Sometime back Eoghan Moody wrote:
"Does anyone know the etymology of 'Macha' the goddess? what her name means
and/or where she came from? I figured that this would be the place to ask."
At 10:46 PM 01-06-1999 -0700, Dennis wrote:
>Since Macha is firmly established as a proper name (there's even a
>Saint Macha, feast day Feb. 6th), and given the importance of the
>war goddess Macha, I'm reluctant to just dismiss the native tradition
>which explains the placenames in terms of this proper name.
In Everyman's Dictionary of Non-Classical Mythology...
"Macha. In Celtic myth a war goddess whose name meant 'Battle',
who was subordinate to Morrigu. She was one of the wives of Nuda
and was killed in the final battle between the Fomors and the Tuatha de
She was one of the great mother goddesses, as her name occurs in
connection with places all over Ireland, and she was patroness of a festival
held at the beginning of August."
In 'The Celts' by Aedeen Cremin...
"The three Machas.
The *great ritual sites* were named after the goddesses.
Ruling families sought to associate themselves with them, occasionally
through the device of a ritual marriage, even in the Christian period.
The stories were adjusted over time to suit various dynastic claims,
so that there are many variations on one theme; but we can take the
story of the three Machas as an example.
...'The first Macha was the wife of Nemed who settled Ireland before the
Tuatha de (Danann) and had cleared the forests to make twelve
plains fit for grazing.
He gave one to Macha, that it might bear her name. <<<<
She died there.
Macha the Red was the only child of King Aed, who reigned jointly
with his two brothers, each one ruling for seven years in turn.
When Aed died, leaving his share to Macha, his brothers refused to
let a women rule them, but Macha defeated them in battles
and ruled for seven years. At the end of this time,
one of her two uncles died leaving five sons,
who now claimed the kingship. But she defeated them too in battle,
then married her remaining uncle,
making him the chief of her army.
She then disguised herself as a leper and went into the forest where
her five cousins had taken refuge. The first led her away and tried
to rape her, but she overcame him, tied him up and returned to the
others. Each in turn took her to the forest and each in turn was
overcome. Then she took them back with ther to the plain of Macha
and forced them to build the royal site of Macha.
The third Macha was a beautiful woman of the otherworld
who came one day into the house of a rich widower named Crunnchu.
She never spoke but tidied the house, cooked food, then went to his bed.
When King Conor held his annual horse race,
Crunnchu boasted his wife could outrun the king's horses.
Macha pleaded that she was about to give birth but Conor insisted that
she run. She won the race, but died at its end,
while giving birth to twins (Emain),
whence the name Emain Macha.
As she died, she Conor and his descendants'
The three stories intersect to show that Emain Macha is a royal place
and the last one explains why it was destroyed.
But they also show the diversity of roles the Celtic goddess might play:
Macha is beautiful, a good housekeeper and concerned mother,
but she is also a great and cunning warrior"
Is the above stuff substantially correct?
Does Macha really mean 'Battle' or is the
battle connotation only
in connection to the stories?