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CELTIC-L  June 2000

CELTIC-L June 2000

Subject:

Re: Misconceptions

From:

Francine Nicholson <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Francine Nicholson <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Tue, 20 Jun 2000 18:14:20 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (86 lines)

> From: Lars De Richter [SMTP:[log in to unmask]]
>
> > The Tuatha De Danann are one of the mythological races who invaded
> > Ireland.
>
        Correction: in some stories, the Tuatha De/ Danann are depicted as
winning sovereignty over the land from the Fir Bolg, in others from the
Fomoire, another race of beings which is depicted as being on the island
throughout time.

> They won Ireland from the Fir Bolg, but they lost it again from the
>  Milesians (these should be the Celts, who still live in Ireland).
>
        In pseudohistory like the LGE, they are depicted as the ancestors of
the Irish. Scholars do not all agree that the Milesians were Celts or that
they should be identified with any single group.

> The main source about them is the so-called "Book of Invasions" or the
> "Leabhar Gabala".
>
        The TDD and their opponents play the leading role in the tale called
Cath Maigh Tuired. The LGE is a medieval Christian compliation that attempts
to fit native tales into the framework of history found in the Hebrew bible.
As such, it tries to fit all the different tales into an orderly outline.
However, the inner contradictions show how hopeless the task was.

        Moreover, LGE and CMT should not be thought of as "main sources"
simply because a number of characters appear in them. In fact, they are
among the least reliable sources. The TDD appear in many, many tales and in
placelore and folklore. Proinsias Mac Cana has suggested that most listeners
would not have known every detail of every story, but they would have been
exposed to a wide range of tales. Thus, the listeners would have had a
rounded image of any character, not one based on a single story. Also, to
look at a single story is to buy into the image of a single storyteller. If
you do this, you lose the fullness of each figure. Thus, Lugh is not simply
the skilled general of CMT and LGE, but also the seeker of vengeance--or
justice for wrongs--who demanded so much from the children of Tuirenn and
who killed his wife's lover--only to be killed by his children.

        Mr. de Richter's statement that the tales of the Ulster cycle have
nothing to do with the TDD is incorrect. The TDD pervade the Ulster cycle,
and we learn a great deal about them from those tales, whether it's Macha
running her race or the Morri/gan showing herself as protector to Cu/
Chulainn or Mananna/n as cuckolded husband. The question is how many, if
any, of the non-TDD figures in the Ulster cycle--like Medbh, Cu/ Chulainn,
Fergus, and so on--were also considered deities by the pre-Christian Irish.
They are superhuman humans in the tales--but some may originally have been
deities.

> They had a lot of magical powers and they are often described as Gods,
>
        The names and imagery associated with some figures are quite similar
to those associated with figures venerated as deities by Celts on the
European Continent and the island of Britain. This leads some scholars to
conclude that the TDD were originally the gods of the pre-Christian Irish.
However, the forms of the tales as we have them are so pervaded with
Christian imagery that it's difficult to be sure what is native and what is
imported.

>  but in the end the Milesians conquered Ireland from them with the
> help of their "druid" Amergin.
>
        He is described as a fili, not a drui.

> After which the Tuatha De Danann went under the ground and they were
> believed to live in the many mounds of Ireland as the "Sidhe".
>
        Not that simple.

        Some figures among the TDD were modified and transformed into
saints. Others persisted in the folklore and became identified with the
sidhe.

        My point is that the figures of Irish mythology are interesting
enough to be seen on their own terms, without being plugged into popular
cubbyholes, and until people interested in Irish stuff stop seeing LGE and
CMT as "main sources" and taking everything there as "basic", the
misconceptions will continue to be better known than the abundance of other
evidence.

        Therefore, since I'm sure there aren't many places to read, in
Dutch, about the TDD, I find it sad that Mr. De Richter insists on
expounding and defending the popular--and inaccurate--stereotypes.

        Francine Nicholson

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