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Lia Fáil facts for kids

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For the political party, see Lia Fáil (political party).
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Lia Fáil
Speaking Stone, Coronation Stone
Stone of Destiny 2018-07-24.jpg
The stone currently standing on the Hill of Tara identified with the historical Lia Fáil
Type Standing stone
Etymology Irish: Stone of Fál (Ireland/destiny)
Location Hill of Tara
Elevation 155 metres (509 ft)
Height 1 metre (3 ft 3 in)
Original use coronation stone

The Lia Fáil ( meaning Stone of Destiny (or also "Speaking Stone" to account for its oracular legend) is a stone at the Inauguration Mound (Irish: an Forrad) on the Hill of Tara in County Meath, Ireland, which served as the coronation stone for the High Kings of Ireland. It is also known as the Coronation Stone of Tara. According to legend, all of the kings of Ireland were crowned on the stone up to Muirchertach mac Ercae, c. AD 500.

Mythical origin

There are several different, and conflicting, legends in Irish mythology describing how the Lia Fáil is said to have been brought to Ireland. The Lebor Gabala, dating to the eleventh century, states that it was brought in antiquity by the semi-divine race known as the Tuatha Dé Danann. The Tuatha Dé Danann had travelled to the "Northern Isles" where they learned many skills and magic in its four cities Falias, Gorias, Murias and Findias. From there they travelled to Ireland bringing with them a treasure from each city – the four legendary treasures of Ireland. From Falias came the Lia Fáil. The other three treasures are the Claíomh Solais or Sword of Light, the Sleá Bua or Spear of Lugh and the Coire Dagdae or The Dagda's Cauldron.

Some Scottish chroniclers, such as John of Fordun and Hector Boece from the thirteenth century, treat the Lia Fáil the same as the Stone of Scone in Scotland. According to this account, the Lia Fáil left Tara in AD 500 when the High King of Ireland Murtagh MacEirc loaned it to his great-uncle, Fergus (later known as Fergus the Great) for the latter's coronation in Scotland. Fergus's sub-kingdom, Dalriada, had by this time expanded to include the north-east part of Ulster and parts of western Scotland. Not long after Fergus's coronation in Scotland, he and his inner circle were caught in a freak storm off the County Antrim coast in which all perished. The stone remained in Scotland, which is why Murtagh MacEirc is recorded in history as the last Irish King to be crowned on it.

However, historian William Forbes Skene commented: "It is somewhat remarkable that while the Scottish legend brings the stone at Scone from Ireland, the Irish legend brings the stone at Tara from Scotland."

The Dindsenchas, recording a tradition from early Irish literature and echoing ancient legends, reports that Lia Fáil would roar in the presence of a false king pretending to hold dominion in Ireland.

According to one version of Gaelic Myth surrounding the Lia Fáil stone, a myth more associated with the Stone of Scone, the sacred stone arrived by ship belonging to the Iberian Danaan into the ancient port of Carrickfergus about 580 BC. On board was Eochaidh, son of a High King and a descendant of Érimón, Princess Tea Tephi and the scribe Simon Brauch. Princess Tea also had in her possession an ancient harp, whose origins some believe lie in the House of David. The stone was delivered to the Hill of Tara by the three. Scota later married High King Eochaidh, both had previously met each other in Jerusalem. Eochaidh recovered the ancient stone in Jerusalem before the invasion of the Babylonians. It is said all future Irish High Kings/British Monarchs inaugurated by the stone have tried to prove lineage back to the Royal Sage and his wife, Tea Tephi, the original bearers of the stone. Eochaidh's resting place is said to be in the Neolithic passage tomb, Cairn T at Loughcrew.

Mythical powers

The Lia Fáil was thought to be magical: when the rightful High King of Ireland put his feet on it, the stone was said to roar in joy. The stone is also credited with the power to rejuvenate the king and also to endow him with a long reign. According to Lebor Gabála Érenn, Cúchulainn split it with his sword when it failed to cry out under his protégé, Lugaid Riab nDerg — from then on it never cried out again, except under Conn of the Hundred Battles and according to legend, at the coronation of Brian Boru in 1002.

Inis Fáil

It is from this stone the Tuatha Dé Danann metonymically named Ireland Inis Fáil (inis meaning island), and from this Fál became an ancient name for Ireland. Fál in Old Irish means several things like hedge, enclosure or king, ruler. In this respect, therefore, Lia Fáil came to mean 'Stone of Ireland'. Inisfail appears as a synonym for Erin in some Irish romantic and nationalist poetry in English in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; Aubrey Thomas de Vere's 1863 poem Inisfail is an example.

The term Fianna Fáil ("the Fianna, warriors, or army of Ireland"; sometimes rendered "the soldiers of destiny") has been used as a sobriquet for the Irish Volunteers; on the cap badge of the Irish Army; in the opening line of the Irish-language version of Amhrán na bhFiann, the Irish national anthem; and as the name of the Fianna Fáil political party, one of the main parties in Ireland.

Vandalism

Sometime in June 2012, the stone was vandalised. The stone was damaged in 11 places by a hammer. It was vandalised again in May 2014 when green and red paint was poured on the stone covering at least 50% of its surface.

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