[This is a revised version of a text originally published in Galician. It is a simple token of appreciation from the IDG to the always loved Éire and Her People]
Our sister nation of Éire (Ireland) celebrates its national day today, March 17th. It is a day commonly associated with the celebration of its identity and culture, its affirmation as a free People, a formal freedom which was achieved not so long ago taking a high toll. As a matter of fact, part of the price to pay has been a partial memory loss.
More than familiar and intimately well-known, mimetic even in this, Éire hurts as much as our own Land does as Her big day falls on a controversial date. Like us, most of the Sons and Daughters of Míl (the modern Irishmen and Irishwomen) choose to focus on the joyful and light side of things, and even on some political and social issues. Yet, like us, many have a bittersweet sensation with a celebration which revolves around an odd figure, a usurper. Our histories truly run parallel.
It is said that this is “St. Patrick’s Day”, the one who allegedly “drove the snakes out of Ireland”, the same Isle of Destiny glimpsed from the top of Galician King Breogám‘s tower (Irish Bregon). Or better say, Patrick, the one who is claimed to have fought the God Crom Cruach and His wife Goddess Corra, the Dragon and the Crane, or the Great Dragons, akin to our Galician Crouga and Coca.
Crom, first shaper of the Isle and primordial being of Her lands, God of fertility made and covered in gold and, therefore, incorruptible, unchanging, eternally immaculate. This is whom the Christian myth wanted to replace by force, as they clumsily tried to do with many others by simply changing their names.
This way, the Patrick myth had to coercively reinterpret the principle of the Celtic Triad (see the Irish shamrock) and even adapt its main symbol, the Christian cross, to the pre-existing Celtic cross. Hence the Christian imposition was symbolised through the mentioned episode involving the elimination of the snakes, banished from our lives and beliefs. Hence they took possession over the house of Crom, metaphorically and physically, His holy mountain – like our Larouco – now wrongly called Croagh Patrick.
But what is said for Galicia can now be said for the Sons and Daughters of Míl, since they are of our ancient blood, descendants of the same lineage: the outlanders did not triumph despite the many they convinced. We are witness to that.
Although the Milesians – the Celtic Galicians who sailed to Ireland and settled there – supported Lugh in the quarrel with Crom and the Land and the harvests were eventually yielded to the former, it is clear that Crom remains not just among the Celtic Gods and Goddesses, but also as an ally to Lugh Himself, to the Mórrígan (our Reve) and to the one the Welsh call Rhiannon and the Gauls Epona (our Íccona). And Corra, always willing, continues to visit the holy mountain every summer.
We wish all the Irish a grand Day of the Dragon then, hoping they will take yet another step forward against oblivion, for the Honour of our shared culture and our Peoples. When they do, they must know they are not walking alone, for Galicia and Ireland can never be strangers to each other, for we sing the same songs.
The Tower of Breogám
Celtic King Breogám (Bregon), son of Brath, father of Ith and Bile, grandfather of Míl. He is the one who founded the great city of Brigantia, present day Corunna – Head and Guard of the Kingdom of Galicia – and built a magnificent tower from where Ith would glimpse Ireland, the magic green isle, on a clear day.
Hence the Gaels guided by Ith himself, fascinated as he was with his vision, decided to sail north, only to find conflict with the Tuatha Dé Danann who treacherously kill Ith.
Míl – The Soldier – swears vengeance and sails again, when one of his own seven sons, Druid Amergin, acts as an impartial judge for the parties. Thus the Milesians agreed to leave the island and retreat into the ocean beyond the ninth wave. Upon a signal they moved toward the beach, but the druids of the Tuatha Dé Danann raised a magical storm to keep them from reaching land. Yet, Amergin sang an invocation calling upon the spirit of Ireland and parted the storm, bringing the ship safely to land.
This is the Song of Amergin:
I am the wind on the sea;
I am the wave of the sea;
I am the bull of seven battles;
I am the eagle on the rock
I am a flash from the sun;
I am the most beautiful of plants;
I am a strong wild boar;
I am a salmon in the water;
I am a lake in the plain;
I am the word of knowledge;
I am the head of the spear in battle;
I am the god that puts fire in the head;
Who spreads light in the gathering on the hills?
Who can tell the ages of the moon?
Who can tell the place where the sun rests?
And so the Gaels settled in Ireland, and so the Irish of today are the Sons and Daughters of Míl of yesterday. And so the Isle forever carries the name of one of the Goddesses of the Tuatha Dé Denann, Éiru, for they were allowed to retreat with honour into the forests once they accepted their defeat.
And that is why when Red Hugh O’Donnell fled to Corunna after the Battle of Kinsale (1602) he wanted to stand next to “the tower of [his] ancestors”.
And that is also why the lyrics of the Galician National Anthem (1907) refer to Galicia solely as “Hearth of Breogám” and “Nation of Breogám”, and how the history and soul of Galicia and Ireland are and forever will be intertwined.
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This would all be just a nice legend open to endless debate, originally compiled in the Lebor Gabála Érenn (The Book of the Taking of Ireland, 11thC) and in the texts of Galician monk Trezenzónio (12thC), if it wasn’t for the massive archaeological, linguistic, ethnographic and cultural evidence, plus genetic studies linking modern day Galicians and Irish.
Remove the epic and exaggerations and draw your own conclusions. Actually, don’t remove anything, this is a Celtic tale