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Title: Aengus  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: The Dagda, Tuatha Dé Danann, Irish mythology, Midir, Boann
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Member of the Tuatha Dé Danann
Abodes Brú na Bóinne
Animals Swan
Siblings Oghma an Cermait (brother)
Children Diarmuid Ua Duibhne (foster-son)

In Irish mythology, Aengus (Old Irish: Oíngus, Óengus) is a member of the Tuatha Dé Danann and probably a god of love, youth and poetic inspiration. He is traditionally described as having singing birds circling his head.


  • Names 1
  • Life of Aengus 2
  • Connections 3
  • Etymology 4
  • Modern depictions 5
  • Namesakes 6
  • Texts 7
  • See also 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10


In Old Irish his name is spelled Oíngus or Óengus , from Proto-Celtic *oino- "one" and gus "strength" (or possibly "choice"). In Middle Irish this became Áengus, and in Modern Irish Aengus or Aonghus , . Epithets include Óengus Óc/Aengus Óg ("Aengus the young"), Mac ind Óg ("son of the young"), Mac Óg ("young son") and Maccan.

Life of Aengus

His parents were the Dagda and Boann. He was said to have lived at Newgrange by the River Boyne.

The Dagda had an affair with the river goddes Boann, wife of Nechtan. To hide her pregnancy, the Dagda made the sun stand still for nine months so that Aengus was conceived, gestated and born in one day. Midir was his foster-father.[1]

When he came of age Aengus dispossessed the Dagda of his home, Brú na Bóinne (an area of the Boyne River Valley that contains the passage tombs Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth). He arrived after the Dagda had shared out his land among his children, and none was left for Aengus, so Aengus asked his father if he could live in Brú na Bóinne – the central spiritual spot by the Boyne, the river whose goddess is Bóinne – for "a day and a night", and the Dagda agreed. Irish has no indefinite article, so "a day and a night" is the same as "day and night", which covers all time, and so Aengus took possession of Brú na Bóinne permanently. In a different version of this story, appearing in The Wooing of Etain, Aengus uses the same ploy to trick Elcmar out of Brú na Bóinne, with the Dagda's connivance. In this version, Midir is Aengus's foster-father, while Elcmar is the husband of Boann cuckolded by the Dagda.[2]

According to Death Tales of the Tuatha de Danaan, Aengus killed his stepfather Elcmar for killing Midir.

Aengus also killed Lugh Lámhfhada's poet for lying about his brother Ogma an Cermait. The poet claimed that Ogma an Cermait was having an affair with one of Lugh's wives.

In The Wooing of Etain, Aengus was able to partially lift a spell against Etain, the horse goddess he had won for his brother Midir. Midir's wife Fuamnach in a jealous rage had turned Etain into a beautiful fly. Turning her into a woman at night, Aengus made her his lover until Fuamnach found out about it and drove her away. Aengus killed his foster mother for her treachery.

In the 'Tale of the Two Pails, a sidhe woman, foster daughter of Aengus, got lost and wound up in the company of St Patrick. The girl converted to Christianity, and Aengus could not win her back. He left, and she died of grief.

Aengus fell in love with a girl he had seen in his dreams. His mother, Boann, goddess of the River Boyne, and a cow goddess whose milk formed the Milky Way (Bealach na Bó Finne, or the White Cow's Way in Irish), searched Ireland for a year, then his father, the Dagda, did the same. Finally, King Bodb Derg of Munster found her after a further year.[3]

Aengus went to the lake of the Dragon's Mouth and found 150 girls chained in pairs, his girl, Caer Ibormeith, among them On November 1, Caer and the other girls would turn into swans for a year, every second Samhain. Aengus was told he could marry Caer if he could identify her in her swan form. Aengus turned himself into a swan and they flew away, singing beautiful music that put all listeners asleep for three days and nights.[3]

Aengus was the foster-father and protector of Diarmuid Ua Duibhne of the Fianna. He rescued Diarmuid and Gráinne during their pursuit by the Fianna.

He owned a sword named Moralltach, the Great Fury, given to him by Manannan mac Lir. This he gave to his foster-son Diarmuid Ua Duibhne, along with a sword named Beagalltach, the Little Fury and two spears of great power, Gáe Buide and Gáe Derg. When the young man died, Aengus took his body back to Brú na Bóinne where he breathed life into it when he wished to speak with Diarmuid.

In other legends he was able to repair broken bodies and return life to them.


Aengus is widely considered to be connected to the ancient Celtic god Maponos and his Welsh equivalent, Mabon ap Modron.


The Old Irish name Óengus is attested in Adomnán's Life of St. Columba as Oinogus(s)ius, showing that its etymology is from the Proto-Celtic roots *oino- "one" and *guss- "choice".

The Old Irish spelling of the name was Óengus. Middle Irish spellings included Óengus and Áengus. The Early Modern Irish form was Aonghus.

Modern Irish spellings are Aengus and Aonghus (Óengus is very rare).

Aonghas is the Scots Gaelic spelling.

Modern depictions

Aengus appears in the Irish poet William Butler Yeats's poem "The Song of Wandering Aengus",[4] which describes Aengus's endless search for his lover.

Angus Og appears in James Stephens' novel The Crock of Gold,[5] where his aid is solicited by the Philosopher.

In the Copper episode "Husbands and Fathers", Corcoran tells O'Brien to take Annie upstairs and tell her a story. O'Brien says to Annie, "I shall tell you about the Dream of Aengus and the Wooing of Etain."

Aengus and his father the Dagda appear in Kate Thompson's young adult novel The New Policeman. Aengus acts as the protagonist's guide to Tír na nÓg and helps him restore it to its timeless state.

Aengus is the primary antagonist of Hounded, Book 1 of The Iron Druid Chronicles.


Aengus is a popular Irish and Scots Gaelic name, borne by a variety of historical and legendary figures, including:


  • Aislingi Oengusai original text from Egerton 1782 at Thesaurus Linguae Hibernicae.
  • Tochmarc Étaíne: The Wooing of Étaín
  • De Gabáil in t-Sída: The Taking of the Fairy Mound
  • Aisling Óenguso: The Dream of Óengus
  • Tóraigheacht Dhiarmada agus Ghráinne: The Pursuit of Diarmuid and Gráinne

See also


  1. ^ The Wooing of Etain The Celtic Literature Collective
  2. ^ The Wooing of Étaíne CELT: The Corpus of Electronic Texts
  3. ^ a b The Dream of Oengus The Celtic Literature Collective
  4. ^ The Song of Wandering Aengus
  5. ^ The Crock of Gold

External links

  • A mythological view of Aengus, the poet god of love, romance, and meaning
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