When the Tuatha De Danann came to Ireland in ships from the far north, they brought with them magical treasures. Each treasure comes of a different city and each treasure was brought by the poet of that city. I think the term ‘poet’ can be used pretty broadly; they were trained in all of the arts, including magic and druidry. These treasures, or hallows, are an integral part of Irish mythology. There are many stories, both ancient and modern, where these treasures are mentioned or referred to. They make a good tale, even today. Check out Valerie Biel’s books starting with Circle of Nine. They are a fantasy series incorporating Irish mythology and the four treasures. http://www.valeriebiel.com
And you’ve probably heard of The Druid Chronicles too. The series is laced with Irish references. https://kevinhearne.com/novels/
The first treasure (not in any specific order of importance) is the Cauldron of Dagda. (The picture is from Google and is by Lorriane Mulholland.) The cauldron was brought by the poet Semias from the island city of Muirias to Ireland. This cauldron had an endless supply of food, that not only filled the person eating, but also restored health and vigor. Dagda was regarded as a god of the Tuath, the father/chieftain. He was also considered a great druid, mixing wisdom with magic.
Second is the Sword of Nuada. (This picture comes from ancientpages.com) Interestingly, it was not brought to Ireland by Nuada, but used by him in battle. The sword was brought by the poet Uiscias from the city of Findias. Nuada was the first king of the Tuatha. Once the sword was drawn, no one could escape it’s lethal blow. Not only that, but an enemy was drawn to it, so running away wasn’t an option.
Next is the Stone of Destiny. In Irish it’s known as Lia Fail. It was brought by the poet Morfessa from the city of Falias. It would cry out when the rightful heir touched it. Reminds me of King Arthur legends with Excalibur. (I’m sure the Irish legend is first.) Cuchulain, a great hero in Irish mythology, apparently got pretty angry when the stone refused to cry out to the man he wanted to be king. He tried to split it with his sword. After that the stone wouldn’t declare the true ruler, until Brian Boru in 1002. Since then, it’s been silent. The stone remains among us mortals, in County Meath, on the hill Tara. I haven’t yet been there, but I am surprised at the size. It’s above ground height is just over 3′. From the pictures it looks taller. On the other hand, that’s quite a stone to bring all the way from…Morfessa. Like all Irish monuments, it’s open to the public. Many battles were fought at the foot hills of Tara.
Lastly, is the Spear of Lugh. (This image comes from Grannulu’ Grove, where there are blogs about Ireland you might enjoy.) It was brought by Esras from the city of Gorias. Lugh, like Nuada, is the barer of the weapon. He is considered a young warrior god of light for the Tuatha. No one could withstand the spear, making the wielder invincible. The Smithsonian channel did a show on sacred sites in Ireland. An interesting idea they presented is that of the legend of Lugh. He coincides with a comet. Up until that time, most Irish legends are concerned with the earth. But the comet brought attention to the sky. Lugh is shown as bright light, wielding a spear, shooting across the sky, like a comet. Ancients would have been astounded by a comet, believing it something to do with the gods. It makes interesting scientific sense of lore. The show was fascinating, and if you’re a fan of ancient Ireland, you may want to take a look at it.
All of treasures are really ways to win a war and run a kingdom. An army needs food to sustain it and weapons to overcome the enemy as well as a ruler that you have total faith in.
The Stone of Lia Fail is the only remaining treasure. Remember how the Tuatha went to the otherworld? Well, they took their treasures with them. Was it to protect humans from too much power and magic, or to jealously guard them?
Have you been to County Meath and seen the Lia Fail? If so, I’d love to know your thoughts.