Nuada of the Silver Hand

A Silvery Tale – as previously promised

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I said timing was everything for a silvery tale, and you can’t get more silvery than when it is a full moon.  But this isn’t any ordinary full moon, it is also a blue moon.  There are two definitions of what a blue moon is, but I’ll give the meaning that I learned while resident in Ireland.  It is the second of two full moons which occur within one calendar month.  The phrase ‘once in a blue moon’ indicates rarity and blue moons are indeed relatively rare.  The last was in 2012 and the next will be in 2018.  I live in West Yorkshire, so will be experiencing the blue moon Saturday, July 31st. With luck the recent rains and clouds will clear enough to view it.   I am aware that some of you will be experiencing the blue moon tonight, so hence posting today.  While I am on the subject of the moon, I learned that it will be a a total lunar eclipse on my birthday this year.  I’m feeling the omens are good.

The Mythological Cycle of the Tuatha de Dannan is usually a good source for tales of battle and gruesome deaths, so I was surprised that I would find a silvery story within the Book of Invasions.   For any Game of Thrones fans out there, I wonder if this folktale was the inspiration for Jamie Lannister’s fate?

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It was magic that carried the people of the north to their new home of the Emerald Isle.  The Morrigan, Badb and Macha, witches transformed the Tuatha de Dannan into winged beings with dark raven wings.  They cast a cloud over Ireland and a mist so dense that their arrival would not be noticed by the Fir Bolg, the inhabitants of the isle.

But the Fir Bolg king had a vision of their coming in a dream and had wizards and druids at his disposal.  After three days and nights, they cleared the skies of the darkened mist allowing the Fir Bolg to see freely again.  The king, Eochai ma Eirc, was a perfect king, and rather than challenge the Tuatha de Dannan, he proposed to learn from them what he could and of their purpose there.

An emissary was sent to meet with the Tuatha, Sreng. The emissary met Bres, a mighty warrior of the Tuatha de Dannan.  Immediately they were enamoured of the weapons of the other.  They agreed to exchange their weapons so that each could appreciate the strength of the other.  They became friends, and when the Fir Bolg warrior asked of the purpose of the Tuatha’s visit, Bres asked for half of the land.

The Fir Bolg, it must be understood, were descended from the same race as that of the Tuatha de Dannan.  The Muintir Nemid, descendants of Nemed, were once kept as slaves in Greece, but the people parted, the Fir Bolg to Ireland and the Tuatha to the northern lands of Scandinavia.  While they did not know of their common ancestry, they were of the same spirit, and Sreng understood there was much to learn from his new friend, Bres.  He returned to Eochaid mac Eirc, the last of the High Kings of Ireland to rule over the Fir Bolg, and set forth the proposal of the Tuatha de Dannan.

But Eochaid was a perfect king and he declared, “Now they desire half of the land, but they will want the whole”.  He accepted the alternative to Bres’ proposal and chose to enter into battle with them.

The battle of Moytura, as it came to be known, lasted for four days.  The Tuatha were led by Nuada, their king.  Nuada carried the treasure from the northern city Fail, the sword of Fail.  In times of peace it could not slice through butter, but in times of war it was said to be able to cut a person in half.  But Nuada was challenged by Sreng, and the Fir Bolg sword cut through the arm of Nuada in one blow.  Despite this set back for the Tuatha, they conquered the Fir Bolg whose disappearance became a mystery yet to be explained.

Nuada survived the trauma of his injury, but as all kings were regarded as perfect and unblemished it was determined that he was no longer fit to rule.  Instead, Bres the emissary to the Fir Bolg led the Tuatha de Dannan in their occupation of Ireland.  But he was a tyrannical ruler.  So it was that Nuada’s brother Dian Cecht and the wright Creidhne crafted a silver arm for Nuada that he might rule again.

And so he did, until the second battle of Moytura.

But that is yet another tale…….

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Story retold by Safar Fiertze, based on numerous sources.

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