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It is not known, now, for what length of time the Tuatha de Danaan had the sway over Ireland, and it is likely it was a long time they had it, but they were put from it at last.

It was at Inver Slane, to the north of Leinster, the sons of Gaedhal of the Shining Armour, the Very Gentle, that were called afterwards the Sons of the Gael, made their first attempt to land in Ireland to avenge Ith, one of their race that had come there one time and had met with his death.

It is under the leadership of the sons of Miled they were, and it was from the south they came, and their Druids had told them there was no country for them to settle in till they would come to that island in the west. “And if you do not get possession of it yourselves,” they said, “your children will get possession of it.”

But when the Tuatha de Danaan saw the ships coming, they flocked to the shore, and by their enchantments they cast such a cloud over the whole island that the sons of Miled were confused, and all they could see was some large thing that had the appearance of a pig.

And when they were hindered from landing there by enchantments, they went sailing along the coast till at last they were able to make a landing at Inver Sceine in the west of Munster.

From that they marched in good order as far as Slieve Mis. And there they were met by a queen of the Tuatha de Danaan, and a train of beautiful women attending on her, and her Druids and wise men following her. Amergin, one of the sons of Miled, spoke to her then, and asked her name, and she said it was Banba, wife of Mac Cuill, Son of the Hazel.

They went on then till they came to Slieve Eibhline, and there another queen of the Tuatha de Danaan met them, and her women and her Druids after her, and they asked her name, and she said it was Fodhla, wife of Mac Cecht, Son of the Plough.

They went on then till they came to the hill of Uisnech, and there they saw another woman coming towards them. And there was wonder on them while they were looking at her, for in the one moment she would be a wide-eyed most beautiful queen, and in another she would be a sharp-beaked, grey-white crow. She came on to where Eremon, one of the sons of Miled, was, and sat down before him, and he asked her who was she, and she said: “I am Eriu, wife of Mac Greine, Son of the Sun.”

And the names of those three queens were often given to Ireland in the after time.

The Sons of the Gael went on after that to Teamhair, where the three sons of Cermait Honey-Mouth, son of the Dagda, that had the kingship between them at that time held their court. And these three were quarrelling with one another about the division of the treasures their father had left, and the quarrel was so hot it seemed likely it would come to a battle in the end.

And the Sons of the Gael wondered to see them quarrelling about such things, and they having so fruitful an island, where the air was so wholesome, and the sun not too strong, or the cold too bitter, and where there was such a plenty of honey and acorns, and of milk, and of fish, and of corn, and room enough for them all.

Great grandeur they were living in, and their Druids about them, at the palace of Teamhair. And Amergin went to them, and it is what he said, that they must give up the kingship there and then, or they must leave it to the chance of a battle. And he said he asked this in revenge for the death of Ith, of the race of the Gael, that had come to their court before that time, and that had been killed by treachery.

When the sons of Cermait Honey-Mouth heard Amergin saying such fierce words, there was wonder on them, and it is what they said, that they were not willing to fight at that time, for their army was not ready. “But let you make an offer to us,” they said, “for we see well you have good judgment and knowledge. But if you make an offer that is not fair,” they said, “we will destroy you with our enchantments.”

At that Amergin bade the men that were with him to go back to Inver Sceine, and to hurry again into their ships with the rest of the Sons of the Gael, and to go out the length of nine waves from the shore. And then he made his offer to the Tuatha de Danaan, that if they could hinder his men from landing on their island, he and all his ships would go back again to their own country, and would never make any attempt to come again; but that if the Sons of the Gael could land on the coast in spite of them, then the Tuatha de Danaan should give up the kingship and be under their sway.

The Tuatha de Danaan were well pleased with that offer, for they thought that by the powers of their enchantments over the winds and the sea, and by their arts, they would be well able to keep them from ever setting foot in the country again.

So the Sons of the Gael did as Amergin bade them and they went back into their ship and drew up their anchors, and moved out to the length of nine waves from the shore. And as soon as the Men of Dea saw they had left the land, they took to their enchantments and spells, and they raised a great wind that scattered the ships of the Gael, and drove them from one another. But Amergin knew it was not a natural storm was in it, and Arranan, son of Miled, knew that as well, and he went up in the mast of his ship to look about him. But a great blast of wind came against him, and he fell back into the ship and died on the moment. And there was great confusion on the Gael, for the ships were tossed to and fro, and had like to be lost. And the ship that Donn, son of Miled, was in command of was parted from the others by the dint of the storm, and was broken in pieces, and he himself and all with him were drowned, four-and-twenty men and women in all. And Ir, son of Miled, came to his death in the same way, and his body was cast on the shore, and it was buried in a small island that is now called Sceilg Michill. A brave man Ir was, leading the Sons of the Gael to the front of every battle, and their help and their shelter in battle, and his enemies were in dread of his name.

And Heremon, another of the sons of Miled, with his share of the ships, was driven to the left of the island, and it is hardly he got safe to land. And the place where he landed was called Inver Colpa, because Colpa of the Sword, another of the sons of Miled, was drowned there, and he trying to get to land. Five of the sons of Miled in all were destroyed by the storm and the winds the Men of Dea had raised by their enchantments, and there were but three of them left, Heber, and Heremon, and Amergin.

And one of them, Donn, before he was swept into the sea, called out: “It is treachery our knowledgeable men are doing on us, not to put down this wind.” “There is no treachery,” said Amergin, his brother. And he rose up then before them, and whatever enchantment he did on the winds and the sea, he said these words along with it:

“That they that are tossing in the great wide food-giving sea may reach now to the land.

“That they may find a place upon its plains, its mountains, and its valleys; in its forests that are full of nuts and of all fruits; on its rivers and its streams, on its lakes and its great waters.

“That we may have our gatherings and our races in this land; that there may be a king of our own in Teamhair; that it may be the possession of our many kings.

“That the sons of Miled may be seen in this land, that their ships and their boats may find a place there.

“This land that is now under darkness, it is for it we are asking; let our chief men, let their learned wives, ask that we may come to the noble woman, great Eriu.”

After he had said this, the wind went down and the sea was quiet again on the moment.

And those that were left of the sons of Miled and of the Sons of the Gael landed then at Inver Sceine.

And Amergin was the first to put his foot on land, and when he stood on the shore of Ireland, it is what he said:

“I am the wind on the sea;
I am the wave of the sea;
I am the bull of seven battles;
I am the eagle on the rock;
I am a flash from the sun;
I am the most beautiful of plants;
I am a strong wild boar;
I am a salmon in the water;
I am a lake in the plain;
I am the word of knowledge;
I am the head of the spear in battle;
I am the god that puts fire in the head;
Who spreads light in the gathering on the hills?
Who can tell the ages of the moon?
Who can tell the place where the sun rests?”

– – – – – – –

An excerpt from “Of Gods and Fighting Men” – The Story of the Tuatha De Danaan ad of the Fianna of Ireland”.

ISBN: 978-1-909302-45-7

URL: http://abelapublishing.com/of-gods-and-fighting-men–the-story-of-the-tuatha-de-

danaan-and-of-the-fianna-of-ireland_p26197165.htm

Of Gods and Fighting Men | Abela Publishing

Of Gods and Fighting Men | Abela Publishing

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IT was on the First of May that the Milesians came into Ireland. They came with their wives and their children and all their treasures. There were many of them. They came in ships, and it is said by some that they came from a land beyond the utmost blueness of the sky and that their ships left the track among the stars that can still be seen on winter nights.

When they were come to Ireland they drew up their ships. They put the fastening of a year and a day on them and set foot on the Sacred Land. Amergin was the first to set foot on the Land, and he made this rann in honour of it. He chanted the rann because he was the chief poet and druid among the Milesians.

 

THE RANN.

I am The Wind That Blows Over The Sea,
Ah-ro-he!
I am The Wave 0f The Sea,
Ah-ro-he!
I am The Sound The Sea Makes,
Ah-ro-he!
I am The Ox Of The Seven Combats,
Ah-ro-he!
I am The Vulture Upon The Rock,
Ah-ro-he!
I am The Ray Of The Sun,
Ah-ro-he!
I am The Fairest Of Plants,
Ah-ro-he!
I am The Wild Boar,
Ah-ro-he!
I am The Salmon in The Water,
Ah-ro-he!
I am The Lake In The Plain,
Ah-ro-he!
I am The Word 0f Knowledge,
Ah-ro-he!
I am The Spear-Point Of Battle,
Ah-ro-he!
I am The God Who Kindles Fire In The Head,
Ah-ro-he!
Who makes wise the company on the mountain?
Who makes known the ages of the moon?
Who knows the secret resting-place of the sun?
Ah-ro-he!

 

The Milesians gave a victory-shout at the end of the rann, and Amergin said:

“We will go forward now, and when we reach the place where it seems good to rest we will light a fire and put Three Names of Power on the Land so that it may belong to us forever.”

 

They went forward then and they saw no one till Brigit took the shape of a woman that has known hardship, and came to try them. She wrapped herself in the cloak of Sorrow and sat by the roadside. She made a great keening.

 

“O woman,” said Amergin, “why is there such heavy sorrow on you, and why do you make such a shrill keening?”

 

“I am keening lost possessions, and lost queen-ship, and a name cried down the wind of change and forgotten.”

 

“Whose name is cried down the wind?”

 

“The name of Banba that was queen of this land.”

 

“Her name shall not be whirled into forgetfulness. I will put it on this land: it shall be called Banba.”

 

“My blessing on you, Stag with Golden Horns, and may the name-giving bring you luck!”

 

So Amergin gave away the First Name. They went on from that place, and Brigit took the shape of a fierce beautiful queen that has lost a battle, and came again to try them.

 

“O Queen,” said Amergin, “may all the roads of the world be pleasant to you!”

 

“O King,” said Brigit, “all the roads of the world are hard when those who were wont to go in chariots walk barefoot on them.”

 

“O Queen,” said Amergin, “I would fain better your fortune.”

 

“Grant me then a queen’s asking.”

 

“Name your asking.”

 

“I am Eriu, wife of Mac Grian, Son of the Sun, and I would have my name fastened on this land forever.”

 

“I will put your name on this land: it shall be called Eriu.”

 

“My blessing on you, Sun-Crested Eagle, and may the name-giving bring you luck!”

 

So Amergin gave away the Second Name. They went on from that place, and Brigit took the form of an old wrinkled crone bent double with age, and came again to try them. She was gathering sticks, and the bundle was heavy.

 

“O woman,” said Amergin, “it is hard to see you lifting a bundle when age has bent you so low already. I would fain better your fortune.”

 

Brigit raised herself, and said:–

 

“Though I am an old crone now, bent and withered, yet I was once a great queen, and I will take nothing less than a queen’s asking from you.”

 

“What is your asking? ”

 

“Let my name be on this land: I am Fiola.”

 

“I will put your name on this land: it shall be called Fiola.”

 

“My blessing on you, Silver-Spotted Salmon of Knowledge, and may the name-giving bring you luck!”

 

So Amergin gave away the Third Name. It was after that they made a fire for themselves, and when the smoke of it rose against the sky, Ogma, Nuada, and the Dagda, came to try them.

 

“What people are you? ” asked Nuada, “and from what country have you come?”

 

“We are the sons of Milesius,” they answered; “he himself is the son of a god–even of Beltu, the Haughty Father. We are come from Moy More, the Great Plain that is beyond the horizon of the world.”

 

“How got you knowledge of Ireland?” asked Ogma.

 

“O Champion,” answered Amergin, “from the centre of the Great Plain there rises a tower of crystal. Its top pierces the heavens, and from the ramparts of it the wisest one among us got sight of this land. When he saw it his heart was filled with longing, and when he told us of it our hearts too were filled with longing. Therefore we set out to seek that land, and behold we have come to it. We have come to Inisfail, the Island of Destiny.”

 

“And ye have come to it,” said the Dagda, “like thieves in the night; without proclamation; without weapon-challenge. Ye have lighted a fire here, as if this were a no-man’s land. Judge ye if this be hero conduct.”

 

“Your words have the bitterness of truth in them,” said Amergin. “Say now what you would have us do.”

 

“You are a druid and a leader among your people,” said Nuada. “Give judgment, therefore, between yourselves and us.”

 

“I will give judgment,” said Amergin “I judge it right that we should return to our ships and go out the distance of nine waves from the land. Use all your power against us, and we will use all our power against you. We will take the Island of Destiny by the strength of our hands, or die fighting for it!”

 

“It is a good judgment,” said Ogma, “Get back to your ships! We will gather our battle-chiefs for the fight.”

 

Ogma, Nuada, and the Dagda, went away then from the Milesians.

 

The Milesians began to put out the fire they. had kindled, and as they were quenching the embers, Brigit threw her mantle of power about her and came to the Milesians in her own shape. When Amergin saw her he knew that she was the Mighty Mother, and he cried out:

 

“O Ashless Flame, put a blessing on us now, that our luck may not be extinguished with these embers.”

 

“O Druid,” said Brigit, “if you had wisdom you would know that before the First Fire is extinguished the name-blessing should be pronounced over it.”

 

“O Mother of All Wisdom, I know it, but the name-blessing is gone from me. I met three queens as I came hither, and each one asked the name-gift of me. They were queens discrowned: I could not put refusal on them.”

 

Brigit began to laugh then, and she cried:

 

“O Amergin, you are not counted a fool, yet it seems to me that if you had much wit you would know the eyes of Brigit under any cloak in the world. It was I, myself, who asked the name-gift from you three times, and got it Do not ask a fourth blessing from me now, for I have blessed you three times already.”

 

She stooped and lifted a half-quenched ember from the fire. She blew on it till it became a golden flame–till it became a star. She tossed it from one hand to the other as a child tosses a ball. She went away laughing.

 

The Milesians went back to their ships. They put the distance of nine waves between themselves and the land. The Tuatha De Danaan loosed the Fomor on them, and a mighty tempest broke about their ships. Great waves leaped over them and huge abysses of water engulped them. The utmost power of the Milesians could not bring the ships a hair’s breadth nearer to the shore. A terrible wind beat on them. Ireland disappeared. Then Amergin cried out:

 

“O Land, that has drawn us hither, help us! Show us the noble fellowship of thy trees: we will be comrades to them. Show us the shining companies of thy rivers: we will put a blessing on every fish that swims in them. Show us thy hero-hearted mountains: we will light fires of rejoicing for them. O Land, help us! help us! help us!”

 

Ireland heard him, and sent help. The darkness cleared away and the wind was stilled.

 

Then Amergin said:

 

“O Sea, help us! O mighty fruitful Sea! I call on every wave that ever touched the land. O Sea, help us!”

 

The sea heard him, and the three waves that go round Ireland–the wave of Thoth, the wave of Rury and the long slow white foaming wave of Cleena. The three waves came and lifted the ships to the shore. The Milesians landed. The Tuatha De Danaan came down to make trial of their battle-strength. Hard was the contest between them. The Milesians held their own against the gods. When they saw that the Milesians could hold their own, the Tuatha De Danaan drew themselves out of the fight. They laughed and cried to the Milesians:

 

“Good heroes are ye, and worthy to win the earth: we put our blessing on you.”

 

Nuada shook the bell-branch, and the glory that the Tuatha De Danaan had in Tir-na-Moe before they ever set themselves to the shaping of the earth–that glory–came back to them. They had such splendour that the Milesians veiled their eyes before them.

 

“Do not veil your eyes!” said Nuada, “we will draw the Cloak of invisibility, the Faed Feea, about us. We give you Ireland: but, since our hands have fashioned it, we will not utterly leave the country. We will be in the white mist that clings to the mountains; we will be the quiet that broods on the lakes; we will be the joy-shout of the rivers; we will be the secret wisdom of the woods. Long after your descendants have forgotten us, they will hear our music on sunny raths and see our great white horses lift their heads from the mountain-tarns and shake the night-dew from their crested manes: in the end they will know that all the beauty in the world comes back to us, and their battles are only echoes of ours. Lift up your faces, Children of Milesius, Children of Beltu the Haughty Father, and greet the land that belongs to you!”

 

The Milesians lifted up their heads. No glory blinded them, for the Tuatha De Danaan had drawn the Faed Feea about themselves. They saw the sunlight on the grass like emerald fire; they saw the blueness of the sky and the solemn darkness of the pine trees; they heard the myriad sound of shaken branches and running water, and behind it echoed the laughter of Brigit.

 

———————–

From Celtic Wonder Tales collated by Ella Young

ISBN: 978-1-907256-36-3

URL: http://www.abelapublishing.com/cg_cwt.html

 

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