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17 Celtic Gods and Goddesses from Irish Mythology

17 Celtic Gods and Goddesses from Irish Mythology

The different Celtic Gods and Goddesses range from The Morrigan (the Phantom Queen) to the warrior Lugh (a member of the Tuatha Dé Danann).

Celtic deities have fascinated people for centuries and it all began with the Celts – a pre-Christian people who practiced a Polytheistic religion, sometimes referred to as ‘Celtic Paganism’.

This mean that they worshipped more than one God. Evidence of this can be found in statues, engravings and in place names (for example, Ireland’s County Louth is named after one of the Celtic Gods, Lugh).

Below, you’ll get an insight into the main Celtic deities, what we know about them and, of course, legends from the Celtic mythology tied to them.


The most notable Celtic Gods and Goddesses

irish goddesses and irish gods

There are many Celtic mythology Gods and Goddesses – in this guide, I’ll take you through the ‘main’ ones.

Is this all of them? Absolutely not! But it’s the main body of Gods that tend to crop up again and again in Celtic mythology.

1. The Dagda

The Dagda

The Dagda is one of the most interesting Celtic Gods. In the 11th century ‘Lebor Gabála Érenn’, the Dagda is described as ‘the great good God’.

He was a member of the Tuatha Dé Danann and was ‘eighty years in the kingship of Ireland’. The Dagda is described as a father-figure and it’s said that he can control the weather and the seasons.

Dagda was known to possess a cauldron that ‘no company would go from it unsatisfied’. He also had a powerful magic staff that brought life with one end and defeated enemies with the other.

He also carries a harp that has the ability to control the emotions of men. The legend goes that the Dagda lives in the ancient tomb of Brú na Bóinne in Meath and he is described as a bearded giant.

Key information

  • Name: The Dagda or An Daghdha
  • Name meaning: The good God
  • One of the Gods of: Strength
  • Sources: ‘Lebor Gabála Érenn’ (11th century collection of poems)

2. The Morrigan

The Morrigan

Few Celtic deities spark interest like the Morrigan. First mentioned in a side note in ancient Latin manuscripts, the Morrigan is the Celtic Goddess of war and fate.

Appearing in both the the Ulster and the Mythological Cycles of Irish mythology, the Morrigan is a shape-shifter that takes the form of a monstrous woman, an eel and most notably a crow.

According to W. M. Hennessy’s ‘The Ancient Irish Goddess of War’ (1870), the Morrigan had the power to determine which side would be victorious in battle.

One notable story tells of a time that she appeared in front of Cú Chulainn, but he failed to recognize her. Cú Chulainn died in a battle soon after. Once he died, the Morrigan settled on his shoulder in the form of a crow.

Key information

  • Name: Mór-ríoghan in Irish. Variations include Morrígan and Mórrígan
  • Name meaning: Phantom Queen or Queen of Demons
  • One of the Celtic Goddesses of: Fate and war
  • Sources: W. M. Hennessy’s ‘The Ancient Irish Goddess of War’ (1870)

3. Lúgh


Lúgh is one of many Celtic Gods and Goddesses that we have several written accounts of, including Geoffrey Keating’s ‘History of Ireland’ from 1634.

Keating offers an insight into Lúgh’s family tree, describing him as the grandson of Dian Cecht (the Celtic God of healing) and the son of Easar Breac (the daughter of Balor – the leader of the Fomorians).

The Irish God of nobility, Lúgh is a member of Tuatha Dé Danann and he has strong ties to the law and oaths. He is portrayed as a skilled warrior and he fathered one of Ireland’s finest warriors, Cú Chulainn.

Lúgh is known to have carried a number of magical items, including a spear and a sling-stone. He also had an ancient greyhound named Failinis.

Key information

  • Name: Lúgh, Lug or Lugh of the Long Arm
  • One of the Gods of: Nobility
  • Linked to: Lúnasa – a festival that marks the start of the harvest season
  • Source: Geoffrey Keating’s ‘History of Ireland’ (1634)

4. The Goddess Brigid


Brigid was the Celtic Goddess of knowledge, healing, poetry, agriculture and protection. She was the daughter of the Dagda (see previous entry) and the wife of a king of the Tuatha De Danann, Bres.

According to ‘Sanas Chormaic’, an Irish glossary from 1868, Bridgid was well known for her ‘Protecting care’. The glossary also describes her as a ‘Woman of wisdom’ and a ‘Goddess of poets’.

Bridgid had two sisters, both with the same name. It’s possible that she was what’s known as a ‘Triple deity’ – this is where one deity has three different entities.

The Irish Goddess Bridgid and St. Bridgid are believed to be the same person. The two have many similarities, like their connection to spring.

Key information

  • Name: Brighid, Brigid or Brigit
  • Name meaning: ‘The exalted one’ (exalted means at a high or powerful level)
  • One of the Celtic Goddesses of: Knowledge, healing, poetry, agriculture and protectio

5. The Cailleach

the Cailleach

The Cailleach is a Celtic Goddess associated with weather, particularly wintery and stormy weather. Her link to Ireland’s Beara Peninsula earner her the title ‘The Hag of Béara’.

The name ‘Cailleach’ comes from the old Irish word ‘Caillech’ which means ‘Veiled one’. In Scotland, the Cailleach is known as the ‘Beira’, meaning the ‘Queen of Winter’.

The Cailleach has many associations with the creation/altering of the landscape. Several well-known landmarks in Ireland, like Hag’s Head at the Cliffs of Moher and Loughcrew’s Megalithic tombs are associated with her.

Some believe that the Cailleach is a seasonal Celtic Goddess that is in power during Samhainn and Bealltainn (the start of winter to the start of summer).

Key information

  • Name: The Cailleach, the nun of Beare,  the Hag of Béara or 
  • Name meaning: The ‘Veiled one’
  • One of the Celtic Goddesses of: Stormy weather/winter
  • Sources: Aislinge Meic Conglinne’s ‘The vision of MacConglinne’ (11th/12th century)

6. Queen Medb of Connacht

Queen Medbh

Queen Medb of Connacht was one of the most famous figures from Irish folklore. There are many references to Medbh in ‘The Metrical Dindshenchas’ (‘Lore of places’) which is a text from early Irish literature.

Medb is described as a woman that was ‘great and glorious’ with ‘pure beauty’. Medbh had several husbands, including Ailill mac Máta. She was said to be cunning and ambitious and she had the power to gather all the men of Connacht in one day.

One of the most notable legends involving Medbh was the Tain bo Cuailnge (the Cattle Raid of Cooley), where she battled Cú Chulainn for a prized bull. She is said to be buried in a cairn at the top of Knocknarea in Sligo.

Key information

  • Name: Méibh, Méabh, Meadhbh or Queen Medbh of Connacht
  • Name meaning: Intoxicating
  • One of the Irish Goddesses of: Sovereignty
  • Sources: The Metrical Dindshenchas

7. Badb


Badb was the Irish Goddess of war and death. She was one of a trio of Celtic Goddesses – her two sisters being Macha and the Morrigan.

Badb was known for stirring up conflict and legend tells that she could prophesise which side would loose a battle. Similar to the Banshee, Badb’s cries were viewed as a bad omen.

In the ancient text ‘Cath Maige Tuired, Badb delivered a chilling prophecy that prophesied the world’s end, predicting the arrival of famine, disease and downfalls of Celtic deities.

Badb was known to be a regular feature on the battlefield and she had the power to cause confusion amongst her enemies.

Key information

  • Name: Badb, Badb Catha or Badhbh
  • Name meaning: Crow
  • One of the Celtic Goddesses of: War and death
  • Sources: E. G. Quin’s ‘Royal Irish Academy’s Dictionary of the Irish Language’ (1984)

8. Cú Chulainn

Cú Chulainn

The son of one of the previously mentioned Gods, Lúgh, Cú Chulainn was called ‘Sétanta’ as a child. It wasn’t until he defeated a vicious hound with a sliotar and hurley that he was given the name Cú Chulainn.

In the story ‘The Wooing of Emer by Cú Chulainn’, it’s told that the women of Ulster fell for Cú Chulainn due to ‘the loveliness of his look’. As he was without a wife, the Ulstermen were worried.

So, the King of Ulster tried to match him with some worthy suitors. However, he only had eyes for Emer. Her father didn’t approve, so he set Cú Chulainn the task of training with a warrior-woman in Scotland.

Cú Chulainn returned from Scotland a capabable warrior but Emer’s father refused the marriage, so Cú Chulainn stormed his castle and knocked him over the castle’s ramparts, rescuing Emer in the process.

Key information

  • Name: Born Sétanta – Cú Chulainn became his name in later years
  • Name meaning: Culann’s hound
  • Famous legends: The Cattle Raid of Cooley
  • Sources: ‘The Wooing of Emer by Cú Chulainn’ an ancient text translated by Kuno Meyer

9. Balor


Balor of the Piercing/Evil Eye, one of the best-known Celtic mythological creatures, was the leader of a supernatural race of monstrous beings in Celtic mythology known as the Fomorians.

Said to live on Donegal’s Tory Island, Balor is described as a giant with one eye that has the power to cause carnage when opened. However, he cannot open the eye himself – he requires the assistance of four men.

In the tale that tells of his demise, Balor hears a prophecy that states his grandson will bring about his end. Barlor’s daughter gave birth to three sons and he ordered them to be drowned. Alas, one surivived.

This grandson was the Celtic God Lugh I mentioned earlier. During the second Battle of Mag, Lugh uses a sling-stone to to defeat Balor before he has a chance to unleash the power of his eye.

Key information


10. Dian Cecht

Dian Cecht

Dian Cecht, the son of the Dagda, was the Celtic God of healing. He was the Tuatha Dé Danann’s physician and in the ancient text ‘The Metrical Dindshenchas’ he is referred to as the ‘lord of spells’.

Cecht had a magic well of healing that he used to tend to injured members of Tuatha Dé Danann and he was known to use every herb that grew in Ireland in his treatments.

Dian Cecht once saved Ireland. He heard that the Celtic Goddess Morrigan had given birth to a son who possessed immense evil in the form of three snakes. These snakes had the potential of eliminating the people of Ireland.

Cecht destroyed the snakes and threw them into a river. The snakes still possessed evil, so much so that their remains boiled the river. The river has been known as the River Barrow ever since.

 Key information

  • Name: Dian Cecht
  • Name meaning: God of Power
  • One of the Celtic Gods of: Healing
  • Sources: Charles Squire’s ‘Celtic Myth and Legend’ (1905)

11. Ériu


Ériu is arguiably one of the most notable Celtic deities. She is the Goddess of Ireland and is the daughter of Ernmas and Delbáed from Tuatha Dé Danann.

It is thanks to Ériu that we now know the ‘Emerald Isle’ as ‘Ireland’. She is said to have met the Milesians (the last race to settle in Ireland).

According to the ancient text ‘Lebor Gabála Érenn’, the Milesians were moving through Ireland while battling the Tuatha Dé Danann, whole ruled the land at the time.

They met Ériu at the Hill of Uisneach in the centre of Ireland and she told them that, if they named the land after her, she would give them good fortune.

Key information

  • Name: Ériu or Éire
  • Name meaning: Ireland
  • Celtic Goddess of: Ireland
  • Sources: Charles Squire’s ‘Celtic Myth and Legend’ (1905)

12. Danu

Goddess Danu

Danu is the most ancient Celtic deity. It is from her name that the Tuatha Dé Danann, the hierarchy of Celtic Gods and Goddesses, take their name (the name means ‘Folk of the goddess Danu’).

Strangely, there is very little written reference to legends that involve Danu, despite the endless tales from the folk/tribe that use her name. She is associated with wisdom and fertility.

She was the Celtic mother Goddess and, when you consider the powerful members of the Tuatha Dé Danann that identify with her, like like Lugh and Dagda, you get a sense of the power and influence she must have possessed.

Key information

  • Name: Danu, Ana, Anu or Danann
  • Her status: The mother of the Gods
  • Sources: Charles Squire’s ‘Celtic Myth and Legend’ (1905)

13. Cernunnos


Cernunnos is one of the more unusual Celtic deities, mainly due to his appearance – he is always depicted with large antlers. Cernunnos is associated with animals like bulls, stags and dogs. 

Unlike many Celtic Gods, we don’t have any written reference to legends associated with Cernunnos – we need to rely on artefacts from the past. Luckily, there are many that depict Cernunnos.

One of the most famous is the Pillar of the Boatmen. This is a Roman column that was discovered in the foundations of the Notre-Dame Cathedral.

In many depictions, Cernunnos is shown with animals and in some, he is seen to hold a bag of grain or coins, which may mean he was associated with wealth and prosperity.

Key information

  • Name: Cernunnos or Carnonos
  • Name meaning: Unknown
  • One of the Celtic Gods of: Animals

14. Aengus

Celtic God Aengus

Aengus was one of the Celtic Gods of youth and love. In Donald Alexander Mackenzie’s 1917 text ‘Wonder Tales From Scottish Myth & Legend’ Aengus is described as a young, fair, blue-eyed God with golden hair.

He is the son of the Dagda and is a member of the Tuatha Dé Danann. In the tale ‘The dream of Oengus’, Aengus falls in love with a girl from his dreams. He is so lovesick that his mother searches Ireland for the girl, but to no avail.

So, one year later, his father does the same, but the girl remains a mystery. Another year later and she is found. However, she (Caer) and 150 other girls are forced to turn into swans every second Samhain.

Aengus is told that he can marry Caer if he can identify her when she is a swan. So, he turns himself into a swan, finds Caer and the two fly off into the sunset. Aengus is now a popular Irish boys name.

Key information

  • Name: Aengus or Óengus
  • Name meaning: True vigour
  • One of the Irish Gods of: Youth and love

15. Donn

The Donn

Donn is the Celtic God of Death. His name means ‘The Dark One’ and the legend goes that the souls of the dead gather in his home, known as ‘Tech Duinn’.

It’s said that Donn appears as a phantom horseman on the back of a powerful white horse. In some parts of Ireland, people thought thunder and lightening were caused by Donn as he rode his horse overhead.

According to an ancient poem from the 9th century, when Donn was about to pass from this world to the next, he asked that all his descendents would come to his home once they died.

Some depictions of Donn online show him covered in Celtic Symbols (like the Celtic Knot and Celtic Cross), but their connection to him aren’t referenced in any ancient text that I can find.

Key information

  • Name: Donn
  • Name meaning: The dark one
  • One of the Celtic Gods of: Death
  • Sources: Dáithí Ó hÓgáin’s ‘Encyclopaedia of the Irish Folk Tradition’ (1990)

16. Lir

king lir

King Lir is one of the Celtic Gods of the sea. In the 9th century glossary ‘Sanas Cormaic,’, Lir is described as ‘the best pilot in the west of Europe’.

He is said to have the ability to know when there would be ‘fair weather and foul weather’. The most prominent tale he features in is The Children of Lir.

Lir’s new wife, jealous of his children, casts a spell that turns them into swans for 900 years. The spell would be broken when a bell rang out to signify the arrival of St. Patrick.

Key information

  • Name: Lir or Ler
  • Name meaning: Sea
  • One of the Celtic Gods of: The sea
  • Sources: Cormac mac Cuilennáin’s ‘Sanas Cormaic’ (9th century)

17. Nuada Airgetlám

Nuada Airgetlam

Nuada Airgetlám is a prominent Celtic God. He was the first king of the Tuatha Dé Danann and he ruled them for seven years before they arrived to Ireland.

Upon their arrival, they met the Fir Bolg – the rulers of Ireland at the time. They requested half of Ireland, but the Fir Bolg refused and battle soon broke out.

During the conflict, Nuada lost an arm and, in turn, his kingship. However, Dian Cecht, the Celtic God of healing, gave Nuada a new hand and he regained his power.

According to the ancient text ‘Cath Maige Tuired’, Nuada had a powerful sword. It was said that ‘No one ever escaped from it once it was drawn from its deadly sheath, and no one could resist it’.

Key information

  • Name: Nuada, Nuadu Necht or Nuadu
  • Name meaning: Unknown
  • One of the Irish Gods of: Hunting
  • Sources: ‘Cath Maige Tuired: The Second Battle of Mag Tuired’ (1899)

More Celtic mythology resources

the celts

If you’d like to learn more about Celtic mythology (i.e. the stories that come from the people we call ‘the Celts’, you should find these articles of interest:

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Clare Doran

Wednesday 1st of February 2023

Lammas just finished here. Reading up on my ancestors gods and goddesses. Easy to understand. Thanks.


Sunday 25th of December 2022

The tribe, known for it's beauty, the tribal gods all tall, very light eyes and hair. All having magical personas. My last inquiry is they became the fairey folk. What does that really mean?

Lesley Lillywhite

Tuesday 6th of September 2022

Thank you. I found your info following a 'rabbit hole', beginning with reading a movie review about a remote Irish island... In my youth, I was fortunate having a grandmother who enjoyed mythology & folklore, instilling this love into my psyche. In 1980, while holiday-making on Britain, I found an opportunity to stowaway from Wales to Dublin, & on to Sligo where Donovan performed. 2006 while in Scotland, Ireland beckoned me over again, & I heard the call, experiencing Belfast. Once returned homeland to Arizona, my mother shared we have lineage on her father's side to Ulster... Enough about my story. Thank you for bringing Irish stories alive, you have enhanced today for me.

ivy i put here 'cas me don't put real name

Thursday 18th of November 2021

you forgot sadhbh! i was named aftar her.

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