The Neimheahdians were the second group of invaders to truly occupy Ireland. As with the Partholans before them, the Neimheahdians and their origins are shrouded in mystery. These people were the followers of a man named Nemed (or Nemedh).
Where Did the Neimheahdians Come From?
It is unclear as to where the Neimheahdians might have come from. Some tales say that they were from Spain, or perhaps Scythia. There is also a legend that speaks of them coming from the mysterious region of the dead. Regardless of their origins, Nemed, son of Agnomon, sailed with his people to Ireland.
At this point, legend is not kind to the Neimheahdians. It is said that of the original 960 followers of Nemed, only nine survived. These nine people were able to quickly reestablish a population in Ireland, but once they had truly colonized Ireland, they were challenged by the Fomorians.
The Neimheahdians and the Fomorians
The five waves of invasion of the Mythological Cycle are littered with references to the Fomorians. They were said to be huge, misshapen creatures, truly terrifying in their cruelty. They take many forms, and were said, in some myths, to have attacked the followers of Nemed as they made their way to Ireland, in the guise of pirates out of Africa.
After the Neimheahdians settled themselves in Ireland and rebuilt their population, the Fomorians again attacked. Nemed and his followers fought against the Fomorians in four great battles, but during these battles, Nemed and many of his people were killed. The Fomorians were able to subdue the remaining Neimheahdians.
Eventually, the Neimheahdians rose in revolt, led by their three remaining chiefs. One of these chiefs, Fergus, kills Conann, who is one of the Fomorian kings. While this was a great victory, it wasn’t long before Morc, the second Fomorian king, routed the Neimheahdians. According to legend, only thirty survived to be sent from Ireland in exile.
What Happened to the Neimheahdians?
The thirty surviving Neimheahdians fled Ireland in despair. Some accounts claim that even these few perished before they found a new homeland. Common myth, however, indicates that they did survive, and even thrive. They are thought to have split into three groups after leaving Ireland.
The first group is thought to have wandered into the vastness of Northern Europe, to later return as a part of the Tuatha De Danann. The second group of refugees made their way to Greece, where they were enslaved. However, they later fled and returned to Ireland as the Fir Bolgs. The third group sought refuge in the north of England. It is sometimes said that ‘Briton’ was so named after the leader of this third group, who was called Briotan Maol.
The Neimheahdians are a powerful part of Irish mythology. Not necessarily because of their original impact on Ireland itself, but because they found the Fir Bolg and become part of the Tuatha De Danann. These two groups form the basis of the Irish Pantheon and are the foundation of the Irish Faery Faith.
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