The Mythological Cycle of Irish Mythology covers an amazing set of stories about the first five races of people who came to Ireland.
The first was Ceasair who came from North Africa across many oceans bringing with her forty nine woman and three men.
Three hundred years later, after Ceasair’s people were destroyed by the great flood came Partholon and Delgnat from Greece. The Partholonians, as the were called, brought the first agriculture to Ireland and made the first pint of Ale. It is said, after achieving a great prosperity they died of a plague that took but one week to wipe them all out.
The third people to come were the Nemedians who continued in the ways of Partholon. Their time in Ireland ended in defeat having fought four wars agains the Formorians.
The fourth wave of people also came from Greece. These were called The Fir Bolg, slaves or Bag Men who had been slaves in Greece and made to carry clay in bags to fertilise the barren soil there. When they came they divided Ireland into five provinces calling the centre, The Sacred Fifth.
The fifth race to come were the magical Tuatha Dé Danann (The People of the Goddess Danú) who came from the four fabulous cities, Falias, Gorias, Finias and Murias. From these cities they brought four great gifts. From Falais they brought, The Lia Fail or Stone of Destiny which would cry out to herald a true King. From Gorias they brought, The Spear of Lugh and no man ever died while using it. From Finias they brought, The sword of Nuada from which no one ever escaped. From Murias they brought, The Daghda’s Cauldron, from which no company ever left unsatisfied. It is said after they came to the shores of Ireland they burnt their boats and a mist covered the land of Ireland for three days and nights. But the Fir Bolg didn’t want to share and so there was a battle fought and in the end they came to an agreement and so the Fir Bolg would remain in Connaght in peace.
Throughout these invasions there lived one consistent force: The Formorians who are said to have lived on Tory, an Island off the north west coast of Donegal. These were a supernatural demonic race of sea pirates always tormenting the settlers with the darkest spells and cunning manoeuvres. Their fitting counterparts were the Tuatha Dé Danann who lived in light as much as the Formorians lived in shadow. The tales of the Tuatha are full of light and magic and have a strong resemblance to Tolkien’s elves. In the end they were also defeated and are said to have gone to live in the earth itself in the *Raths of Ireland which is fittingly symbolic as the world changed from the time of the goddess to to a more patriarchal structure.
Drawings by Kathy Tynan