Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Coming of the People of Dana to Ireland

The Coming of the People of Dana to Ireland




    We now come to by far the most interesting and important of the mythical invaders and colonizers of Ireland, the People of Dana. The name, Tuatha De Danann, means literally “the folk of the god whose mother is Dana.” Dana also sometimes bears another name, that of Brigit, a goddess held in much honour by pagan Ireland, whose attributes are in a great measure transferred in legend to the Christian St. Brigit of the sixth century. Her name is also found in Gaulish inscriptions as “Brigindo,” and occurs in several British inscriptions as “Brigantia.” She was the daughter of the supreme head of the People of Dana, the god Dagda, “The Good.” She had three sons, who are said to have had in common one only son, named Ecne—that is to say, “Knowledge,” or “Poetry.”Ecne, then, may be said to be the god whose mother was Dana, and the race to whom she gave her name are the clearest representatives we have in Irish myths of the powers of Light and Knowledge. It will be remembered that alone among all these mythical races Tuan mac Carell gave to the People of Dana the name of “gods.” Yet it is not as gods that they appear in the form in which Irish legends about them have now come down to us. Christian influences reduced them to the rank of fairies or identified them with the fallen angels. They were conquered by the Milesians, who are conceived as an entirely human race, and who had all sorts of relations of love and war with them until quite recent times. Yet even in the later legends a certain splendour and exaltation appears to invest the People of Dana, recalling the high estate from which they had been dethroned.