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Name cited in the Dindshenchas for a ceremonial stone found at Tara from pre-Christian through medieval times. Although it is known in Irish as Lia Fáil, literally ‘Stone of Fál’ or, idiomatically, ‘Stone of Destiny’, that term may also denote several other stones. Rival traditions claim that (a) the Tuatha Dé Danann or (b) the Milesians brought Fál to Ireland. Narrow and as tall as a full-grown man, Fál was conventionally described as a ‘stone penis’. According to widely repeated tradition, Fál would roar or cry out under the feet of a legitimate king, or a man who aspired to kingship, who stepped upon it. A silent stone implied censure of the king who approached it. For this reason Fál became a learned and poetic synonym for Ireland and survives in several compounds, e.g. Inis Fáil [island of Fál]. The implicit sexual symbolism of Fál as a penis and Ireland as a woman has been the subject of widespread allusion, much of it covert. In 19th-century Irish oral tradition the stone was known as Bod Fhearghais [penis of Fergus], although which Fergus was not made clear; see FERGUS MAC RÓICH.

The absolute identity of the Fál of early Irish literature with the stone found today at Tara, called either Fál or Lia Fáil, is a matter of some argument; see LIA FÁIL.

Subjects: Religion.

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