The Goddess of Sovereignty who gave her name to Ireland.

The wife of MacGreine and a queen of the Tuatha De Danann whose name was given to Ireland afterwards, when she allowed Eremon and Amergin to lead the Milesians onto the isle. One moment she would be a wide-eyed beautiful queen, and the next she would be a sharp-beaked, grey-white crow.

She is a triple goddess with her sisters Banbha and Fodhla; interestingly enough, her other three sisters are the "war goddesses" Badb, Macha, and Morrigu/Anann--all of which also in other tales represent the Goddess of Sovereignty. Unlike her sisters, Eriu was gracious to the invaders, and so the island is said to be named for her. However, the name--Eriu/Eire or Erin/Eirennach--actually is thought to derive ultimately from the Proto-Indo-European root *pei, meaning "fat, fertile"--i.e. the Fertile Land:

OI "…iriu" (dat. "…rinn") > Celtic "őwer-iŻ" (Gr. "Ivernia," L. "Hibernia") > IE *pÓ-wer- "fat, fertile," > peie

The story of the goddesses is an afterthought, an example of the Goddess of Sovereignty myth.

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Mary Jones © 2004