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Lia Fáil or Stone of Destiny

The Four Treasures of the Tuatha De Danann

The Four Treasures of the Tuatha De Danann are four magical items which the mythological Tuatha De Danann brought from the four island cities Gorias, Murais, Falias, and Findias, when they arrived in Ireland. The Tuatha De Danann themselves are a race of people found in Irish mythology. They were the fifth group to invade and settle Ireland according to the invasion traditions. Thought to be derived from pre-Christian deities of Ireland, the Tuatha De were considered mortal kings, queens, and heroes of a distant past.

The four treasures were the subject of at least three Middle Irish texts: the legendary Lebor Gabála Érenn (“The Book of the Taking of Ireland”), Cath Maige Tuired (“The Second Battle of Mag Tuired”), and “The Four Jewels”. The first recension of Lebor Gabála gives “the northern islands of the world” as the residence of the Tuatha De Danann. There they were instructed in the magic arts before moving in dark clouds to Connaught in Ireland. Only one of the four treasures, Lia Fáil, is said to have been imported from across the sea. The Lebar Gabála and Cath Maige Tuired, as well as a separate text elaborate on the four cities and the events surrounding the four treasures. There were four cities located on the northern islands of the world, called Falias, Gorias, Findias and Murias in which the treasures were located. “The Four Jewels” is also a reference to the cities themselves, but locates them at Lochlann and argues that the Tuatha De crossed the seas in fleets rather than in the dark mist. The Tuatha De Danann traveled there to instructed in the magic arts, embracing druidry (druidecht), knowledge (fis), prophecy (fáitsine) and skill in magic (amainsecht).

Each of the four cities were located on an island and each island is said to have its own poet. There are specific properties given to each of the four treasures as well. In the city of Falias was the poet Morfessa or Fessus and from that city came the Stone of Fál (Lia Fáil). This large stone was said to cry out beneath the king who took the sovereignty of Ireland and was supposedly located near the Hill of Tara in County Meath. The Lia Fáil (meaning Stone of Destiny) served as the coronation stone for the High Kings of Ireland. In legend it is said that all of the kings of Ireland were crowned on the stone up to Muirchertach mac Ercae c. AD 500. The stone was said to be magical and would “roar with joy” when the rightful High King of Ireland put his feet on it. It is also described as having the ability to rejuvenate the king and endow him with a long reign. Cú Chulainn split the stone with his sword when it didn’t cry out under Lugaid Riab nDerg, his protégé, and the stone has never roared since except under Conn of the Hundred Battles and Brian Boru.

The city of Goirias or Gorias was home to the poet Esras and the Spear (sleg) of Lug. No battle was ever sustained against the spear, or against the man who held it, according to the mythology. Lugh (Lug) himself was a hero and High King of Ireland’s distant past. He was known for being skilled in many arts, but particularly skilled in the use of a spear. He is also said to have joined the Tuatha De as a young man, though he was rejected at first. He offered many skills to be accepted, but found that those skills were already taken up by different people. Lugh won his entrance by asking if anyone had all of the skills simultaneously.

Uiscias or Uscias, the poet, made his home in Findias where another of the treasures was found. The Sword (claideb/claiomh solais) which belonged to Núadu is a weapon that “No one ever escaped from once it was drawn from its sheath.” It was also said that no one could resist the sword and was described in the Tain legend as “Nuadu’s Cainnel’, a glowing bright torch. Nuadu (alternatively Nuada) was the first king of the Tuatha De Danann and ruled them for seven years before coming to Ireland.

Finally, Muirias or Murias, was the city that contained the fourth treasure; the Cauldron (coire) of the Dagda. Of the cauldron it is said that no company ever went away from it unsatisfied. Dagda is a father figure or “All-father” and protector of the tribe; an important god of Irish mythology. Tales depict him as a might figure with immense power who possessed a magic club along with his cauldron. The club was supposedly able to kill nine men with one blow, but with the handle he could return slain men to life. The cauldron was known as Undry and was said to be bottomless. This is where the lore that it left no one unsatisfied appears.

As the Tuatha De Danann are a very significant race in Irish mythology, these items are of import to the mythos. They were said to have brought all of these treasures to Ireland, where they supposedly remain to date.

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