Legendary High Queen Macha Mong Ruad
Macha is a goddess of ancient Ireland, associated with war, horses, sovereignty. Her name appears a lot in Irish mythology, legend and historical tradition. They are all believed to derive from the same deity. This is just one in a number of legendary stories.
Around 400-500 B.C. Áed Rúad, son of Badarn, Díthorba, son of Deman, and Cimbáeth, son of Fintan, three grandsons of Airgetmar, were High Kings of Ireland who ruled in rotation, seven years at a time. They each ruled for three seven-year stints. Áed died at the end of his third rotation, by drowning in a waterfall which was named Eas Ruaid, “the red’s waterfall”.
At her father’s death, Macha Mong Ruad (Gaelic: red tresses) stepped forth to claim her right to wear the crown, and refused to give up the realm, thereby becoming the first Milesian Queen of Ireland. Macha would have to battle her father’s cousins for the right to reign. She killed Dithorba; then defeated Cimbaoth and convinced him to marry her and by do so insured her right to reign as High Queen of Ireland. She pursued Díthorba’s sons alone, disguised as a leper, and overcame each of them and tied them up, and carried the three of them to Ulster as her prisoners. The Ulstermen wanted to have them killed, but Macha forced Díthorba’s sons, whose lives she had spared, to build a fortress stronghold called “Emania Macha” the name is explained as “Macha’s twins” (“Macha’s neck-brooch”) named because Macha marked out the bounds of the site with her brooch. It would later become both famous and vital in Ireland’s later history as a military stronghold and ceremonial site. The only remnants left of the old fortress are the
grassy ramparts of a great hill-fortress, now known as Navan Fort.
Macha and Cimbaoth would rule together for seven years, until he died of plague at Emain Macha, and then a further fourteen years on her own. She would eventually be slain by Rechtaid Rígderg son of Lugaid Laigdech, who was killed by Macha’s father. He ruled for twenty years, until he was killed by Úgaine Mór, foster-son of Macha. Ugaine would go on to reign for another thirty years.