A Walk in the Footsteps of Lugh and Balor of the Evil Eye
The beautiful village of Dunlewey Dun Luiche lies at the foot of Errigal Mountain, the highest peak in Donegal.
During last summer’s Feile an Earagail, I joined a guided walk from Dunlewey into The Poisoned Glen Gleann Nemhe, a U-shaped glen believed to have been formed in The Ice Age.
The pleasant weather attracted a large group, that included local families, tourists, walking enthusiasts and curious locals like myself.
After crossing an ancient bridge, we admired the beauty of the area.
It is the site of a mythical battle between Lugh – king of the Tuatha De Danaan, and his grandfather Balor of the Evil Eye.
The Legend of Lugh and Balor of the Evil Eye
A Druid prophecy foretold that Balor would be killed by his grandson. Balor’s only child Eithne, was thus imprisoned in a stone tower on Tor Mor, on the island of Tory. Twelve women kept Eithne company, and were warned that they should never speak of a man and Eithne should never see a man.
Balor’s demise unfolds with the stealing of a cow belonging to a swordsman called Gaibhidin from the mainland tribe, the Tuatha De Danaan.
Cian, a Tuatha De Danaan chieftain was sent to find and return the cow to the mainland.
Miraculously, with the aid of a Druid woman called Birog, Cian entered the tower and fell in love with Eithne, who delivered triplets some time after Cian’s visit.
Balor fell into a rage, beheaded Cian and threw the poor triplets into the sea. However, one of the triplets was rescued by Birog and christened Lugh.
Lugh eventually became king of the Tuatha De Danann, and made his home in a fort at Dunlewey.
Some years later, Balor paid a visit to Gaibhidin’s forge, and bragged of killing Cian and the triplets. Unaware that Lugh had survived, Balor succumbed to the prophecy, when his grandson plunged a fiery rod from the furnace into his head and out through his eye!
Another version of the story has Lugh leading the Tuatha De Danaan at the second battle of Moy Tura, and killing Balor with a slingshot that sends Balor’s eye shooting out of the back of his head!
Balor’s head is said to have been thrown onto a rock – seen in the centre of the photograph below.
This legend suggests The Poisoned Glen Gleann Nimhe is named after the poison that flowed from Balor’s Evil Eye.
An alternative theory on the naming of this beautiful glen, comes from the translation from Irish into English.
Neamh is Irish for heavenly, while neimhe translates as poison.
No matter which theory is true, The Poisoned Glen is indeed a heavenly place, and is well worth a visit.
You can read more about Balor and his fort on Tory Island, in my post:
Brigid P. Gallagher is a retired natural medicines therapist, passionate organic gardener and author of “Watching the Daisies- Life lessons on the Importance of Slow,” a holistic memoir dedicated to the art of mindfulness and healing from debilitating illness.
She lives in Donegal, Ireland – an area of outstanding natural beauty.