Tuatha de Danann | Who Were They Really?

According to legend, the Tuatha de Danann were a mystical race of God-like beings who invaded and ruled Ireland over four thousand years ago. Modern academics and scholars deny they ever existed, yet ancient historians have left behind texts full of the most incredible stories about them. So, medieval fantasy, myth or fact? You decide.

Stories of the Tuatha de Danann were passed down through the ages into legend via the ancient oral tradition of Ireland’s poets. Later, Christian monks began assembling and recording them in an effort to produce a history for Ireland.

Inevitably, these texts were influenced by their beliefs and doctrines, their translation skills (or lack of), and the desire to please their patrons. What we are left with is impossible to distill into fact and fiction.

These myths are so fantastic, so bizarre, that no scholar or historian worth his salt would ever entertain them as anything other than pure fantasy. But I’m not so sure. I say there is no smoke without fire.

Tuatha de Danann (pronounced Thoo-a day Du-non) is translated as ‘tribe of Danu’. Scholars are agreed that Danu was the name of their Goddess, most probably Anu/ Anann. However, that is unproven, and I believe could equally have referred to their leader or King, or even the place from which they originated.

They were a race of God-like people gifted with supernatural powers, who invaded and ruled Ireland over four thousand years ago.

According to an ancient document known as the Annals of the Four Masters (Annála na gCeithre Maístrí compiled by Franciscan monks between 1632-1636 from earlier texts), the Danann ruled from 1897BC until 1700BC, a short period indeed in which to have accumulated such fame.

They were said to have originated from four mythical Northern cities Murias, Gorias, Falias and Finias, possibly located in Lochlann (Norway).



The Book of Invasions (Lebor Gebála Érénn compiled c.1150) claims in a poem that they came to Ireland riding in ‘flying ships’ surrounded by ‘dark clouds’. They landed on Sliabh an Iarainn (the Iron Mountain) in Co. Leitrim, where they ‘brought a darkness over the sun lasting three days’.

There is a lovely line (which I have mentioned on this blog before) which illustrates perfectly the bewilderment felt towards these conquerors;


“The truth is not known, beneath the sky of stars,
Whether they were of heaven or earth.”


A later version of the story relegates the flying ships to mere sailing ships. The dark clouds became towering columns of smoke as the ships were set alight, a warning to observers that the Danann were here to stay.

Clearly, the monks recording this story were trying to make sense of something which was well out of their comfort zone and beyond the limits of their understanding.

And so we have our first dilemma; which story to believe. Did they arrive from the skies, or from across the sea?

So, what did the Danann look like? They certainly looked very different to the small, dark native peoples of Ireland at that time.

The Danann are generally described as tall, slim but powerful, with red or blonde hair, blue or green eyes, and pale skin. To wondering onlookers, they must indeed have seemed like living Gods walking the earth.

Interestingly, archaeology has unearthed evidence all around the world of small colonies of red-haired people from the same time period as the Tuatha De Danann’s arrival in Ireland.

Excavations in Xinjiang Province, China have revealed mummies of red and blonde haired people living around four thousand years ago. The extremely well preserved Egyptian mummy of nobleman Yoya, c 1400BC, shows he had blonde hair and Nordic features, as did his wife, Thuya. She was also Tutankhamun’s great-grandmother.

Archaeologists try to explain reddish hair colour as resulting from the mummification process, or from lying in peat bogs, or simply from hundreds or thousands of years of ageing.

Genetic testing has proven that snowy-maned Egyptian Pharaoh Rameses II was red-haired  before he grew old; how do they explain that? How do experts explain the Egyptian statues depicted with red or blonde hair and in some cases, their blue eyes?

Going back to the Danann, in order to win supremacy over Ireland, they had to fight against the existing ruling tribe, the Fir Bolg, in the First Battle of Moytura.

During this encounter, the Danann High King Nuada Argetlam (pronounced Noo-tha Or-geth-lam) lost his arm. He survived, but was forced to give up his position, as a king could not be seen as anything less than ‘whole’, if he was to bring his people continued success.

In an intriguing turn of events, the physician Dian-Cecht replaced the lost limb with a fully functional ‘arm of silver’. Later, Dian-Cecht’s son, Miach, also a physician, caused skin and flesh to grow over the metal arm. Thus ‘whole’ again, the kingship was restored to Nuada following the ousting of his replacement, the tyrant Bres.

So here we have another case of strange, advanced (dare we say ‘alien’?) technology. Could this be the first ever prosthesis, a robotic arm built over four thousand years ago? Six million dollar man, eat your heart out!

The Danann brought special equipment with them into Ireland, which were known as the Four Treasures/ Jewels of Eire (you might have heard of them; I wrote a book about them… ahem, just sayin’). These four magical talismans of great power were;

The Sword of Light

Also known in Irish as Claoimh Solais (pronounced Clee-uv Shull-ish). It was said to have been made by Uiscias in the northern city of Findias, and brought to Ireland by Nuada, and that no-one ever escaped from it once it was drawn against them. It is also described as a ‘glowing white torch’. The similarities to the imaginary light sabre are quite striking; could this sword have been some kind of futuristic laser weaponry?

Lugh’s Spear

Also known as the finest/famous yew of the wood, said to have been made by Esras in the northern city of Gorias. Lugh used it to kill his Formorian grandfather, the giant-king Balor at the Second Battle of Moytura (although some versions of the story claim he used a sling).

It has been suggested that Lugh’s spear, the spear Crimall which blinded High King Cormac mac Airt rendering him unfit (not ‘whole’) for rule, and the Lúin Celtchair are one and the same weapon, although there is no evidence to back this up.

The Lúin Celtchair is a fascinating legend; it was a long, fiery lance from which ‘sparks as big as eggs flew’ when ‘the spear-heat takes hold of it’. In order to prevent the flames of the tip from consuming the haft and the warrior holding it, the spear head was dipped into a cauldron of mysterious sorcerous liquid.

In ‘The Destruction of Dá Derga’s Hostel’, a saga of the Ulster cycle of mythology, the Lúin Celtchair is claimed to have been discovered at the Battle of Moytura, the same battle where Lugh killed Balor. This spear, then, could well be Lugh’s, and seems to possess many of the qualities of the Sword of Light; it could be another product of an advanced technology, perhaps even an alien one.

The Dagda’s Cauldron

Also known as the Cauldron of Plenty (Coire Ansic in Irish, pronounced Kwee-ra On-sik). It was made by Semias of the northern city of Murias. Not much is known about this vessel, although it was thought to have had the power to bring the dead back to life, and that ‘none would go from it unsatisfied’.

Dr Ulf Erlingsson has suggested that the giant stone basin found in the eastern passage of the central mound at Knowth, part of the Newgrange complex, could be the Dagda’s Cauldron, and that the concentric circular design depicted on it could be a map of Atlantis, as described by Plato. How could the Danann have come by this knowledge?

The Lia Fáil

Also known as the Stone of Destiny, and the Coronation Stone. It was made by Morfessa of Falias, and brought into Ireland by the Danann, where they duly placed it at the Hill of Tara, in Co Meath. Legend has it that its cry confirmed the coronation of the rightful High King of Ireland, and that its roar could be heard throughout the land.

It was broken in half sometime later by Cuchullain when it failed to proclaim him or his protégé. One half was carried away to Scotland, where it eventually ended up in the throne of the British monarchy, although there is a whisper that the true stone was hidden, possibly beneath the River Tay, and remains there to this day.

A stone with a voice sounds too fanciful to be true, but perhaps it was misunderstood; perhaps the stone was no more than a stage upon which the new king stood. Perhaps the voice which roared out across the land was amplified through a microphone, perhaps a technology so tiny and unobtrusive as the wireless ear-mics currently worn by pop stars today when performing.

More famously known as Tir na Nog, or The Land of the Ever Young, this was thought of as the original home of the Danann. It could be reached through water, by travelling west over the sea, or passing through the gateways of the Sidhe mounds.

In these places, the veil between the worlds was considered very thin, and therefore more easily traversable. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the magical realm is not the eternal youth, beauty, joy and plenty it represents, but the passage of time attributed to it.

In Tir na Nog, time seems to stands still, while in the mortal world it passes in the blink of an eye. The story of Oisin, Fionn mac Cumhaill’s son, and his Otherworld lover, Niamh, illustrates this perfectly.

After only three blissful years in the magical realm, Oisin returns home to find three hundred years have passed. When he falls from his horse and his feet touch Ireland’s soil, age catches up with him, and he dies an old man.

This idea of infinite paradise where no one grows old and time has no meaning has parallels with space travel, alternate dimensions, and even the mundane, such as advancements in health care and medicine.

Were the Danann immortal? Not in the absolute sense of living forever; they could be killed in battle, or by sickness, although compared with the natives at that time, they were clearly long-lived. Even modern man would seem ageless and long-lived in comparison with our early ancestors.

The reign of the Danann came to an end in just two battles with the Milesians, whom historians and scholars alike agree were probably the first Gaels in Ireland.

Not only were the Danann defeated by military might, but by cunning too. It was agreed that the new invaders and the Danann would each rule half of Ireland, and so it was that Amergin of the Milesians chose that half of Ireland which lay above ground, leaving the Danann to retreat below.

They were led away to their new domain via the Sidhe mounds by Manannán, God of the sea, who then shielded them from mortal eyes by raising an enchanted mist known as the Faeth Fiadha (pronounced Feh Fee-oh-a), or ‘Cloak of Concealment’.

As time passed, they became known as the Sidhe (Shee), Ireland’s fairy-folk.

So, were the Danann Gods or Aliens? It’s too easy to cry ‘aliens!’ or ascribe the unexplainable to God-like entities. To be honest, I find both incredibly annoying.

Humans are capable of amazing things; why is it not possible, in the long long history of the existence of our planet, that there were prior civilisations we know nothing about, who advanced and developed in their own ways on a par with our own development?

Think of it this way; to one who observes without understanding, even an aeroplane flying through the sky carrying people in its belly to far distant, unimaginable lands seems like powerful magic; so does flicking a light switch, a television screen, a mobile phone. The plane becomes a ship, transported on dark clouds; a television screen becomes a vision, the phone, a stone which speaks, perhaps an oracle giving advice direct from the Gods.

Those who manipulate such magic must surely be Gods themselves; they look like Gods with their red-gold hair, sky-blue eyes and milk-white skin; they wield fiery, powerful weapons; they appear to be ageless and immortal, and they are wise, beautiful, and fearsome.

Danann ‘magic’ can be explained, though not proven, as technology misunderstood by the local population. Whether it was man or alien made, is debatable. It is certainly possible that these were migrating people from advanced civilisations in our world, perhaps displaced by the Great Flood, searching out new homes, bringing with them what remained of their knowledge and technology.

I also believe that ‘we are not alone’ in this great cosmos, and that visits from other worlds and dimensions cannot be ruled out. Or perhaps it was magic after all, a force which, having no comprehension of, we seek to deny.

Experts, being of scientific and analytical mind, will insist the lack of physical evidence proves the Tuatha de Danann never existed. The fact so many stories about them remain, however, is evidence enough to me that they did.

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119 Comments on “Tuatha de Danann | Who Were They Really?

  1. Being of mostly Irish ancestry myself, I have had an interest in Irish history and Irish mythology, and Celtic mythology in general. I think there is a tendency for history and mythology to intertwine when it comes to the Celts because we all like a good yarn and perhaps because persecuted people retreat into fantasy and a past that is better than their present or even future.

    One of the things I’ve heard a few times is that the Tuatha Dé Danaan were the Tribe of Dan, of the lost tribes of Israel, which though intriguing and very interesting doesn’t tally Biblically as the northern tribes of Israel were taken into captivity about 700BC, and the Danaan were in Ireland 1200 years before that. So that’s that out. All the fantasy and alien stuff leaves me a little cold, to be honest, because if they had had superior technology surely they would have easily beat their enemies, but they only ruled for 200 years, or so. Also, lots of invading people in the mists of time seem surrounded by strange myths and strange technology. Perhaps they are just things people couldn’t understand so they attributed magic to them. Merlin was reputed to have really been an architect of some kind. Anything can appear magical to those who don’t understand.

    But it’s certainly very interesting. Me personally, I’m far more interested in the mundane reality and facts of who they were, but I have a love of the mythology and the way Irish mythology ties in to Indian mythology. That may tell us something we may not yet understand or know about the Irish and Celtic people, and there may be more to mythology than just nice, and strange, stories!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I absolutely agree with you! I think its too easy to cry ‘alien technology’ to attempt to explain our ancestors extraordinary abilities. The ancient past is full of wonders, things we cant explain today, but its quite possible they possessed knowledge which became lost in time. To other contemporary peoples observing this, it would have seemed like magic. I can’t help feeling that, although none of the stories can be proven, there is no smoke without fire. Scholars currently believe that the Irish myths are nothing more than Medieval fantasy, and whilst I’m sure there’s an element of that in the retelling, I just don’t think that’s the whole truth. Whether any of the characters really existed, whether any of the heroics really took place, who can say? At the end of the day, they entertained and educated people, especially back in the prehistoric days, when stories were told orally. Personally, I want it all to be true! 😁😁😁 But whether it is or not, I love the stories and characters just the same. I have spent so much time with them, they have become real to me!

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  2. Pingback: The Fairy Folk of Ireland | aliisaacstoryteller

  3. I know this is an old topic, but it has been recently shared in one of my writing groups.

    I read the entire post. I thoroughly enjoyed the speculation. I also agree where there is smoke there is fire. I have felt this way about dragons and other mythological creatures that are consistent and shared across culture. I almost always believe there is some natural explanation of the phenomenon.

    My reason for stopping in is the recognition of Tir na Nog.

    I could not pass by without admitting the joy I felt when I saw your mention of it’s history. This post brought me back to my first viewing of J. Cameron’s Titanic movie.

    There is a scene where a mother is trying to calm her children who are scared because the ship is about to sink.

    Here, the mother has begun to accept that the boat is going down. She and her children will surely die.

    Enter the story of Tir na Nog.
    When she mentioned it, I automatically thought she was speaking of the afterlife.

    Great to finally come across information that suggests otherwise.
    It was like finding a diamond in a bag of gems.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Nat. Well it seems we feel the same way. Dragons are scary, yet we all seem to love them and feel some attraction to them. Like it’s in our blood, or something. I agree with you… how can there not be some truth in it when their legends are scattered so far and wide across such varied cultures?I’m so glad that you enjoyed the post, and Shared your thoughts with me, it’s wonderful to be able to connect with like-minded people. And also, lovely for me personally to know that one of my posts has been shared in a writing group! Thanks for stopping by. 😊

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  4. Alicia, thank you for ‘liking’ my rave on what’s wrong with our world today, at http://wp.me/p3Xihq-vQ
    I visited here out of curiosity, I am glad I did. Your writing here in beautiful, and the content fascinating.

    Some of my writing takes place in Ireland too, but at a much later period. Are you interested in review swaps?

    🙂
    Bob

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Bob. Which period of Irish history are you interested in? I love the mythology and pre-Christian era, but am just starting to learn a little about the 15th and 16th centuries, when the English came to Ireland.

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  5. Pingback: Double Trouble | Twins in Irish Mythology |

    • Hi Suzanne, well I dont think historians would call it history, but to me its an intriguing possibility. There is just too much lore, and its so consistent, that it has to be based on reality at some point, although I’m sure there has been much embellishment through the years. It is certainly fascinating, whatever your view.

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  6. What a comprehensive and understandable exposition of the ancient races Ali. This post must have taken you an age. To whatever extent it is myth or reality it is great that we have the oral storytellers and the learned monks to have left us so much to wonder over.

    But…I have a sneaking suspicion the Denann lady at the head of your story with the perfect figure, careful makeup and salon curls is not trying very hard to be realistic 🙂

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    • Lol! Roy, you’re so right about her… but she IS beautiful! So I’ll let her off.

      Yes we are very lucky that the monks decided to record the old oral stories. So much would have been lost otherwise. I personally am very grateful for that. Its easy to criticise them for inposing their own beliefs etc onto the stories, and mistranslations, typos etc which make them so difficult to understand, but the fact remains that without them, I would have nothing to write about, lol! 😀

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  7. Fabulous stuff, Ali. I was on the Luas on the way to work, but then you had me tripping through ancient fields, smiting my enemies with the power of my own mind. Go raibh mile maith agat 😁

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Great Post Ali! … Some more ‘food for thought’… “…Some things in Lebor Gabala seem to be literary pranks… e.g when the Tuatha De Danaaan are said to have studied in the Four Cities of Falias, Gorias, Findias and Murias (Science-ville, Duties-ville, Beauties-ville and Plentys -ville) under the Four Teachers, Morfhesa, Esrus, Uisceas and Semias (Knowing, Flowing, Glowing and Sowing)…” – John Minahane, ‘the Christian Druids’

    Liked by 1 person

    • Absolutely! Hehe! Its a bit too neat and ordered. Those word endings sound very Latinised to me anyway. You have to take it all with a pinch of salt and not take it too literally. On the other hand, theres no smoke without fire… there’s some truth in it somewhere, but its well hidden. You know more about that sort of thing than me…

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  9. You don’t half suck me in with this stuff, Ali. Generally I’m a bit cynical about the more grandiose of ancient myths, but you make a compelling case here. Like you, the alien stuff leaves me beyond cold but the idea of earlier civilisations having discovered technologies that have subsequently been lost is wholly plausible; after all look where the Greeks and Romans got before it was lost in the Dark Ages. The Chinese were so far advanced from the West yet fell behind. It happens; it could happen again. I think light sabres are ott mind! Highly polished mirrors maybe.

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    • Well I was going to say LOL! But thought better of it. Oh what the hell… LOL! 😁Yes, I think thats quite possible. I remember as a child hearing about archaeologists finding some old clay pot and realising that it was a type of battery… to power what, I cant imagine! But I was so amazed by that, it never left me. And that structures like the Sphynx are now thought to be thousands of years older than originally believed, and you cant help but wonder. I’ll see what else I can come up with to suck you into my future posts…

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  10. I am so glad you let me know about this post! I honestly cannot tell you how I know about the Tuatha de Dennan, as I cannot remember anyone in my family relating stories or myths but I have known about them for my entire life. (Kind of like finding out in college that my beliefs and stories of ancient Native Tribes had just been translated and I got to take a class in it. Can you say easy A?!).

    One of the things that I’ve always just felt or know, if you will, is that the people known as the Tuatha de Dennan, and later became Sidhe, were not the first fairy folk. In fact, I have always believed that the tall, beautiful redheaded Irish fairies are in fact the descendants of a great union between the Nephilim and the Fairies. I haven’t seen much, if anything, on this idea and I will never know (unless one of them shows up to tell me. If that happens I doubt I’ll be able to convey the experience to you, but I’ll try!)

    I have also always believed that the de Dennan were gifted with perhaps a mixture of magic and technology. Melding them together seamlessly to keep ions from burning the spear wielder etc.

    By the way, there are certain types of stones that can amplify sound, as well as some that will literally release a pleasing crystalline tone when struck in the correct place. Perhaps the speaking rock was a large, well placed, stone of this sort?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well there you go! I can see are going to have many interesting conversations! Sometimes you just have to trust your instincts and ‘go with your gut’, dont you? I dont know where my fascination with the Denann comes from either, but its an obsession… although mine extends beyond them to all things Irish before the early Medieval period, too. Living here doesnt help, lol! I’m surrounded by it, which means I’m living in my head half the time! Glad you enjoyed the post. Hope you’ll stick around for more! 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      • thank you! I immediately hit the ‘follow’ button! I will warn you though, my Da is a Minister and Biblical studies professor. I try not to push it but sometimes it just comes across.
        I’m about half-Irish (or so) and most of the rest Native American so I have this amazingly odd mixture of obsessions with the stories. I often have to stop and think about who/what goes where! I have always adored anything having to do with mythology, and especially Irish folktales. I envy you living there.
        I spent hours choosing the ‘correct’ county to place characters in for my third book in my Stone Dragon Saga. I can see it so clearly in my head it almost feels as though I’ve really been there. But, alas, I have not. I really should have worked harder for that conservatory scholarship back in ‘the day’ 😀

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        • Ah someone of as mixed pedigree as myself! Irish and Native American sounds a wonderful combination… no wonder you have such spiritual stirrings. There is a lot of interesting archaeology being done now on Native American sites, isnt there?

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  11. This was beyond cool. So I know you find my obsessions with aliens annoying….. but we all have our interest! Did you know the king of the Annunaki was called Annu…

    So the first story was that your guys were from the skies? I’m going with that one! arms made of silver… definitely metal like a robot LOVE THIS.

    Last annoying point…. the annunaki are said to live for thousands, hundreds of thousands of years… much like time stood still…… :p

    Liked by 2 people

    • Your interests dont annoy me, Sacha! I learn from you all the time. I just think its too easy to attribute everything to an alien source, not that I dont think its possible. What annoys me is when people automatically cry aliens for everything. I know nothing about the Annunaki ( i think I spell that wrong every time!) But Im interested in learning more, if they have some connection with the Denann. I love that the king was called Annu. You have made some really excellent points which I am intrigued and excited to follow up! 😊

      Liked by 2 people

  12. A fascinating post, Ali. You and Nicholas come up with some of the most interesting posts about topics I know little or nothing about, Thanks for posting.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much! I’m glad you enjoy them, and I agree with you about Nick, I always learn something new from him. 😊

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  13. Dia Dhuit, Ali, I am a first-timer to your wonderful world of Irish mythology and folklore, duly connected, thanks to Sally’s reblog. Past in its entirety cannot be backed by historical data, which is why those beings, events and places outside purview of recorded history is classified as pre-historic, which is not to mean they did not exist. There is an element of the supernatural in the compilation of world’s most ancient scriptures. Archaeology has uncovered sites in India that are millions of years old. Sanskrit and Tamil, two of India’s most ancient languages, are by far the world’s most ancient languages, as they predate every other language of yore such as Pali, Latin, Greek, Aramaic, Hebrew, Arabic etc. Rig Veda in Sanskrit is mankind’s most ancient literature. The Vedic civilisation is again the most ancient, and it talks about high tech wars and aviation, cataclysmic eruptions and floods, causing some of the landmass going under water and large scale movement of people from southern parts of India (known as ‘Bharat Varsha’ during pre-historic times, a massive geographic region consisting of present day India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Russia, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, parts of China, Sri Lanka, Turkey, Iran and Iraq) to north of India and therefrom to the Mediterranean, Africa, Europe, Americas, and, through eastern corridor, to Arctic regions. Based on these pointers, I am not surprised to find words such as Tara and Dev in Irish. Both these are Sanskrit words; Tara means star and Dev means divine or God. Tara is the wife of king Brihaspati, later equated with planet Jupiter. Deeper study of literature in Sanskrit and Tamil, and the Vedas will close gaps to not only Tuatha De Danann, but also unlock mysteries and interconnect of cultures and civilisations around the world…best wishes.. Raj.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you so much, Raj! I can see you are clearly a very knowledgeable person, and you have convinced me now that I really have to research in this direction if I want to try and find out more about the Denann. Its something I suspected for a while, thank you for pointing me in the right direction… it’s very exciting! I appreciate your comment. All the best to you! Ali

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Ali, I reblogged your fascinating post and am now following you. My current book series, Romancing the Guardians, is loosely based upon legends of the Tuatha de Danann.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Lynn! I think they have inspired a lot of literary works, and its hardly surprising, is it? What a fascinating heritage they have gifted us with! Good luck with your book series!

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  15. Species (and dominant species) come and go around here. Real possibility that previous inhabitants were very different, but some genetics have been passed down. If so, we can always hope for one of those spontaneous throwbacks to appear someday if a couple have enough of those genes. But the modern inhabitants might destroy them not wishing anyone to replace them?
    (Thanks for adding how to pronounce names/places. Makes it nicer if you can say the words out loud for some reason. Maybe the sound/vibrations call up some ancient memories or something that makes it more real)

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    • That is certainly possible! Wouldnt it be interesting though, if it did? What interests me is all the people, like manyvreading this blog, who feel some kind of attraction, or connection, to the Denann… a case of blood being thicker than water, maybe? Those genetics you speak of could have been passed on to more of us than we imagine!

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  16. Fascinating, Ali. I love the legends and lore, all the speculation on origins and the parallels with other cultural stories. Someday I want to travel to Ireland and feel it in the land. A great post!

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Great post, Ali! I use the Tuatha de Danann myths in my contemporary fantasy, with a little creative license, of course. That unpublished novel, however, has been shelved for a bit while I work on my new WIP. Thanks for the great info! I’ve got Irish blood by heart, not genetics, and I love Irish myths. I’m a little jealous I can’t wander the Emerald Isle in person 🙂

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    • Maybe one day you’ll get over here, Julie! And perhaps there is some Irish blood in you from the distant past. We dont always know. I didnt know that I had an Irish great grandfather until I moved here 13 years ago. I think if its there it sings in your veins until you take notice… which you clearly have. Good luck with your writing!

      Liked by 4 people

  18. I love this post, Ali – it’s fascinating. And, as you say, there are tantalising hints in archaeology about a people who fit the description of the Denaan – sometimes I wish I had a time machine!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Another fascinating post.

    According to Herodotus and Pausanias, an unknown warrior fought on the side of the Athenians during the Marathon Bay battle (490 BC). He is described as wearing strange clothes, fit for a farmer; not a warrior. He was taller than most, and held a plow-like weapon. As plows were called “echetli”, the Oracle of Delphi called him Echetlaios (he who holds a plow) when the Athenians sought its advice in regards to the identity of this unknown hero (I guess a simple shrug wouldn’t have been as convincing).

    Echetlaios had a long beard; so long that it covered his shield. His weapon emitted a flash of light that decimated the Persians from a distance and accidentally blinded an Athenian warrior, Epizilos, son of Koufagoras, who looked at it. As soon as the battle was over, he disappeared, despite the victors’ attempts to thank him. Some thought him god; others a hero sent by the gods. Whoever it was, his contribution was thought significant enough for him to be worshiped in ancient Athens.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Wow what an amazing story, Nick! I love it! There certainly does seem similarities, doesnt there, not only with Cormaic being blinded by the fiery spear, but with the strangers appearance. Intriguing! Thanks for sharing that, you made my day! 😊

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      • Strangely enough, his legend is not well-known outside of Greece. For example, this is all Wikipedia has to say, quoting Pausanias (namely, Ἐχϵτλαἲος, Παυσανίας βιβλίο 1 «Αττικά», κεφάλαιο 32, § 5): (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Marathon)

        “They say too that there chanced to be present in the battle a man of rustic appearance and dress. Having slaughtered many of the foreigners with a plough he was seen no more after the engagement. When the Athenians made enquiries at the oracle, the god merely ordered them to honor Echetlaeus (“he of the Plough-tail”) as a hero.”

        Here is the original text by Herodotus (Ηρόδοτος, βιβλίο ΣΤ’ «Ερατώ» § 117):

        «…συνήνεικε δε αυτόθι θώμα γενέσθαι τοιόνδε, Αθηναίον άνδρα Επίζηλον τών Κουφαγόρεω εν τή συστάσι μαχόμενόν τε και άνδρα γινόμενον αγαθόν τών ομμάτων στερηθήναι, ούτε πληγέντα ουδέν τού σώματος ούτε βληθέντα, και το λοιπόν τής ζόης διατελέειν από τούτου τού χρόνου εόντα τυφλόν. Λέγειν δε αυτόν περί τού πάθεος ήκουσα τοιόνδε τινά λόγον, άνδρα οι δοκέειν οπλίτην αντιστήναι μέγαν, τού το γένειον την ασπίδα πάσαν σκιάζειν, το δε φάσμα τούτο εωυτόν μεν παρεξελθείν, τον δε εωυτού παραστάτην αποκτείναι. Ταύτα μεν δη Επίζηλον επυθόμην λέγειν…».

        Which translates into (my translation):

        “The following marvelous thing happened: An Athenian named Epizilos, son of Koufagoros, was fighting bravely among his brethren, and lost his sight without being hurt or injured in any way. Until his final days, he remained blind. He was describing seeing a great in stature hoplite whose beard covered his shield. This spectre overtook him and slayed the man standing before him. This is what Epizilos said.”

        Herodotus also said he did not want to dwell into storied relating to gods, as he was afraid people would take him for a liar if he narrated all the marvelous things he had heard.

        Here is an image of said plow from a 460 BC jar. Someone has juxtaposed it with a machine gun to illustrate a rather obvious point.

        Liked by 2 people

  20. Ali, your killing me, That opening image, its like you plucked it straight out of my head. Ive been thinking about doing some shots like this for a while now and then this morning, there it was looking back at me from my screen:-)
    One of the things that make the ancient lore in Ireland so interesting is because we know so little about it. Yes we have all these fantastic stories, but little to no historical evidence. Hell many of the timelines dont even match up.
    I like to think of the DeDanan’s of a race quite alike the Elvin race in Tolkien’s LoTR! Many reckon the DeDanann were his influence for them.
    Your right about the Magic and Technology, isnt all tech really magic until we understand how it works.
    You just have to look at the reminants of our culture to see how technologicallyadvanced these ancients were. And yet our modern day scholars would have you believe they were a pack of Neanderthal’s roaming around?
    Great post by the way, it really brightened up my morning 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • Wow, you should do it Ed! I buy mine from fotalia then touch em up a bit. Yours would be soooooooooo much better! Its really difficult to get good images for this kind of post, its either little fairies with wings or elves with pointed ears! Shes carrying a bow, which the early Irish werent supposed to have used… although I would question that, lol! Anyway, great idea, cant wait to see them.

      I agree with everything you say… so glad you enjoyed the post! 😁

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Whoopee! Looks like WordPress has started sending me notifications from your blog again. Love this one, Ali. The stories of how the ancients peopled Ireland fascinates me as much as it obviously fascinated the Bronze Age Celts. So many mysteries. Did you know that the Ancient Irish don’t have a creation myth? It’s pretty odd, almost everybody else does, but although there are some theoretic myths involving celestial mares, there is no authenticated one. They just accepted that the world must have been born like everything else. End of story. They seem to have been far more interested in people than fantasies.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I had wondered about that, Jane! It is odd, but then I’m not surprised. If they believed in reincarnation, as I think they probably did, then how far back would you have to go to find it? As you say, they probably just accepted the world for what it is. In fact, I think they probably knew the truth, so they didnt need a myth. They obviously had amazing knowledge that we cant understand or explain today. One day, people might look at our theories and laugh them off as myths!

      Liked by 1 person

      • The explanation type myths could be interpreted as a form of insecurity. The Irish myths that I know are all about people, usually real people, and what they did, with a bit of exaggeration and poetic licence. It makes them seem very real and close to us. All that stuff about the world being balance on the backs of elephants, I mean! Really!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Lol! I totally agree with you! They were just stories. Unfortunately they perpetuate the idea that ancient man was primitive and ignorant… a bit like the notion that the world was created in 6 days by a God-like entity and that man and woman were made in his likeness from a rib… thats what many seem to believe in these enlightened days, where we declare ourselves to be so advanced and civilised!

          Liked by 1 person

          • Does that mean you can see a grain of truth in it? I’m joking, of course. It seems wacky to us now, but as Ali points out, many of us believe that the entire natural world, presumably the entire universe too, was created by an old man on a whim (boredom? loneliness? lunacy?) in six days. I don’t recall where the dinosaurs or Australopithecus fit in, but I’m sure some religious specialist has an answer.

            Liked by 3 people

            • The real trick is, exactly how long was a “day”? Accounts for a lot. Comparing religions, thoughts, philosophies, art, and literature across history/populations is quite intriguing. Human groups seem to interpret or explain things ( often the same things) in different terms and styles – but considering the biological/neurological nature of thought creation and the process of verbalizing those concepts between individuals, it is amazing people can get any idea across to another individual with any certainty the message is the same as the one sent. Sense of humor is probably what allowed humans to thrive…that and the ability to draw pictures?

              Liked by 1 person

            • Well the Denann probably considered the day to start at dusk and last through till the following dusk, like all the other ancient Irish people, but they werent above interfering with that, if it suited them. The Dagda had an affair with Boann and got her pregnant, so he made the sun stand still in the sky for nine months until their son Óengus was born and had him fostered with Midir before Boann’s husband Elcmar returned home. It was said after that Óengus was conceived, gestated and delivered in the one day. Amazing, huh?

              Liked by 1 person

            • Great question, Jane, lol! Not sure. But, let’s just say, certain second century people enjoy, among other kinds of humor of course!, jokes about (very cleaned up looking) bouncy eyeballs. Please don’t ask, it’s a long story. 🙂 They’ve also gone totally ridiculous over sayings of ours such as “get ahead” and “it’s come to a head.” Yike… glad we don’t take those literally.

              Liked by 1 person

            • Well, I admit eyeballs aren’t that funny out of context. In that case, I was dealing with an absurd situation that was upsetting, so Ailbhe tried to cheer me up by sending me a picture/animation of two bouncy eyeballs racing each other, and it was so out of the blue and absurd that I forgot to be upset anymore about whatever was happening. After that it kind of took on a life of its own, like hey cheer up or I’ll send the bouncy eyeball picture at you. 🙂 And you know, we’re sisters, sometimes we just send off the picture to one another purely for mischief. 🙂

              Liked by 1 person

  22. I agree with you, Lucy. In Irish myth there is a druid/ magician from the era of High King Cormaic mac Airt called Mogh Ruith, who is quite an intriguing character, and he had a light filled flying machine. Because of this, he has been labelled a sun God, yet he does not appear in the Denann myths, wrong time period, nor does he appear to be one of them. I must write about him for the blog! I have heard that there is a connection with Sanskrit myth stories, too, which would fit with what you say about India, something else I must look into! Thanks for commenting!

    Liked by 2 people

  23. Discounting the Great Flood often leaves large holes in our history and then leaves unexplained the large migration of people, the flood legends all around the world, the origin of Halloween, and the disappearance of “magic” or technology which seems to echo in stories all round the world; flying machines are mentioned in Indian mythology.

    Great article!

    Liked by 2 people

  24. Pingback: Tuatha de Denann | Who Were They Really? | Scenes of futures past

  25. Such a shame one of the four magical talismans couldn’t be found today Ali. It would be really interesting to answer this once and for all. Like you I refuse to deny visits from other planets in the solar system since we have n idea what’s out in that vastness,and no idea of their advanced technology. On the other hand, raids by the Norsemen had to start at some point and these people would have seemed massive in comparison to the natives as might their weapons.
    xxx Massive Hugs xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s right, David. The Vikings fit many of the Denann attributes, large, fair hair, skin and eyes, fierce fighters, who loved their music, art and Gods. But they came to Ireland much later, and were not known for their wisdom but for their savagery and plunder. The Denann were high principled and admired for it. Also, there is no evidence ever of the Norsemen possessing such fiery weapons and technology, or bringing any sacred objects with them, and they very clearly did come from the sea. So I think it unlikely that the Denann originated from that part of the world. Although not impossible that they may have arrived in Ireland from there as part of their migration from wherever they came from. I guess we’ll never know. Huge hugs back at ya! 😀

      Liked by 2 people

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