The Legend of Anu the Irish Earth Goddess

When hearing the term ‘Irish folklore’ many people conjure up images of banshees, fairies, and leprechauns. Most tales and legends have been passed down from generation to generation, going as far back to days of the Ancient Egyptians.

Historians describe folklore as ‘the study and appreciation of how people lived’ and so it has always been an important way to commemorate local culture and celebrate special occasions.

One legend of Irish Folklore is Anu, the Irish Earth Goddess from whom all life emerged. Anu was seen to embody the earth, rivers, and sea. She offered fertility, abundance, regeneration and nurturing.

In ancient times, the Celts depicted Anu as a beautiful woman. She was worshipped, considered to be the mother of all Celtic gods and her most powerful gift was that of bringing a bountiful harvest.

Anu gifted Ireland with swollen rivers, and during the Summer months, the flora and fauna would spring. Nature was the bridge between Earth and the Gods. Bees were regarded as messengers of the gods .

Anu was worshipped as the river Liffey was said to ‘magically swell’ at Anu’s command and bring the people of the land food.

Anu was adored, however, her tribe the Túatha Dé Danaan, or better known as the ‘fairy-folk’ invaded Ireland on the first of May. They battled the Fir Bolg (the fourth mythical tribe to settle in Ireland), and eventually won peace but were always on the edge of war. In time, the fairy-folk were banished by mortals and forced to live underground. The fairy houses still stand to this day in Ireland.

Anu was popular throughout Europe, but today there are only a few references to Anu that remain. There is a mountainous region in County Kerry called the "Paps of Anu" which is named after her.



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  • In Prehistoric Britsin I have been reading about the way in which the mountain grows larger when sun and air hit it and the lake, perhaps giving rise to the idea of a mountain goddess. Would there be any pheases in folk tales referring to this, just as the magic river swells?

    Pauline Richardson
  • Thank you for sharing this legend of Danu, our Mother. It fed my soul today.

    Much love and many blessings,

  • I love the picture of Anu above. Where can I buy a copy?

  • This is a truly wonderful post about Anu. Though I am desperate to know, what Irish folk tales did you get this information? They’re mentioned a few times in the post but the actual specific tale isn’t. Would you mind sharing so I can see for myself? :) Thank you!