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Sunday, 13 January 2013

Who were Dana’s Children?

So, ‘Dana’s Children’ has been accepted for publication.  The story of Dana’s people is probably one of the lesser known Celtic myths, so this piece is to give some background to the legends behind the novella.

Irish myth is rich in stories of invasions and peoples who inhabited the Emerald Isle in early times – Fomorians; Fir Bolg; Milesians and the like.  The Tuatha De Danann (Dana’s tribe; Dana’s people; Dana’s children, depending on who’s translation you’re reading) are one more.  I used the ‘Dana’s Children’ version because that seemed most dramatic.

Dana’s children seem to have been humanlike and led by a mother figure (goddess?) called Dana.  The tribe was pitted against another wave of invaders, the Milesians.  Milesians were the final inhabitants of Ireland, so probably represent the current Celtic people.

It’s possible that Dana’s children are distant historical memories recalling real people who lived in Ireland but were driven out by the Celts.

Anyway, the Milesians and Dana’s Tribe fought and eventually made peace.  As part of the treaty Dana’s children were promised half of Ireland, but were tricked – they were allocated the underground half, while the Milesians remained on the surface.

Dana’s children became associated with the underworld, and places such as ancient burial mounds were seen as entrances to their realm.  Dana’s tribe are also often regarded as the original fairies, but were more malevolent than our current perception of the race.

The tribe were also said to be very protective of their underground kingdom and suspicious of Milesians who trespassed – for good reason, I suppose, if they’d been tricked out of living on the surface.

‘Dana’s Children’ plays on the more sinister side of early fairy tales, and ties it in with the story of Dana’s people and the invasion myths.  Woe betide my group of archaeologists who discover and explore an underground passage…

The fuller story of the Tuatha De Danann – and links to other Invasion myths – are on Wikipedia.

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