Once We Were Giants

Once We Were Giants

A Poem by Rick Puetter
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…Homage to Irish Folklore and the Tuatha Dé Danann …

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Image of Cernunnos, the horned god, from the Pillar of the Boatmen, Museum of the Middle Ages, Paris.  Licensed for use under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.  Uploaded by ChrisO, June 4, 2004.  The original image can be seen at http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cernunnos.jpg.

 

 

Once We Were Giants

 

     ”…Homage to Irish Folklore and the Tuatha Dé Danann …”

 


...About 1500 BC...


Hear me now, oh Sons of hEireann1

Hear a story brave and true!

This a tale of Fate and Fortune

Hear me Sons of bless’d Danu2

 

Hear the words of I, Morfesa3

Druid Lord o’er Lia Fáil 4

Stand, I, here, in RaIth na Riogh5

On Tara6 High, in lightning gale

 

This stormy night, come feel the wind blow!

Through thunder claps, flow mists of Time!

As steam from Dagda’s Cauldron7 rises

Hear my tale--come heed my rhyme!

 

For I have danced with antlered spirits!8

In fevered trance, in pale moon light

And I have supped with ram-head serpents9

In moldy fens on drug-numbed nights!

 

And through these bonds, I see the future--

See through Time’s mists to what shall be

Look, I, now down generations--

See the acts the Fates decree.

 

In future years there stands a Hero10--

Stands strong this issue of Danu!

Nuada’s sword again shall Answer11--

Freagarthach again swing true!

 

Oh, from the storm swept shores of Ulaid12

To Tara High near River Boyne

Though seen through fog, our hist’ry rises!

Immortal in Ledgers of Time!

 

From cool, clean glen, so filled with flow’r!

With singing brook and buzz of bee

With call of hawk and blaze of sunset

Hear my tale of what shall be!

 

‘Tis not a story that is gentle--

‘Tis story of a warrior’s life

‘Tis story of sword, death, and glory

‘Tis story of a time of strife

 

Oh can you feel the swell of Fortune!?

Feel the Hand of High Danu?

All Tuatha ‘ Danann listen!

Hear this tale--not old, but new!

 

          ****     ****


 ...about 2300 BC through 1500 BC...


Now from the times of The Beginning13--

Before our people claimed this land--

Then gods and savage giants ruled

And blood did flow and stain the sands

 

Brave Partholón14 sailed from the East

And met Cichol at sad Magh Ithe15

And there he put Fomoiri16 down

Their blood and life spilled on the heath

 

Came Nemed17 from the Caspian

In forty ships in neigh two years

And sons would fall to Fomoiri

And women cry, lakes burst18 with tears!

 

Then Fir Bolg19 conquered fair Ériu20

And they were here when ‘ Danann came

At Cath Magh Tuired21 foe was met

A hand was lost--a kingly shame!

 

Oh sing Our song, My People!

Lift fife and voice--let whistle blow

We burned our ships and sharpened sword22

What fate we faced, we didn’t know!

 

          ****     ****


...about 250 AD...

 

It was the dawn of Imbolc23--

The Cailleach24 ‘ never seen

The springtime would be early

With fragrant flow’r and hills of green

 

The mists were in the meadows,

Clouds’ shadow o’er the hills

The sun was rising slowly

The wind in forest ‘ still

 

It was at this kind moment

That boy discovered sword

Blade flashing through brook’s waters

A mighty boon from ‘ Ancient Lord

 

In disbelief he stood there

Upon the waters’ bank

The water cold and painful

As boy gripped weapon’s shank

 

This was the Sword of Power

Bore markings of his line

The sword last held in hand of Lugh25

Then lost until this time

 

The sword unmarred by weather

The blade still held its sheen

Imbued with godly powers

Its edge still fresh and keen

 

He’d take the sword to Luachra26

She’d train him in its arts

He’d add this skill to what he knows

As warrior leave these parts

 

Oh can you see a purpose?

This not some idle chance!

The boy fulfills a destiny

This not Fate’s random dance!

 

          ****     ****


...about 30 years later... 


The Child-King’s name was Cormac27

His seat was Tura28 High

He held his trust in Cu Chulainn29

The Hound30 with sky-blue eyes!

 

The challenge came from Lochlin31

The northern army near

The call to Finn, it had been made

The weather cold and clear

 

     Oh, see His ships with wind filled

     Oh, see their white, fair as His hair!32

     He sails to preserve freedom--

     To save Eirinn, the fair!

 

The sons Éiru33 met Lochlin

Upon the battle field

The mid-day sun watched over head

And glinted off their shields

 

Chulainn did show so bravely

Fierce Master of the Car34

His face was grim, his spear was sharp

His name known well afar

 

     Oh, ships from Caledonia35

     White dots on azure blue

     You sail to save our people--

     May winds be fast and true

 

The battle would go badly

As prophesy decreed

The ghost of Crugal36 warned our Lord

Advice he wouldn’t heed

 

The sons Éiru were routed

Lords falling as they fled

The Noble Hound forced underground

To watch while others bled

 

     Oh, see the ships of Fingal37

     They land upon the shore!

     As Lochlin turns to meet Him

     The hopes of Éiru soar

 

The Spear of Trenmor38 in his hand

The sword of Lugh39 held high

The sun was blinding off his helm

The sight brought tear to eye

 

This was the end of Lochlin

They wouldn’t last the day

But gracious Lord would spare their King

And send him on his way40

 

     Oh, see His ships with wind filled

     Oh, see their white, fair as His hair!

     Brave Finn sails home to Caledon’

     He saved Eirinn, the fair!

 

          ****     ****


...about 10 year later... 


Some years had passed and Cormac grew

‘Though still a lad was he

And though kind peace did seem at hand

Such peace just wouldn’t be

 

As Finn was home in Caledon’

The time it seemed was right

So Cairbar41, son of Fir Bolg King

Killed Cormac Samhain42 night

 

     Oh, hear this tale, my gentle son,

     Be quiet and be still

     Finn sleeps, He sleeps so peacefully

     Beneath Sidhe’s43 verdant Hills

 

But Cormac’s line was Finn’s line44

And Cormac rightful King

So Fingal called his men to war

To Eirinn order bring

 

On Beltaine45 Day, Finn sailed his ships

At nightfall he arrived

But Cairbar had prepared for him

Had Cathmor46 at his side

 

     In forests deep, on Western Isles

     Under the mists, He sleeps

     And cloud and storm pass over Him

     No knowledge of world keeps

 

And Cairbar called to Oscar47 fair

The son of Ossian

To join him in a Beltaine feast

But planned to murder him

 

And Oscar came and feasted there

An argument ensued

And knifes were drawn and floor was cleared

As warriors now would feud

 

     Finn sleeps, He sleeps so peacefully

     In ’ land of the Faery48

     And there remains forever young49

     In ‘ land of the Banshee50

 

When Finn arrived, grandson was dead

And Ossian enraged

Son’s body charged to Chief of Bards

To take to Morven51 grave

 

And Cairbar, too, was lying dead

Was slain by Oscar’s blade

The Fir Bolg forces now dropped back

To Lubar52 river’s glades

 

     And there He waits, my gentle son--

     Until that Time, He sleeps

      ‘Till Ireland shall call His name

     Our Land, its peace to keep

 

The morning comes, command is passed

To Gaul, son of Morni

And Finn will watch the battle fray

‘Neath high-hill willow tree53

 

The battle was so furious

It lasted all the day

On both the sides strong heroes fell

No army giving sway

 

     And on that day, my gentle son

     Finn and ‘ Gods shall arise

     Fianna54 ride from under Hill

     And Sidhe fill countryside

 

The second day, battle begins

But Gaul has wounded hand

Because by random arrow pierced

Lead goes to Fillian55

 

So fearsome is his princely rage

He puts Fir Bolg to flight

So Cathmor does descend his hill

This Kingly youth to fight

 

     And They’ll fulfill, then, all our needs

     And bless us with Their aid

     And Ireland, again, my son

     Shall stand strong, unafraid

 

Finn seeing this, he gives the call

Dispatches Ossian

But he can’t reach the lad in time

So sadly loses son

 

Finn mourns that night o’er his grandson

At the rock of Cormul56

And grandson’s spirit comes to him

Now Cathmor he must duel

 

     But till that day, He’ll sleep, my son

     Yet be you not afraid

     For Finn still guards all Ireland

     And always will give aid

 

The next day Finn, he crashes shield57

With cries, he shakes his spear

Lord Finn, his screams with fury spit

In Cathmor raising fear

 

On Lubar’s banks the two Kings fight

In mist, obscured to eye58

Their weapons clash, the warriors grunt

And then a final sigh

 

     Finn sleeps, He sleeps, my gentle son

     Beneath Sidhe’s verdant Hills

     And there He sleeps, forever young

     Awaiting Ireland’s will

 

And from the mists, Finn walked forth weak

Still whole, but with spear raised

“Oh, take the spear of Trenmor, son

No more I’ll seek such praise”59

 

And Ossian took Finn’s strong arm

And pulled his father near

The field was won that happy day

Now Eirinn freed from fear

 

          ****     ****


...present day...

 

Oh yes, my son, once we were Giants

A race of Gods--Giants of Men

And long before the Christians landed

We lived and prayed in cool, clean glen

 

With very soul of world within us

We heard the talking of the trees

We heard the spirits of the waters

And heard gods speak in buzz of bees

 

We relished life, but fought wars bravely

We honored skill and poetry

We knew our lives could end so quickly

We held friends close like family

 

And all our names we’ve passed down bravely--

We’ve passed them down through centuries

And all our stories like life cherished

Bold tales once whispered in the breeze

 

So sleep, my son, and dream of glory!

Go dream of Finn and the Faery

And when you wake on morrow’s morning

I’ll sing more song of what shall be…

 

 

Picture of the Lia Fáil (©2012 Richard Puetter, All rights reserved), The Stone of Destiny--see notes below--on Tara Hill, the seat of the High Kings of Ireland.  Photographer: Rick Puetter. The Lia Fáil is at the center of the hill and Raith na Riogh, the Royal Enclosure, the ditch fortifying the hill.  In the poem, through his rituals with antlered spirits, ram-headed serpents, and the Lia Fáil, the Druid Lord Morfesa was able to see the coming of Finn McCool as a champion of his people in the 2nd century AD, nearly two millennia in the future.  I was lucky enough to visit Tara in September of 2012.  What a pleasure!


©2011 Richard Puetter

All rights reserved

 

 

Notes:

 

     First, one must realize that Irish mythology is very complicated in that it is varied and inconsistent.  It is not at all like Greek mythology, for example.  This is probably because of Ireland's violent early history with invasion after invasion, and the loss of written records.  So this is much “looser stuff”.  That being said, it is a wonderful place to play around with stories, and I will take some liberties with what is commonly held to be so.  However, this is in the finest tradition of Irish folklore.  The Poetical works of Ossian (Oisin), for example, which was Fionn Mac Cumhaill’s son, was most likely completely made up by James MacPherson, the person who supposedly “discovered” this work.  And this is in keeping with the Christians that later came to Ireland and attempted to undermine the Irish folk beliefs by providing a genealogy of the Irish people, showing how they are direct descendants of Noah--see the Annals of the Fours Masters.  So I’m picking and choosing, too, and making things up here and there--reader be warned.  I’ll try to point this out when I do so, but I’m sure those versed in the history of ancient Ireland will not have trouble seeing through this.

 

     In writing the poem, I could have chosen from a wealth of surviving texts from the time of the Tuatha Dé Danann--see below, or the time of Finn McCool, the hero of this piece.  However, here is what I have done.  The beginning of the piece is based on general myths of Ireland.  The second section is based on The Book of Invasions, and The Annals of the Four Masters.  The third section is completely made up by me.  The central fourth and fifth sections are based on “The Book of Fengal” and “The Book of Tremora” in “The Poetical Work of Ossian”, which is also probably all made up, this time by MacPherson.  These are the longest sections of the poem.  They are probably also the most heroic, and hence the attraction in using this material.  The last, sixth section, is again made up by me.  I will let the reader judge for himself/herself if I have hit the mark and held the standard high enough to do honor to these wonderful legends.

 

     Now to the notes, I hope you find this topic as interesting as I do.

 

          Best regards,

 

               Rick



 

1hEireann--Ancient Ireland, later written as “Erin” in nineteenth century poetry and by Irish nationalists, the later being derived from  “Eirinn”, the dative case of the Irish word for Ireland , "Éire”, which comes from Eriu, a descendant of Nuada.

 

2Danu--The Goddess of the “Tuatha Dé Danann”, the People of Danu, the fifth group of people recorded in the “Annals of the Four Masters” to have invaded Ireland.  Danu is a River Goddess, and was brought with the Proto-Indo-European people that invaded Ireland.  Indeed, there is a water Goddess by the name of Danu mentioned in the Rig Veda.  The river names the Danube (Latin: Danuvius), Dniestr, Dniepr and Don probably all derive from the name of this Goddess, as these people migrated from India, moved across Europe, and finally arrived in Ireland.

 

The following is a chronology from the Annals of the Four Masters, based on reign-lengths given in Seathrún Céitinn's Forus Feasa ar Erinn. Nuada's original reign lacks a precise start date.

 

  • Nuada (first reign) AFM unknown-1897 BC; FFE unknown-1477 BC
  • Bres AFM 1897-1890 BC; FFE 1477-1470 BC
  • Nuada (final reign) AFM 1890-1870 BC; FFE 1470-1447 BC
  • Lugh AFM 1870-1830 BC; FFE 1447-1407 BC
  • Eochaid Ollathair AFM 1830-1750 BC; FFE 1407-1337 BC
  • Delbáeth AFM 1750-1740 BC; FFE 1337-1327 BC
  • Fiacha AFM 1740-1730 BC; FFE 1327-1317 BC
  • Mac Cuill, Mac Cecht and Mac Greine AFM 1730-1700 BC; FFE 1317-1287 BC

 

3Morefesa was one of the four “Druids of Danu”, each associated with one of the four cities of the “Tuatha Dé Danann”, the people of DanuMorfesa was from the city of Falias.  The other druids were Esras from Gorias, Semias from Murias, and Uiscias from Findias.  Each of the cities in turn were associated with one of the four treasures of the Tuatha Dé: (1) the Lia Fáil, the “Stone of Truth”, or the “Stone of Destiny”, from Falias, (2) The “Gáe Assail” (Spear of Lugh) from Gorias, (3) the “Cauldron of Dagda”, from Murias, and (4) the sword “Freagarthach” or "Answerer", which was the sword of Nuada, which was also wielded by the sea god Manannán Mac Lir and the god of light, Lugh or LugLugh was the new champion of the Tuatha Dé Dannan, taking Nuada’s place and sword since Nuada had lost his hand/arm.  When Nuada fell in the battle to Balor of the Evil (or Poisonous) Eye in the Second Battle of Magh Tuireadh, Lugh took kingship over the Tuatha Dé Dannan after he killed Balor in single combat.

 

4Lia Fáil--The “Stone of Truth” or the “Stone of Destiny”.  This stone was moved to the Hill of Tara, the seat of the High Kings (Árd Rib a hEireann), a hill near the River Boyne, until the 6th century.  Legend has it that if a person being proclaimed King was worthy of the office, the stone would scream out his name for all of Ireland to hear.

 

5RaIth na Riogh--The fort of the High Kings on the Hill of Tara.  This is also known as the “Royal Enclosure”.

 

6Tara, or the Hill of Tara, situated near the River Boyne in County Meath, was the seat of the High Kings of Ireland, with lordship over all of Ireland.  This was unusual in early time since Ireland’s Kings very generally regional, despite what one might read in the Irish tradition, which was probably made up in the 8th century AD to suit the needs of special interest groups.

 

The early Kings in Ireland were sacral in nature, i.e., the Kings were considered to have “married the land”, were expected to enforce symbolic duties and avoid taboos, and it is now thought that Tara was really a site of sacral Kingship ritual rather than the seat of High Kings.  The Kings of the Ulster Cycle were sacral Kings, and most of the current poem centers in Ulster (northeast Ireland), Tory Island (northwest Ireland), and Caledonia (southwest Scotland, northeast across the sea from Ulster).

 

There is archeological evidence that the Hill of Tara had significance even before the Celtic period.  For example, the “Mound of the Hostages” on Tara seems to date at least to the Neolithic period 5000 years ago and has short passages that are aligned with sunset on the true astronomical cross-quarter days of November 8 and February 4, the Celtic festivals of Samhain and Imbolc--see below.

 

7Dagda’s Cauldron was one of four relics of the Tuatha Dé Dannan"see note 3.  It never was empty of food.  Dagda, or “The Dagda”, was one of the most powerful of the early Lords of the Tuatha Dé Dannan.  He was also called the “Good God” (he is also known as Eochaid Ollathair, or "All-father").  At least according to some genealogies he was the son of Danu and Blié (in some genealogies his father is Elatha, in others his mother is Ethlinn), and brother to Nuada and Dian Créht.  He became a High King of Ireland after his brother, Nuada, lost his hand--see below.  He was father of the goddess Brigit (also Brigid, Brighid, Bridget, and Bride).  The name means the “exalted one”.  Brigit was a goddess of light"can you see the root of the word “bright” in her name?  More on her below.  Her name is also at the root of the word “bride”.

 

8Antlered Spirits are a common theme in Celtic artifacts.  The famous Gundestrup Cauldron (Denmark, 1st century CE), for example, prominently displays an antlered spirit (holding a ram-head serpent--see below) as does the Pillar of the Boatmen (discovered near Paris, early 1st century CE).  The name of Cernunnos is the Celtic name given to this commonly depicted antlered god.

 

9Ram-head serpents appear three times on the Gundestrup Cauldron and commonly appear together with Cernunnos, the antlered god, in Romano-Celtic Gaul.  Interestingly, the horned serpent is also found in North American Indian art.

 

10The future hero, as the reader shall discover, is Finn McCool (modern spelling) or Fionn Mac Cumhaill (ancient spelling), also Fingal in “The Poetical Works of Ossian”.  Finn (or Fionn), actually is not his real name, but a nickname that means “fair”, “white” or “bright”.  It is thought that Finn might have had prematurely white hair.  I think you can see the root of the word “fine” in Finn’s name.

 

Finn was the son of Cumhaill Mac Baiscne, the leader of a band of fighting men, The Fianna, and Muirne, daughter of the druid Tadg Mac Nuadat, and the great granddaughter of Nuada"not the Nuada that was the first King of the Tuatha Dé DannanFinn lived in the 2nd century AD, about 250 before the arrival of St. Patrick and the Christians (~5th century AD).  This is a different Nuada, named after the first one.  So this is many, many generations later.  The first Nuada died around 1800 BC to 1400 BC, depending on the chronology used, i.e., at least 1600 years before Finn lived.

 

Tadg was against a marriage to CumhaillBut the couple was in love and Cumhaill swept Muirne away.  Angered, Tadg appealed to the High King, Conn of the hundred BattlesConn outlawed Cumhaill and a battle was fought at Cnucha, and Goll Mac Morna, a rival of Cumhaill’s, was able to kill Cumhaill as Cumhaill had been magically weakened by Tadg.  However, Muirne was already pregnant with Finn, whom she named Deimne at birth.  Tadg enraged by Muirne’s pregnancy, wanted his daughter burned, but Conn would not allow it and put Muirne under the protection of Fiacal Mac Conchinn, whose wife, Bodhmall, the druidess, was Cumhall's sister.  Bodhmal and Liath Luachra, a warrior woman, raised Finn in his youth in the forest of Sliabh Bladma.  Note that there are two people with this name prominent in history at this time with this name.  The other was a man and a member of the Fianna.

 

There are lots of stories involving Finn, including different versions of his death.  The Annals of the Four Masters say that Finn was killed by Aichleach using darts.  In some of the stories he never died, but merely sleeps in Sidhe (pronounced “Shee”), awaiting to awake and come to Ireland’s aid in its hour of need.  This is the part of the legend that I have adopted here.  Indeed, this idea is not unique to me, and in regards to James Joyce’s novel, “Finnegan’s Wake”, it has been speculated that the title is an allusion to the phrase “Finn Again Wakes”, and Fionn Mac Cumhaill appears in the novel several times.

 

Finally I should also mention that there are lots of stories about Finn as a Giant.  For example, there is the story of how Finn built the Giant’s Causeway (Clochán an Aifir or Clochán na bhFómharach) to reach Scotland on foot to battle with his counterpart Scottish Giant Benandonner.  If you’re not familiar with the Giant’s Causeway, I encourage you to look it up.  It is an amazing natural wonder of hexagonal columns of Basalt from the Paleogene era, covering 0.7 square km in County Antrim on the northeast coast of Ireland.  It is now an UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Fingal's Cave” is a structure from the same ancient lava flow that formed the Giant’s Causeway and has similar hexagonal columns.  It is located on the uninhabited island of Staffa, in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland, part of a National Nature Reserve owned by the National Trust for Scotland.

 

11Nuada’s sword, Freagarthach, or Answerer (also the “Sword of Light”, probably more associated with when Lugh wielded the sword since he was the God of Light) was one of the Four Treasures of the Tuatha Dé Dannan, coming from the city of Findias.

 

There is so much to explain here.  At least according to one genealogy, Nuada Airgetlám (silver hand/arm), was the son of Danu and Blié, and brother to The Dagda and Dian CréhtNuada was the King of the Tuatha Dé Dannan when they came to Ireland and fought with the Fir Bolg--see below.  In that first battle, Cath Maige Tuired, Nuada lost his hand (perhaps even a more significant portion of his arm) to Sreng, the Fir Bolg champion.  Because at the time High Kings could only be King if there were perfect in body, Nuada had to give up his Kingship.  Bres, a half-Fomorian, took over the kingship.  While Bres was known for his physical beauty and intelligence, he was a horrible King with strong allegiances to the Fomorians.  Bres (husband to Brigid) imposed tributes on the Tuatha Dé Dannan to the Fomorians and disrespected the lords of the Tuatha Dé Dannan, forcing Ogma (son of The Dagda and Danu) to carry firewood and The Dagda (note: according to this genealogy, Dagda slept with his mother to produce Ogma) to dig trenches.

 

With all these indignities, the people were very upset with Bres.  So the great healer Dian Créht, Nuada’s brother, and the Wright Creidhne, made a silver hand (arm) for Nuada.  Being now “perfect” in body, Nuada could once again be King.  Later, Dian Créht’s son, Miach, would magically grow skin over the silver hand.   Nuada ruled for an additional 20 years, an amazingly long time for Kings of this time, a few years being typical.

 

Nuada’s death came because of Bres.  He finally persuaded the Fomorian King, Balor of the Evil Eye to attack Nuada.  Not having a hand, Nuada’s champion was Lugh (son of Danu and Dian Créht, i.e., he was Nuada’s nephew, but you know Danu cannot really be the mother of all these people).  In the second battle of Magh Tuired, Nuada was beheaded by Balor, who was in turn killed by Lugh Lamfada (Lugh of the “Long Arms”, also Lugh Samildánach--“Skilled in all Arts”) and the battle was finally won by the Tuatha Dé Dannan and Lugh became King.

 

Much of this story, as in most of the early chronology of Ireland comes from the Annals of the Four Masters.  Here is the entry that deals with the first battle of Magh Tuired:

 

From the translation of the Annals of the Four Masters (http://www.ucc.ie/celt/published/T100005A/) with some of my notes in italic:

 

“The Age of the World, 3303 (This time is supposedly since the creation of the world and was added by the “Four Masters” who were Monks).

 

M3303.1

 

The tenth year of the reign of Eochaidh, son of Erc; and this was the last year of his reign, for the Tuatha De Dananns came to invade Ireland against the Firbolgs; and they gave battle to each other at Magh Tuireadh, in Conmaicne Cuile Toladh, in Connaught, so that the King Eochaidh, son of Erc, was killed, by the three sons of Neimhidh, son of Badhrai, of the Tuatha De Dananns; Ceasarb, Luamh, and Luachra, their names. The Firbolgs were vanquished and slaughtered in this battle. Moreover, the hand of Nuadhat (this is Nuada), son of Eochaidh, son of Edarlamh (the king who was over the Tuatha De Dananns), was cut off in the same battle. The aforesaid Eochaidh was the last king of the Firbolgs. Nine of them had assumed kingship, and thirty seven years was the length of their sway over Ireland.”

 

12Ulaid is the ancient name for Ulster.

 

13I made the beginning chronology fuzzy in my poem since the early chronology in the Annals of the Fours Masters, was written by Christian monks with a strong motivation to dismiss the Irish people’s belief in the Celtic gods.  So consequently they gave the Irish people a genealogy that comes directly from Noah before the big flood.  So unfortunately, their true early history if ever records was lost.  Indeed, it is uncertain just how much of the early chronology (and genealogy) was made up by these Christian monks.

 

14According to the Lebor Gabala (The Book of Invasions), Partholón and his people were the second group of people to arrive in Ireland.  Before him, supposedly, was Cessair, the first leader of Ireland’s people.  She was the daughter of Noah’s (from the Old Testament Bible) son, Bith.  When Noah denied Bith a place in the Arc, Bith and his people escaped the flood in a ship and supposedly arrived in Ireland.  All of these people died in the flood except for Fintan, who turned into a salmon.  Later he eventually returned to human form and was able to tell his people’s story.  In another story Fintan is the name of the “Salmon of Knowledge” that druid and poet Finn Eces (or Finnegas) was trying to catch and eat in the river Boyne.  Finn Eces was one of the Finn’s teachers, and when Finn Eces finally caught the salmon and Finn cooked it, Finn burnt he thumb on the fish and instinctively put his thumb in his mouth.  From thereafter Finn could always tap into great knowledge by sucking on his thumb.

 

After Partholón, came Nemed, then the Fir Bolgs, and finally the Tuatha Dé Danann, which would eventually come to be the gods and goddesses of the ancient Celts.  According to the Lebor Gabala, Partholón arrived in Ireland about 300 years after the flood.  The Partholónians brought the plough and oxen to Ireland and brewed the first beer.  Unfortunately they were all wiped out by a plague after 300 years in Ireland.

 

15Cichol was a Fomorian King that battled with Partholón and was defeated in the battle Magh Ithe, the first recorded battle in Ireland dated to 2071 BC FFE in Seathrún Céitinn's chronology Forus Feasa ar Erinn.

 

From the Annals of the Four Masters:

 

In this year the first battle was fought in Ireland; i.e. Cíocal Grigenchosach, son of Goll, son of Garbh, of the Fomorians, and his mother, came into Ireland, eight hundred in number, so that a battle was fought between them and Partholón's people at Sleamhnai Maighe Ithe, where the Fomorians were defeated by Partholón, so that they were all slain. This is called the battle of Magh Ithe.”

 

16Fomoiri, Fomorians, or Fomoire, are ancient Irish people that lived in Tory Island, i.e., the north-west portion of Ireland, directly west of Ulster (north-east Ireland).  It is thought that they were resident in Ireland when both the Partholónians and the Nemedians arrived in Ireland.  They are considered semi-divine and to have preceded the gods.  One curiosity is that while both Partholón and Nemed encountered the Fomorians when they came to Ireland, they apparently were not there when the Fir Bolg invaded.  They appear again later, however.

 

17Nemed (which means “holy” or “Blessed”) came from the Caspian and his story is described in the Book of Invasions.  He was the son of Agnoman, a Scythian, arriving in Ireland 2350 BC AFM (Annals of the Four Masters), or 1731 BC FFE (Seathrún Céitinn's Forus Feasa ar Erinn) with his four sons and his wife who would die shortly (12 days) after landing.  Several of his sons would also fall to the Fomorians.  Ireland was empty for 30 years after the plague killed all the Partholónians when the Nemedians landed.  They had sailed for a year and a half in 44 ships, but supposedly lost all of the ships but one.

 

18Lakes Bursting, is a puzzling event reported numerous times in the early history of Ireland.  It basically means a lake appearing suddenly and out of nowhere.  It often happened when someone died"hence my “lakes burst with tears” reference.  It happened, for example, supposedly at the burial of Annind, one of Nemed’s sons.  Nemed, himself, finally died of the plague nine years after arriving in Ireland.  Two hundred and seven years after Nemed’s death, a battle between the Fomorians and the Nemedians occurred on Tory Island, where the Nemedians attacked Conand, a Fomorian King, with 60,000 men, destroying Conand’s Tower and killing all his family.  But Morc, another Fomorian King, retaliated in a great battle and the sea swallowed all of the Nemedians except a single ship, which then fled Ireland.

 

19The Fir Bolg arrived after the Nemedians and they were the dominant group when the Tuatha Dé Dannan arrived in Ireland.  Why there are no reported encounters/battles with the Fomorians at this time is a bit of a mystery.  The Fir Bolg probably came from England and/or Gaul, although there is some dispute about this, with some saying they descended from the Nemedians.

 

20Ériu is an ancient name for Ireland.  Ériu was goddess of Ireland and the daughter of Ernmas of the Tuatha Dé Danann.

 

21Cath Magh Tuired refers here to the first battle between the Fir Bolg and the Tuatha Dé Danann.  In this first battle the Tuatha Dé Danann were victorious over the Fir Bolg because of their technologically superior weapons, but their King, Nuada, lost his right hand (perhaps his arm).

 

22The Tuatha Dé Danann burned their ships when they arrived in Ireland so they would be forced to face the challenges that lay ahead.

 

23Imbolc (also St. Brigid’s Day) is a feast day celebrated on February 1st (the original date) or 2nd (the Christian church changed this to the celebration of Candlemass on this date) to commemorate the coming of spring.  It falls halfway between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox.  It is also associated with Groundhog Day, with related superstitions--see note 24, below.  Imbolc is one of the cross-quarter days, signifying the change of season, which was so important in Celtic culture.  The other three cross-quarter days are Beltane, Lughnasadh and SamhainBeltane and Samhain are also mentioned in this poem--see below.

 

As mention above (St. Brigid’s Day), this day is associated with the Irish goddess Brigid, Brigit, Brighid, Bridget, and/or Bride.  This is where the English word “Bride” comes from.  Bride is the goddess of the white wand.  She breathes life into dead winter.  She is the “Exalted one”.  She is the daughter of The Dagda, but some scholars trace her name back to the Vedic Sanskrit word brihati as being associated with the divine.  This would be consistent with the goddess Danu being mentioned in the Rig Veda.

 

There are many stories dealing with Imbolc (also see note 24).  In one story on the eve of Imbolc, the Cailleach journeys to a magical isle and to the Well of Youth.  At dawn, she drinks its waters and is transformed into Bride, whose white wand turns the earth green with spring.  Another tells how Bride is girl kept prisoner by the Cailleach all winter only to be rescued by the Cailleach’s son who elopes with her.

 

24The Cailleach is the “old hag” of Celtic tradition.  She is the “Old Woman of Winter”.  On the day of Imbolc if see is seen wandering the land, looking for firewood, then the winter will be long and she will need the firewood to keep warm.  However if she is not seen wandering the land, then she is asleep, knowing that winter will be short and she will not need firewood.  So this is very similar to our Groundhog Day myth.

 

25Lugh was the hero selected by Nuada and inherited Nuada’s sword, Freagarthach.  After Nuada was beheaded by Balor of the Evil Eye, the Fomorian King at the second battle of Magh Tuired, Lugh killed Balor.

 

Lugh is known by many epithets: Lámhfhada (long arm"we was an expert with the sling and spear), putting out Balor’s Evil Eye, Ildánach (skilled in many arts), Samhildánach (equally skilled in many arts), Lonnbeimnech (fierce striker) and Macni (boy hero).

 

Lugh's father is Dian Créht of the Tuatha Dé Danann, and his mother is Ethniu, daughter of Balor, of the Fomorians--yes, Lugh would eventually kill his grandfather, Balor, and there is a long story wrapped around this as Balor heard a prophesy that a grandson would kill him and he took strong measures to assure this wouldn’t happen.  He failed, of course.

 

In the Ulster Cycle, Lugh is also father to Cu Chulainn--see below, who is probably the most famous and revered hero of Ireland.  Note, however, that Lugh’s time and Cu Chulainn’s time are over 1000 years apart.  But then again, Gods can do anything, can’t they!

 

Lugh’s sling rod (“Lugh’s chain”) was the rainbow and the Milky Way. He also had a magic spear, Areadbhar was alive with blood lust and could only be controlled by keeping its head in an opiate draught of poppy seeds.

 

Lugh is the god of light, and words containing Lu have been associated with the sun and sun gods for thousands of years.

 

Here I should also discuss Finn’s sword.  In my poem I am suggesting that he finds and will use Nuada’s sword, Freagarthach, or Answerer.  However this is made up by me to give extra romance to the tale.  Finn had his own sword, which in its own right was famous.  His sword was mac Luinn, meaning the “son of Lon”, which through Ossianic stories is the name of the smith who served the King of Lochlin (Norway / Scandinavia).  There are other names for Finn’s sword as well, e.g., Craeb glasach, Craebghlasach, and Craobh.

 

26Luachra, or more completely Liath Luachra, meaning the “Gray of Luachra” is actually the name of two people mentioned in the Fenian Cycle.  One is a warrior woman.  The other is a member of the Fianna, Finn’s group of fighting men.  This reference is to the Amazon-like female.  Luachra, was the person that trained Finn in the fighting arts when he was a boy--see note 10.

 

27This section of the poem deals with the happenings in the “Book of Fingal” in “The Poetical Works of Ossian” by MacPherson.  In this poem, Cormac was the child High King of Ireland.  Also note that in this poem Finn has been renamed to Fingal.

 

28Tura High was the castle of Cormac in Ulster.  Do not confuse this with Tara, which is not in Ulster.

 

29Cu Chulainn was the leader of Cormac’s armies.  He is probably the most famous of all Irish heroes, even more famous than Finn.  However, in MacPherson’s book, Cu Chulainn takes a reduced roll and fame relative to Finn.  Also note that he has been renamed again as well, and goes by the name of Cuthullin.  He was the son of Lugh.

 

30The word “Hound” refers directly to Cu Chulainn as the word “Cu” means “hound”.  His real name is Setanta.  He gained his more well know name when as a youth he killed the giant guard dog of Chulainn and offered to take its place until the dog could be replaced.  So Cu Chulainn literally means the “Hound of Chulainn”.  Using “Cu” as a name was rather common in early Ireland, presumable because of Cu Chulainn’s fame.

 

31Lochlin refers to Norway.

 

32As you may recall from above, perhaps Finn had prematurely white hair.  This is a reference to this, i.e., that the sails of his ships are as white as his hair.

 

33Eiru is another name for Ireland.

 

34Car is the word for chariot in ancient Ireland, and Cu Chulainn was supposedly a master at warfare from a chariot.  The history of the chariot is in itself fascinating.  Simple ox carts were the precursors to chariots and date from 3000 BC in Mesopotamia, and were used for warfare in the Bronze and Iron Ages, with armor being provided by shields.  A chariot of war or of triumph was called a “car”.  The earliest, fully developed chariots come from the Proto-Indo-Iranian culture in modern Russia and Kazakhstan circa 2000 BC.  According to Wikipedia, “The word "chariot" comes from Latin carrus, which itself was a loan from Gaulish.  The Celts were famous for their chariots and the English word “car” is most likely derived, via Latin carrum, from Gaulish karros.  Celtic chariots were probably drawn by two horses.  Chariots play an important role in Irish mythology and are particularly associated with Cu Chulainn.

 

35Caledonia is the south-west portion of Scotland.  There was tremendous trade and travel between Caledonia and Ulster throughout the history of Ireland.  In “The Poetical Works of Ossian”, Finn lived in Caledonia.

 

36Crugal is one of the Irish heroes kill in battle that appears to Connal, a minor King, but a trusted friend of Cu ChulainnCrugal foretold of the defeat of the Irish armies by Swaran, King of Lochlin.  However, as a matter of principle Cu Chulainn would not make the first offer of peace.  Even in defeat, Cu Chulainn would not yield, but stated that he would rather die.  And Swaran in victory did not give the Irish, or Cu Chulainn an easy surrender, offering unacceptable terms, i.e., Cu Chulainn must give up his dog and wife to Swaran’s pleasure.

 

37Fingal, as already explained, was the name of Finn in “The Poetical Works of Ossian”, by MacPherson.

 

38Trenmor was the great-grandfather of Finn and the spear of Trenmor and the shield of Trenmor are mentioned repeatedly in “The Poetical Words of Ossian” by MacPherson.  At the end of the book of Temora, in “The Poetical Works of Ossian”, Finn gives up Trenmor’s mighty spear to Ossian, thus passing the power of rule to his son as he now intends to rest out the remainder of his days, being so tired of warfare.

 

39The sword of Lugh is, as you’ll recall, really the sword of Nuada.  It was passed onto Lugh after Nuada lost his hand in the First battle of Magh TuiredLugh being a god of light, the sword of Nuada, wielded by Lugh took on the name “The sword of Light”.  Also see note 25.

 

40Finn spared Swaran, the King of Lochlin after Finn’s bard, Ullin, sings "The Song of Peace”.  Sparring Swaran’s life came partly because his great-grandfather had numerous exploits in Lochlin (Norway) and had married Inibaca, the daughter of the King of Lochlin, who was an ancestor to Swaran.  This, plus the fact that Swaran was the brother to Agandecca, with who Finn was in love as a youth, made Finn have mercy.  So Finn let Swaran leave provided he never returned to Ireland with a mind towards war.

 

41This portion of the poem deals with the happenings of the “Book of Temora” from “The Poetical Works of Ossian”.  Cairbar, was the son of one of the dominant Fir Bolg Kings of the time, Borbar-duthul, lord of Atha, in Connaught.

 

42Samhain is the cross-quarter holiday celebrated on November 1st.  It is the entry into the darkness of winter.  It is for this reason that I picked Samhain for the time of the murder of Cormac.  It is also an opportune time for Cairbar because the weather conditions would be likely to prevent a crossing from Caledonia to Ulster.  So Cairbar would have the winter to plan for what Finn might do in response to the murder of Cormac.

 

In Celtic, the word “samhain” literally means “summer’s end”.  It is the time of Halloween, the day of the dead--another good reason to have the murder take place on this day.

 

There is also the idea of “Apple Magic” associated with samhain, and most will recognize in this our customs of Halloween.  In the Celtic “otherworld”,  known in Ireland as Emhain Abhlach and in Britain, Avalonthere (Avalon) there is a magical apple tree.  And this is the origin for dunking for apples (Dookin' for Apples in Scotland).

 

43Sidhe (pronounced “Shee”) is the land of the Feary and home to all the Gods.  It is the “Land of the Young”, where no one grows old.  There Finn sleeps until Ireland will have a need for him and call his name.

 

Sidhe is a place as well as commonly being used for its inhabitants, e.g., the Gods and heroes.  In some tales the location of Sidhe is on some unspecified “Western Isles” off Ireland.  In others stories Sidhe lies beneath the Hills of Ireland.

 

44Cormac and Finn had a common ancestry.  Both descended from Trenmor, Finn’s great grandfather.  In “The Poetical Works of Ossian”, Finn was the possessor of Trenmor’s spear and shield.

 

45Beltaine  is one of the four cross-quarter days important in Celtic culture.  Beltaine is a festival of fire when huge bonfires are lit on May 1st (May Day).  Beltaine is a celebration of the Rites of Spring and the fires symbolically bring the light and warmth of the sun down to earth.  At this time of the year the weather is getting better and Finn has been waiting to sail to revenge Cormac since Samhain (Day of the Dead), the day on which Cormac was murdered.  It is also symbolic in that Samhain is symbolic of the end of summer and the entry of the world (and Ireland with Cormac’s death) into darkness and Beltaine is a festival of fire and light in which the world (and Ireland) emerges from darkness.

 

46Cathmor is a Fir Bolg King and Cairbar’s brother.  Cathmor is the one that will lead the usurping Irish armies against Finn after Cairbar dies of the wounds received in his fight with Oscar (see note 47), Ossian’s son and  Finn’s grandson.  The death of Cathmor at the hands of Finn closes the Book of Temora in “The Poetical Works of Ossian”.

 

47Oscar is Ossian’s son and Finn’s grandson.  Before Finn lands his ships in Ulster, Cairbar, aware of the imminent arrival of Finn, held a feast and invited Oscar.  However Cairbar’s plan was to pick a fight with Oscar as an excuse for killing him.  He did kill Oscar, however his plan did not go as well as he expected since he also died of the wounds received from Oscar.

 

48The Faery (also, of course, Fairy, Fey, Fay) are essentially the Tuatha Dé Dannan and live in the land of Sidhe (pronounced “Shee”), the “Land of the Young” where they never age--see note 43.  The reduction of the Tuatha Dé Dannan to an imaginary race of people was done at the hands of the Christians in an attempt to supplant the “old gods”.  It is interesting that while on the one hand they tried to make the Tuatha Dé Dannan imaginary, the Christians also gave them a direct ancestry that could be traced directly to Noah from before the Great Flood.

 

50A Banshee is a woman of Sidhe, i.e., one of the Faery and one of the Tuatha Dé Dannan.  And here, in this more modern Irish word, can be seen the correct pronunciation of the word Sidhe, i.e., it is pronounced “Shee”.  The root of the word “Banshee” comes from the Irish “Bean Sídhe”, or woman (Bean) of Sidhe (Faery Mounds).  Seeing a Banshee or hearing the wailing of a Banshee is normally an omen of death, i.e., you are soon to join the Sidhe in the “Land of the Young”.

 

51On the death of Oscar, Finn orders Ullin, the chief of his bards, to carry Oscar’s body away to be interred in Morven the place where the battle was being held.  Finn mourned long over the loss of Oscar.  Here are some words from the Book of Temora:

 

“How long on Moi-lena shall we weep?  How long pour in Erin our tears?  The might will not return.  Oscar shall not rise in his strength.  The valiant must fall in their day, and be no more known on their hills.  Where are our fathers, O warriors!  The chiefs of the times of old?  They have set like stars that have shown… Thus shall we pass away, in the day of our fall.”

 

52The final battle in the Book of Temora is fought along the banks of the Lubar river.  Here, Ossian routs the Fir Bolg forces and Finn finally kills Cathmor, restoring the rightful line of Kingship to Ireland.

 

53It is a common practice of these times that the King would not enter into the battle until such a time as his greater leadership, courage, and skill were needed.  In the battle on the heath of Moi-lena, both Finn and Cathmor watch the battle from removed hills.  Cathmor enters the battle when Fillian, Ossian’s son and Finn’s grandson, is turning the tide of the battle against the Fir BolgCathmor then confronts the young Fillian and kills him before Finn can send Ossian to support him in the fight.

 

54The Fianna are Finn’s band of fighting men.

 

55Fillian is Ossian’s son and Finn’s grandson.  He took command of the Caledonia forces as Gaul had been wounded in the hand by a random arrow.  He showed amazing and heroic skill in the battle and was winning the battle when Cathmor entered the fray, faced him and killed him--also see note 53.

 

56The rock of Cormul is where Fillian’s body is taken after his fall to Cathmor.  This is where Finn speaks with Fillian’s ghost and becomes resolved to kill Cathmor.

 

57The crashing of a shield and loudly crying out was a common way of announcing that a King or Lord would be entering the battle.  It is essentially getting the enemy’s attention that they now have a new and powerful advisory with which to contend.  Here, of course, the shield of Trenmor was being clashed, which was supposed to be especially loud and frightening.

 

58The final battle between Finn and Cathmor occurs on the bank of the Lubar enshrouded in a thick mist.  It is interesting since hiding battles was done a number of times in MacPherson’s “The Poetical Works of Ossian”.  While the sound of the battle is evident, what is happening, who has the upper hand, cannot be seen.  Finally, Finn is victorious.

 

59The final battle between Finn and Cathmor is Finn’s last battle.  After the battle he talks of hiding himself in a cave and seeking serenity and peace.  The handing off of the spear of Trenmore is symbolic of passing the leadership of the Caledonians to his son, Ossian.  Now it is Ossian that shall be winning all the accolades of battle victories.  Now, in some sense, Finn sleeps.



Web References and Resources:

 

General References:

 

Chalice Centre:

http://www.chalicecentre.net/

 

Celt Corpus of Electronic Texts

http://www.ucc.ie/celt/

 

Celtnet

http://www.celtnet.org.uk/celtic/

 

Library Ireland:

http://www.libraryireland.com/

 

Timeless Myth--Celtic Mythology

http://www.ucc.ie/celt/


References:
 

Annals of the Four Masters, Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Annals_of_the_Four_Masters.

 

Annals of the Four Masters, translated text: http://www.ucc.ie/celt/published/T100005A.html.

 

Beltaine Day, description from the Chalice Centre website: http://www.chalicecentre.net/beltaine.htm/

 

Bres, Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bres.

 

Brigit, Brigid, Brighid, Bride, Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brigid.

 

Celtic Pantheon, Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Celtic_pantheon.

 

Cernunnos, Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cernunnos.

 

Chariots, Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chariot.

 

Chulainn, Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cú_Chulainn.

 

The Dagda, Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dagda.

 

Dannan genealogy from the timelessmyths website: http://www.timelessmyths.com/celtic/danufamily.html.

 

Danu goddess, Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Danu_(Irish_goddess).

 

Finn McCool article from Celtnet: http://www.celtnet.org.uk/gods_ff/ffin.html.

 

Fionn Mac Cumhaill, Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fionn_mac_Cumhaill.

 

Fir Bolg, Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fir_Bolg.

 

Gaels, Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaels.

 

Giants Causeway, Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giant's_Causeway.

 

High King of Ireland, Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_King_of_Ireland.

 

Hill of Tara, Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hill_of_Tara.

 

Imbolc, Chalice Centre article: http://www.chalicecentre.net/imbolc.htm.

 

Imbolc, Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imbolc.

 

Irish mythology, Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irish_mythology.

 

James MacPherson, Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Macpherson.

 

Lia Fáil, Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lia_Fáil.

 

Lugh, Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lugh.

 

Mysterious World Ireland, a short, but very informative, book on Irish myth: http://ireland.mysteriousworld.com/.

 

Nemed, Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nemed.

 

Nuada, Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuada_Airgetlám.

 

Ossian, Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oisín.

 

The Poetical Works of Ossian, by MacPherson: http://www.exclassics.com/ossian/ossintro.htm.

 

Samhain, Chalice Centre article: http://www.chalicecentre.net/samhain.htm.

 

Sindhe, Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aos_Sí.

 

The Mórrígan, Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mórrígan.

 

Tory Island, Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tory_Island.

© 2012 Rick Puetter


Author's Note

Rick Puetter
Note for Albert's Cafe contest: This is probably my favorite of my poems because I learned the most in writing it, and it introduced me to the rich lore of Ireland.

My Review

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Featured Review

Really enjoyable. My favorite Finn McCool story is actually the one where his wife dresses him up as a baby and tricks a much larger, stronger,(apparently not smarter), giant to save Finn's life. This is in his giant incarnation. Have you ever read Julian May's Saga of Pliocene Exile? Although the title might not suggest it, it actually ties in brilliantly with Irish/Celtic and European myth. I haven't read it in years, but it was one of my favorites.

You have captured the moody tone of some Irish myth, but the other side that you might tackle next is the lighter, wittier, tellings. One thing that really shines through a lot of Irish myths and stories is the real national love of good storytelling, and there is a humor to a lot of the tales to counterpoint the more tragic elements like The Tain (Ciaran Carson has a great translation out, btw).

Really a sentimental piece for me, too. I lived in Dundalk (Dun Dealgan) in the early eighties, and the places and the names and the Gaelic just brings it all back. Haven't been there in years, but this was the next best thing.

Posted 10 Years Ago


5 of 5 people found this review constructive.

Tomás Ó Cárthaigh

8 Years Ago

http://www.writingsinrhyme.com/index.php/external-videos/the-causeway-of-giants/ is a verse of mine .. read more
Rick Puetter

8 Years Ago

Dear Tomas, Read and greatly enjoyed your poem. We were very impressed with the Giant's Causeway wh.. read more



Reviews

A huge amount of research has gone into this epic write. I certainly appreciated all the notes provided and the web references and resources would have assisted those readers with an indepth thirst for more knowledge. Ireland certainly has an interesting history before St Patrick arrived. There is much here in poetic form to get your teeth into. Fine story telling about a bloody period in history when life was cheap. Here today, gone tomorrow though friendships and family were strong and battles were many. I enjoyed learning about the folklore of the land, and the Celtic influence, and description of the beautiful scenery reminded me of the Ireland I have visited, both South and North and the humour, twinkle in the eye and love of music, song and traditional dance. I have to take my hat off to you in tackling such a meaty subject. You sure have an appetite for detail. I congratulate you and note that you entered this poem in a WC contest. I would like to know how you fared. Well penned Rick. A great read, especially for those interested in Ireland, and in the USA, many are.

Chris

Posted 5 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

GREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAT JOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOB!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted 5 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Once again on finding this on the site is a pleasure... an epic read.

Posted 6 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Another amazing epic. This is compositionally one of my favorites. Celtic and Irish lore are among my favorite reading subjects. I've read more than a hundred books on Celtic themes. This is brilliantly penned.

NOTES: I had trouble with the meter. I kept wanting the classic, lilting meter of Irish and other Celtic ballad forms.

Posted 6 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

MomzillaNC

6 Years Ago

Congratulations on your win in Historical fiction
Wow... this clearly took a lot of time and dedication. I personally love history (whether myth, factual, etc.)This was beautifully written, a wonderful journey, you can picture it as it moves in ad out of each scene/battle. Great job! I'm sorry it took me a while to get around to reviewing, I'm currently studying in university, but thank you for sharing!

Posted 6 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

This piece was obviously dedicated a lot of research and work. You seem to have quite a passion and understanding of Irish folklore. It is a fascinating culture though; suppressed for centuries and dominated by Christianity in it's country. The fact that most records have been lost and all but forgotten only makes the topic more intriguing.

Oral tradition has mainly carried these stories down generation by generation, and this poem is certainly similar to a story told around a bonfire to the younger generation. It tells of Ireland's kings and heroes, and of this generation's ancestors. " Oh yes, my son, once we were Giants/ A race of gods, Giants of Men/ And long before the Christians landed/ We lived and prayed in cool, clean glen".
A reminiscence of a more peaceful and simpler time, told in epic form. A fascinating study of Irish folklore, and an awe-inspiring epic of a poem.

Posted 6 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

This was a really enjoyable read for me. Thank you for your submission. Although I am not very familiar with the subject matter I liked the imagery and rhyming.

Posted 7 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

History is the perfect subject matter for poetry of this form. It carries the reader down the river of time, each glimpse of the past is a lesson to be learned a memory to be gleaned. You obviously researched this one intensely, and I love the historical references for future reading.

This must have taken forever to write.

Well done!

Posted 7 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Rick, this is like a history lesson! So informative and written in an interesting style. Some of the language brought "Canterbury Tales" to mind. Excellent rhyming. I enjoyed the mythological aspect of your writing. Good work. Lydi**

Posted 7 Years Ago


I remember this one enjoyed it the third read also

Posted 7 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


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6220 Views
68 Reviews
Shelved in 15 Libraries
Added on April 16, 2011
Last Updated on September 16, 2012
Tags: myth, heroes, Ireland, magic, druids, faery, fey, fairies, Finn McCool, Fionn Mac Cumhaill, Ossian

Author

Rick Puetter
Rick Puetter

San Diego, CA



About
So what's the most important thing to say about myself? I guess the overarching aspect of my personality is that I am a scientist, an astrophysicist to be precise. Not that I am touting science.. more..

Writing