LIFE ON THE FRINGE - 17: Dark Deeds in the Emerald Isle, Betrayal and Sorcery!

Ulster, scene of our first confrontation

Ballintoy cliffs on Ulster's wild Atlantic shore, Northern Ireland
Ballintoy cliffs on Ulster's wild Atlantic shore, Northern Ireland | Source
Manannan mac Lir, husband of Fand, who was rescued from the raiding Fomorii by Cuchulainn
Manannan mac Lir, husband of Fand, who was rescued from the raiding Fomorii by Cuchulainn | Source

Fand and Ferdia

FAND was a daughter of Aed Abrat, sister of Li Ban. She was wedded to Manannan mac Lir. Legend tells that when he left her to go on campaign against the Fomorii, she was attacked by three Fomorii warriors and held captive. Her sister Li Ban went to Cuchulainn and pleaded with him for protection and to rescue her sister. He consented to step in on her behalf, provided Fand became his lover by means of reward.

So Cuchulainn showed, rescued Fand and kept her enemies at bay. He vecame her lover before going home to his wife Emer. However, when Emer learned of her husband's dalliance with Fand she attacked her herself, with the aim of killing her. When Fand tried to get in touch with Cuchulainn to tell him of his wife's attack, Manannan learned of all these goings-on and turned up at Fand's door to demand that she choose between him and her lover. Naturally she chose her husband.;

FERDIA was foster-brother and friend of Cuchulainn. When Medb attacked Ulster to gain the great brown bull of Ulster, Donn Cuailgne, Ferdia took her side despite Cuchulainn being allied to the Ulstermen.

Where most of the Ulstermen were under a curse and too sick to stand and fight Medb and her Connachtmen, Ferdia was unwilling to fight his friend. Medb, afraid her plan to get the bull would come to nought goaded Ferdia.into single combat with Cuchulainn. In true legendary fashion they fought long and hard, yet Cuchulainn slew his foster-brother and was grief-stricken at the outcome.

Dive into the past, immerse yourself in the mists of time, follow the Gaelic deities as they battle together for the upper hand Fact and fiction blend together in a colourful tapestry of history and legend

Thelinn or Eithne, whose son Lugh by Cian was saved and fostered by Manannan mac Lir, to cut down his father's killer Balor - his grandfather
Thelinn or Eithne, whose son Lugh by Cian was saved and fostered by Manannan mac Lir, to cut down his father's killer Balor - his grandfather | Source

Thelinn or Eithne

THELINN was the daughter of Balor. It had been foretold by a seer that Balor would perish at the hands of a grandson and he kept Thelinn in the Glass Tower, away from prospective suitors.

A fellow named Cian was able to enter the tower, nevertheless, and a boy was born. Lugh was the result of their secret relationship. Balor slew Cian and ordered the lad to be drowned, but he was saved and fostered by Manannan mac Lir. Lugh fulfilled the prophecy when he came of age, rendering the hated Balor with a stroke of his sword.

Another version of the legend has it that Thelinn bore triplets and that two were drowned on the orders of her father, but that Cian was able to save the third - Lugh - and raise him. The outcome is the same.

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Fintan helped re-populate Ireland after the Flood

FINTAN was husband to Cesair, grandmother of Noah, who led the first migrants to Ireland before the land was cut off from mainland Britain and the continent of Europe. Cesair arrived in a company of fifty women and three men, Bith, Ladra and Fintan.

When Ladra died Bith and Fintan shared the women between them to increase their numbers. Cesair was wedded to Fintan and when the deluge came he was the only survivor. He became adept as a shape-changer. In one ;legend he became the Salmon of Knowledge - only to be caught by Cuchulainn.

The coast of Ireland - the isle was cut off from the mainland along with Britain several thousand years ago after the last Ice Age, when the lower-lying lands were engulfed by incoming seas - part of the legend of Fintan
The coast of Ireland - the isle was cut off from the mainland along with Britain several thousand years ago after the last Ice Age, when the lower-lying lands were engulfed by incoming seas - part of the legend of Fintan | Source
Modern Ireland - rugged scenery, warm welcome
Modern Ireland - rugged scenery, warm welcome | Source

Travel sites for visits to Ireland

www.ireland.com;

www.travelrepublic.co.uk/Dublin;

www.stenalink.co.uk;

www.discoverireland.ie/


Fir Bholg or Firbolg

The name given to the leaders of the invasion of Ireland by mainland Celts after the Nemedians. The name can be translated as the 'bag men', named as such because as slaves in Thrace/Thracia (northern Greece) they had to carry soil in large bags from a fertile corner of the land to a barren one.

Another source tells us their name stemmed from the god 'Bhuilg' and yet other sources point to them being the offspring of the Nemedians who had fled to Thracia from Ireland many (hundreds of?) years before. Yet another source says they came from Semion, of which there were three lines of descent but came under the blanket name Fir Bholg

Fir Bholg and the Fomorii

A member of the Fir Bholg, one of the incoming tribes from the eastern mainland of Europe
A member of the Fir Bholg, one of the incoming tribes from the eastern mainland of Europe | Source
More fantastic than formidable - there are variants, as many as imagination permits
More fantastic than formidable - there are variants, as many as imagination permits | Source
The Tuatha de Danann at war with the Fomorii - enemies as unreal as one another
The Tuatha de Danann at war with the Fomorii - enemies as unreal as one another | Source

Fomorii/Fomhoire/Fomoire/Fomorians

Call them whatever you fancy, they were a race of demonic beings, many half-human - according to legend many also being one-legged, one-armed, and with a single eye in the middle of their foreheads. Their name comes down to us translated as 'sea giants' or 'under-demons' - as they are thought to have had their homeland offshore or under the sea.

They fought Partholan when his army landed on Irish shores and were beaten, going into exile in the Hebrides and around Man. The same story tells us they returned following the arrival on Irish shores of Nemedh. They defeated and lorded over the Nemedians, demanding stern tribute - two thirds of the corn, wine (although sources also specify milk) and the young offspring of the Nemedians.

Eventually rebelling against this repression, the Nemedians were undeniably defeated again. The few survivors fled east, possibly to Thrace or Greece. The Fir Bholg are thought to have been descended from these Nemedians. The next time we hear of the Fomorii fighting was against the Tuatha de Danann. At first both sides occupied the land, the Fomorii only having a small area. Nuada, the king of the Tuatha is thought to have lost an arm at the first battle of Magh Tuiredh and had to stand down as leader - there was a ruling that the leader of the Tuatha should be physically able - and Bres succeeded him. Bres was part Tuatha on his mother's side and Fomori from his father.

A tyrant, Bres was soon deposed, replaced by the reinstated Nuada after having had a silver arm fitted to make up for the one lost in battle. Bres was angry at the opposition and called for help from his father's kind. Fighting began again between the Tuatha de Danann and the Fomorii, leading to the second battle of Magh Tuiredh. Both parties suffered heavily but the Tuatha won with Lugh killing the enemies' king Balor with slingshot to his single eye.

In true Irish legendary fashion, the evil Fomorii forces were wiped out, the remnants of their race driven from the land.


Celtic serpent figure associated with the Fomorii
Celtic serpent figure associated with the Fomorii | Source

Fuamnach

FUAMNACH was Midhir's first wife, who seethed with envy when Midhir fell for Etain and took her for a wife. She was so envious she turned Midhir's fetching young bride into many different life forms one after another - beginning with a pool of water!


Next - 18: Kings, heroes, fantasies... and harps!

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