Annála Gael – Chapter 3 (part 2)
The Book of Invasions
It was two hundred and seventeen years from the arrival of Neimheadh in Ireland until the arrival of the Fir Bolgs, as this verse states:
Seventeen years and two hundred
During their reckoning,(there is) no exaggeration
Since Neimheadh came from the east,
Over sea with his great sons,
Till the children of Starn came
From Greece, terrifying, very rugged.
The Fir Bolgs, or Firvolians, were also called "Belgae" or "Belgians". The phrase "fir bolg" meant "bag men". They are thought to have been descended from the Nemedian survivors who fled to Thrace, where they became enslaved. The name "bag men" was given to them because they were forced to carry bags of earth during their enslavement.
The descendants of Simeon Breac, son of Starn, son of Neimheadh, had settled in Thrace after leaving Ireland, where they prospered and grew numerous They were subsequently enslaved by the Greeks, and put to hard labor, digging the ground, raising earth, and carrying it in bags or in sacks of leather, putting it on stony crags, to create fruitful soil. Great sadness seized them, and enmity to the Greeks because of their slavery and hard labor; and they resolved to escape their plight. Five thousand of them assembled and fabricated boats from the bags or wallets of leather that they had been forced to use to carry soil; or perhaps they stole a fleet from the king of the Greeks, as the Cin of Druim Sneachta says. In either case, the descendants of Simeon Breac sailed back to Ireland (in a fleet consisting of 1130 ships, barks and skiffs) two hundred and seventeen years after Neimheadh had occupied Ireland:
Thirty ships on one hundred,
And a thousand…it is not a lie
It is the number who came from the east,
The good Sláinghe with his hosts:
Many were the Firbolg, without a lie,
At their coming out from Greece;
Good the tribes who were not diffident (in setting out),
Nor was the fleet wooden.
Wednesday they went westward,
Over the great broad Torrian Sea;
The period of three days on a fair year (went by)
Until they reached to Spain:
From that by them to noble Ireland
A convenient sailing from Spain
Better then not to conceal it from all,
The space of three days and ten.
The Firbolgian "invasion" of Ireland was in three waves; the "Fir Bolg", the "Fir Domnan" and the "Fir Gallion", although all are now given the general name "Fir Bolg". Some historians say that it is from these three tribes, which are still in Ireland but not of the Gael, namely the Gabhraidhe of Suca in Connacht, the Uí Tairsidh in Crích Ua bhFailghe, and the Gaileoin of Leinster. Those are the disposition of the Fir Bolg, according to the antiquary, the learned Tanuidhe Ua Maoilchonaire.
They instituted the custom of the monarchy in Ireland. It is not recounted that any raths or ring forts were built, nor plains to have been cleared of woods, during the dominion of the Fir Bolg. The Fir Bolg colony controlled Ireland for 36 years, under nine of their kings, until they were conquered by the Tuatha De Danaans.
Tuatha De Danaans:
The Tuatha De Danaans, which means "the people of the god Dan, whom they adored", under the direction of their leader Nuada, came to Ireland from a "northern" country having four principal cities named Falias, Gorias, Finias and Murias. They were a Celtic people, who were later remembered as the gods and goddesses of the myths of pre-Christian Ireland. They defeated the Firbolgs, and then overcame the Fomorii, to become the rulers of Ireland. The Tuatha De Danaans possessed Ireland for 197 years, during the reigns of nine of their kings, until they were conquered by the Milesian Gaels.
The Tuatha Dé Danann were the descendants of Iobath, son of Beothach, of one of the chiefs of the race of Neimheadh, who had left Ireland after the destruction of the Tower of Conaing, and had settled in Boetia in the north of Europe. Some say that it was in the Athenian territories where they settled in Achaia, and there they learned the magic arts and they became skilled in sorcery.
During their time in Achaia, a great fleet came from Syria to make war on the people of the Athenian territories, and there was daily warfare between them. It is said that during those battles, the Athenians who were slain would arise the following day to fight again with the people of Syria, and that necromancy used to be done to the slain Athenians by the black magic of the Tuatha Dé Danann. When the people of Syria became aware of this, they took counsel with their own druid. Their druid told them to set a watch on the battlefield, and to thrust a stake of quicken-tree through the chest of every dead Athenian who would might up again against them; and if it were demons who would cause their bodies to revive, then they would be turned into worms; while, if it were really their revival that had been brought about, the bodies would not suffer change or corruption. The people of Syria battled the Athenians, and defeated them; and they thrust the stakes of ash through the dead, as the druid had told them, and the corpses turned to worms; and the people of Syria fell on the surviving Athenians and slaughtered them.
The Tuatha Dé Danann, when they saw the people of Syria prevailing over the Athenians, did, in one band, depart from that territory in fear, and they did not rest until they came to the country of Lochlonn in present day Norway, where they were welcomed by the people of that country for their science and of their varied magic arts. It was Nuadha Airgeadlámh, son of Euchtach, son of Edarlámh, of the posterity of Neimheadh who was chief over them at that time. They established four cities named Fáilias, Gorias, Finias, and Murias. The Tuatha Dé Danann placed four sages in those cities to teach the sciences and the magic arts to the youth of the country: Semias in Murias, Arias in Finias, Eurus in Gorias and Morias in Fáilias. After staying in these cities for some time, they proceeded to the north of Scotland, where they stayed for seven years until they moved on to the island of Ireland. They brought with them four noble jewels: a stone of virtue from Fáilias called Lia Fáil.
The Lia Fáil would later be used to inaugurate the kings of Ireland. It would later roar under each king of Ireland upon his being inaugurated up to the time of Conchubhar; and that stone would also be called in Latin Saxum fatale, and from that Inis Fáil, as a certain antiquary recited in this verse:
The stone which is under my two heels,
From it Inis Fáil is named;
Between two shores of a mighty flood,
The plain of Fál (is for name) on all Ireland.
Another name for the Lia Fáil is the Stone of Destiny; for it was the destiny of this stone, that in whatever place it would be in, a man of the Gaelic Scotic race would be sovereign of that country. According to Hector Boetius, in his The History of Scotland:
The Scotic nation, noble the race,
Unless the prophecy be false,
Ought to obtain dominion,
Where they shall find the Lia Fáil.
Much later, when the Feargus the Great had obtained the power of Scotland, and after he had proposed to style himself King of Scotland, he sent to his brother Muircheartach, who was King of Ireland at that time, to send him a piece of this stone to sit upon, for the purpose of being inaugurated King of Scotland. Muircheartach sent a piece of the stone to him, and he was inaugurated as the first king of Scotland of the Gaelic race. Although some of the Cruithnigh, or Picts, had been styled Kings of Scotland, before Feargus, there was not one of them full king without being under tax and tribute to the Kings of Ireland, especially from the time of Eireamhón forward to the reign of this Feargus. Concerning this piece of the stone, they had it in Scotland, until it was taken out of the Abbey of Scone by King Edward I of England, and so the prophetic magic of that stone has been assumed by every subsequent monarch of England to this day.
A second “jewel”, that the Tuatha Dé Danann brought with them from the city of Gorias into Scotland and then to Ireland, was the sword that Lúgh Lámhfada had used. A third “jewel”, the spear that the same Lúgh used for battle, was brought from the city Finias. A fourth “jewel”, the caldron of the Daghdha, from which an entire company could drink and would not go away from it unsatisfied, was brought from the city of Murias.
Here is a poem from the Book of Invasions regarding these same “jewels”:
Tuatha Dé Danann of the precious jewels,
The place in which they acquired learning
They attained their complete culture,
Their art magic (and) their diablerie.
Iarbhoineol fair—an excellent seer—
Son of Neimheadh, son of Aghnomon,
To whom the doughty fool-hardy Beothach was son
Who was a hero full-active, given to slaughter.
The children of Beothach—vivid their fame—
They arrived a powerful host of heroes,
After much travail and wandering,
The entire of their fleet to Lochlonn.
Four cities, justly famous,
They occupied in sway with great power,
Where they used to wage war ingeniously
For learning (and) for exact knowledge.
Fáilias and Gorias bright,
Finias (and) Murias of great deeds,
To blazon their sallies abroad
(And) the names of the great cities.
Morias and Euras high-placed,
Arias (and) Semias austere;
Their naming is profitable discourse,
Of the names of the sages of the noble gain.
Morias the sage of Fáilias itself,
Euras in Gorias, of good disposition,
Semias in Murias, southern stronghold
Arias fair, sage of Finias.
Four gifts with them (brought) from afar,
By the nobles of the Tuatha Dé Danann:
A sword, a stone, a shapely cadron,
A spear for facing tall champions.
Lia Fáil from Fálias hither,
Which used to roar under the king of Ireland;
The sword of the hand of Lúgh the active,
From Gorias-choicest of great store.
From Finias far over the sea,
Was brought the spear of Lúgh who was not weak;
From Murias—great prodigious gift—
The caldron of the Daghdha of Iofty deeds.
King of heaven, king of feeble men,
Protect me, king of the great stars,
Prince, who hast endurance of hateful things,
And the strength of the gentle tribes.
After having spent seven years in the north of Scotland, the Tuatha Dé Danann crossed the narrow Irish channel and landed on a Monday (Bealtaine) in the north of Ireland, where they burned their ships:
Each warrior of them burned his ship,
When he reached noble Eire:
It was a grave decision in his state
The vapor of the ships being burned.
Then, they cloaked themselves in a druidic mist, so that they would not be visible to the Fir Bolg inhabitants, and travelled for three days to Sliabh-an-iarainn. From there, they sent an embassy to Eochaidh and the chiefs of the Fir Bolg to demand the surrender of the kingdom of Ireland, or a battle to decide its fate. The Fir Bolg offered battle to the Tuatha Dé Danann at Magh Tuireadh South, and the Fir Bolg suffered a terrifying slaughter there, where 100,000 of them were slain. It was thirty years from the battle of Magh Tuireadh South to the battle of Magh Tuireadh North, as the verse says:
Thirty years, it is known,
From the battle of Magh Tuireadh South,
To the battle of Magh Taireadh North,
In which fell Balor of the great host.
Some ancient historians say that it was from the three sons of Danann, the daughter of Dealbhaoth, that the Tuatha Dé Danann were named. Brian, Iuchar and Iucharbha, (the sons of Danann), were so accomplished at the druidic magic arts that those tribes with whom they lived regarded them as gods, and wished to honor themselves by naming their people after them, as described in the ancient poem which begins “Hear ye learned without blemish…”:
Brian, Iucharbha and Iuchar there,
Three gods of the Tuatha Dé Danann;
They were slain at Mana over the great sea
By the hand of Lugh, son of Eithneann.
It is after their mother Danann, Dá Chích Danann, is named the two hills in Luachair Deaghaidh in Desmond. Others say that they are called Tuatha Dé Danann, because it was in three orders that they had come into Ireland on this expedition. The first order of them, which was called Tuath, used to be in the rank of nobility and kingship of the tribe called tuathach, inasmuch as Dá Bhantuathaigh is given (as an epithet) for Beuchuill and for Danann, whom they had for female rulers, so this verse gives us to understand:
Beuchuill and Danann beloved
The two female chiefs were slain;
The extinction of their magic at last
By pale demons of air.
The second order, which used to be called “Dé”, such as their druids called the three sons, the three gods of Danann. They were called “gods” from because of their deeds of magic.
The third order, which was called “Danann”, the order which was given to dán, or to crafts.
More of the champions of the Tuatha Dé Danann:
Eochaidh Ollathar the Daghdha, Oghma, Allód, Breas and Dealbhaoth, the five sons of Ealatha, son of Néd, son of Iondaoi, son of Allaoi, son of Tat, son of Tabharn, son of Enna, son of Báthadh, son of Iobath, son of Beothach, son of Iarbhoineol Fáidh, son of Neimheadh, son of Aghnoman.
Manannán son of Allód, son of Ealatha, son of Dealbhaoth.
The six sons of Dealbhaoth, son of Oghma: Fiachaidh, Ollamh, Iondaoi, Brian, Iuchar and Iucharbha.
Aonghus, Aodh, Cearmadh and Mídhir, the four sons of the Dághdha.
Lúgh, son of Cian, son of Dianchéacht, son of Easarg, son of Néd, son of Iondaoi.
Goibhneann the smith and Creidhne the artist: Dianchéacht the physician and Luchtain the mechanic; and Cairbre the poet, son of Tara, son of Tuirreall.
Beigreó, son of Cairbre Caitcheann, son of Tabharn.
Fiachaidh, son of Dealbhaoth, and Ollamh, son of Dealbhaoth.
Caichér and Neachtain, two sons of Námha, son of Eochaidh Garbh, son of Duach Dall.
Siodhmall, son of Cairbre Crom, son of Ealcmhar, son of Dealbhaoth.
Eire and Fódhla and Banbha, three daughters of Fiachaidh, son of Dealbhaoth, son of Oghma. Eirnin, daughter of Eadarlámh, mother of those women.
Badhbh, Macha, and Móirríoghan, their three goddesses.
Danann and Beuchuill, the two female chiefs, and Brighid the poetess. Pertaining to these noble females were the two royal institutes, Fé and Meann. From them is named Magh Feimhin. Among them also was Triath-rí-thorc, from whom was called Treitheirne Mumhan, Cridhinbhéal, Bruinne, and Casmhaol, the three satirists.
It is they who won the battle of Magh Tuireadh North against the Fomórians, and the battle of Magh Tuireadh South against the Fir Bolg. It was in the first battle that the hand was cut off Nuadha, and his head in the second battle.
Nuadha Airgeadlámh, son of Euchtach, son of Eadarlámh, son of Orda, son of Allaoi, son of Tat, son of Tabharn, son of Enna, son of Iobáth, son of Beothach, son of Iarbhoineol Fáidh, son of Neimheadh, took the kingdom of Ireland thirty years, till he fell in the battle of Magh Tuireadh North.
Breas, son of Ealatha, son of Néd, son of Iondaoi, son of Allaoi, son of Tat, held the kingship seven years.
Lúgh Lámhfada, son of Cian, son of Dianchéacht, son of Easar Breac, son of Néd, son of Iondaoi, son of Allaoi, held the kingdom of Ireland forty years. It was this Lúgh who established the Fair of Taillte, at first as a yearly commemoration of Taillte, the daughter of Madhmór, King of Spain, who was wife to Eochaidh, son of Earc, the last king of the Fir Bolg, and who was wife after that to Eochaidh Garbh, son of Duach Dall, a chief of the Tuatha Dé Danann. It was by this woman that Lúgh Lámhfada was fostered and trained until he was fit to bear arms. It was as a commemoration for her that Lúgh instituted the games of the Fair of Taillte, a fortnight before Lúghnasadh, and a fortnight after it, resembling the Greek games called “Olympiades”. And it is from that memorial that Lúgh used Lúghnasadh as the name for the first day of August, the násadh or commemoration of Lúgh, on which is now held the feast of St. Peter.
The Daghdha Mór, son of Ealatha, son of Dealbhaoth, son of Néd, held the kingdom of Ireland seventy years. He died at Brugh from a spear which Ceithleann flung at him in the battle of Magh Tuireadh. Eochaidh Ollathar was the proper name of the Daghdha Mór.
Dealbhaoth, son of Oghma Griain-éigis, son of Ealatha, son of Dealbhaoth, son of Néd, held the kingship for ten years until he was slain by Fiachaidh, son of Dealbhaoth.
Fiachaidh, son of Dealbhaoth, son of Ealatha, held the kingship for ten years, until he was slain by Eoghan at Ard Breac.
The three sons of Cearmad Milbheol (son of the Daghdha Mór), that is to say, Mac Coll, Mac Céacht and Mac Gréine assumed the dominion of Ireland for thirty years; and some say that it was a tripartite division that they made of Ireland, as is said in this verse:
Though Eire had many thousands,
They divide the land in three;
Great nobles of glorious deeds,
Mac Coll, Mac Céacht, Mac Gréine.
However, it was not a tripartite division of the land, but a triumvirate of the sovereignty; that is each one of them had the kingship every succeeding year, by turns. These names were given to those three kings, because Coll, Céacht, and Grian were gods to them. Coll, indeed, was god to Mac Cuill, but Eathúr was his proper name and Banbha his wife. Mac Céacht too, Céacht his god, but Teathúr his proper name and Fódhla his wife. Mac Gréine too, Grian his god, Ceathúr his proper name and Eire his wife.
Oirbsean was the proper name of Manannán. It is after him that Loch Oirbsean was named; for when his grave was being dug, the loch burst forth over the land:
Eathúr tall, who obtained dignity, fierce the man,
Coll his god, grandson of the Daghdha not gloomy, Banbha his wife;
Teathúr stout, strong his contest, sharp his stroke,
Fódhla his wife, great deeds he accomplished, in Céacht he trusted;
Ceathúr comely, fair his complexion, noble was he,
Éire his wife, generous woman she, Grian his divinity.
Manannán, son of Lear, from the loch, he sought the sraith,
Oirbsean his name, after a hundred conflicts he died the death.
According to the Saltair of Caiseal, the Tuatha Dé Danann were in sovereignty over Ireland for 197 years:
Seven year, ninety, and one hundred
That reckoning is not false
For the Tuatha Dé Danann with might,
Over Ireland in high sovereignty.
The Milesian Gaels:
The Milesian Gaels, the descendants of Milesius or “Mil”, King of Galicia in northwestern Spain and of his uncle Ithe, who are also called the "Milesians", the "Gaels", the "Scotic Irish" and the "Scots", invaded and conquered Ireland in 1699 BC according to The Annals of the Four Masters. Other sources date their invasion to around 1200 BC. The Milesian Gaels possessed and would rule Ireland for the next 2874 years, under 183 of their monarchs, until the invasion of Ireland by the Anglo-Normans in 1171 AD and their submission to Angevin rule by the Treaty of Windsor in 1175 AD
Cruithneans or Picts:
The Tuatha Cruithne or Cruithneans, descendants of King Cruithne of Alba (Scotland), were also called "Picts", from the Latin name "Pictii", meaning "painted people". The Picts are considered to be both a Gaelic and a Celtic people, who could have also been descendants of the Nemedians. The Picts conducted raids against Ireland and settled in coastal areas in the north of Ireland as late as the 9th century AD, until being routed by the Milesian Gaels.
The Dal Riada tribe of the Milesian Gaels, also known as "Scots", who inhabited the northern part of Ireland now known as County Antrim, resettled in Alba, inter-married with the Picts rulers, and eventually became the royal dynasty (MacAlpine and Stuart) of the country which now bears their name, Scotland.
Danes and other Scandinavians (Vikings):
Beginning in 795 AD and continuing for 200 years, Vikings repeatedly invaded and sacked coastal areas of Ireland. They established several permanent settlements, including Dublin, Waterford and Limerick, which were the first real towns of Ireland.
The Anglo-Norman King Henry II invaded Ireland in 1171 AD with the official blessing and encouragement of Pope Adrian IV, effectively bringing an end the monarchy of the Irish Gaels and bringing the historicly independent Irish churches and monasteries under the direct control of the Roman Catholic Church. Even though there would be no Gaelic High Kings of Ireland after 1175 AD, the many Gaelic provincial "kings", "earls" and "chieftains" would effectively control most of the island for the next 432 years.
Many of the Anglo-Norman noble families, with names such as FitzGerald, FitzMaurice and DeBurgh, who settled in Ireland during the 12th century, "went native", adopting Irish customs and loyalties, and today are considered to be as "Irish" as the Gaels.
English armies routinely "invaded" Ireland during the 13th through 17th centuries to crush Gaelic (and even Norman-Irish) rebellion, and to enforce the rule of the English Crown over the island. Most of the arable land of Ireland was claimed by the English Crown and was distributed to English nobles and settlers.
Scots from Scotland and England:
After the defeat of Hugh O’Neill, the Earl of Tyrone, and his united Irish army at Kinsale in 1601 (and the "Flight of the Earls" in 1607, when most of the remaining Gaelic lords of Ulster fled Ireland and forfeited their lands and titles), English King James I instituted the "Plantation of Ulster", whereby the "uncontrollable" Gaelic Irish were systematically dispossessed of their lands and relocated to the South or forced to emigrate abroad. During the "Plantation Era", most of the Gaels in northern counties were driven off of their lands and were forcibly resettled to southern counties or encouraged to emigrate. The Gaels were replaced by "loyal", predominantly Protestant, Scots imported to Ireland from Scotland and northern England. These Scots later became known as the "Scotch Irish". The "Troubles" in Northern Ireland that continue to this day owe their origins to the "Plantations Era".