Áine The Queen of Summer.
Áine of Lough Gur in Co Limerick, was the queen of the Summer solstice celebrations, dressed in white robes with Meadow sweet in her hair.1
Áine was said to have been the patroness of textiles in Ireland, In donegal they say she 'still sits and weaves the sun beams.' 2
In Co Limerick, On summer solstice eve local people until recently would climb cnockaine hill with bunches of Hay and straw tied onto poles (cliars), which were lit and carried in procession around the Hill. Afterwards people ran through the cultivated fields, and among the cattle, waving the cliars, which brought luck to the crops and beasts for the following year’ 3
Legend tells us that Lough Gur sprang up when the well maiden forgot to cover the spring well, and that maiden was Áine, other stories say that there was a town where the lake is now and an earthquake made the ground swallow it up and disappear and the Lake formed over it, In the middle of that town was a sacred tree still living under the water.
Legend tells us the enchanted Lake holds a magic spell and every seven years the waters disappear and if you're lucky enough to see this you will see the tree the bottom of the lake and the tree is covered with a green cloth. One day just as the Lake disappeared a young man on his horse was there to see the enchantment and he rode across the lakebed to the tree and snatched away the green mantle known as the ‘Brat Uaine’ But underneath the cloth sat an old woman knitting the very same cloth, the man turned his horse and fled for his life.
The old lady called after him:
“Awake, awake, thou silent tide,
from the dead woman's land, a horseman ride’s
And from thy head the green cloth snatched”
And with these words the waters rose and so fiercely it pursued him that, as he gained the edge of the Lake, half of his steed was swept away and with it the Brat Uaine.
Had the Brat been taken the enchantment would have ended forever. 4
1. Mythic Ireland - Micheal Dames p68
2. The ancient sanctuaries of Knockrainey and clogher, County Limerick and their Goddesses. Thomas Johnson Westropp 1917 p60
3. Mythic Ireland - Micheal Dames p64
4. Revue Celtique iv H.Gaidoz Paris 1842 p185