The Tuatha Dé Danann, or “people of the goddess Danu”, were an ancient race of supernatural beings in Ireland. They were said to have arrived from four great cities to the North, Failias, Gorias, Findias, and Murias, along with with several treasures.
The first was the Stone of Fal (Lia Fail) from Failias, which would scream whenever a true king of Ireland would place his foot on it. This was eventually placed on the mound at Tara, the mythical seat of the High Kings of Ireland. The next was the Sword of Nuada from Findias, a weapon that only inflicted mortal blows when drawn. The third was the Spear of Lugh from Gorias, which never missed its target. The last was the Cauldron of Dagda from Murias, from which a constant supply of food came forth. These treasures also correspond to the four elements, with Lugh’s Spear representing Fire, Nuada’s Sword representing Air, Dagda’s Cauldron representing Water, and the Stone of Fal representing Earth.
With their King Nuada, they fought and defeated the Fir Bolg, the inhabitants of Ireland at the time. Nuada lost an arm in battle, and was no longer allowed to be king because of it. The half-Formorian Bres was chosen to be king instead, whose tyranny led to a battle against the Formorians. In this second battle, King Nuada was killed by the Formorian King Balor. However Lugh killed King Balor, defeating the Formorians, becoming High King of the Tuatha people.
They were eventually defeated at Teltown by the mighty Milesians (thought of as the first Celts). Legend states that the Tuatha Dé Danann were allowed to stay in Ireland, but were forced underground. They became known as the Faery People, or people of the Sidhe, and can be found in the faery mounds that still exist in Ireland today (such as the Brú na Bóinne, Newgrange).
The Milesians chose the name of the Tuatha Dé Danann goddess, Eriu, as the name of their new kingdom. Eriu (or Eire) is still used as the name of Ireland. Eriu’s sisters, Banba and Fódla, are still sometimes used as poetic names for Ireland.
The Tuatha Dé Danann people are surrounded by myth and legend. Ancient manuscripts depict the Tuatha people as real-life kings and queens, however they exhibit many ties to pre-Christian deities of Ireland. The Tuatha Dé Danann included great heroes and deities, including Lugh, Danu, the Dagda, Brigid, Áine, Oghma, and the Morrígan.
And although defeated, they still exist in legends today.
© A Year And A Day (2012)