Bright; Sparkling; Beautiful; Effulgent
Also known as: Aoibheall; Aibell; Aivell
Classification: Tuatha Dé Danann; Sidhe; Fairy Queen
Aibheall is the Fairy queen of northern Munster, Ireland; guardian spirit and possible ancestress of Clan O’Brien. She is the Banshee of the O’Brien clan, but rather than wail, she signals her presence and the forthcoming death via the sounds of her golden harp. Before the battle of Clontarf in 1014 CE, Aibheall manifested to Ireland’s High King, Brian Boru, warning him of his death and advising which of his sons would rule after him. She may be a spirit of Ireland’s sovereignty.
Aibheall owns a cloak of darkness, which renders its wearer invisible. Her harp signals death: it is not heard by everyone—only by the one about to die or others associated with the death (family members). When Cu Chulain heard the strains of the harp at his final battle, he knew his end was near. Post-Chris tian ity, Aibheall was demoted to a Fairy queen. Cliodna is her rival. Do not venerate them side-by-side.
Aibheall stars in Brian Merriman’s eighteenth-century poem, “The Midnight Court,” in which the Irish poet is summoned to the Fairy queen’s court, as well as in many other songs and poems.
Sacred site: Craig Aoibheal, the grey rock, the highest point on Craig Liath near Killaloe in County Clare. A sacred healing well nearby is also associated with her.
Sacred animal: White cat
See also: Banshee; Cliodna; Fairy Queens; Maeve