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Teltown Fair and Games (Tailteann)
Teltown is an outdated place name in County Meath, Ireland, for the area between Navan and Kells. It was named for the Irish mythological figure or goddess, Tailtiu. The Tailtin Fair was held there in medieval times as a revival of the ancient Aonach Tailteann, and was revived as the Tailteann Games for a period in the twentieth century.
Mound structures near Teltown have been asserted in legends in the Book of Invasions to be ancient man-made earthworks 2500 years old, modern archaeological reports of the area suggest they date to at least the Iron Age. Part of one of the mounds in the area called the Knockauns (Irish: na Cnocáin) was partially destroyed by bulldozers for urbanization in 1997. John O’Donovan claimed that loughs near a fort in the area called the Rath Dhubh “have the appearance of being artificial lakes and may have been used when the Olympic Games of Tailteann were celebrated by the Irish”. He also mentions a tradition that the shade of Laogaire, the King of Tara was imprisoned by Saint Patrick until Judgement Day to the east of Rath Dhubh in the Dubhloch.
The Battle of Mag Tuired Tailtiu
After the first battle of Mag Tuired Tailtiu, queen of the Fir Bolg, came to Coill Cuan and the wood was cut down within one year to make a clover-plain. She led her people in the clearing of the forest, which by implication becomes all of Brega or what is today County Meath, some of Ireland’s best farmland. Some commentators see in this identification evidence that she was originally a kind of earth goddess. But the work of clearing proves so onerous as to break her heart, in the words of the text. On her deathbed she asks that funeral games be held annually on the cleared ground. She died in Tailltiu and her grave is north-east of there.
Her games were celebrated each year and her lamentation sung by Lug a fortnight before Lugnasad and a fortnight after. Lug leads the first games of horse-racing and martial arts at the time of Lughnasa (1 August), singing a lamentation. Important events taking place at Tailtiu unrelated to the óenach include Éremón and the Milesians’ victory over the Tuatha Dé Danann, and the deaths of Banba, Ériu, and Fódla. It was also described as the burial-place of the Ulaid.