Corpus of Electronic Texts Edition
The History of Ireland (Author: Geoffrey Keating)

Section 10


Of the invasion of the Tuatha Dé Danann here.

The Tuatha Dé Danann are of the posterity of the third chief of the race of Neimheadh who had gone on adventures from Ireland after the destruction of the tower of Conaing, namely, Iobath son of Beothach; and, according to some antiquaries, the place which was inhabited by them was Boetia in the north of Europe. Some others say that it is in the Athenian territory they dwelt, where the city of Athens is. Understand, O reader, that Boeotia and the city of Athens, according to Pomponius Mela, are in the district of Greece which is called Achaia: and that it is there they learned their magic and their arts until they became skilled in every trick of sorcery.

It happened about that time that a great fleet came from the country of Syria to make war on the people of the Athenian country, so that there was daily warfare between them; and those of the Athenians who would be slain, it is they who would be on the morrow fighting with the people of Syria. That necromancy used to be done through the art magic of the Tuatha Dé Danann: for they would put demons into the same bodies to restore them. And when the people of Syria became aware of this, they go to take counsel with their own druid. The druid says to them, to set a watch on the site or on the place of the battle-field, and to thrust a stake [of a spit] of quicken-tree through the trunk of every dead person who would be rising up against them; and if it were


demons who would cause their bodies to revive, that they would be from that immediately 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 come to join battle on the morrow, and it is won by them, and they thrust the stakes of ash through the dead, as the druid had told them, and presently worms were made of them: and the people of Syria fell on the others after that, slaughtering them.

As regards the Tuatha Dé Danann, when they saw the people of Syria prevailing over the people of the country, they, in one band, depart from that territory, for fear of them, and they made no stay till they came to the country of Lochlonn, i.e. Fionn-Lochlonn, viz. the people of Norway, where they got welcome from the people of the country for the extent of their science and of their varied arts. It is Nuadha Airgeadlámh, son of Euchtach, son of Edarlámh, of the posterity of Neimheadh who was chief over them at that time. Indeed, they obtained four cities, so as to be teaching the young folk of that country in them. The names of the cities here: Fáilias, Gorias, Finias, and Murias. The Tuatha Dé Danann place four sages in those cities to teach the sciences and the varied arts they had to the youths of the country; Semias in Murias, and Arias in Finias, and Eurus in Gorias, and Morias in Fáilias. After being a while of their time in these cities, they proceed to the north of Scotland, so that they were seven years at Dobhar and at Iardobhar. They had four noble jewels, which they brought from those cities, namely, a stone


of virtue from Fáilias; it is it that is called Lia Fáil; and it is it that used to roar under each king of Ireland on his being chosen by them up to the time of Conchubhar (as we mentioned before), and it is to that stone is called in Latin Saxum fatale. It is from it, moreover, is called Inis Fáil to Ireland. So that it is therefore a certain antiquary composed this verse:—
    1. 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.
[This stone which is called Lia Fáil], another name for it (is) the Stone of Destiny; for it was in destiny for this stone, whatever place it would be in, that it is a man of the Scotic nation, i.e. of the seed of Míleadh of Spain, that would be in the sovereignty of that country, according as is read, in Hector Boetius in the history of Scotland. Here is what he says, viz.—
    1. The Scotic nation, noble the race,
      Unless the prophecy be false,
      Ought to obtain dominion,
      Where they shall find the Lia Fáil.
{Ni fallat fatum, Scoti quocunque locatum, invenient lapidem, regnare tenentur ibidem.}

When the race of Scot heard that the stone had this virtue, after Feargus the great, son of Earc, had obtained the power of Scotland, and after he had proposed to style himself king of Scotland, he sends information into the presence of his brother Muircheartach, son of Earc, of the race of Eireamhón, who was king of Ireland at that time, to ask him to send him this stone, to sit upon, for the purpose of being proclaimed king of Scotland. Muircheartach sends the stone to him, and he was inaugurated king of Scotland on the same stone, and he was the first king of Scotland of the Scotic nation; and although


some of the Cruithnigh, i.e. the Picts, had been styled kings of Scotland, before Feargus was made king, there was not one of them full king without being under tax and under tribute to the kings of Ireland from time to time; and especially from the time of Eireamhón, son of Míleadh [forward], by whom the ‘Picts’ were sent out of Leinster to inhabit Scotland, (as we shall say in the reign of Eireamhón), to the reign of this Feargus. Concerning the stone, they had it accordingly some space of time, age to age, till it reached after that to England, so that it is there now in the chair in which the king of England is inaugurated, it having been forcibly brought from Scotland, out of the abbey of Scone; and the first Edward king of England brought it with him, so that the prophecy of that stone has been verified in the king we have now, namely, the first king Charles, and in his father, the king James, who came from the Scotic race (that is to say, from the posterity of Maine son of Corc son of Lughaidh, who came from Eibhear son of Míleadh of Spain); who assumed the style of kings of England upon the stone aforesaid.

The second jewel the Tuatha Dé Danann brought into Ireland then, that is the sword which Lúgh Lámhfada had used, and from Gorias it was brought. The third jewel, namely, the spear which the same Lúgh had when prepared for battle, and from Finias it was brought. The fourth jewel, the caldron of the Daghdha: a company would not go away unsatisfied from it, and from Murias it was brought. Here is a poem from a certain Book of Invasion for proof on the same things:—

    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. Four cities, justly famous,
      They occupied in sway with great power,
      Where they used to wage war ingeniously(?)
      For learning (and) for exact knowledge.
    5. Fáilias and Gorias bright,
      Finias (and) Murias of great deeds,
      To blazon their sallies abroad(?)
      (And) the names of the great cities.
    6. Morias and Euras high-placed,
      Arias (and) Semias austere;
      Their naming is profitable discourse,
      Of the names of the sages of the noble gain.
    7. Morias the sage of Fáilias itself,
      Euras in Gorias, of good disposition,
      Semias in Murias, southern stronghold(?)
      Arias fair, sage of Finias.
    8. 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.
    9. 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.
    10. 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.

    11. p.213

    12. 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.

Concerning the Tuatha Dé Danann, they, having spent seven years in the north of Scotland, came to Ireland; and, on their coming to land, Monday Bealtaine in the north of Ireland, they burn their ships, so to certify that, this rann was composed:—

    1. Each warrior of them burned his ship,
      When he reached noble Eire:
      It was a grave decision in his state(?)
      The vapour of the ships being burned.

After that they put of mist of druidism around them for the space of three days, so that they were not manifest to any one of the Fir Bolg till they reached Sliabh-an-iarainn. Thence they send an embassy from them to Eochaidh, son of Earc, and to the chiefs of the Fir Bolg, to demand the kingdom of Ireland or battle on its account. Whereupon, the battle of Magh Tuireadh South is fought between the Fir Bolg and the Tuatha Dé Danann, so that the battle was gained on the Fir Bolg, and that a hundred thousand of them were slain, according as we have said above.

Thirty years from the battle of Magh Tuireadh South to the battle of Magh Tuireadh North, as the verse says:—

    1. 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 antiquaries say that it is from the three sons whom Danann, daughter of Dealbhaoth, bore, the Tuatha Dé Danann were called, to wit, Brian, Iuchar and Iucharbha, i.e. three of the children of Dealbhaoth, son of Ealatha, son of Néd, son of Iondaoi, son of Allaoi, son of Tat, son of Tabharn, son of Enna, son of Bathach, son of Iobath, son of Beothach, son of Iarbhoineol Fáidh, son of Neimheadh: because that the aforesaid three were so accomplished [as that] in heathen arts, that these tribes with whom they were wished to style them gods, and to name themselves from them. Here is a stave of a quotation certifying it, that these three are the three gods of Danann, as the poem says, which has for beginning, Hear, ye learned without blemish, &c.:—

    1. 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 from [the] Danann, who was mother to these three, Dá Chích Danann is called to the two hills which are in Luachair Deaghaidh in Desmond. Others say that it is why they are called Tuatha Dé Danann, because it is in [their] three orders they were, of those who had come into Ireland on this expedition. The first order of them, which is called Tuath, used to be in the rank of nobility and headship of tribe: called tuathach, indeed, and called tighearna being equivalent, as called tuath and called tighearnas are equal. That is the more fit to believe, 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:—
    1. 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 (to) which used to be called , such are their druids, whence it is the above three used to be called the three gods of Danann. Wherefore they were called ‘gods’ (is) from the wonderfulness of their deeds of magic. The third order which was called Danann, namely, the order which was given to dán, or to crafts; for dán and céard are equal.