Following my post on the derivation of Ui/ etc. in Irish names, Drew had a
few queries on the aithech tuatha, totemism, etc. I'm still working on it
but this bit on the aithech tuatha might interest him. I'm sending the full
text of the revolt by separate post.
'Aithech' meant rent-payer, client, commoner, churl.
'Aithech tuatha' was an unfree, tribute-paying tuath. It was probably used
as a term of reproach and in contradiction to the free men. It is thought
by some that they were the remnants of the inhabitants of Ireland before the
Milesians colonised it, eg Fir Bolg, but others maintain that they were
lower class Milesians who were oppressed by the magnates of the land.
Also known as the Attacotti, they were a subservient, vassal people but, in
the 1st or 2nd C. they decided they would do something to improve their lot.
For three seasons, they saved one third of their provisions and then invited
the king of Ireland, Fiacho Findolaidh (Fiacha Finnolaidh), the king of
Munster, Fiac son of Fidheccah and the king of the Ulidians, Bres, son of
Ferb, to a great feast. In all, 9000 people attended the feast. The
vassals, under the leadership of Cairbre Cinn-Cait (Cat-headed) waited until
the guests were fully relaxed and then attacked them. All were slaughtered
except the wives of the three kings, each of whom was pregnant.
The three, Side the Swift, Crube and Aine, escaped to their families among
the Picts, Britons and Saxons respectively. Side carried the king of
Ireland's son, Crube the king of Munster's and Aine the king of the Ulidians'.
Cairbre Cinn-Cait was appointed king of the vassal people, but his five year
reign was disatrous and soon there was no food in the land. On his death,
his son, Morann, was offered the kingship, but he declined and suggested
that the three sons of the kings in exile should be invited back. This was
agreed and each son, when he became old enough, was given the kingship of
the territory previously held by his father. Ferrdach Find, son of Fiacho
Findolaigh, was made king of Tara and of Ireland, and Morann, son of Cairbre
Cinn-Cait, became his advisor.
A second revolt of the Aithech Tuatha occurred during the reign of Fiacha of
the White Cattle. Fiacha was killed and Elim, one of the perpetrators, took
the crown. Once again, Ireland was without corn, milk, fruit or fish.
Tuathal Teachtmar, after 133 battles with the Aithech Tuatha, eventually
defeated them and extracted tributes from them that they would never again