Little enough of what I’ve been able to assemble on these pages so far has any basis in the reality of Earth. I have bent my will and my efforts toward Tir na Nua.
That is not to say that there are no mythic figures worth looking into. In Ireland the line between myth and reality is as thin as the line between the living and dead at Samhain. There are figures, men and women, who bridge the gap between the real and the fantastic. Whether they approached such legendary status in life is open to debate, but some few have attained it in memory, in lore.
One such real figure is Niall of the Nine Hostages (Noigiallach). If nothing else, this particular Niall’s story had much to do with my later fascination with things Celtic. Niall, it appears, was a king and so fixed in memory and genetics that many count him among their progenitors and as many as twenty-five percent of folk in the North of Ireland, and their descendants whether they know it or not, seem marked by his genetics, True Story.
You can read a little more about The Niall Nine Hostages That Was and a little less about me.
I discovered my association on the back of a clan tie at a highland games in Gresham Oregon. Again, true story. I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned how I first came across bagpipe music in a small high-school radio station in North Dakota. I played “Mul of Kintyre“, by Paul McCartney and the Wings every day for the rest of that semester. But I discovered IT again on a summer day in Oregon when it came through my window and lured me into another world.
Certainly it was different from the run-of-the-mill day in Gresham Oregon, different than North Dakota too. But the music drew me to the event and the event led me to a small blurb on the back of a MacNeill clan tie. There I first read anything at all about Niall Noigiallach.
With only a very few little words on a bit of paper the writer chose to mention this fellow, Niall of the Nine Hostages, High King of Ireland. Obviously, it was effective marketing, I bought the tie along with some bagpipe music and a banger.
Truth to tell, though the O’Neills and the MacNeills both have Niall Noigiallach as a progenitor, they are really named after Niall Glundub (Black Knee). Still, selling ties is easier with Noigiallach than the closer relative Glundub. I’ve got to forgive the inaccuracy for its impact.
But that is not even near the end of the story. No dear reader, looking into Niall exposed me to such wonders as a genealogy that stretched back (thanks to dutiful monk scribes) past Noah to Adam himself. I learned that legend names a grand-daughter of Noah as the leader of the first settlement on the Emerald Isle. I ran across names like Nuada Silver Hand, and Finn MacCool, and Conn of the Hundred Battles.
Recently I found links through geneologies back to those three notables in Legend to my heritage (fictional or not). Isn’t that a wonder? All this found through Niall Noigiallach. True Story.