The Cornish people or Cornish are a Celtic ethnic group native to, or associated with Cornwall and a recognised national minority in the United Kingdom, which can trace its roots to the ancient Britons who inhabited southern and central Great Britain before the Roman conquest. Many in Cornwall today continue to assert a distinct identity separate from or in addition to English or British identities. Cornish identity has been adopted by migrants into Cornwall, as well as by emigrant and descendant communities from Cornwall, the latter sometimes referred to as the Cornish diaspora. Although not included as an explicit option in the UK census, the numbers of those claiming Cornish ethnic and national identity are recognised and recorded. Throughout classical antiquity, the ancient Britons formed a series of tribes and identities in Great Britain; the name Cornwall and its demonym Cornish are derived from the Celtic Cornovii tribe. The Anglo-Saxon invasion and settlement of Britain in the 5th to 6th centuries restricted the Romano-British culture and language into the north and west of Great Britain whilst the inhabitants of southern and eastern Britain became English.
The Cornish people, who shared the Brythonic language with the Welsh and Bretons across the sea, were referred to in the Old English language as the "Westwalas" meaning West Welsh. The Battle of Deorham between the Britons and Anglo-Saxons is thought to have resulted in a loss of landlinks with the people of Wales; the Cornish people and their Brythonic Cornish language experienced a process of anglicisation and attrition during the Medieval and early Modern Period. By the 18th century, following the creation of the Kingdom of Great Britain, the Cornish language and identity had faded replaced by the English language and/or British identity. A Celtic revival during the early-20th century enabled a cultural self-consciousness in Cornwall that revitalised the Cornish language and roused the Cornish to express a distinctly Celtic heritage; the Cornish language was granted official recognition under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages in 2002, in 2014 the Cornish people were recognised and afforded protection by the UK Government under the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.
In the 2011 census, the population of Cornwall, including the Isles of Scilly, was estimated to be 532,300. The Cornish self-government movement has called for greater recognition of Cornish culture and language, urged that Cornish people be accorded greater status, exemplified by the call for them to be one of the listed ethnic groups in the United Kingdom Census 2011 form. Both geographic and historical factors distinguish the Cornish as an ethnic group further supported by identifiable genetic variance between the populations of Cornwall, neighbouring Devon and England as published in a 2012 Oxford University study. Throughout medieval and Early Modern Britain, the Cornish were at some points accorded the same status as the English and Welsh and considered a separate race or nation, distinct from their neighbours, with their own language and customs. A process of Anglicisation between 1485 and 1700 led to the Cornish adopting English language and civic identity, a view reinforced by Cornish historian A. L. Rowse who said they were "absorbed into the mainstream of English life".
Although "decidedly modern" and "largely retrospective" in its identity politics and Celtic associations have advanced the notion of a distinct Cornish national and ethnic identity since the late 20th century. In the United Kingdom Census 2001, despite no explicit "Cornish" option being available 34,000 people in Cornwall and 3,500 people elsewhere in the UK—a combined total equal to nearly 7 per cent of the population of Cornwall—identified themselves as ethnic Cornish by writing this in under the "other" ethnicity option; the census figures show a change in identity from West to East, in Penwith 9.2 per cent identified as ethnically Cornish, in Kerrier it was 7.5 per cent, in Carrick 6.6 per cent, Restormel 6.3 per cent, North Cornwall 6 per cent, Caradon 5.6 per cent. Weighting of the 2001 Census data gives a figure of 154,791 people with Cornish ethnicity living in Cornwall; the Cornish have been described as "a special case" in England, with an "ethnic rather than regional identity". Structural changes to the politics of the United Kingdom the European Union and devolution, have been the cited as the main stimulus to "a growing interest in Cornish identity and distinctiveness" in late-20th century Britain.
The British are the citizens of the United Kingdom, a people who by convention consist of four national groups: the English, Northern Irish and Welsh. In the 1990s it was said that the notion that the Cornish are to be classified as a nation comparable to the English, Irish and Welsh, "has vanished from the popular consciousness" outside Cornwall, that, despite a "real and substantive" identity, the Cornish "struggle for recognition as a national group distinct from the English". However, in 2014, after a 15-year campaign, the UK government recognised the Cornish as a national minority under the Council of Europe's Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, giving the Cornish the same status as the Welsh and Irish within the UK. Inhabitants of Cornwall may have multiple political allegiances, adopting mixed, dual or hyphenated identities such as "Cornish first and British second", "Cornish and British and Eur
Beltane is the anglicised name for the Gaelic May Day festival. Most it is held on 1 May, or about halfway between the spring equinox and the summer solstice, it was observed throughout Ireland and the Isle of Man. In Irish the name for the festival day is Lá Bealtaine, in Scottish Gaelic Là Bealltainn and in Manx Gaelic Laa Boaltinn/Boaldyn, it is one of the four Gaelic seasonal festivals—along with Samhain and Lughnasadh—and is similar to the Welsh Calan Mai. Beltane is mentioned in some of the earliest Irish literature, it is associated with important events in Irish mythology, it was when cattle were driven out to the summer pastures. Rituals were performed to protect the cattle and people, to encourage growth. Special bonfires were kindled, their flames and ashes were deemed to have protective powers; the people and their cattle would walk around or jump over the bonfire or pass between two bonfires, sometimes leap over the flames or embers. All household fires would be doused and re-lit from the Beltane bonfire.
These gatherings would be accompanied by a feast, some of the food and drink would be offered to the aos sí. Doors, windows and the cattle themselves would be decorated with yellow May flowers because they evoked fire. In parts of Ireland, people would make a May Bush: a thorn bush decorated with flowers and bright shells. Holy wells were visited, while Beltane dew was thought to bring beauty and maintain youthfulness. Many of these customs were part of May Day or Midsummer festivals in other parts of Great Britain and Europe. Beltane celebrations had died out by the mid-20th century, although some of its customs continued and in some places it has been revived as a cultural event. Since the late 20th century, Celtic neopagans and Wiccans have observed Beltane, or something based on it, as a religious holiday. Neopagans in the Southern Hemisphere celebrate Beltane at the other end of the year. Beltane was one of four Gaelic seasonal festivals: Samhain, Imbolc and Lughnasadh. Beltane marked the beginning of the pastoral summer season, when livestock were driven out to the summer pastures.
Rituals were held at that time to protect them from harm, both natural and supernatural, this involved the "symbolic use of fire". There were rituals to protect crops, dairy products and people, to encourage growth; the aos sí were thought to be active at Beltane and the goal of many Beltane rituals was to appease them. Most scholars see the aos sí as remnants of the pagan gods and nature spirits. Beltane was a "spring time festival of optimism" during which "fertility ritual again was important connecting with the waxing power of the sun". Beltane and Samhain are thought to have been the most important of the four Gaelic festivals. Sir James George Frazer wrote in The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion that the times of Beltane and Samhain are of little importance to European crop-growers, but of great importance to herdsmen. Thus, he suggests that halving the year at 1 May and 1 November dates from a time when the Celts were a pastoral people, dependent on their herds; the earliest mention of Beltane is in Old Irish literature from Gaelic Ireland.
According to the early medieval texts Sanas Cormaic and Tochmarc Emire, Beltane was held on 1 May and marked the beginning of summer. The texts say that, to protect cattle from disease, the druids would make two fires "with great incantations" and drive the cattle between them. According to 17th-century historian Geoffrey Keating, there was a great gathering at the hill of Uisneach each Beltane in medieval Ireland, where a sacrifice was made to a god named Beil. Keating wrote that two bonfires would be lit in every district of Ireland, cattle would be driven between them to protect them from disease. There is no reference to such a gathering in the annals, but the medieval Dindsenchas includes a tale of a hero lighting a holy fire on Uisneach that blazed for seven years. Ronald Hutton writes that this may "preserve a tradition of Beltane ceremonies there", but adds "Keating or his source may have conflated this legend with the information in Sanas Chormaic to produce a piece of pseudo-history."
Excavations at Uisneach in the 20th century found evidence of large fires and charred bones, showing it to have been ritually significant. From the late 18th century to the mid 20th century, many accounts of Beltane customs were recorded by folklorists and other writers. Bonfires continued to be a key part of the festival in the modern era. All hearth fires and candles would be doused before the bonfire was lit on a mountain or hill. Ronald Hutton writes that "To increase the potency of the holy flames, in Britain at least they were kindled by the most primitive of all means, of friction between wood." In the 19th century, for example, John Ramsay described Scottish Highlanders kindling a need-fire or force-fire at Beltane. Such a fire was deemed sacred. In the 19th century, the ritual of driving cattle between two fires—as described in Sanas Cormaic 1000 years before—was still practised across most of Ireland and in parts of Scotland. Sometimes the cattle would be made to leap over flames or embers.
The people themselves would do likewise. In the Isle of Man, people ensured that the smoke blew over their cattle; when the bonfire had died down, people would daub themselves with its ashes and sprinkle it over their c
The loathly lady, is a tale type used in medieval literature, most famously in Geoffrey Chaucer's The Wife of Bath's Tale. The motif is that of a woman who appears unattractive but undergoes a transformation upon being approached by a man in spite of her unattractiveness, becoming desirable, it is revealed that her ugliness was the result of a curse, broken by the hero's action. The loathly lady can be found in The Adventures of the Sons of Eochaid Mugmedon, in which Niall of the Nine Hostages proves himself the rightful High King of Ireland by embracing her, because she turns out to personify the sovereignty of the territory; the motif can be found in stories of the earlier high kings Lugaid Loígde and Conn of the Hundred Battles. In the Fenian Cycle of Irish mythology, Diarmuid Ua Duibhne was one of the most famous members of the Fianna. One freezing winter's night, the Loathly Lady brazenly entered the Fianna lodge, where the warriors had just gone to bed after a hunting expedition. Drenched to the bone, her sodden hair was knotted.
Desperate for warmth and shelter, she knelt beside each warrior and demanded a blanket, beginning with their leader Fionn. Despite her rants and temper tantrums, the tired men only rolled over and ignored her in the hope that she would leave. Only young Diarmuid, whose bed was nearest to the fireplace, took pity on the wretched woman, giving her his bed and blanket; the Loathly Lady noticed Diarmuid's love spot and said that she had wandered the world alone for 7 years. Diarmuid told her she could sleep all night and that he would protect her. Towards dawn, he became aware; the next day, the Loathly Lady rewarded Diarmuid's kindness by offering him his greatest wish—a house overlooking the sea. Overjoyed, Diarmuid asked the woman to live with him, she agreed on one condition: He must promise never to mention how ugly she looked on the night they met. After 3 days together, Diarmuid grew restless; the Loathly Lady offered to watch his greyhound and her new pups. On three separate occasions, Diarmuid's friends, envious of his good luck, visited the lady and asked for one of the new pups.
Each time, she honoured the request. Each time, Diarmuid was angry and asked her how she could repay him so meanly when he overlooked her ugliness the first night they met. On the third mention of that which he had promised never to speak of, the Loathly Lady and the house disappeared, his beloved greyhound died. Realizing that his ungratefulness has caused him to lose everything he valued, Diarmuid set out to find his lady, he used an enchanted ship to cross a stormy sea. Arriving in the Otherworld, he searched for the lady through green meadows filled with brightly coloured horses and silver trees. Three times he gathered each drop into his handkerchief; when a stranger revealed that the King's gravely ill daughter had just returned after 7 years, Diarmuid realised it must be his lady. Rushing to her side, he discovered; the 3 drops of blood Diarmuid collected were from her heart, spilled each time she thought of Diarmuid. The only cure was a cup of healing water from the Plain of Wonder, guarded by a jealous king and his army.
Diarmuid vowed to bring back the cup. His quest for the healing cup nearly ended at an impassable river. Diarmuid was stumped until the Red Man of All Knowledge, who had red hair and eyes like glowing coals, helped him cross the river and guided him to the king of the healing cup's castle. Once there, Diarmuid issued a challenge and in response the king first sent out one thousand six hundred fighting men one thousand eight hundred. Diarmuid single-handedly slew them all. Impressed, the king gave him the cup of healing. On the return trip, the Red Man advised Diarmuid on, he warned the young hero that when her sickness ended, Diarmuid's love for her would end as well. Diarmuid refused to believe the prophecy; the lady sadly understood. She couldn't live in his world any more. Diarmuid boarded an enchanted ship to return to the Fianna, where he was greeted by his friends and his greyhound, which the lady had returned to life as her final gift to him. In her capacity as a quest-bringer, the loathly lady can be found in the literature of the Holy Grail, including Chrétien de Troyes' Perceval, the Story of the Grail, Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzival, the Welsh Romance Peredur, son of Efrawg associated with the Mabinogion.
The motif appears in Wolfram von Eschenbach's Middle High German romance Parzival in the character of Cundrie, the messenger of the Grail. The theme became a staple of Arthurian literature. A variation on this story is attached to Sir Gawain in the related romances The Wedding of Sir Gawain and Dame Ragnelle and The Marriage of Sir Gawain. Another version of the motif is the ballad King Henry. In this ballad, the king must appease the loathly lady; the next morning, he is surprised. The loathly lady appears in the Old Norse Hrólfr Kraki's saga where Hróarr's brother Helgi was visited one Yule by an ugly being while he was in his hunting house. No person in the entire kingdom allowed the being to enter the house, except Helgi; the thing asked
A druid was a member of the high-ranking professional class in ancient Celtic cultures. Best remembered as religious leaders, they were legal authorities, lorekeepers, medical professionals, political advisors. While the druids are reported to have been literate, they are believed to have been prevented by doctrine from recording their knowledge in written form, thus they left no written accounts of themselves, they are however attested in some detail by their contemporaries from other cultures, such as the Romans and the Greeks. The earliest known references to the druids date to the fourth century BCE and the oldest detailed description comes from Julius Caesar's Commentarii de Bello Gallico, they were described by Greco-Roman writers such as Cicero and Pliny the Elder. Following the Roman invasion of Gaul, the druid orders were suppressed by the Roman government under the 1st century CE emperors Tiberius and Claudius, had disappeared from the written record by the 2nd century. In about 750 CE the word druid appears in a poem by Blathmac, who wrote about Jesus, saying that he was "... better than a prophet, more knowledgeable than every druid, a king, a bishop and a complete sage."
The druids also appear in some of the medieval tales from Christianized Ireland like the "Táin Bó Cúailnge", where they are portrayed as sorcerers who opposed the coming of Christianity. In the wake of the Celtic revival during the 18th and 19th centuries and neopagan groups were founded based on ideas about the ancient druids, a movement known as Neo-Druidism. Many popular notions about druids, based on misconceptions of 18th century scholars, have been superseded by more recent study; the modern English word druid derives from the Latin druidēs, considered by ancient Roman writers to come from the native Celtic Gaulish word for these figures. Other Roman texts employ the form druidae, while the same term was used by Greek ethnographers as δρυΐδης. Although no extant Romano-Celtic inscription is known to contain the form, the word is cognate with the insular Celtic words, Old Irish druí ‘druid, sorcerer’, Old Cornish druw, Middle Welsh dryw ‘seer. Based on all available forms, the hypothetical proto-Celtic word may be reconstructed as *dru-wid-s meaning "oak-knower".
The two elements go back to the Proto-Indo-European roots *deru- and *weid- "to see". The sense of "oak-knower" or "oak-seer" is supported by Pliny the Elder, who in his Natural History considered the word to contain the Greek noun drýs, "oak-tree" and the Greek suffix -idēs. Both Old Irish druí and Middle Welsh dryw could refer to the wren connected with an association of that bird with augury in Irish and Welsh tradition. Sources by ancient and medieval writers provide an idea of the religious duties and social roles involved in being a druid; the Greco-Roman and the vernacular Irish sources agree that the druids played an important part in pagan Celtic society. In his description, Julius Caesar claimed that they were one of the two most important social groups in the region and were responsible for organizing worship and sacrifices and judicial procedure in Gaulish and Irish societies, he claimed that they were exempt from military service and from the payment of taxes, had the power to excommunicate people from religious festivals, making them social outcasts.
Two other classical writers, Diodorus Siculus and Strabo wrote about the role of druids in Gallic society, claiming that the druids were held in such respect that if they intervened between two armies they could stop the battle. Pomponius Mela is the first author who says that the druids' instruction was secret and took place in caves and forests. Druidic lore consisted of a large number of verses learned by heart, Caesar remarked that it could take up to twenty years to complete the course of study. What was taught to druid novices anywhere is conjecture: of the druids' oral literature, not one certifiably ancient verse is known to have survived in translation. All instruction was communicated orally, but for ordinary purposes, Caesar reports, the Gauls had a written language in which they used Greek characters. In this he draws on earlier writers. Greek and Roman writers made reference to the druids as practitioners of human sacrifice. According to Caesar, those, found guilty of theft or other criminal offences were considered preferable for use as sacrificial victims, but when criminals were in short supply, innocents would be acceptable.
A form of sacrifice recorded by Caesar was the burning alive of victims in a large wooden effigy, now known as a wicker man. A differing account came from the 10th-century Commenta Bernensia, which claimed that sacrifices to the deities Teutates and Taranis were by drowning and burning, respectively. Diodorus Siculus asserts that a sacrifice acceptable to the Celtic gods had to be attended by a druid, for they were the intermediaries between the people and the divinities, he remarked upon the importance of prophets in druidic ritual: "These men predict the future by observing the flight and calls of birds and by the sacrifice of holy animals: all orders of society are in their power... and in important matters they prepare a human victim, plunging a dagger into his chest.
The Merry Maidens
The Merry Maidens known as Dawn's Men is a late neolithic stone circle located 2 miles to the south of the village of St Buryan, in Cornwall, United Kingdom. A pair of standing stones, The Pipers is associated both geographically and in legend; the circle, thought to be complete, comprises nineteen granite megaliths and is situated in a field alongside the B3315 between Newlyn and Land's End. The stones are 1.2 metres high, with the tallest standing 1.4 metres. They are spaced three to four metres apart with a larger gap between the stones on the east side; the circle is twenty-four metres in diameter. To the south is another stone which suggests a possible north-south orientation. In earlier times there was another stone circle located 200 metres away, but this had been destroyed by the end of the 19th century. 300 metres to the northeast are The Pipers – two 3-metre-high standing stones. These have been described as "largest surviving standing stones in Cornwall and the best known"; the Tregiffian Burial Chamber is nearby.
The local myth about the creation of the stones suggests that nineteen maidens were turned into stone as punishment for dancing on a Sunday. The Pipers, two megaliths some distance north-east of the circle, are said to be the petrified remains of the musicians who played for the dancers. A more detailed story explains why the Pipers are so far from the Maidens – the two pipers heard the church clock in St Buryan strike midnight, realised they were breaking the Sabbath, started to run up the hill away from the maidens who carried on dancing without accompaniment; these petrification legends are associated with stone circles, as is reflected in the folk names of some of the nearby sites, for example, the Tregeseal Dancing Stones, the Nine Maidens of Boskednan, as well as the more distant Hurlers and Pipers on Bodmin Moor. Another tradition says that The Pipers were erected to commemorate Howel and Aethelstan, leaders who died in a 10th-century battle; the Merry Maidens were first examined in detail by antiquarian William Borlase in 1769, who reported a second large circle of stones.
In 1872 William Copeland Borlase, a descendant of the elder Borlase, produced a more detailed description of the area. At that time seven stones were still present from the second stone circle, before it disappeared by the end of the 19th century. Hugh O’Neill Hencken wrote a first modern scientific view of the archaeological site in 1932. A more recent study was produced by John Barnatt in 1982. Today it is thought that there were 18 standing stones. In the mid-19th century new stones were added in an attempt at reconstruction, but not in the correct position or number. In addition, some of the old stones were moved, giving the appearance that the stone circle has today. Other prehistoric stone circles in the Penwith district: Boscawen-Un Boskednan known as the Nine Maidens of Boskednan Tregeseal East known as the Tregeseal Dancing Stones Burl, Aubrey; the stone circles of Britain and Brittany. Yale University Press. Chapter 9. ISBN 0-300-08347-5. Cope, Julian; the Modern Antiquarian: A Pre-Millennial Odyssey Through Megalithic Britain.
HarperCollins. P. 164. ISBN 0-7225-3599-6; the Merry Maidens stone circle site page on The Megalithic Portal The Merry Maidens stone circle site page on The Modern Antiquarian
The Mabinogion are the earliest prose stories of the literature of Britain. The stories were compiled in Middle Welsh in the 12th–13th centuries from earlier oral traditions; the two main source manuscripts were created c. 1350–1410, as well as a few earlier fragments. These stories offer drama, romance, tragedy and humour, were created by various narrators over time; the title covers a collection of eleven prose stories of different types. There is a classic hero quest, "Culhwch and Olwen"; the sophisticated complexity of the Four Branches of the Mabinogi defies categorisation. The stories are so diverse that it has been argued that they are not a true collection. Scholars from the 18th century to the 1970s predominantly viewed the tales as fragmentary pre-Christian Celtic mythology, or in terms of international folklore. There are traces of mythology, folklore components, but since the 1970s an understanding of the integrity of the tales has developed, with investigation of their plot structures and language styles.
They are now seen as a sophisticated narrative tradition, both oral and written, with ancestral construction from oral storytelling, overlay from Anglo-French influences. The first modern publications were English translations by William Owen Pughe of several tales in journals in 1795, 1821, 1829; however it was Lady Charlotte Guest in 1838–45 who first published the full collection, bilingually in Welsh and English. She is assumed to be responsible for the name "Mabinogion", but this was in standard use since the 18th century. Indeed, as early as 1632 the lexicographer John Davies quotes a sentence from Math fab Mathonwy with the notation "Mabin." in his Antiquae linguae Britannicae... dictionarium duplex, article "Hob". The Guest translation of 1877 in one volume has been influential and remains read today; the most recent translation is a compact version by Sioned Davies. John Bollard has published a series of volumes with his own translation, with copious photography of the sites in the stories.
The tales continue to inspire new fiction, dramatic retellings, visual artwork, research. The name first appears in 1795 in William Owen Pughe's translation of Pwyll in the journal Cambrian Register under the title "The Mabinogion, or Juvenile Amusements, being Ancient Welsh Romances." The name appears to have been current among Welsh scholars of the London-Welsh Societies and the regional eisteddfodau in Wales. It was inherited as the title by the first publisher of the complete collection, Lady Charlotte Guest; the form mabynnogyon occurs once at the end of the first of the Four Branches of the Mabinogi in one manuscript. It is now agreed that this one instance was a mediaeval scribal error which assumed'mabinogion' was the plural of'mabinogi,', a Welsh plural occurring at the end of the remaining three branches; the word mabinogi itself is something of a puzzle, although derived from the Welsh mab, which means "son, young person". Eric P. Hamp of the earlier school traditions in mythology, found a suggestive connection with Maponos "the Divine Son", a Gaulish deity.
Mabinogi properly applies only to the Four Branches, a organised quartet likely by one author, where the other seven are so diverse. Each of these four tales ends with the colophon "thus ends this branch of the Mabinogi", hence the name. Lady Charlotte Guest's work was helped by the earlier research and translation work of William Owen Pughe; the first part of Charlotte Guest's translation of the Mabinogion appeared in 1838, it was completed in seven parts in 1845. A three-volume edition followed in 1846, a revised edition in 1877, her version of the Mabinogion remained standard until the 1948 translation by Gwyn Jones and Thomas Jones, praised for its combination of literal accuracy and elegant literary style. Several more, listed below, have since appeared. Dates for the tales in the Mabinogion have been much debated, a range from 1050 to 1225 being proposed, with the consensus being that they are to be dated to the late 11th and 12th centuries; the stories of the Mabinogion appear in either or both of two medieval Welsh manuscripts, the White Book of Rhydderch or Llyfr Gwyn Rhydderch, written circa 1350, the Red Book of Hergest or Llyfr Goch Hergest, written about 1382–1410, though texts or fragments of some of the tales have been preserved in earlier 13th century and manuscripts.
Scholars agree that the tales are older than the existing manuscripts, but disagree over just how much older. It is clear, thus the tale of Culhwch ac Olwen, with its primitive warlord Arthur and his court based at Celliwig, is accepted to precede the Arthurian romances which show the influence of Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae and the romances of Chrétien de Troyes.. Those following R. S. Loomis would date it before 1100, see it as providing important evidence for the development of Arthurian legend, with links to Nennius and early Welsh poetry.. By contrast, The Dream of Rhonabwy is set in the reign of the historical Madog ap Maredudd, must therefore either be contemporary with or postdate his reign, being early 13thC. Much debate has been focused on the dating of the Four Bran
Tuatha Dé Danann
The Tuath Dé Danann known by the earlier name Tuath Dé, are a supernatural race in Irish mythology. They are thought to represent the main deities of pre-Christian Gaelic Ireland; the Tuatha Dé Danann constitute a pantheon whose attributes appeared in a number of forms throughout the Celtic world. The Tuath Dé interact with humans and the human world, they are associated with ancient passage tombs, such as Brú na Bóinne, which were seen as portals to the Otherworld. Their traditional rivals are the Fomorians, who seem to represent the harmful or destructive powers of nature, who the Tuath Dé defeat in the Battle of Mag Tuired; each member of the Tuath Dé has associations with a particular feature of life or nature, but many appear to have more than one association. Many have bynames, some representing different aspects of the deity and others being regional names or epithets. Much of Irish mythology was recorded by Christian monks, they depicted the Tuath Dé as kings and heroes of the distant past who had supernatural powers.
Other times they were explained as fallen angels who were neither evil. However, some medieval writers acknowledged, they appear in tales set centuries apart, showing them to be immortal. Prominent members of the Tuath Dé include The Dagda, they have parallels in the pantheons of other Celtic peoples: for example Lugh is cognate with the pan-Celtic god Lugus, Nuada with the British god Nodens, Brigid with Brigantia. The Tuath Dé became the Aos Sí or "fairies" of folklore; the Old Irish word tuath means "people, nation". In the earliest writings, the mythical race are referred to as the Tuath Dé. However, Irish monks began using the term Tuath Dé to refer to the Israelites, with the meaning "People of God". To avoid confusion with the Israelites, writers began to refer to the mythical race as the Tuath Dé Danann; the Old Irish pronunciation is and the Modern Irish pronunciation is in the West and North, in the South. Danann is believed to be the genitive of a female name, for which the nominative case is not attested.
It has been reconstructed as Danu. Anu is called "mother of the Irish gods" by Cormac mac Cuilennáin; this may be linked to the Welsh mythical figure Dôn. Hindu mythology has a goddess called Danu, who may be an Indo-European parallel. However, this reconstruction is not universally accepted, it has been suggested that Danann is a conflation of dán and the goddess name Anann. The name is found as Donann and Domnann, which may point to the origin being proto-Celtic *don, meaning "earth". There may be a link with the British Dumnonii; the Tuatha Dé Danann were descended from leader of a previous wave of inhabitants of Ireland. They came from four cities to the north of Ireland—Falias, Gorias and Finias—where they taught their skills in the sciences, including architecture, the arts, magic, including necromancy. According to Lebor Gabála Érenn, they came to Ireland "in dark clouds" and "landed on the mountains of Conmaicne Rein in Connachta", otherwise Sliabh an Iarainn, "and they brought a darkness over the sun for three days and three nights".
They burnt the ships "so that they should not think of retreating to them. Therefore it was conceived that they had arrived in clouds of mist". A poem in the Lebor Gabála Érenn says of their arrival: It is God who suffered them, though He restrained themthey landed with horror, with lofty deed, in their cloud of mighty combat of spectres, upon a mountain of Conmaicne of Connacht. Without distinction to descerning Ireland, Without ships, a ruthless course the truth was not known beneath the sky of stars, whether they were of heaven or of earth. Led by their king, they fought the First Battle of Magh Tuireadh on the west coast, in which they defeated and displaced the native Fir Bolg, who inhabited Ireland. In the battle, Nuada lost an arm to Sreng. Since Nuada was no longer "unblemished", he could not continue as king and was replaced by the half-Fomorian Bres, who turned out to be a tyrant; the physician Dian Cecht replaced Nuada's arm with a working silver one and he was reinstated as king. However, Dian Cecht's son Miach was dissatisfied with the replacement so he recited the spell, "ault fri halt dí & féith fri féth", which caused flesh to grow over the silver prosthesis over the course of nine days and nights.
However, in a fit of jealous rage Dian Cecht slew his own son. Because of Nuada's restoration as leader, Bres complained to his family and his father, who sent him to seek assistance from Balor, king of the Fomorians; the Tuatha Dé Danann fought the Second Battle of Magh Tuireadh against the Fomorians. Nuada was killed by the Fomorian king Balor's poisonous eye, but Balor was