The Lia Fáil (Irish pronunciation: [ˌl̠ʲiə ˈfɑːl̠ʲ], meaning Stone of Destiny), not to be confused with the Stone of Scone, is a stone at the Inauguration Mound (Irish: an Forrad) on the Hill of Tara in County Meath, Ireland, which served as the coronation stone for the High Kings of Ireland. It is also known as the Coronation Stone of Tara. In legend, all of the kings of Ireland were crowned on the stone up to Muirchertach mac Ercae c. AD 500.
There are several different, and conflicting, legends in Irish mythology describing how the Lia Fáil is said to have been brought to Ireland. The Lebor Gabala, dating to the eleventh century, states that it was brought in antiquity by the semi-divine race known as the Tuatha Dé Danann. The Tuatha Dé Danann had travelled to the "Northern Isles" where they learned many skills and magic in its four cities Falias, Gorias, Murias and Findias. From there they travelled to Ireland bringing with them a treasure from each city – the four legendary treasures of Ireland. From Falias came the Lia Fáil. The other three treasures are the Claíomh Solais or Sword of Light, the Sleá Bua or Spear of Lugh and the Coire Dagdae or The Dagda's Cauldron.
Some Scottish chroniclers, such as John of Fordun and Hector Boece from the thirteenth century, treat the Lia Fáil the same as the Stone of Scone in Scotland. According to this account the Lia Fáil left Tara in AD 500 when the High King of Ireland Murtagh MacEirc loaned it to his great-uncle, Fergus (later known as Fergus the Great) for the latter's coronation in Scotland. Fergus's sub-kingdom, Dalriada, had by this time expanded to include the north-east part of Ulster and parts of western Scotland. Not long after Fergus's coronation in Scotland, he and his inner circle were caught in a freak storm off the County Antrim coast in which all perished. The stone remained in Scotland which is why Murtagh MacEirc is recorded in history as the last Irish King to be crowned on it.
However, historian William Forbes Skene commented: "It is somewhat remarkable that while the Scottish legend brings the stone at Scone from Ireland, the Irish legend brings the stone at Tara from Scotland." The design of Lia Fáil has been described as blatantly phallic.
The Lia Fáil was thought to be magical: when the rightful High King of Ireland put his feet on it, the stone was said to roar in joy. The stone is also credited with the power to rejuvenate the king and also to endow him with a long reign. According to Lebor Gabála Érenn, Cúchulainn split it with his sword when it failed to cry out under his protégé, Lugaid Riab nDerg - from then on it never cried out again, except under Conn of the Hundred Battles.
It is from this stone the Tuatha Dé Danann metonymically named Ireland Inis Fáil (inis meaning island), and from this 'Fál' became an ancient name for Ireland. Fál in Irish means several things like hedge, enclosure or king, ruler. In this respect, therefore, Lia Fáil came to mean 'Stone of Ireland'. Inisfail appears as a synonym for Erin in some Irish romantic and nationalist poetry in English in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; Aubrey Thomas de Vere's 1863 poem Inisfail is an example.
The term Fianna Fáil ("the Fianna, warriors, or army of Ireland"; sometimes rendered "the soldiers of destiny") has been used as a sobriquet for the Irish Volunteers; on the cap badge of the Irish Army; in the opening line of the Irish-language version of Amhrán na bhFiann, the Irish national anthem; and as the name of the Fianna Fáil political party, one of the main parties in Ireland.
Sometime in June 2012, the stone was vandalised. The stone was damaged in 11 places by a hammer. It was vandalised again in May 2014 when green and red paint was poured on the stone covering at least 50% of its surface.
- Stone of Scone the "Stone of Destiny" for coronation of Scottish, English, and British monarchs.
- Stones of Mora where the Swedish kings were elected.
- Prince's Stone where the princes of Carantania and dukes of Carinthia were installed.
- Sword in the stone (King Arthur) also revealed the rightful king.
- Blarney Stone tourist attraction said to endow those kissing it with the "gift of the gab".
- Patrick Weston Joyce (1911). The Lia Fail or Coronation Stone of Tara. Retrieved 10 January 2011.
The third of Tara's wonders was the Lia Fail or Coronation Stone, on which the ancient kings were crowned; and the wonder of this was that it uttered a shout whenever a king of the true Scotic or Irish race stood or sat on it. And it was from this stone that Ireland received the old poetical name of Inisfail, that is, the Island of the (Lia) Fail. ... The story of the removal of the Lia Fail to Scotland rests entirely on the authority of the Scottish historians. The oldest Scottish document to which it can be traced is the Rhythmical Chronicle, written it is believed at the close of the thirteenth century, from which it was borrowed later on by the two Scottish writers, John of Fordun and Hector Boece, and incorporated by both in their chronicles—those chronicles which are now universally rejected as fable. Our own countryman Geoffrey Keating, writing his history of Ireland in the seventeenth century, adopted the story after Boece (whom he gives as his authority for the prophecy); and it has been repeated by most other writers of Irish history since his time. But in no Irish authority before the time of Keating is there any mention either of the removal of the stone, or of the prophecy concerning it.
- William Forbes Skene: The Coronation Stone. Edmonston & Douglas, 1869. p. 23
- Barfoot, C. C.; Haen, Theo d' (1 January 1995). Troubled Histories, Troubled Fictions: Twentieth-century Anglo-Irish Prose. Rodopi. p. 82. ISBN 90-5183-781-X.
- Lord Longford; Thomas P. O'Neill (1970). Éamon de Valera. Dublin. chapter 21. ISBN 978-0-09-104660-6.
- Louise Hogan (14 June 2012). "Hammer vandals damage 5,500-year-old 'Stone of Destiny'". independent.ie. Retrieved 19 June 2012.
- "5,000-year-old standing stone vandalised in Meath". rte.ie. Retrieved 29 May 2014.
- "Lia Fáil on Hill of Tara in County Meath vandalised". BBC. Retrieved 30 May 2014.
- Campbell, Ewan. "Royal Inauguration in Dál Riata and the Stone of Destiny." In The Stone of Destiny: artefact and icon, ed. Richard Welander et al. Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, Monograph series 22. Edinburgh: Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, 2003. 43–59.
- FitzPatrick, Elizabeth. Royal Inauguration in Gaelic Ireland c. 1100–1600. Woodbridge, 2004.
- Nitze, William A. "The Siege Perilleux and the Lia Fáil or 'Stone of Destiny'." Speculum 31 (1956): 258 ff.
- Ó Broin, Tomás. "Lia Fáil: fact and fiction in tradition." Celtica 21 (1990): 393–401.