Tuatha De Dananns

Margaret Anne Cusack
start of chapter | Chapter III

The fifth, or Tuatha De Danann "taking" of Ireland, occurred in the reign of Eochaidh, son of Erc, A.M. 3303. The Firbolgian dynasty was terminated at the battle of Magh Tuireadh. Eochaidh fled from the battle, and was killed on the strand of Traigh Eothaile, near Ballysadare, co. Sligo. The cave where he was interred still exists, and there is a curious tradition that the tide can never cover it.

The Tuatha De Danann king, Nuada, lost his hand in this battle, and obtained the name of Nuada of the Silver Hand,[9] his artificer, Credne Cert, having made a silver hand for him with joints. It is probable the latter acquisition was the work of Mioch, the son of Diancecht, Nuada's physician, as there is a tradition that he "took off the hand and infused feeling and motion into every joint and finger of it, as if it were a natural hand." We may doubt the "feeling," but it was probably suggested by the "motion," and the fact that, in those ages, every act of more than ordinary skill was attributed to supernatural causes, though effected through human agents. Perhaps even, in the enlightened nineteenth century, we might not be much the worse for the pious belief, less the pagan cause to which it was attributed. It should be observed here, that the Brehon Laws were probably then in force; for the "blemish" of the monarch appears to have deprived him of his dignity, at least until the silver hand could satisfy for the defective limb. The Four Masters tell us briefly that the Tuatha De Dananns gave the sovereignty to Breas, son of Ealathan, "while the hand of Nuada was under cure," and mentions that Breas resigned the kingdom to him in the seventh year after the cure of his hand.


[9] Hand.—Four Masters, p. 17.