The Irish name is pronounced "Kalyakh Vayra." She originates in the magical province of Munster, on Ireland's furthest western peninsula.











Cailleach Bhéara

Her name was Buí ("cow"), but she was also known as Sentainne, "Old Woman." She "existed from the long eternity of the world." Her great age was venerable, a sign of power, and proverbial: "as old as the Cailleach Bhéara." She was an ancestral mother who outlived many husbands, "so that her grandchildren and great-grandchildren were peoples and races." Folk memory connects her to megalithic sanctuaries, and names many after her. The Cailleach was said to have built some of these neolithic monuments in "one night's work." Often she carried the stones in an apron which came undone, scattering them across the land. She also hurled boulders from hilltop to hilltop. Certain landscape features were her creation, as when she turned a prize bull into a sea rock by striking him with her magic staff.

Copyright 2000 Max Dashu

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