Dagda was the son of Danu, the "mother goddess", and Elatha, the king of the Fomorians. He was the eldest and wisest of the Tuatha and was considered to be not only a father figure but also the druid of their tribe. Dagda eventually became the king of the Tuatha Dé Danann following the deaths of Nuada (the first king) and Lugh and ruled for seventy or eighty years.
He was not only a god of great power and prestige but was also thought of in a comical way. He ruled for about seventy or eighty years and died of poisoning by wife of Balor during the battle of Magh Tuiredh.
Myths & Legends
Dagda is described as "the good god" or protector of the Irish Celts and looked on as one of the most important gods in Celtic mythology. He was coarse and rude but would help anyone who asked for his assistance.
He was a warrior god and father figure from a divine, gigantic race called the Tuatha Dé Danann, the ruling clan of gods in Ireland. There are numerous myths about Dagda's prowess as a warrior in the wars the Tuatha fought against the evil and supernatural race called the Fomorians, who sought to invade Ireland. Dagda was one of the leaders of the Tuatha who played a vital role in winning the battles. One myth states Lugh sent him to spy on the enemy camp and gained important information before the battle. He then used his cauldron and a giant club to win the battle.
He was described as a tall warrior god of immense strength with uncut hair and beard that gave him an untidy appearance. Some accounts state his hair was red while others say it was grey. The clothes he usually wore were of a brown tunic that only reached his hips, a kilt and either boots or sandals. The appearance of the god was that of a labourer.
He was revered as a larger than life Celtic god of music and musicians. He was also revered as a god of fertility and agriculture/abundamce (as a god who could control seasons). As he could also control time, he had power over life and death, magic, and fire and the sun. He was also greatly acknowledged by the Druids for his great knowledge.
Dagda fathered many children as a result of his numerous romantic encounters. His wife was Morrigan, who he met beside a river where she was bathing during the festival of Samhain (held on November 1). He was known to also had an affair with Boann.
The main "Three Sons of Dagda" were Aengus, Cermait, and Aed.
- Bodb Derg is Dagda's eldest son and the next king of the Tuatha de Danann.
- Aengus, the god of love
- Aed/Aodh, god of the underworld
- Cermait, known as "honey-mouth" and who was killed by Lugh after he had an affair with Lugh's wife Buach
- Dian Cecht, the god of healing
When the Tuatha Dé Danann arrived in Ireland on great sailing ships they brought with them the Treasures of Eirean, which were Nuada's Sword of Light, Lugh’s Spear, the Lia Fail (or Stone of Destiny) and the Dagda’s Cauldron.
The numerous powers he possessed set him apart from the other gods as did his possessions such as the "Cauldron of Plenty" which bestowed on him the distinction of king.
- The Cauldron, which is also called an Undry, could supply an inexhaustible supply of food and those who ate from it never left unsatisfied. It was a magical symbol of power and fertility as well as bestowing the prestige of a king in the Celtic world. The god's favourite food was porridge. One of Dagda's main characteristics was that his appetite for not only food but for everything was excessive and insatiable.
- Dagda carried a huge club (the lorg mór or lorg anfaid) that was larger than a man. One end of the club could kill nine people but at the other end magically restore a person's life. The club was so heavy it that deep furrows were made in the earth as he dragged it along the ground.
- The magical harp (or Uaithne) he owned was made of oak and encrusted with jewels. Dagda was a skilful musician and when he played the harp, the seasons were restored to their correct and natural order. He played three types of music which were sorrow, dreaming and joy. The harp flew to him when he called for it.