Gods and Fighting Men

The Battle of Tailltin

   And three days after the landing of the Gael, they were attacked by Eriu, wife of Mac Greine, Son of the Sun, and she having a good share of men with her. And they fought a hard battle, and many were killed on both sides. And this was the first battle fought between the Sons of the Gael and the Men of Dea for the kingship of Ireland.
   It was in that battle Fais, wife of Un, was killed in a valley at the foot of the mountain, and it was called after her, the Valley of Fais. And Scota, wife of Miled, got her death in the battle, and she was buried in a valley on the north side of the mountain near the sea. But the Sons of the Gael lost no more than three hundred men, and they beat back the Men of Dea and killed a thousand of them. And Eriu was beaten back to Tailltin, and as many of her men as she could hold together; and when she came there she told the people how she had been worsted in the battle, and the best of her men had got their death. But the Gael stopped on the battle-field, and buried their dead, and they gave a great burial to two of their Druids, Aer and Eithis, that were killed in the fight.
   And after they had rested for a while, they went on to Inver Colpa in Leinster, and Heremon and his men joined them there. And then they sent messengers to the three kings of Ireland, the three sons of Cermait Honey-Mouth, and bade them to come out and fight a battle that would settle the ownership of the country once for all.
   So they came out, and the best of the fighters of the Tuatha de Danaan with them, to Tailltin. And there they attacked one another, and the Sons of the Gael remembered the death of Ith, and there was great anger on them, and they fell on the Men of Dea to avenge him, and there was a fierce battle fought. And for a while neither side got the better of the other, but at the last the Gael broke through the army of the Men of Dea and put them to the rout, with great slaughter, and drove them out of the place. And their three kings were killed in the rout, and the three queens of Ireland, Eriu and Fodhla and Banba. And when the Tuatha de Danaan saw their leaders were dead they fell back in great disorder, and the Sons of the Gael followed after them. But in following them they lost two of their best leaders, Cuailgne, son of Breagan, at Slieve Cuailgne, and Fuad, his brother, at Slieve Fuad. But they were no way daunted by that, but followed the Men of Dea so hotly that they were never able to bring their army together again, but had to own themselves beaten, and to give up the country to the Gael.
   And the leaders, the sons of Miled, divided the provinces of Ireland between them. Heber took the two provinces of Munster, and he gave a share of it to Amergin; and Heremon got Leinster and Connacht for his share, and Ulster was divided between Eimher, son of Ir, son of Miled, and some others of their chief men. And it was of the sons of Eimhir, that were called the Children of Rudraighe, and that lived in Emain Macha for nine hundred years, some of the best men of Ireland came; Fergus, son of Rogh, was of them, and Conall Cearnach, of the Red Branch of Ulster.
   And from the sons of Ith, the first of the Gad to get his death in Ireland, there came in the after time Fathadh Canaan, that got the sway over the whole world from the rising to the setting sun, and that took hostages of the streams and the birds and the languages.
   And it is what the poets of Ireland used to be saying, that every brave man, good at fighting, and every man that could do great deeds and not be making much talk about them, was of the Sons of the Gael; and that every skilled man that had music and that did enchantments secretly, was of the Tuatha de Danaan. But they put a bad name on the Firbolgs and the men of Domnann and the Gaileoin, for lies and for big talk and injustice. But for all that there were good fighters among them, and Ferdiad, that made so good a stand against Cuchulain, in the war for the Bull of Cuailgne was one of them. And the Gaileoin fought well in the same war; but the men of Ireland had no great liking for them, and their Druids drove them out of the country afterwards.


Deidre of the Sorrows, by John Duncan