British Folklore
Fairy Lore & Prehistoric Sites in Britain

Kilmichael Glassary

Kilmichael Glassary

The entire parish of Kilmichael Glassary is packed with ancient monuments - cairns and standing stones, as well as the fort of Dunadd and Kilneuair Church. Many tales have been told about them, but the most interesting one is attached to the Scodaig Stone.

The rock bears natural cup-marks, probably the result of its volcanic origins, but one of these has been "improved" to enhance the tradition that it carries hoofprints left by the horse of "Scota, daughter of Pharaoh." This Scot was the second wife of Mil Easpaine, a ficitional ancestor of the Irish people, whose name was invented by historians base on the Latin miles Hispaniae, 'soldier of Spain'. The idea of this Spanish ancestor seems to have grown from the supposed derivation of "Hibernia" (the Latin name for Ireland) from Iberia.

The imaginary Mil and his equally imaginary forebears and descendants are described in the Irish Lebor Gabála, or 'Book of Invasions', composed in the early 12th century and received as history by poets and scholars down to the 19th century. The Irish are said to have come from Scythia, and after many years living in Egypt and around the Caspian Sea, settled in Spain. Mil is reported as having married a princess in Scythia and later, after her death, travelling to Egypt where he took Scota as his second wife. Tradition credits him with 32 sons, 24 born of affairs in Spain before his departure for Scythia, two by his Scythian wife, and six by Scota. These conquered Ireland, and are the Milesians of Irish Mythology.

This pseudo-history sheds no light on how and when Scota (whose name is merely the Latin word for Irishwoman) came to be riding in Kilmichael Glassary, but the local story claims that she landed here and mounted her horse, leaped to land, leaving the hoofprints behind her.