Episode 8

Life and Death on the Farm Atop the Hill: A Story of an Irish Cailleach | S.2 Ep.8

Published on: 14th September, 2022

Our Story

There’s a long, strange tradition in Irish mythology and folklore in which a powerful man tries to steal a valuable cow from an old woman (cailleach). Maybe it’s not so strange… It’s just one more example of how independent older women are considered a threat to the status quo.

Marisa Goudy tells the story of Mona, the Cailleach who lived upon a hill that bore her name (Cnoc na Móna/Knocknamona). The original tale, found in a footnote in an 1860 publication of the Ossianic Society, a translation of a medieval Irish manuscript called the Imtheacht na Tromdhaimhe, includes few details. Marisa’s version imagines a new ending for tale that originally ends in a wise woman’s murder and the slaughter of a sacred cow.

Our Guest

Lee Rankin is a farmer and founder of Apple Hill Farm, a successful and award-winning first-generation farm in the Appalachian mountains of North Carolina. She is an advocate for farmers through her leadership and involvement at a local and state level. She speaks, teaches and consults frequently as a first-generation woman farmer on the topic of alpacas, entrepreneurship, and the benefits of diversifying your farm portfolio through agritourism.  

Lee is the author of Cookin' Up a Storm, The Life and Recipes of Annie Johnson now in its second edition. She is currently looking for a home for her memoir, Farm Family, the story of her journey of starting Apple Hill Farm as a solo Mom.

Our Conversation

  • The power of being a woman with animals and land. In Lee’s experience where the majority of farmers are men, she’s so aware of the feminine expression of her farming, including a spiritual, sacred sense of “knowing.”
  • Choosing when to preserve and when to innovate, as storytellers and as famers. 
  • Preserving the Randall Lineback breed of cattle; there are only 1000 across the US. 
  • Lee’s story of moving to what would become her alpaca farm in Appalachia with her one year-old son and a golden retriever. 
  • Stories of animal rescues, and also of animal passages.
  • A powerful reframe on death and how this story could have ended as the original version did, with the death of Mona and the cow. Our desire to sanitize the death parts and give everyone a happy ending. 
  • This episode pairs so well with Laura Murphy’s story of the goddess Boinn who was closely associated with cattle and the concept of imbas forosnai, the inspiration that illuminates. (S.2 Ep.7).  

Our Music

Music at the start of the show is by Beth Sweeney and Billy Hardy, a Celtic Fiddle and multi-instrumental duo based on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The traditional Irish reel we play at the start of the show is called "The College Groves." billyandbeth.com

Join Us in the Heroine's Knot

The Heroines' Knot is an online community for creative creatures on the quest for self-expression & collective renewal. Learn more and join us.

1:1 Coaching Opportunities

Marisa offers 1:1 coaching for Personal and Professional growth with her Healing for Heroines packages.

She also offers Story Weaver Book Coaching for memoirists, thought leaders, and creative entrepreneurs at the beginning of their writing journey.

Find more of Marisa's writing and get a copy of her book, The Sovereignty Knot www.marisagoudy.com

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About the Podcast

KnotWork Storytelling
Myths Retold, from Ireland and Beyond
In each KnotWork Storytelling episode, we'll explore a different story from mythology, folklore, or history, particularly from Ireland and the Celtic World. Then, my guest and I dive deep into why these ideas and characters still resonate today.

Your host is Marisa Goudy, author of The Sovereignty Knot: A Woman’s Way to Freedom, Power, Love, and Magic. She is a Myth Worker, a Story Healer, a Writing Coach, and a has an MA in Irish literature from University College Dublin.

Join us as we wander through these ancient storylines as we set out on a quest to learn from the past, better understand the present, and craft a sustainable future.

Every episode reminds us that age-old stories are medicine for this modern moment.

About your host

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Marisa Goudy

Marisa Goudy is a story healer, a writing coach, and a word witch. Her book, The Sovereignty Knot: A Woman’s Way to Freedom, Power, Love, and Magic, was released in 2020.
Marisa nurtures writers and storytellers in her long-running online writing community, the Sovereign Writers’ Knot.
On this show, Marisa combines her passion for story with her love of Irish literature, culture, and folklore and her fascination with the Celtic world. She has a particular love of stories of heroines, goddess, and women whose tales were forgotten by history.