Ireland before the Milesians

The following is the descent of the ante Milesian Kings or Chiefs:


10. Noe or Noah.

11. Japhet, had two sons, Gomer and Magog.

12. Magog, had three sons: Baoth, Fathochta, and Iobhath.

From Baoth the Milesians are descended. From Iobhath descended the Amazons, Bactrians, and Parthians.

13. Fathochta: second son of Magog.

14. Fraimaint : his son.

15. Easru: his son.

16. Sru: his son.

17. Seara: his son; had two sons, Tait; and Partholan, who m. Dealgnait, and had issue: Rughraidhe, Slainge. Laighline, Er, Orbha, Fearon, and Feargna. His race is believed to be extinct.

18. Tait: son of Seara.

19. Paim: his son.

20. Adnamhain: his son.

21. Nemedh: his son; mar. Macha, and had issue: 1. Stairn; 2. Iarbhainiel Faidh; 3. Ainnin; 4. Fergus Leathdhearg, whose son Briotan Maol, was ancestor of the Welsh; 5. Art.

Nemedh voyaged in thirty-four ships, with 1,020 followers, from the Black Sea, over what is now known as Russia, keeping the mountains of Sleibhté Rife, on the left hand; through the Baltic Sea, thence to Ireland, with his wife, Macha, and four sons. After being in Ireland twelve years Macha died and was buried at Ard-Macha (now Armagh). Nemedh laid the foundation of two Royal Forts, which were afterwards called Rath Crombhaoitle, and Cinneich. These structures were erected by Bog, Robhog, Rodin, and Ruibhne, four sons of Madain Muinreamhair, a renowned Fomorian, of the Race of Cham or Ham, subdued by Nemedh.

Nemedh improved the soil, cut down twelve woods; but was constantly at war with the Fomorians, over whom he gained three victories, namely, at Sliabh Blaidhniea; Ross Fraochain, at which Gan and Geanan, two Pirate Commanders, were slain; and at Murblulg in Dailraidah, where Stairn was killed by Conuing, the son of Faobhar.

A fourth and a desperate battle was fought at Cenamhruis, in Leinster; in this, Nemedh was utterly defeated; most of his army cut to pieces; his son Art, who was born in Ireland; was slain, with Iobhchon, the son of Stairn. This defeat broke the heart of Nemedh, so that he, with two thousand of his people, died at Oilean arda Nemeidh, now the Great Island in Cork Harbour.

After this defeat the Pirates followed up their success, making themselves masters of Ireland, their chief fort being at Tor Inis, now “Tory Island,” whence they issued to prey on the Nemedians, robbing them of their women, children, cattle, butter, wheat, etc.

Seeing how grievously they were oppressed the Nemedians determined to make another effort to get rid of their oppressors; and collecting all their force, under the command of three generals, Beothach, Fathach, and Fergus Leathdhearg, with the three brothers—Earglan, Manntan, Iarthacht who led the army of thirty thousand by sea and the same number by land, attacked the Fomorians, resulting in a sanguinary struggle in which Conuing the Fomorian General with his children and garrison, were destroyed. This battle was scarcely over when the Fomorian Admiral, More, the son of Dela, returned from Africa with sixty sail, landed at Tory and made for the mainland, when they were opposed by the Nemedians. The two armies fought on the strand, killing each other till the tide at length swept off most of the Nemedians. Of the Fomorians, More with the better part of the forces escaped to their ships, and soon after landed and took possession of Ireland.

About thirty officers with the three commanders escaped; these were Simon Breac, Iobhath, and Briotan Maol; and after a space of seven years they succeeded in leaving Ireland, taking with them as many as their vessels could carry; those who were forced to remain lived in a state of servitude to the pirates, but governed by their own generals, till the coming of the Firbolgs.

Simon Breac, who led the Nemedians back to Greece, by the same route they came, over Poland and Russia, only exchanged taskmasters; being obliged by the Greeks to perform the severest drudgery; to sink pits, and take the clay from the vallies to the tops of the mountains in leather bags, so as to form a soil for the growth of corn and other fruits.

The second General Iobhath; sailed with his part of the followers to the north of Europe; from him descended the Tuatha de Danaans.

The third General, Briotan Maol, landed in Scotland, and remained there; from him Britain has received its name. His posterity formed the Celtic people of Scotland, England, and Wales.

The Firbolgs

21. Nemedh, above mentioned.

22. Stairn: his son.

23. Simon Breac: his son.

24. Beoan: his son.

25. Arglambh: his son.

26. Simon: his son.

27. Oirtheachta: his son.

28. Goisdean: his son.

29. Othoirbh: his son.

30. Triobhuith: his son.

31. Loich: his son.

32. Dela: his son; had five sons:

  1. Slainge, m. Fuaid.
  2. Rughraidhe, m. Eadair.
  3. Gann, m. Anuist.
  4. Geanann, m. Cnucha.
  5. Seangann, m. Labhra.


1. Slainge was the first monarch of Ireland, reigned one year, and died at Dumha Slainge, made Tara his capital, erected the first Royal palace there.

2. Rughraidhe was the second monarch, reigned two years, was drowned in the Boyne.

4, Genann and (5) Seangann succeeded, reigned together four years, they died at Treamhain.

3. Gann, was the fourth monarch, reigned five years, and was slain by Fiacha Cinnfionnan.

34. Stairn: son of Rugraidhe.

35. Fiacha Cinnfionnan: his son; was the fifth monarch, reigned five years, was slain by Riondal. This king obtained his sirname, “Cinnfionnan,” from the white heads of his subjects.

34. Riondal: son of Geanann; was the sixth monarch, reigned six years, was killed in war by Fiodhbhghean, at Craoibhe.

34. Fiodhbhghean: son of Leangann, the fifth son of Dela; was the seventh monarch, reigned four years, but fell in battle when he fought against Eochaidh, at Muigh Muirtheimhne.

35. Eirc: son of Riondal, No. 34 above.

36. Eochaidh: his son; was the eighth and last monarch of the Firbolg race. This Eochaidh m. Tailte, the dau. of Maghmor, King of Spain; on her death she was buried in the celebrated cemetery of Tailtean, on the Lough Crew Hills, which were covered with wood till Tailte ordered the trees to be cut down, so as to have a clear space for the Oenach. After the death of Eochaidh, Tailte married Duach Dall, a general of the Firbolgs.

After years of bondage in Greece, the five sons of Dela, seized on some shipping, and with five thousand followers, including their wives, quitted Greece, and made for Ireland where they landed 216 years after the death of Nemedh. On their arrival they divided Ireland into four portions:

Slainge got the central eastern part, now nearly corresponding with Leinster.

Rughraide governed the northern part, now Ulster.

Geanann had Conacht.

Seangann ruled the western, and Gann, the eastern part of Munster.

Each of these sons had one thousand followers.

The Firbolg people were divided into three classes:

1. The Firbolgs (or bag men), whose office it was to carry leathern bags of earth up the mountains.

2. The Firdhomhnoin (deep men), who dug deep holes in the ground.

3. The Firgailiain (spear men), who were armed with spears to defend the others from enemies.

Slainge landed at Inbher Slainge, Wexford harbour, on a Saturday. Gann and Seangann landed on the following Tuesday at Iorrus Domhnoin (now Erris), in Conacht. Geanann and Rughraidhe landed on the succeeding Friday at Tract Rughraidhe.

These people were chiefly employed in agricultural pursuits, they were the builders of the earliest circular forts in which but few stones were employed; they finally became the peasantry (the Attacotti) of various parts of Ireland, possessing a distinct feature in the western Isles, and in Wales.

Three familes have been traced to pure Firbolg origin, viz., Gabhraidhe, in Lucca, in Conacht; Ui Tairsigh, in Crioch O’Failge, and Gailinin, in Leinster.

The Firbolgs were the ruling families in Conacht down to the third century of our era, when Cormac MacArt fought against and defeated Guire, the last Firbolg King of that province; after which defeat they merged into farmers.

The slayer of Cumhall, at the battle of Cnucha, was Goll MacMorna, the chief of the Clanna Moirne, who was of Firbolg descent.

It is certain the Firbolgs were Celts; they had laws and social institutions, and established a Monarchy on Tara Hill; but they were not a cultivated people, they were rather shepherds and agriculturists.

The Firbolgs were a small, straight-haired, swarthy race, dark or black hair, talkative, strolling, guileful, unsteady, disturbers of every council and assembly. It is remarkable that their eyes were blue-gray, and their eye-lashes of a dark colour.

The Tuatha-de-Danaan

21. Nemedh, above mentioned.

22. Iarbhainiel Faidh: his son.

23. Beothach: his son.

24. Iobhath: his son.

25. Baoth: his son.

26. Eana: his son.

27. Tabhran: his son.

29. Tait: his son.

30. Allai: his son; had three sons: 1. Iondaoi-Iabhneoin, 2. Ordan, and 3. Ordan.

31. Ordan: son of Allai.

32. Eadarlamh: his son.

33. Eachtach: his son.

34. Nuadh Airgiothlamh: his son; was the first Tuatha-de-Danaan Monarch; reigned 30 years; was slain in the second battle of North Muighe Tuirreadh, by Ealadh, son of Dealbaoith, and by Ballar-na-Neid.

31. Iondaoi-Iabhneoin: son of Allai.

32. Neid: his son.

33. Ealathan: his son; had five sons, viz: 1. Ogma, the inventor or teacher of the ogham (pr. Owam) writing; 2. Alloid, 3. Breas, 4. Deal-bhaoith, and 5. Daghda Mór.

34. Breas: son of Ealathan; was elected king after the battle of Muighe Tuirreadh, when the hand was cut off Nuadha, in an engagement with the Fomorians. Breas remained Ard Righ during the seven years Nuadh’s wound was being healed, at the end of which time he resigned the crown to the former monarch. This Breas was the second monarch.

33. Eachtairgbreac: son of Neid, No. 32.

34. Dianceatch: his son.

35. Cein: his son,

36. Luighaidh Lambhfadha: his son; was the third monarch; was fostered by Tailte, widow of the last Firbolg Monarch: instituted the annual assembly at Tailte’s cemetery, on the lst of August, called after this Prince, Lá Lugnnassadh or “Lammas Day,” the assembly games or festivals of Lughaidh.

34. Daghda Mór: son of Ealathan; was the fourth monarch; he reigned seventy years: he had four sons: 1. Bodhbh Dearg, 2. Cearniad Mil Bheoil, 3. Midhir, and 4. Aongus Oge; his daus. name was Bugh. This Daghda was a great and good monarch, and so well learned that it has been said he possessed magical powers.

34. Dealbhaoith: son of Ealathan, No. 33; had a dau. named Danan; her sons were:—Brian, Inchor, and Inchorba.

35. Oghmhagrian Eigis: his son.

36. Dealbhaoith (2): his son; was the fifth monarch; reigned ten years.

37. Fiachadh: his son; was the sixth monarch; reigned ten years; slain by Eogan at Ard Breac.

35. Cearmad Mil-Bheoil: son of Daghda Mór.

36. Eathoir (Macuil), m. Banbha; Teathoir (Maceacht), mar. Fodhla; Ceathoir (MacGreine), m. Eire, were three sons of Cearmad; succeeded Fiachadh, and reigned 30 years, as the seventh, eight, and ninth monarchs. These princes reigned each one year by turns, and Ireland was called by the name of the queen of the reigning king during his term of government. It was during the reign of Ceathoir that the Milesian forces landed in Ireland.

Thus we find the Tuatha-de-Danaans reigned during a space of 197 years.

The posterity of Nemedh under the government of Iarbhainel Faidh, having left Ireland, returned to Greece, and settled near Thebes, where they became very skilful in mechanical arts, sciences, and letters, including, we have reason to believe, a knowledge of chemistry, which the uneducated called “magical knowledge,” and ascribed to “dealings with the devil,” etc. After a resistance of many years in Greece, or Persia, this people quitted Thebes, wandered about till they arrived at Scandinavia, where their superior civilization had a great effect on the hospitable natives. In the vicinity of Scandinavia (some say Denmark) they settled, having obtained possession of four cities as schools of learning (colleges), in which the natives were taught in what ignorant historians termed “diabolical learning.”

These cities were named Falias, in which Morfhias taught; Gorias was presided over by Erus; Finnias having Arias as its teacher; and Murias, in which Senias taught.

Having lived for some time in this country the Tuatha-de-Danaans left and sailed to the north of Scotland where they remained seven years, near Dobhar and Iardobhar.

On leaving the four cities above mentioned, they brought with them four remarkable curiosities: the Lia Fail, from Falias; a sword, used by King Luighaidh Lamhfhada, from Gorias; a spear, used also by Luighaidh, from Finnias; and Coirean Daghadha (a cauldron), from Murias.

This people, after a stay of seven years in the north of Scotland, removed to Ireland; landed here on Bealteine (or, the 1st of May); and made a Beal-fire of their shipping, as they intended never to return. A thick fog shrouded their arrival, and the deep woods covered their march into the interior of the country. When they arrived at a place called Sliabh-an-Iaruin they sent ambassadors to the Firbolg King, Eochaidh, to fight, or deliver up to them the government of the Island. Soon after, a desperate battle was fought at South Magh Tuiredh of Cunga (Cong, in West Conacht), at which upwards of one hundred thousand Firbolgs were slain. In this battle the Tuatha-de-Danaan leader, Nuadh, got his hand cut off; after a period of seven years the wound was healed, and a silver hand was so skilfully fitted to the arm, that he was able to use it just as if life and feeling were infused into it: This shows the mechanical skill of these people long since lost, and which modern science cannot reach.

Tailte was the queen of the subdued Eochaidh; she afterwards nursed Luighaidh, the third Tuatha-de-Danaan monarch; one of her royal residences was Rath Dubh, in the parish of Telltown, barony of Upper Kells, county Meath, and about 120 perches north of Telltown House, from this queen the townland and parish obtained their name. She was buried at Sliabh na Coille, called afterwards Sliabh na Caillighe. The Coille, or wood, was cut down; but the Callighe remained, meaning the mountain of the “old woman” Tailte, and is now known as the old pagan cemetery on the Loughcrew Hills : a cemetery at least three thousand seven hundred and sixteen years old, as Tailte was buried there, b.c. 1829; but on the death of Conchobhor it ceased to be used as a place of burial.

The Tuatha-de-Danaans were divided into three castes :—The first were the Tuatha (“tuath:” a lord, or commander) or nobility, i.e. the principal leaders of the colony; the Bantuathachs were the beautiful women Beochoil and Danan. The second caste was the Dè (i.e. gods), or those whose office it was to sacrifice and pray to God for the people, i.e., the druids. The third tribe was styled Dè Danans; they were chiefly employed in the study of poetry, and all profane learning.

We are of opinion that it was this people who erected most of our round towers; nearly all the large Duns in which heavy stone work is seen, as Cnoc-Buidhbh, Sidh Truim, etc.; and that they were a wise and highly learned race, skilled in medicine, poetry, mechanics, astronomy, agriculture, architecture, were famous builders in stone, and possessed a knowledge of religion as it was handed down from Noah to his posterity. Hence from their retired habits, and superior culture, the uneducated of a fanciful imagination termed them siabhras, duiné sidhe, “good people,” etc.

And owing to many of these people living concealed in the duns or forts, out of which were underground passages, often for long distances, it has been said that the “good people,” and “fairy queens” live in the green hills.

Next to Tara, the most ancient structure in Ireland is the Cathair of Aileach, in the county of Derry, built by Daghda Mór the celebrated Tuatha de-Danaan Monarch of Ireland, above mentioned. This was the king who fought the battle of North Magh Tuireadh against the Fomorians. This fort he erected round the grave of his son Aodh, who was killed through jealousy by Corrgenu, a Conacht chieftain. This fort was built of stone, of a circular form, by the regular masons, Imcheall and Garbhan; and inside the protective circle were erected circular towers of cut stone. This fort afterwards became the capital of the Princes of the Milesian race of Ir; and more recently was used as the residence of the Hy-Niall Princes and Kings, who, in the centre of said fort, over the grave of Aodh, were solemnly inaugurated.

It is highly probable that the Tuatha-de-Danaan people brought the art of building from the cradle of the human race, Iran, or the high table land south east of the Black Sea.

They were a tall race, warlike, energetic, and progressive; great physicians, fair-complexioned, opened mines and worked in metals, spoke same language as the Firbolg and Milesian; built the cemeteries at Howth, New Grange, Louth, and Slieve na Cailleagh.

On the arrival of the Milesians, the Firbolgs and the Tuatha-de-Danaan coalesced; and thenceforth formed the old Irish peasant and small farming class.

The first battle fought between the Milesians and the Tuatha-de-Danaans was between Queen Eire and Heber Fionn, at Sliabh Mis, in Kerry, in which many were slain on both sides; amongst them was Fais, wife of Un MacUighe, as well as Scota (the widow of Galamh, or Milesius of Spain), who was buried on the strand. Queen Eire then retreated with her army to Tailtean, where she related the circumstances of her defeat.

The next, and decisive battle was fought at Tailtean, where the three Tuatha-de-Danaan Monarchs with their Queens were slain; Ceathoir was slain by the sword of Amergin; Teathoir, by Heremon; and Eathoir, by Heber Fionn; Eric was slain by Luirge; Fodhla, by Headan; and Banba, by Siacer, b.c. 1699, and a.m. 3,500.

The Tuatha-de Danaans made another effort to recover the control of Ireland, when they fought the disastrous battle of Druim Leighean (now Drumleene, in the parish of Clonleigh, barony of Raphoe, county Donegal, a short distance north of Lifford).

Soon after this battle the chiefs of the Tuatha-de-Danaans met at Brugh-na-Boinne (Brugh on the river Boyne), the great Tuatha-de-Danaans Lios to elect their own king, before they retired to their native hills. The five princes who appeared as candidates were: Bodhleh Dearg, son of Daghda Mór; Ilbhreach, of Eas Ruaidh; Lir, of Sidh Fionnachaidh, son of Lughaidh; Midhir Mór Uallach, of Bri Leith; and Aongus Oge, another son of Daghda Mór. The assembly was presided over by Manannan. Aongus retired from the contest. Eventually Bodhbh Dearg was chosen as the 10th

Tuatha-de-Danaan Ard Righ,—on account of the goodness of his father, for his own sake, and because he was the eldest of Daghda’s children. He kept his court at Sidh Bodhbh, on the shores of Lough Derg, above Killaloe, county Clare.

Manannan was chosen Chief Counsellor, who advised them (the chiefs and people) to distribute themselves over the plains and hills of Erinn.

Midhir was appointed over Sith Truim (a hill east of Slane, county Meath).

Cliodhva presided over the south of Ireland, having her palace near Mallow county Cork.

Finnbharr presided over Sidh Meadha (Knockma), south west of Tuam, county Galway.

It is worthy of remark, that nearly all these princes, chiefs, and princesses are still feared and courted by the peasantry of Ireland.


Sidh: Sidh Fionnachaidh (or “Hill of the white field”) on the top of Sliabh Fuaid, near Newtownhamilton, county Armagh.