The Religion of the Ancient Celts eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 445 pages of information about The Religion of the Ancient Celts.

The mythological cycle is not a complete “body of divinity”; its apparent completeness results from the chronological order of the annalists.  Fragments of other myths are found in the Dindsenchas; others exist as romantic tales, and we have no reason to believe that all the old myths have been preserved.  But enough remains to show the true nature of the Tuatha De Danann—­their supernatural character, their powers, their divine and unfailing food and drink, their mysterious and beautiful abode.  In their contents, their personages, in the actions that are described in them, the materials of the “mythological cycle,” show how widely it differs from the Cuchulainn and Fionn cycles.[198] “The white radiance of eternity” suffuses it; the heroic cycles, magical and romantic as they are, belong far more to earth and time.


[153] For some Highland references to the gods in saga and Maerchen, see Book of the Dean of Lismore, 10; Campbell, WHT ii. 77.  The sea-god Lir is probably the Liur of Ossianic ballads (Campbell, LF 100, 125), and his son Manannan is perhaps “the Son of the Sea” in a Gaelic song (Carmichael, CG ii. 122).  Manannan and his daughters are also known (Campbell, witchcraft, 83).

[154] The euhemerising process is first seen in tenth century poems by Eochaid hua Flainn, but was largely the work of Flainn Manistrech, ob. 1056.  It is found fully fledged in the Book of Invasions.

[155] Keating, 105-106.

[156] Keating, 107; LL 4_b_.  Cf. RC xvi. 155.

[157] LL 5.

[158] Keating, 111.  Giraldus Cambrensis, Hist.  Irel. c. 2, makes Roanus survive and tell the tale of Partholan to S. Patrick.  He is the Caoilte mac Ronan of other tales, a survivor of the Fians, who held many racy dialogues with the Saint.  Keating abuses Giraldus for equating Roanus with Finntain in his “lying history,” and for calling him Roanus instead of Ronanus, a mistake in which he, “the guide bull of the herd,” is followed by others.

[159] Keating, 164.

[160] LL 5_a_.

[161] Keating, 121; LL 6_a_; RC xvi. 161.

[162] Nennius, Hist.  Brit. 13.

[163] LL 6, 8_b_.

[164] LL 6_b_, 127_a_; IT iii. 381; RC xvi. 81.

[165] LL 9_b_, 11_a_.

[166] See Cormac, s.v. “Nescoit,” LU 51.

[167] Harl.  MSS. 2, 17, pp. 90-99.  Cf. fragment from Book of Invasions in LL 8.

[168] Harl.  MS. 5280, translated in RC xii. 59 f.

[169] RC xii. 60; D’Arbois, v. 405 f.

[170] For Celtic brother-sister unions see p. 224.

[171] O’Donovan, Annals, i. 16.

[172] RC xv. 439.

[173] RC xii. 71.

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The Religion of the Ancient Celts from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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