Lia Fáil: The Stone of Destiny

Hill of Tara

Lia Fáil

The Mythic Cycle: According to the 11th century text known as the Lebor Gabala (The Mythic Cycle) this is an enchanted stone of high magic. The mythical remnant of the Tuatha Dé Danann, one of the four magical treasures gifted to Ireland when the faerie people settled here as the story goes. Legend has it that the Tuatha Dé Danann were first instructed within the four cities of Falias, Gorias, Murias, and Findias in the “Northern Isles” of Druidry and magic. They traveled from these cities with a magical item from each city, these treasures are known as the four legendary treasures of Eire. This stone came from Falias. The other three treasures were the Sword of Victory (Claíomh Solais), The Spear of Lugh (Sleá Bua), and Dagda’s Cauldron (Coire Dagdae). “Lia Fáil” means in Irish Gaelic “the Stone of Destiny”. It is sometimes confused with the Stone of Scone, of which the Blarney Stone is rumored to be made of. There are references at Blarney Castle suggesting the Stone of Scone and the Stone of Destiny are one of the same, though this is not accurate and is more modern Irish urban myth.

Hill of Tara

The Stone of Scone Myth: It is believed that the stone is that upon which Moses struck his staff when he parted the Red Sea for the Israelites during their exodus from Egypt or alternatively part of Jacob’s Pillow where the prophet Jeremiah brought it to Ireland or the Stone of Ezel which was used by David when he hid from King Saul or the traveling altar stone of St. Columba. Whatever the origin, it is rumored to have been brought to Ireland during the Crusades. From there it was said to have become the Lia Fail atop Tara until Robert the Bruce took it to Blarney Castle and gifted to Cormac McCarthy the then King of Munster and incorporated into the Castle as the “Blarney Stone“. However, the Scottish stone of Scone is believed to have been kept in the Scone Abbey in Scone by Perth, Scotland until the British Monarchs captured it and held it at the Westminster Abbey. In 1950, four students stole the stone back for Scotland discovering that it had been broken for hundreds of years. The Stone of Scone was described to be an oblong block of red sandstone, nothing comparable to tales of the Irish Stone of Destiny nor the Blarney Stone. It is not one in the same. This myth came from Scottish chroniclers in the likes of Hector Boece and John of Fordun in the 13th century C.E. According to their accounts, the last King to be crowned at the stone was “Muirchertach mac Ercae” in 500 C.E. The tale goes that MacErc loaned the stone to his brother Fergus in Scotland for his coronation. Shortly after the coronation, Fergus, his crew, and their ship sunk off the coast of County Antrim stranding the Stone of Destiny in Scotland. However, there are other legends that state the stone originally came from Scotland.

The Stone is said to possess great powers – much akin to King Arthur’s Sword in the stone, as being when the right true leader of Ireland put his feet on the stone – the stone would roar in joy endowing said individual with a long reign. When the legendary leader-warrior Cúchulainn approached the stone and it did not cry out, he struck the stone with his sword, splitting it, thereby preventing it from roaring ever again except for Brian Boru and Conn of the 100 Battles. This legend is similar to the Scottish “Stone of Scone” that was used for coronations for English, Scottish, and British Monarchs; the Stones of Mora where Swedish kings were elected; the Carantania Prince’s Stone where installation of princes and dukes took effect; King Arthur’s Sword in the stone; the Blarney Stone’s magical gift of gab; and the De Shíl Chonairi Móir.

The Lia Fáil is a standing stone atop the Inauguration Mound (an Forrad) on the Hill of Tara within County Meath. It was the place where kings and leaders went for their coronation as mythology dictates it is the stone that chooses s/he who will rule. All the Kings of Ireland until 500 C.E. were crowned here. It is also the stone that Ireland was named after, as it is said the “Tuatha Dé Danann” called Ireland originally “Inis Fáil” leading to Eire being first called “Fál” meaning “Island” (Inis) of the King (a.k.a. enclosure, hedge, ruler) (Fál). Lia Fáil was the Stone of Ireland, or carried from the term “Fianna Fáil” as “Soldiers of Destiny” leading to the name “The Stone of Destiny.”

In more modern traditions, it is a common place for lovers to court and propose. It is the stone at which me and my wife visited on November 7, 2011 when the stone sung to me to propose to her – and I did – we wedded a few months later.

As the stone is not greatly monitored, some vandalism on occasion has taken wear to the monument such as in 2012 when some idiot damaged the stone in 11 places by a hammer.

McGowan, Leaf 1/26/2014 “Lia Fail: The Stone of Destiny”. Official web page: © 2014 – Technogypsie Productions: Colorado Springs, Colorado. If you enjoy this article, please treat the author to a drink or donate to keep this article preserved online.

Bibliography/Recommended Reading:

  • Campbell, Ewan 2003 “Royal Inauguration in Dál Riata and the Stone of Destiny.” Edinburgh: Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.
  • Fitzpatrick, Elizabeth 2004 “Royal Inauguration in Gaelic Ireland c. 1100-1600”. Woodbridge.
  • Keating, Geoffrey 2010 “The History of Ireland”. Website referenced 1/26/14 at
  • Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia undated “Lia Fail”. Website referenced 1/26/14.

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