Book of Invasions

Book of Invasions – Irish Mythology

The medieval Irish manuscript known in Irish as Leabhar Gabhála Éireann or The Book of Invasions in English, are the source of some of the great stories from Irish mythology.

The Book of Invasions tells the origin story of Ireland according to Celtic mythology. It describes the different tribes that were said to inhabit the island, their conflicts, and their history. It tells the story of the various mythical invasions of Ireland by different groups and was compiled in the 11th century. However, it is believed to be based on earlier sources.

The book is written in a form of Old Irish and is the primary source of information about Irish mythology and the country’s supposed early history.

Leabhar Gabhála Éireann

One of the unique features of the book is the way it combines together mythological and historical elements. The stories of the different invasions are told in a way that places them within a historical context. It also provides specific dates and describes events.

This blending of history and mythology was common in medieval Irish literature, as well as most literature of the time. The book reflects the belief that the myths and legends of Ireland were an integral part of the country’s history.

According to Leabhar Gabhála Éireann, there were six tribes who occupied Ireland at different times, and five waves of invasions.

Six Tribes of Ireland

The “six tribes of Ireland” is a term that refers to the main ethnic groups that were said to have inhabited Ireland in medieval Irish literature. These groups were:

The people of Partholón

According to the Book of Invasions, they were the first group to settle in Ireland after the Great Flood.

The people of Nemed

The Nemed arrived in Ireland about 30 years after the Partholónians. Not much is known of the Nemed.

The Tuatha Dé Danann

According to myth, the Tuatha Dé Danann were a supernatural race of beings who arrived in Ireland before the Milesians. They eventually conquered the Fir Bolg to become the rulers of the land. They were said to possess great magical powers and were associated with arts and scholarly pursuits.

The FirBolg

An earlier group of people who were believed to have inhabited Ireland before the arrival of the Tuatha Dé Danann. They were said to be skilled in metalworking and were ruled by several kings.

The Milesians

The Milesians, also known as the Gaels, were a group of people who were said to have arrived in Ireland from Spain. According to myth, they conquered the Tuatha Dé Danann to become the rulers of Ireland.

The Fomorians

The Fomorians were a group of semi-divine beings who were said to be the enemies of the Tuatha Dé Danann. They were often depicted as monstrous creatures and were associated with the sea.

Fir Bolg Meeting
Fir Bolg and Tuath Dé ambassadors meeting before battle

Want to learn more about Celtic Mythology?

There are a number of great books available on Celtic Mythology. This is one of our favourites. It is from a series on Mythology of 8 great race of peoples (Egypt, Celts etc.).

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