A big, complicated, repeating itself, contradicting itself, non-hierarchical, smudgy looking mess.
So, let me help you with a very common question...
Where do I start?!
First Steps in Irish Myths & Legends
Based on Lebor Gabála ('the Book of Occupations/Invasions'), it runs something like this:
- Cesair landed in West Munster with her followers, a band of 50 women and 3 men.
- Partholon and his followers arrived, fought the Fomorians, and died of Plague.
- The Nemedians came from Spain (?), fought the Fomorians, and died of Plague.
- The Firbolg came, and divided Ireland into 5 parts (Provinces).
- The Tuatha Dé Danaan came, landing their sky ships on the Iron Mountain (in Leitrim).
- Tuatha Dé fought the Firbolg (First Battle of Moytura).
- Tuatha Dé fought the Fomorians (Second Battle of Moytura).
- The Milesians arrived from Spain, bringing Scota, daughter of a Pharaoh.
- Eochaidh Feidhleach, father of Queen Medb, is made King (approx 140 BCE).
- The Táin Bó Cuailgne begins (around the year 1 CE).
- Conn Céadcathach (of the Hundred Battles) is King, Fionn Mac Cumhail leads Fianna.
- Cormac Mac Art is King (227 CE).
- Fionn Mac Cumhail's death (284 CE).
- Saint Patrick arrives in Ireland as a Bishop (432 CE).
- Headquarters of the Christian Church in Ireland established at Armagh (444 CE).
You can get a fuller account with dates and other interesting happenings - just click here.
Digging Deeper into Irish Mythology
Chris Thompson and Isolde Carmody are doing amazing, invaluable work with their Story Archaeology Project, featuring discussion, stories, articles and podcasts, much of it based on Isolde's own translations from original sources.
Then look through the Irish Texts in Mary Jones' fabulous Celtic Literature Collective.
If you're still with me over here, and not journeying down an Irish rabbit hole just yet, I've a few posts on the blog here you might like, and always more on the way ;-)
Try 'A Woman's Place: Queen Medb in Ireland', a look at 'The Three Realms in Irish Tradition', and 'The Bull in Irish and Celtic Mythology' - Part 1, Part 2, & the Journeying and Guidance.
All that'll give you a start at least, but if there's anything you particularly want to hear about, just Email or Comment Here and let me know!