The Dagda - I'm not 'Good'... I'm just Good at it!

The Dagda is known by many names among the Tuatha Dé Danann. To some he is Ollathair, the 'Great Father', to others he is Fer Benn, the 'horned man'. But though he carries many names upon him there is something more that is acknowledged by his tribe. That he is The Dagda, the 'Good God' or 'Goodly One' possessed of all Druidic power and wisdom.

Where we find this acknowledgement is in Ireland's ancient folklore concerning that conflict known as the Second Battle of Moytura. When facing the threat of invasion from the armed hosts of the Fomorian's, King Nuada abdicates his throne in favour of Lugh so that his people might stand the best chance or survival. Nuada then gathers all of those who wield druidic power and asks them what they will bring to the battle in service of their tribe and it's new king.

The sorcerers state that they will call up the mountains of Ireland to support the Tuatha Dé Danann, casting the rock of the earth against them. The cupbearers state that they will call up all of the lakes and rivers of Ireland so that they will support the people of Danú and remain hidden from the Fomorians, causing them to thirst and weaken. The druids promise to rain fire from the sky so that it falls upon the Fomorians and brings both terror and harm to them. Also that every breath the Tuatha Dé Danann take will increase their strength and valour so that, were the battle to go on for seven years, their people would still be strong and capable.

Here is where we learn more of the true powers of the Dagda, because his response to all of these wondrous promises is this;

‘The power which ye boast I shall wield it all by myself.’

Yet this is not the extent to which the Dagda's abilities are made clear to us. The Dagda causes the sun to stop in the sky so that his son Oengus could be conceived and born all in one day, and Boann's infidelity concealed.

When seeking to take up the power over life and death so that he can restore his child Cermait, he offers a guarantee listing his powers over 'sun, moon, sea and land' so that he may borrow the club from its owner; that is after he used it to slay and restore him and his brothers.

After the battle with the Fomorians, the Dagda travels with Lugh and Oghma to recover his stolen harp. As it comes to him the harp becomes the slayer of nine of the raiders, but then the Dagda uses it to make the invaders dance, then weep, then fall into a magical sleep.

The Dagda it is who rules Ireland after Lugh, seeing to its rightful abundant growth for eighty years. During this time he clears forests, creates rivers and ensures peace and safety for everyone.

So it might be fair to say that the Dagda, though possessed of so much power, so much wisdom and ability, may not be considered 'morally good', but maybe you will agree with me that whatever he sets his mind to, he will be just good at it!

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