The original inhabitants of Ireland
Fomorians (lived of fish and fowl)
Tuatha Dé Danann (brought plow and oxen)
Geoffrey Keating in his History of Ireland appearing in the 1630s claimed that the Fomorians had been a seafaring people descended from Noah’s other son, Ham.
Irish mythology (from above wikipedia links)
The medieval myth of Partholón says that his followers were the first to invade Ireland after the flood, but the Fomorians were already there:
Geoffrey Keating reports a tradition that the Fomorians, led by Cichol Gricenchos, had arrived two hundred years earlier.
In Irish mythology, Cichol or Cíocal Gricenchos is the earliest-mentioned leader of the Fomorians. His epithet, Gricenchos or Grigenchosach, is obscure. Macalister translates it as “clapperleg”; Comyn as “of withered feet”.O’Donovan leaves it untranslated.
According to the Lebor Gabála Érenn, he arrived in Ireland with 200 men and 600 women, who subsisted by fishing and fowling for 200 years until the arrival of Partholón, 311 years after the Flood, whose followers were the first to bring animal husbandry, the plough, houses and brewing to Ireland. Ten years later, Partholón defeated Cichol and the Fomorians in the Battle of Mag Itha.
Partholon defeated Cíocal in the Battle of Mag Itha, but all his people later died of plague.
Then came Nemed and his followers.
Ireland is said to have been empty for thirty years following the death of Partholon’s people, but Nemed and his followers encountered the Fomorians when they arrived.(? so the Fomorians didnt all die of plague or new ones?)
(modern spelling: Neimheadh
) is a character in medieval Irish mythohistory
. According to the Lebor Gabála Érenn
(compiled in the 11th century
), he is the leader of the third people
– that is, after the Muintir Cessair
and the Muintir Partholóin
– to settle in Ireland
. His people are referred to as the Muintir Nemid
(or Muintir Neimhidh
, “people of Nemed”), Clann Nemid
(Clann Neimhidh, “offspring of Nemed”) or Nemedians
. They are described as arriving 30 years after the Muintir Partholóin had died out. The Nemedians too became extinct and/or had left Ireland.
At this point, Céitinn reports another tradition that the Fomorians were seafarers from the middle east, descended from Ham, son of Noah.
Nemed defeated them in several battles, killing their kings Gann and Sengann, but two new Fomorian leaders arose: Conand son of Faebar, who lived in Conand’s Tower on Tory Island, County Donegal, and Morc son of Dela (note that the first generation of the Fir Bolg were also said to be sons of Dela). It is suggested by John Rhys and R. A. Stewart Macalister that the Fir Bolg are the Fomorians (Fomoire) under another guise.
After Nemed’s death, Conand and Morc enslaved his people and demanded a heavy tribute: two thirds of their children, grain and cattle.
Nemed’s son Fergus Lethderg gathered an army of sixty thousand, rose up against them and destroyed Conand’s Tower, but Morc attacked them with a huge fleet, and there was great slaughter on both sides.
The sea rose over them and drowned most of the survivors: only thirty of Nemed’s people escaped in a single ship, scattering to the other parts of the world.
The next invasion was by the Fir Bolg, who did not encounter the Fomorians. (this can mean the fomorians and fir bolg are the same people.)
The Tuatha Dé Danann, who are usually supposed to have been the gods of the Goidelic Irish, defeated the Fir Bolg.
1. The first Battle of Mag Tuired and took possession of Ireland.
Because their king, Nuada Airgetlám, had lost an arm in the battle and was no longer physically whole, their first king in Ireland was the half-Fomorian Bres.
He was the result of a union between Ériu of the Tuatha Dé Danann and the Fomorian prince Elatha, who had come to her one night by sea on a silver boat.
Both Elatha and Bres are described as very beautiful. However Bres turned out to be a bad king who forced the Tuatha Dé to work as slaves and pay tribute to the Fomorians.
He lost authority when he was satirised for neglecting his kingly duties of hospitality. Nuada was restored to the kingship after his arm was replaced with a working one of silver, but the Tuatha Dé’s oppression by the Fomorians continued.
Bres fled to his father, Elatha, and asked for his help to restore him to the kingship. Elatha refused, on the grounds that he should not seek to gain by foul means what he couldn’t keep by fair. Bres instead turned to Balor, a more warlike Fomorian chief living on Tory Island, and raised an army.
The Tuatha Dé Danann also prepared for war, under another half-Fomorian leader, Lug. His father was Cian of the Tuatha Dé, and his mother was Balor’s daughter Ethniu. This is presented as a dynastic marriage in early texts, but folklore preserves a more elaborate story, reminiscent of the story of Perseus from Greek mythology.
Balor, who had been given a prophecy that he would be killed by his own grandson, locked Ethniu in a glass tower to keep her away from men. But when he stole Cian’s magical cow, Cian got his revenge by gaining entry to the tower, with the help of a druidess called Biróg, and seducing her.
She gave birth to triplets, which Balor ordered drowned. Two of the babies either died or turned into the first seals, but Biróg saved one, Lug, and gave him to Manannán and Tailtiu to foster. As an adult, Lug gained entry to Nuada’s court through his mastery of every art, and was given command over the army.
2. The second Battle of Mag Tuired (second battle of Moytura)was fought between the Fomorians under Balor and the Tuatha Dé under Lug.
Balor killed Nuada with his terrible, poisonous eye that killed all it looked upon. Lug faced his grandfather, but as he was opening his eye Lug shot a sling-stone that drove his eye out the back of his head, wreaking havoc on the Fomorian army behind. After Balor’s death the Fomorians were defeated and driven into the sea.
Lugh has several magical possessions. He wields an unstoppable fiery spear, a sling stone, and a sword named Fragarach (“the answerer”). He also owns a self-sailing boat named Scuabtuinne (“wave sweeper”), a horse named Enbarr, and a hound named Failinis.
He is a reflex of the pan-Celtic god Lugus, and his Welsh counterpart is Lleu Llaw Gyffes, “The Bright One with the Strong Hand”.
The Tuatha Dé Danann and the Fomorians are closely related.
Neit, a war god, is an ancestor of both.