Most of ancient Irish history is shrouded in a pre-Celtic mist of mystery.
Although its origins are much earlier, the Book of Invasions of the 12th century [of the Christian period, i.e. A.D.] purports to tell of the different tribes and peoples who invaded Ireland in the Pre-Christian era. It unfortunately includes both historical and mythological events [like Newry Journal, I hear you say!]. It recounts invasions of the Fir Bolg, the Tuatha de Danann and the Milesians [in that order] all of whom preceded the successive waves of Iron Age Celtic peoples from the continent. The first named possibly were the Belgiae, a continental tribe which has given its name to modern-day Belgium. There is no archaeological evidence of their presence in Ireland. The Milesians will be described later.
It is the Tuatha [‘community’ or ‘people’] de Danann that is of particular interest here for it was a race with magical skills. How else, I ask you, could they have raised such massive stones above the megaliths to their dead [e.g. Proleek Dolmen at Ballymascanlon]?
When eventually they were overcome by the Milesians, some part of this people sailed away overseas while others retreated underground and became the legendary Irish fairies. This explains why the royal forths, at least, were equipped with souterrains, still believed to be the fairies’ conduit between both worlds. It explains too why they are an almost exclusively Irish phenomenon and why they have magical powers.
Of course, anyone who has even seen the film, Darby O’Gill & the Little People would know all this already. And didn’t it star the great Sean Connery himself – later, the ONLY James Bond worthy of that character-role? Now I ask you, would he lend his name to something that wasn’t the honest-to-God truth?
So, if you don’t mind, I’ll have no more muttering from the back there about the plethora of ‘fairy’ stories uploaded to Newry Journal web-site!!