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Nemed (modern spellings: Neimheadh or Neimhidh), meaning "holy" or "privileged" is a figure of Irish mythology who features in The Book of Invasions. He was the leader of the third group of inhabitants of Ireland, the Nemedians.
Origins and invasion
Ireland had been empty for thirty years after the death of the last of Partholon's followers when Nemed sailed to Ireland with his four sons and chieftains, Starn, Iarbonel the Soothsayer, Annind, and Fergus Red-Side. He had started from the Caspian Sea with a fleet of 44 ships, taking a year and a half. In the end, only his ship reached Ireland. His wife, Macha, died twelve days after they arrived, and was buried at Ard Macha (Armagh).
Nemed won the battle of Ros Fraechain against Gann and Sengann, two kings of the Fomorians, who were both killed. He won three more battles against the Fomorians, at Badbgna in Connacht, Cnamros in Leinster (in which Artur, Nemed's first son born in Ireland, died), and Murbolg in Dál Riata (where his son Starn was killed by the Fomorian Conand).
There were four lake-bursts in Ireland in Nemed's time, including Loch Annind, which burst from the ground when Annind's grave was being dug. The other three lakes were Loch Cal in Ui Niallain, Loch Munremair in Luigne, and Loch Dairbrech.
Nemed founded two royal forts, Rath Chimbaith in Semne and Rath Chindeich in Ui Niallain. Rath Cindleich was dug in one day by Boc, Roboc, Ruibne and Rotan, the four sons of Matan Munremar. Nemed killed them before dawn the next morning.
He cleared twelve plains: Mag Cera, Mag Eba, Mag Cuile Tolaid, and Mag Luirg in Connacht: Mag Seired in Tethba; Mag Tochair in Tir Eogain; Mag Selmne in Araide; Mag Macha in Airgialla; Mag Muirthemne in Brega; Mag Bernsa in Leinster; Leccmag and Mag Moda in Munster.
Death and legacy
His followers were then oppressed by Morc and Conand of the Fomorians, who lived in Conand's Tower on Tory Island. Two thirds of their children, their wheat and their milk had to be given to them every Samhain. They revolted against this burden. 207 years after Nemed's death, sixty thousand men, led by their three champions, Semul son of Iarbonel the Soothsayer, Erglan son of Beoan son of Starn, and Nemed's son Fergus Red-Side, destroyed Conand's Tower, killing Conand and all his heirs. But Morc retaliated and a great battle ensued. The sea rose up over them. Only one ship, containing thirty warriors, escaped, and the last of Nemed's followers left Ireland. The island would again be empty for another 200 years.
|Mythical invasions of Ireland
AFM 2350 BC
FFE 1731 BC
- O'Donovan (ed) (1848-1851), John. "Annals of the Kingdom of Ireland by the Four Masters" 1. ucc.ie.
- "The History of Ireland by Geoffrey Keating". ucc.ie.
- James MacKillop (1998), Dictionary of Celtic Mythology
- The Invasion of Nemed, ed. and tr. Vernam Hull, "The Invasion of Nemed." Modern Philology 33 (1935). 119-123. Available from Thesaurus Linguae Hibernicae.