Connemara Marble Legend

Or how Connemara Green Marble came to be

This tale was recounted to me by my great grandmother who had heard it from her husband who had interests in the marble quarries in Ballynahinch Recess.

In the days of the fairies or sidhe there was a King named Ri na Beola or King of the twelve Bens (some knew him as the prince of Lugatherive). When the Tuatha De Danann originally came to Connemara king Beola settled in the twelve bens. King Beola had his castle on the highest peak of the Bens, Ben Ban or in English ‘The white peak’. So named because when any man approached, the castle would become shrouded in a white mist and would become completely hidden. At any rate Ri na Beola had his kingdom in and around the twelve bens and every mountain was covered in the greenest of grass because of the enchantments that the king had placed on them.

Cattle at that time were highly prized and it was said that Ri na Beola’s cattle were the fattest and best fed cattle in all of Connaught, also that they were the strongest having to climb up and down the mountains (like Sisyphus in the Greek tales) to graze there food.

After the Tuatha Dé Danann were defeated at Tailtu and Amergin was called upon to divide the land between the Tuatha Dé Danann and his own people, he cleverly allotted the portion above ground to the Milesians and the portion underground to the Tuatha Dé Danann. King Beola was so enraged by Amergins trickery that through the magic of the sidhe, he brought every blade of green grass with him underground to graze his cattle there. King Beola left eleven of the twelve peaks as rocky outcrops that would sustain neither animal nor man. Only Ben Ban was left green as this was the site of hiscastle. Some say on a wet and misty day if the clouds clear you can see the towers of the castle.

Ri na Beola has lived underground from that day to this, grazing his cattle on the finest of green grass, It is claimed that if you tried to dig up the grass that it would turn to stone: holding the colour of the grass that he so highly prized! And this is how the green Connemara Marble came into existence.