Cormaic [Cormac's Glossary] (10th cent.), she is Ana, and Ireland may be known as the ‘land of Ana’. A prosthetic D- changes Ana, Anu to Dana, Danu; some commentators advise that these forms are later scholarly inventions, while others point out that the name Dana has discrete associations and parallels. She is most probably the grandmother of Ecne, a personification of knowledge and enlightenment. She may also be the mother of the three sons of Tuireann, Brian (1), Iuchair, and Iucharba; see OIDHEADH CHLAINNE TUIREANN [The Tragic Story of the Children of Tuireann].
Stories citing her name suggest she appeared in two aspects, beneficent and maleficent. In the former she gives prosperity to the province of Munster, as can be seen in the mountains that bear her name, Dá Chich Anann, ‘The Paps of Ana’, two breast-shaped promontories 10 miles E of Killarney, Co. Kerry. In her darker aspects she may be linked with Áine of Cnoc Áine near Lough Gur (without etymological connection), as Eleanor Hull asserted in Folklore of the British Isles (1928). Despite these pagan associations, her name is borne by the virgin St Ana whose feast-day is 18 January. The Welsh counterpart of Ana is Dôn. See also MÓRRÍGAN; MÓR MUMAN.