This section is from the book "Ancient Legends, Mystic Charms, And Superstitions Of Ireland", by Jane Francesca Wilde. Also available from Amazon: Ancient Legends, Mystic Charms, And Superstitions Of Ireland.
Moreover it has been recorded that the conquering race sent their small dark opponents into Connaught, while they themselves took possession of the rich lands further east, -and not only established themselves at Tara but spread into the south. It is remarkable that in time large numbers of the Dananns themselves were banished to the West, and likewise that the last forcible deportation of the native Irish race (so late as the seventeenth century) was when the people of this province got the choice of going " to Connaught or Hell," in the former of which, possibly, they joined some of the original stock. The natural beauty of the lakes and mountains of Connaught remains as it was thousands of years ago ; but no doubt if some of the legislators of the period to which I have already referred could now behold its fat pasture-plains, they might prefer them to the flax lands of Ulster.
These Dananns had a globular form of head, of which I have already published examples. For the most part I believe they burned their dead or sacrificed to their manes, and placed an urn with its incinerated contents-human or animal-in the grave, where the hero was either stretched at length or crouched in an attitude similar to that adopted by the ancient Peruvians, as I have elsewhere explained. These Irish urns, which are the earliest relics of our ceramic art that have come down to the present time, are very graceful in form, and some of them most beautifully decorated, as may be seen in our various museums.
Specimens of this Danann race still exist, but have gradually mixed with their forerunners to the present day. Here is what old MacFirbis wrote of them two hundred years ago : " Every one who is fair-haired, vengeful, large, and every plunderer, professors of musical and entertaining performances, who are adepts of Druidical and magical arts, they are the descendants of the Tuatha-de-Dananns." They were not only fair but sandy in many instances, and consequently extensively freckled.
It is affirmed that the Dananns ruled in Ireland for a long time, until another inroad was made into the island by the Milesians-said to be brave, chivalrous, skilled in war, good navigators, proud, boastful, and much superior in outward adornment as well as mental culture, but probably not better armed than their opponents. They deposed the three last Danann kings and. their wives, and rose to be, it is said, the dominant race-assuming the sovereignty, becoming the aristocracy and landed proprietors of the country, and giving origin to those chieftains that afterwards rose to the title of petty kings, and from whom some of the best families in the land with anything like Irish names claim descent, and particularly those with the prefix of the "O" or the "Mac." When this.race arrived in Ireland I cannot tell, but it was some time prior to the Christian era. It is said they came from the coast of Spain, where they had long remained after their Eastern emigration.
Upon the site of what is believed to be the ancient Brigantium, now the entrance to the united harbours of Corunna and Ferrol, stands the great lighthouse known to all ships - passing through the Bay of Biscay. Within this modern structure still exists the celebrated " Pharos of Hercules," which I investigated and described many years ago. That tower, it was said in metaphorical language, commanded a view of Ireland, and as such became the theme of Irish poems and legends. Certain it is that sailing north or north-westward from it the ships of the sons of Milesius and their followers could have reached Ireland without much coasting. If the story of Breogan's Tower is true, then it must have been erected in the time of lime-and-mortar building, and that is during the Roman occupation of Iberia and Gaul. How many thousands, rank and file, of these Spanish Milesians came here in their six or eight galleys and tried the fortunes .of war from "the summit of the ninth wave from the shore " and conquered the entire Danann, Firbolg, and Fomorian population, I am unable to give the slightest inkling of, no more than I can of the so-called Phoenician intercourse with this country. Perhaps without going into the fanciful descriptions of the " Battle of Ventry Harbour," or the southern conquest of Ireland by the Iberian Milesians, we may find some more trustworthy illustrations of Spanish dwellings in the architecture of the town of Galway, and some picturesque representatives in the lithe upright figures and raven-haired, but blue-eyed maidens of the City of the Tribes. Here is what old MacFirbis, who, I suppose, claimed descent from the sons of Milesius, wrote about them : " Every one who is white of skin, brown of hair, bold, honourable, daring, prosperous, bountiful in the bestowal of property, and who is not afraid of battle or combat, they are the descendants of the sons of Milesius in Erin."
This high panegyric is only equalled by the prose and verse compositions of the ancient bards and rhymers and the modern historians, who have recorded the deeds of the great Warriors, Ith, Heber, and Heremon, whose descendants boast to have been the rulers of the land. Even Moore, although he wrote such beautiful lyrics concerning this race in his early days, yet when he came to study history, he felt the same difficulty I do now. I do not dispute their origin or supremacy; but I fail to distinguish their early customs, their remains, or race from those of the Firbolgs or Dananns whom they conquered, and who left undoubted monuments peculiar to their time.
Now all these peoples-the piratical navigator along our coasts, the mid-Europe primitive shepherd and cultivator, the Northern warrior, and the Iberian ruler-were, according to my view, all derived from the one Celtic stock. They spoke the same language, and their descendants do so still. When they acquired a knowledge of letters they transmitted their history through the Irish language. No doubt they fused ; but somehow a quick fusion of races has not been the general characteristic of the people of this country. Unlike the Anglo-Norman in later times, the Milesian was a long way from home ; the rough sea of the Bay of Biscay rolled between him and his previous habitat ; and if he became an absentee he was not likely to find much of his possessions on his return. It is to be regretted that while we have here such a quantity of poetical and traditional material respecting the Milesian invasion of Ireland, the Spanish annals or traditions have given us but very little information on that subject.