Welcome to the Order of the Sacred Star! This Pagan/Wiccan group, based in Winnipeg, Canada, is committed to teaching the Craft to all those who wish to learn. Our goal is to provide a complete and fulfulling learning experience. Our public classes are offered through the Winnipeg Pagan Teaching Circle.

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Mythology of Ancient Ireland – The Fir Bolg Invasion

The Fir Bolg were the third group of invaders to arrive in Ireland. There are many accounts of these people, both before they entered Ireland and after. However, like the Partholans and Neimheahdians before them, there is much myth and mystery surrounding this wave of invaders, and little fact.

Where Did the Fir Bolg Come From?

When the Neimheahdians fled Ireland, they are said to have split into three distinct groups. One of these groups made its way to Greece, where they were enslaved. After many years of this treatment, they escaped and fled Greece. These slaves arrived in Ireland approximately two hundred and seventeen years after the Neimheahdians left.

The term ‘Fir Bolg’ is thought to have originated from the Irish word for bag (bolg). The escaped slaves may have carried with them leather bags full of earth, and were so named after this practice. This is considered to be pure legend, as there is little historical evidence to support this entomology of the word bolg.

The Fir Bolg and Their Contribution to Ireland

The Fir Bolg and their invasion mark the very beginning of Ireland’s recorded history. They brought agriculture with them, and are sometimes said to have ‘civilized’ Ireland. They were a pastoral people, and very spiritual.

They created raths in Ireland, which were circular enclosures surrounded by earthen walls. They used these as both dwellings and fortifications during their time in Ireland. Occasionally, they would use these raths to bury their dead without cremation. More commonly, however, the dead were put to rest in large earthen mounds.

Rule of law was very important to the Fir Bolg. They established a monarchical government, which was seated at the Hill of Tara, and had respected social institutions. Their three leaders divided Ireland into the five provinces for the first time. The followers of these leaders became known as the three tribes. These tribes were:
  • Fir Domhnann;
  • Fir Gaileon; and
  • Fir Bolg.
What Happened to the Fir Bolg?

The Fir Bolg spent thirty-six years in Ireland before they were challenged by the Tuatha De Danann. The battles between these two groups were fierce, and many were killed on both sides. Eventually, the Fir Bolg were defeated by the De Danann in the First Battle of Mag Tuired.

After their defeat, the Fir Bolg fled to the islands of Arran, Isley, Man, and Rathlin. They did return to Ireland near the beginning of the Common Era, but as a subordinate people. However, there are some tales which indicate that the First Battle of Mag Tuired was fought, but then ended in a pact of goodwill and friendship.

The Fir Bolg are an important people for many reasons, but mainly because of their involvement in the great battles with the Tuatha De Danann. Of the five waves of invasion, this wave is the one in which we see the very beginnings of true civilization in Ireland.

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