Mythological Ancestors


The Partholonians

The Partholonians were said to have landed in Ireland at Beltaine, and they lived in Ireland for three hundred years, battling with the Fomhóire. The whole race of the Partholonians were mysteriously wiped out by a plague, except for Tuan mac Carell who underwent many different incarnations and thus lived to preserve the history of his people.

The Nemedians

The Nemedians were the next race of people to arrive in Ireland after the Partholonians disappeared, according to the Lebor Gabála, the Book of Invasion. According to legend, 2,000 Nemedians died from plague and the rest were forced to leave after the Fomhóire had inflicted a great defeat on them.

The Fomhóire

Fomhóire means 'from the sea' and is the name given to the devine powers, or gods of night, death and cold. The Fomhóire were misshapen and were believed to have the heads of goats and bulls. They also were believed to have only one leg and one arm each, and these grew out of the middle of their chests.

The Fomhóire were the ancestors of the evil faeries and, according to one gaelic writer, of all misshapen persons. The giants and leprecauns are also said to belong to the Fomhóire.

The Fir Bholg

The 'Men of the Bags', also known as the men of the Goddess Domnu. They worhiped the Fomhóire as their gods, and they were defeated by the Tuatha Dé Danann in the first battle of Magh Tuireadh or Moytura.

The Tuatha Dé Danann

Tuatha Dé Danann means 'the race of the gods of Danu', (Danu was the mother of all the ancient gods of Ireland.) They were the powers of light and life and warmth, and battled with the Fomhóire who were known as the powers of night and death.

According to the Lebor Gabála, the book of invasion, the Tuatha Dé Danann came to Ireland in obscure clouds, landing on a mountain in the west. From the same book we learn that these gods were, among other things, capable of causing an eclipse which would last for three days. They came from the northern isles of the world, learning lore, magic craft and wizardry, until they surpassed the even greatest sages in the pagan arts.

There were four cities in which the Tuatha Dé Danann studied lore and science and diabolic arts - Falias, Gorias, Murias and Findias. Out of Falias was brought the Stone of Destiny, or Lia Fáil which was in Tara. It used to cry out whenever a 'true' Irish king was crowned at Tara.

Out of Gorias was brought Lugh's Spear. Stories say that no battle was ever won against it, or he who wielded it.

Out of Findias was brought the Sword of Nuadhu. When it was drawn from its deadly sheath, no foe could escape from its irrisitable power.

Out of Murias was brought Dagdha's Cauldron. No company ever went from it unthankful.

The Tuatha Dé Danann were finally defeated by the Milesians, the first human ancestors of the Irish people, led by the Sons of Mil. The Lebor Gabála gives no further details of the Tuatha Dé Danann except to say that an agreement was reached, between the Milesians and the Tuatha Dé Danann. The account states that the gaelic people were given the upper realms of the earth in which to dwell, and the Tuatha Dé Danann were banished to the ancient burrows and cairns underground - the Fairy Forts and Hills, otherwise known as Sídhe. Here, they have gradualy dwindled in the imagination of modern celtic peoples, becoming known at last as the faerie folk.

The Milesians

The Milesians were the mythical ancestors of the Gaels. Their arrival marked the end of the Age of the Gods and the beginning of the Age of Mankind.

At the time of the coming of the Milesians, or sons of Mil, there were three kings and three queens who reigned in Ireland. The kings were: MacCuill (son of the hazel), MacCecht (son of the plough) and MacGreine (son of the sun). The three queens were called Banbha, Fodhla and Eriu. The sons of Mil, led by the poet and bard Amergin White Knee, won the favour of the three queens, the triple Goddess of the land. After this the Tuatha Dé Danann retreated to the 'hollow hills', where in folklore they are still said to exist.

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Revised: November 17, 1998.