The Cailleach of Loughcrew Artwork by Shelly Mooney

Autumn Equinox is upon us my friends, and I hope that wherever you are you’re allowing yourself to pause and reflect on the passing of this celestial event. To mark the occasion I decided this year that I would paint my interpretation of a mythological story about the Cailleach, and the ancient passage tombs of Loughcrew where the sun illuminates the chamber of Cairn T on the mornings of the equinox.

The Hill of the Witch

Loughcrew, also known as ‘Sliabh na Caillíghe’ (The Hill of the Witch), is a complex of Neolithic cairns that are filled with beautiful rock art and surrounded by panoramic views of the countryside. It is a place that is very dear to me, and one that I will always remember my first visit to many years ago as it was so intensely atmospheric and spiritual.

Myth of the Cailleach

In the legendary story of Loughcrew, it says that the giant Cailleach (or witch), one of the oldest figures in Irish mythological history, had to complete a feat of great strength in order to rule over Ireland. So with an apron full of heavy stones, she leaped from hill to hill dropping handfuls of them which scattered on the ground, forming the cairns we see today. Just as she made her final leap she fell and broke her neck, and was buried beneath the stones on the hill.

My Artwork

The idea for this artwork had been in my head for many years, and I hope that I have done it justice. It was a meditative experience for me to paint this scene, and I’m glad to finally be able to share it with you.

If anyone would like a print, they are available now in my store.

Happy Autumn Equinox everyone, Shelly