This conquest is the most important for Celtic history because this was
when the Gaels arrived in Ireland and they have since remained.
The Sons of Mil, originally of Spain, heard about the uncle, who after
seeing a vision had travelled to Ireland, and had been killed by the Tuatha De Danann.
They knew Ireland to be a good land, with good grazing and plentiful fish in rivers and
lakes. So, bent on revenge, they gathered their families and belongings together and set
sail for Ireland.
Donn, the eldest, was the commander of sixty-five ships and forty
chieftains and their spiritual leader was Amergin, a poet skilled in all arts of magic.
As they reached Ireland the Tuatha De Danann protected Ireland by using
druidic magic to make it disappear. The sailors stared in astonishment at the open sea.
Amergin realised that magic was at hand. He advised Donn to sail around the land three
The island reappeared as soon as the ships finished the third circle
and so the Sons of Mil landed on the eve of Beltain. They started marching inland.
As they headed inland they met the three goddesses of Ireland: Banba,
Fodla and Erui (also known as Erin). They were the territorial goddesses and it was vital
for the invaders to gain their co-operation. The first two goddesses didn't say much but
Erui was full of praise for them. She told them that their arrival had been long awaited
having been previously prophesied. She welcomed them and said that Ireland, the best
island, was theirs to rule forever.
Donn replied, "If that happens it will not be due to you but to
our gods and our fighting men."
Erin was angered by the arrogant answer and told him that his line
would be forever cursed and would never rule Ireland.
The Sons of Mil left Erui and continued to Tara where they met the
husbands of the three goddesses and kings of the Tuatha De Danann: Mac Cuill, Mac Cracht
and Mac Greine. These three jeered at the Sons of Mil for being dishonourable by trying to
take Ireland by surprise. The sons of Mil were given three options: leaving Ireland,
submitting to the Tuatha De Danann or fighting. Donn really wanted to fight but Amergin
had the final say in the matter.
He commanded them to retreat and leave the land for the Tuatha De until
the Sons of Mil could take it honourably.
"Where shall we go then?" Donn asked.
Speaking the magical words of the druids, Amergin commanded them out to
past the ninth wave.
Grudgingly the Sons of Mil obeyed and set sail until they were beyond
the ninth wave.
In order to keep them from Ireland forever the Tuatha De conjured up a
wild storm. The waves were so strong that even the seabed was lifted to the top and the
sailors were terrified as they were driven out to the open sea.
Amergin knew that if the storm was druid-driven then the air above the
mast would be calm. A sailor climbed the mast and he stuck his hand up above the mast. The
air was clam. Before he could tell the others a sudden gust of wind blew him to his death
on the deck below.
Amergin stood at the bow and chanted a poem to the goddess Erui, to
appease her after what Donn had said to him. The storm calmed. However, Donn was still
full of pride and he spoke arrogantly and showed disobedience to Amergin. This sealed his
The storm blew up once again and his ship became separated from the
others. Even as Donn defied the elements with his sword the boat was wrecked on the
southwest coast and everyone aboard drowned, all but Amergin.
Emer and Eremon, the remaining brothers, shared the rest of the fleet
between them. They landed on the shore and as Amergin set his right foot on the sand he
uttered a poem claiming the land for the Sons of Mil.
The Tuatha De Danann's magic had been outwitted but it was many battles
before the sons of Mil could claim victory.
However, the Tuatha De retained their supernatural powers and made life
difficult for the newcomers. Eventually a truce was reached and there was peace between
the two forces.
They divided the land between them, the underground going to the Tuatha
De and the land above ground went to the sons of Mil. As a result the Tuatha De went to
live underground. The Dagda gave a faery mound (known as a sidhe) to each of their
chieftains and these mounds were to be the dwelling places of the faery folk of Ireland.
This was forever the agreement between the Tuatha De Danann and the