These birds were most often associated with the Crone aspects of the Goddess. The word “cailleach” in the IrishGaelic means “owl.” The owl is often a guide to and through the Underworld, a creature of keen sight in darkness, and a silent and swift hunter. It can help unmask those who would deceive you or take advantage of you.
Owls are often seen as symbols of tremendous knowledge and insight, and they may also provide direction. These birds may serve as a warning of a threat that is surmountable, as well as a portent of prosperity or positive change. In certain societies, owls are believed to be divine messengers or even to act as intermediaries between this world and the next.
The population of this species has been decreasing over the past few decades, and as a result, its home range has shrunk to include just parts of the southwest and the midlands of Ireland. It is estimated that the population of barn owls has decreased by more than fifty percent over the course of the previous quarter century, and the IUCN Red List of Ireland has now included it as a species of concern.