Ireland’s indigenous literature has long regarded the ninth wave, reputedly the outermost one surrounding the shoreline of the country, as a supernatural boundary. When the invading Clann Mhíle, the Irish race, heeded the pleas of the desperate Tuatha Dé Danann to temporarily retreat from the island they did so by anchoring their ships beyond the ninth wave. Their return to the country was imperilled by the Tuatha Dé druids who brought forth a terrible storm until the chief poet of the Family of Míl, diplomatic Amhairghin Glúingheal, issued a rosc or magical chant invoking the spirit of Ireland itself to calm sea and sky:
“I am a wind in the sea (for depth)
I am a sea-wave upon the land (for heaviness)
I am the sound of the sea (for fearsomeness)
I am a stag of seven combats (for strength)
I am a hawk upon a cliff (for agility)
I am a tear-drop of the sun (for purity)
I am fair (there is no plant fairer than I)
I am a boar for valour (for harshness)
I am a salmon in a pool (for swiftness)
I am a lake in a plain (for size)
I am the excellence of arts (for beauty)
I am a spear that wages battle with plunder.
I am a god who froms subjects for a ruler
Who explains the stones of the mountains?
Who invokes the ages of the moon?
Where lies the setting for the sun?
Who bears cattle from the house of Tethra?
Who are the cattle of Tethra who laugh?
What man, what god forms weapons?”
The sons of Míl won their eventual war with the Tuatha Dé and with it mastery of the island. The Peoples of the Goddess Dana withdrew beneath the surface of the earth – and ocean – into the síthe or Otherworld dwellings, becoming the Aos Sí or Otherworld People of Gaelic mythology and folklore. Ireland now belonged to the Irish.
Centuries after the Duan Amhairghine, the Song of Aimhirghin, was committed to manuscript by a Medieval scribe we are still dispatching the daughters of Míl beyond the ninth wave. For several decades the women of Ireland have journeyed overseas to seek clinical abortions, a medical provision denied to them in their own homeland. The freedom of choice that their matrilineal Gaelic ancestors enjoyed by law and custom, both before Christianity and for centuries thereafter, has been taken away from them by self-appointed custodians of female personhood. Legalised banishment by pregnancy is an ecclesiastical anachronism in our secular and revolutionary republic, one that must be brought to an end. Not because of some meaningless kowtowing to supposed “modernity” or other facile sentiment. But because it is the most Irish thing we can do.