I guess I fibbed last week – there is one more short story to tell before The Second Battle of Moytura! I actually forgot about this bit until just yesterday, but I think the Sons of Mil are important enough to talk about, right? Decide for yourself, after you’ve read.
The fourth great invasion of Ireland was made by early Spaniards. While the invasion of the Tuatha De Danann is probably the most important piece for Celtic myths (and the information I am spilling in your brains) the story of the Sons of Mil is the most important for Celtic history, because this was the coming of the Gaels to Ireland, and they’ve been there ever since. Possessing magical qualities themselves, through their druids, this battle against the gods represents man’s plight against the supernatural. Some characters, like Donn, appear throughout the world. For example, there is Donnotaurus (Lordly Bull) in Gaul (Western Europe a long time ago (in a galaxy far, far away…)).
In other tales Donn features as the god of death, and all who die are invited to his house. Into the story a bit more: Emer, Donn, and Eremon were the sons of Mil from Spain. Their uncle, a man who had awesome powers of learning saw Ireland in a vision and tried traveling there, only to be killed by the Children of Danu. When this news reached the 3 sons of Mil they quickly made a decision. They knew Ireland as a land of good grain and grazing, with fine honey, plenty of fish in its rivers, lakes and seas, and other olden-days desirables; hell-bent on invasion, they gathered their families and whatnot and set sail.
Donn as the oldest son was the leader of a whole fleet of 65 boats and 40 chieftains; their spiritual leader was a guy named Amergin, a poet skilled in magic. As the fleet approached Ireland, preparing to land, the Tuatha De used their druidic magic to make the whole country up and disappear. The sailors were speechless, needless to say, seeing only open water where moments before there’d been rocky shores and thick, forested hills – but Amergin realised right away that there were supernatural forces at work. He advised Donn to sail 3 times around where the island should be and when he did it, the spell broke, the coast reappearing as astonishingly as they had vanished, and the sons of Mil landed at Inber Scen on the South-West of Ireland on the Eve of Beltain. (Dramatic much?)
As they marched their way inland, they in turn met the 3 goddesses of Ireland: Banba, Fodla and Eriu. These 3 ladies were the ancient territory deities and it was very important for this newest set of invaders to cooperate with them. The first 2 listed goddesses would say little but Eriu was bombastic (for lack of a better word) in her praises and let them know their arrival was long prophesied. “You’re welcome to this place, for this is the best island in this world and yours is the most perfect race – you’re destined to rule here forever!”
“If that’s true,” says Donn, “It’ll be due not to help from you but to the power of our gods and our men.” (Sh*t has now hit the fan.) Angry at this cocky answer, Eriu then foretold that Donn and his descendants would never rule Ireland and that his whole line would be cursed forever! Leaving Eriu (I’d say that’s a smart idea, I mean, Donn being all rude and stuff didn’t exactly help them on their journey,) the Sons of Mil went to Tara, the seat of kings and the head sanctuary of Ireland. There they found the husbands of the 3 goddesses, the 3 kings of the Tuatha De Danann: Mac Cuill (Son of Hazel) Mac Cecht (Son of Plough) and Mac Greine (Son of Sun).
(Sidenote: Do not ask me how to pronounce any of those names. I may know the stories, but some Irish pronunciations are a mystery to me.)
These three sneered at the Sons of Mil for trying to ambush freaking Ireland, for they considered this act dishonourable. They gave the foreigners the ultimatum of either leaving the country, submitting to the Children of Danu, or battling it out. Donn was itching for a fight, but Amergin stepped in on this matter. “Let them keep the land until we come back a 2nd time to take it openly,” he said.
“Where’ll we go, then?” asked Donn.
“Out beyond the 9th wave,” replied Amergin, making sure to speak in magical druid terms.
“If you’ll take my advice,” Donn persisted, “it’ll be war.” But the Sons of Mil obeyed Amergin and set sail again until they were 9 waves away from land.
“Now,” say the Tuatha De, “We must make sure that they never get back to Ireland.” Using their powers, they called up winds and a storm. The huge waves were so violent that even the sand from the sea bed was churned all the way to the top of the waves, and there was confusion and fright among the sailors as their ships were driven hopelessly westwise out in the sea.
“This is no natural storm, but a druid’s wind!” cried Donn over the sound of the sea.
“We can’t be certain until we know how high in the sky it blows,” replied Amergin. If it blows no higher than our masts, it’s druid’s work.” 1 of the men climbed upon the swaying mast and reached his hand into the air up above; it was calm but as he leaned down to yell to the men below a sudden blow of wind tore him off the mast and he then fell to his death on the deck beneath. Then Amergin stood up and chanted a magic poem to mollify Eriu the goddess who Donn had offended and immediately a great calm took place instead of the storm. Donn, however, was still filled with pride.
“If only I could get ashore, I would put all the warriors of Ireland to the spear,” he declared and this arrogance to Amergin ended up sealing his fate. Once more the storm howled around them and the waves were at least as wild as before. In all the noise and confusion of the raging sea, Donn’s boat parted from the others and, as Donn defied the elements with his sword, wrecked off the South-West coast. Donn and his men drowned. The rest of the fleet was divided under the commands of Emer and Eremon, the 2 other bros, and landed once again on the shore.
As Amergin, astoundingly saved from the waves, setting his right foot on the ground, he uttered another of his powerful poems, claiming the land and all that it contained for himself plus the Sons of Mil. The invaders had now outwitted the magic of the Tuatha De Danann, but there were many battles to be fought before they could claim the final victory. Even when the Children of Danu had been defeated in battle, they still retained all their magical powers and skills and they made life so annoyingly difficult for the newest newcomers that eventually a truce was drawn up between the 2 forces. It was then agreed to divide the land between them, the underground territory distributed to the Tuatha De and the country above to the Sons of Mil. As a result, the Tuatha De Danann lived underground.
The Dagda (sorry, didn’t mention him before) gave a sidh (fairy mound) to each of the chieftains and forever afterwards these little mounds were the dwellings of the fairy-folk of Ireland. And that was the agreement of the Tuatha De Danann and the Gaels.
I couldn’t post anything yesterday ’cause my computer kept CRASHING AAAAAHH but I have this for you today!
So I’ll jump right in.
The 3rd group that invaded Ireland was probs the most mysterious of all. According to Celtic tradition, the Tuatha De Danann, (The Children of Danu,) are the Irish gods, although earlier invaders clearly had divine characteristics. It’s the Tuatha De who’re remembered today as the gods and their deeds are commemorated – there’s little doubt that they’re the old gods of the Celtics and that their stories reflect the beliefs of the ancient Irish and of a part of pre-historic Europe. The Children of Danu were direct descendants of Nemed who’d left Ireland with his family and settled in the North islands of Greece. There, his people had grown, and it was there that they learned the arts of druidism, in which they became very skilled.
They fought on the Athenian side against the Philistines, using their druidic arts to gain victory for Athens. Eventually the Philistines became so dangerous that the Tuatha De Danann had to flee Greece and find another land. Like their ancestors, they sailed west, taking with them their treasured possessions. There were 4 sacred objects among these which appear throughout Celtic myths; the Lia Fail, the Invincible Spear of Lugh, and the Ever-plentiful Cauldron of the Dagda, the father-god of Ireland. First they took refuge in Scotland but the country was bleak so soon the Tuatha De decided to attack Ireland, which they believed belonged to them.
This army of gods landed on the Irish shores in secret on the festival of Beltain (May 1st) the most sacred of all Celtic feasts. When everyone had arrived they burned all the boats so they couldn’t run away if the Fir Bolg, who are ruling Ireland, should prove formidable. Then they conjured up magical darkness all around them to help everyone move about unperceived and, at Connacht, they surprised the Fir Bolg. Fierce battles were fought before the Fir Bolg admitted defeat. Those that weren’t killed fled to islands around the coast and there they lived.
The troubles of the Children of Danu weren’t over, though, for the Fomorians ranged their forces against them and until after the battle known as the Second Battle of Moytura that they were overcome. (I’ll introduce that part next time.) The story of that encounter of good and bad is told later.
I have been SLAMMED DOWN TO THE BOTTOMLESS PITS OF HECK by school. I would have posted this yesterday ’cause I like the Thursday thing that I have going, but with three almost-not-F’s, well, you know. I’ve gotta graduate.
This one I’ve got for you tonight is a pretty short story, but it builds on last week’s Part 1 pretty well.
A second invasion of Western Europe was by a people called the Fir Bolg. They were descended from the Children of Nemed (refer to last week if you don’t know who Nemed is,) who had returned to settle in Greece, and in time grew into a powerful tribe again. As they grew stronger, the Scythian Greeks became afraid of them and made them slaves to keep them under their control. The Fir Bolg were forced to turn tough, stony places into plains covered in clover bringing soil from far away so plants could grow. It was grueling work which broke their spirits and exhausted them.
Finally, they held a council. They sewed coracles (weird round boats) out of skins, making them seaworthy with the sacks they used for soil. Then they set out for Ireland, their homeland. When they arrived in Ireland, they divided the country into 5 provinces. The Fir Bolg were the 1st invaders to establish a social order in the land.
They also introduced kingship, the custom of obeying the rule of a King who they would consider as half-divine, instead of the past warlords, and they prospered in Ireland.
I can never say I put my heart into my blog, but really… my mind does turn to it quite a bit, though.
A lot of the time I think about this place with 16 people who (sometimes) look at my posts.
No matter if I’m eating at Tucano’s tonight or eating a bag of chips, this is still a place with people I try to communicate with without specifically talking to them, put things out there to help myself and probably eventually others.
Sometimes all us humans want to do is have an impact on people.
There’s probably more to say, but I’m distracted by Key & Peele.
This is the first part of a Celtic book, The Book of Invasions. It was compiled by Irish scholars in the 1100’s. It’s a work of great importance where both real history and awesome myths are embedded. The entire text begins with the arrival of Partholon, along with his people after The Flood, though there isn’t a lot of background on that bit. It begins with the conquest of Nemed, a Scythian Greek.
The Scythians were nomads, who lived 500 miles north of Greece, near the borders of the Caspian Sea. They were close (culturally) with the Celts, especially in their art, with the custom of tatooing in their random domestic arrangements. Their contact with the Graeco-Celts must have been very similar, because the Book uses the term “Scythian” and “Greek” interchangeably. Taken as a historical document, The Book of Invasions is pretty much worthless, but as a source for mythology, it is a treasure trove. The stories of the four original invasions were most likely passed down by word of mouth for many generations, before they were written down – although they may record memory of actual events, the characters and such have become so transformed that men, gods, and monsters mingle.
The men who finally wrote them down thought that they were writing truth; they were actually producing more than just that, a record of the earliest myths of the Irish Celts and an insight into the beliefs of the old Celtic people. All action in the book leads up to the final invasion by the Gaels that are destined through divine intervention to have Ireland in their possession forever after. The first invasion of Ireland is known as The Conquest of Nemed. It takes place in a time before Ireland had settled in a permanent form when it was a wild, dangerous place, ravaged by illness and inhabited only by a tribe of monsters, the Fomorians. The Fomorians, who always appear as sinister people figure largely in this book.
Their name includes both the Celtic words for “under” and “sea” so often it is translated as “those who lived under the sea”. It was said that Nemed came from Greece a long time ago, making the deadly journey westward to find a new home for his subjects. A plague had left Ireland empty for about 30 years before Nemed and his followers arrived. They set sail in a fleet of 34 boats with 30 or so people in each boat. (Sensing the favouring of the 30’s yet?)
The sea was calm and all went well until they saw a gold tower jutting out of the water by them. Its smooth walls glistened in the sea mist and its top was so tall that it was lost in the clouds. Hoping to find some treasure, the fleet rowed towards it but surrounding the tower surged treacherous currents which capsized many ships and drove others away onto jagged rocks. Only Nemed’s boat survived and almost everybody traveling with him drowned. But Nemed, his children and the few other people he could rescue from the waves were saved.
The survivors sailed away from the mysterious tower and got to the shores of Ireland. Here they settled, but their troubles weren’t over: 12 days after they landed, Nemed’s wife, Macha, was the first to die there when she was victimised by the plague that had ravaged the land. Overseas to the North of Ireland lived the Fomorians. They were anxious to settle Ireland, but Nemed and his men were too strong and set them to work as slaves. Their labours did change the face of the country; they built 2 royal forts and carved out 12 plains from the forested land (noticing the use of 12, too?)
Besides this, the landscape was still changing because of natural causes and it was during Nemed’s time that 4 mighty rainstorms formed the 4 great lakes the Irish still recognise today. While Nemed was alive, he was able to control the sullen Fomorians, although he lost many of the battles he fought purely to subdue them, but eventually he too became sick and died. Now, the Fomorians saw their chance to defeat the Children of Nemed and without Nemed to lead, they soon were overcome. The Fomorians were cruel lords. Every year at the festival of Samain (Halloween) they made the Children of Nemed to give them 2/3 of their corn, milk produce, and new-borns… a terrible tax.
The Children of Nemed were enraged by this toll and planned to get the better of their oppressors. They sent for foreign soldiers, even strangers to enlist their aid, and they also dispatched messengers to their kin in Greece asking for help. A big company set off for Ireland, a company that included many druids/druidesses as well as the best warriors. They brought with them vicious animals like wolves and venomous hogs. The fleet set anchor at the place where King Conann of the Fomorians, who lived in a tower of glass and laid siege to it so as to force King Conann to battle with the mighty army.
First the druids of each army competed, employing all their powers of enchantment. However, for every spell there was a counter and neither side could gain an advantage. Next the warriors of each side fought a bitter battle. Both armies lost many men but finally the Children of Nemed were victorious. Conann was still safe in his tower, though, so the Children let loose the wolves and pigs they had brought along.
Most people who were inside flee from this attack but Conann refused to leave. Finally Fergus, the son of Nemed,challenged Conann to meet him in single combatand after a fierce fight Conann was killed. However, the struggle wasn’t over yet, for a new contingent of vengeful Fomorians arrived. Nemed’s Children were waiting for them; once again fierce fights broke out. They were so carried away by the heat and the fury of the battle that nobody observed a huge wave raced toward them.
Higher than the tower and faster than a hawk, its huge form was accompanied by a roar as if from a gigantic beast from the sea. As it crashed on the beach, it broke over the people fighting, overwhelming them all so that only 30 of the Children of Nemed and a boat-full of Fomorians lived. After the disaster, the Children of Nemed were never able to settle again. They lived constantly in fear of the Fomorians and of the plague, and they argued amongst themselves always. Eventually they went away, some back to Greece, others making their home in Britain; Ireland was now left uninhabited except for the Fomorians for 200-some-odd-years.
So that is part one… honestly it really isn’t my favourite story at all, and I even debated skipping it, but didn’t want to make the background longer for part 2 – for the next three Thursdays, I’ll complete this story. Yaaaaay.
For example: I can’t pick up a democracy, or point to a small responsibility crawling past the window; but I can measure the weight of sand and the volume of milk. I can’t collect a pound of moral outrage, or a liter of freedom.
There are general terms….
Furniture is a good word to explain it with.
If I tell you to think of a furniture, well, that’s not really grammatically correct – furniture is a grouping of items.
A chair is more specific, but it is still a group – how do you know what I mean?
But I can go on to say to draw up a LaZ-boy recliner, and you will know what to draw if you have seen one before.