Tailtiu

Lugh of the Longhand weeps into the fields
last touched by your living hand.
Hush and silence has fallen
Across the whole of Eiriu
In awe of your deed,
In awe of your death.
After the first Battle of Mag Tuired,
the Tuatha de Dannan recognized, Fir Bolg Queen,
Your strength, your valor and your loyalty to your tribe,
Yet still they stand
In awe of your deed,
In awe of your death.
For one long day and one long night
You labored with a mother’s love,
Clearing the land to unite your people
Who shall remain from this day forward
In awe of your deed,
In awe of your death.

Lady Tailtiu, Queen of the Fir Bolg,
You paved the way for your children to sustain themselves.
You sacrificed yourself for them and shall henceforth be honored
In Feast and with games at the Festival of Lugh
In awe of your deed,
In awe of your death.

~~ Source Unknown ~~

Lughnasadh is named for Lugh, the Celtic deity who presides over the arts and sciences. According to Celtic legend, Lugh decreed that a commemorative feast be held each year at the beginning of the harvest season to honour his foster mother, Tailtui.

Tailtui was the royal Lady of the Fir Bolg. After the defeat of her people by the Tuatha De Danaan, she was obliged by them to clear a vast forest for the purpose of planting grain. She died of exhaustion in the attempt.

The legend states that she was buried beneath a great mound named for her, at the spot where the first feast of Lughnasadh was held in Ireland, the hill of Tailte. At this gathering were held games and contests of skill as well as a great feast made up of the first fruits of the summer harvest....

...As years passed, traditions surrounding the feast at Tailte began to solidify into events and ceremonial activities designed to celebrate not only Tailtui and the bounty of the harvest that her original sacrifice provided but also to honor the work and sacrifice of human beings as they strove to provide sustenance for their families and community....

...With the coming of Christianity to the Celtic lands, the old festival of Lughnasadh took on Christian symbolism. Loaves of bread were baked from the first of the harvested grain and placed on the church altar on the first Sunday of August. The Christianized name for the feast of Lughnasadh is Lammas which means "loaf mass".... More at:

http://www.leyline.org/cra/articles/lughnasadh.html

More on Tailtiu

Tailtiu was a noble Rígh-bhean, or Queen, of the Fir Bolg, the race of peoples who inhabited Ireland before the coming of the Tuatha De Dannan. Tailtiu was Lugh's foster-mother. His fosterage with Tailtiu begins his intimate experience with the energies of the Land, preparing him as a future champion of the Tribe for a bountiful Harvest.

Tailtiu shines as a goddess with the most supreme of virtues, self sacrifice. Tailtiu gave her life in a most extraordinary way. One year the Fir Bolg had a bad harvest and many were starving. Tailtiu took up an axe and began to clear a forest with her own two hands in the space of one year. Little did the Fir Bolg know that this act would kill her. At the end of her labors it is said: "Her heart burst in her body from the strain beneath her royal vest."

Before she died she told the Fir Bolg to celebrate her passing every year on the anniversary of her death, the 1st of August:

Long was the sorrow, long the weariness of Tailtiu, in sickness after heavy toil; the men of the island of Erin to whom she was in bondage came to receive her last behest. She told them in her sickness (feeble she was but not speechless) that they should hold funeral games to lament her . . . White-sided Tailtiu uttered in her land a true prophecy: that so long as every prince should accept her, Erin should not be without perfect song.

It was Lugh who held the very first Óenach Tailtenn or "Tailtiu Games" to remember and honor his foster-mother. The Fair of Tailtiu was a time of peace, first held by the Fir Bolg in their time, by the Tuatha De Dannan after them, and then by the Sons of Míl until the coming of the Adzehead:

A fair with gold, with silver, with games, with music of chariots, with adornment of body and of soul by means of knowledge and eloquence. A fair without wounding or robbing of any man, without trouble, without dispute, without raping, without challenge of property, without suing, without law-sessions, without evasion, without arrest.

A fair green with three marvels it possessed: a man without a head walking about it, the son of a boy of seven years, held on a finger, the fall of the priest from the air.

Tailtiu is a reminder of how much the Land gives to us, and the Óenach Tailtenn a time to remember her sacrifice for the fertility of the Land, and how much she gave in return for that boon.

~~ Source Unknown ~~