Ilvermorny’s Irish Roots
It’s St. Patrick’s Day! Harry Potter naturally has many connections to Irish lore. Leprechauns, banshees, and the great Salazar Slytherin himself originated from Éire. Ilvermorny, America’s wizarding school, was founded by Isolt Sayre. Isolt brought a rich tapestry of Irish tradition to her school. Let’s look at some of Ilvermorny’s possible connections to Irish mythology and folklore.
Isolt Sayre was a direct descendant of the witch Morrigan, who was an “Animagus whose creature form was a crow.“ Morrigan was part of the original gods of Ireland called the Tuatha Dé Danann. Many of these gods morphed into what we consider fairies today. The Mór-Ríoghain (as it’s spelled in modern Irish) reigned as the goddess of war, life, and death. Her shapeshifting abilities allowed her to take the shape of a crow.
The Morrigan was often represented as three sisters in Irish mythology: Badb, Macha, and Anann. Although the character remained inconsistent in ancient lore, the women represented different aspects of the goddess. She was often referred to as the “washer of the ford” since warriors who witnessed her washing armor in the stream instantly knew they were destined to die that day. This element of Morrigan’s tale was later transferred to the role of the banshee, making Morrigan the predecessor to Seamus Finnigan’s boggart. Morrigan is also connected to the character Morgan le Fay in Arthurian legend.
What does this say about Isolt Sayre? Her lineage stems from powerful sources. If Morrigan does relate to the King Arthur storyline, did she oppose Merlin? Does this mean witches and wizards were once worshiped as deities in ancient Ireland?
After the tragic death of Isolt’s mother, Gormlaith raised her in a place called “Hag’s Glen,” or Coomcallee, Ireland. Coomcallee translates to “hollow of the Cailleach.” Cailleach means “hag,” which usually suggests a woman with magical powers. Irish folklore tells the story of the Cailleach who rules winter, therefore bringing about cold darkness. Could this legend be connected to Gormlaith? Is she the hag of Hag’s Glen?
Lastly, was St. Patrick a wizard? It’s commonly said that he banished the snakes from Ireland and magically cured many ailments. Did he operate as a wizard in disguise? The Fat Friar couldn’t have been the only one. Did he eventually help banish a different silver-tongued snake from Ireland? Maybe Slytherin was forced to create a school in Scotland where he could properly use his Parseltongue.
Did you spot any more hints of Irish lore in either Harry Potter or the Ilvermorny story? Let us know in the comments! Happy St. Patrick’s Day!