Niall's story tells us how men can achieve their essential power. It is their task to recognise the Goddess in every woman and to honour Her there. So how do women get theirs? I believe Cairenn shows us.
Niall (NEEL) was the son of Eochu (OCH-o) the king of Ireland by his concubine Cairenn (KAH-ren). Mongfind (MUNG-in), Eochu's first wife, was very jealous of Cairenn. She humiliated her and reduced her to the station of a maid by making her serve at the well, drawing water for the community. While she served there, her son Niall was born, but she was afraid to take care of him, for fear of what Mongfind might do. The poet-shaman Torna took him away and fostered him. When Niall came of age, Torna brought him back to his father. Niall was welcomed, and he immediately restored his mother to her former honour, clothing her in purple like the queen she was.
Eochu made it clear that he recognised Niall, together with his sons by his first wife Mongfind, as a legitimate heir to the throne. Mongfind could not bear the thought of her sons losing out to another woman's, even if that woman was a legitimate concubine. So she persuaded Eochu to subject his sons to a test, to see who was most worthy to be king.
The smith-shaman Sithchean deliberately set his forge on fire and sent the sons of Eochu in, to see what they would rescue. Niall rescued the anvil, putting his own life in danger but also saving Sithchean's most important tool and thereby his livelihood. That way Niall showed himself to be the wisest and bravest of the brothers.
Mongfind, of course, was not best pleased. She insisted on another test, this time a test of who would survive best on the land itself. The four boys were sent into the forest to fend for themselves.
One evening they made camp in a clearing. They had hunted some rabbits and had managed to light a fire, but there was nothing to drink. One of the young men went into the forest to look for water. He came to a well, but when he wanted to draw water from it, he was challenged by a hideous old hag. She promised to give him water, if he would sleep with her. The young man refused and returned without water. The same thing happened to his brothers.
Then Niall tried. He was the only one who was kind to the old woman, recognising that all women represent the Goddess. He did what she requested, and as he made love to her, she changed into a beautiful young woman. Niall was shocked and asked her who she was. She replied: "I am Sovereignty, Tara's king."
After his father's death, Niall became king and reigned many years.
Main picture: Tara from a school's history page that is no longer on the internet.
Hag from Dreamwave
Tara Brooch from the home pages of a NY University history course that is no longer on the internet
Entrance to Mound of the Hostages at Tara and entrance stone from Knowth.com