What’s the Origin of Ireland’s Name?

“In Gaelic myth, Ériu, Banbha and Fódla were three goddesses who greeted the Milesians upon their arrival in Ireland, and who granted them custody of the island.

Ériu is generally believed to have been the matron goddess of Ireland, a goddess of sovereignty, or simply a goddess of the land. The origin of Ériu has been traced to the Proto-Celtic (800 B.C.) reconstruction.

Ireland is known as Eirinn in Scottish Gaelic, from a grammatical case of Éire. In the fellow Celtic languages: in Welsh it is Iwerddon; in Cornish it is Ywerdhon or Worthen; and in Breton it is Iwerzhon.

In Gaelic bardic tradition Ireland is also known by the poetical names of Banbha (meaning “piglet”) and Fódhla. The Proto-Indo-European reconstruction of the Irish language suggests a meaning of “abundant land”.

It is highly likely that explorers borrowed and modified this term. During his exploration of northwest Europe (circa 320 B.C.), Pytheas of Massilia (350 B.C. – 285 B.C.) called the island Ierne. In his book Geographia (circa A.D. 150), Claudius Ptolemaeus (A.D. 90 – A.D. 168) called the island Iouernia. Based on these historical accounts, the Roman Empire called the island Hibernia.

While Éire is simply the name for the island of Ireland in the Irish language, and sometimes used in English, Erin is a common poetic name for Ireland, as in “Erin go brag.'”

Today Ireland is home to the greatest surviving concentration of field monuments in Europe. The wealth of sites found here, both archaeological and historical, iconic and off-the-beaten-track, truly allow the traveler to step back in time.

Join Far Horizons July 29 – August 13, 2016 as we Tour Ireland: The Archaeology of Éire.

 Why Take Far Horizons’ Ireland Tour?

  • Private tour of Blackfriary Archaeological Project
  • Visit the island of Skellig Michael, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Tour three other UNESCO World Heritage Sites:  Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth.
  • Maximum 7 participants
  • This can be a private tour on your desired dates with a minimum of five friends.

Quoted from “Etymology of the Name Ireland – Wild Geese”Éire photo

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