The Division Of The SlD

CELTIC deities may have been associated in pagan times with hills and pre-historic tumuli, especially those near the Boyne; and within these was the subterranean land of the gods, who also dwelt on distant islands. If this were the case, it would help to explain why mounds were regarded as the retreats of the Tuatha De Danann, and why they are still supposed to emerge thence as a kind of fairies. If the folk believed that the old gods had always been associated with mounds, it was easy for the euhemeristic writers to evolve a legend of their having retired there after being defeated by the Milesians.

Within these hills and mounds were their gorgeous palaces, replete with all Elysian joys. These hollow hills were known as sid, a word possibly cognate with Latin sedes, and hence perhaps meaning "seats of the gods"; and their divine inhabitants were the aes side, fir side, mna side, "the people [or "men" or "women"] of the sid" or simply "the side." These are everywhere regarded as the Tuatha De Danann or their descendants. Men used to worship the side, says St. Fiacc's hymn, while the daughters of King Loegaire regarded St. Patrick and his white-robed bishops as aes side, appearing on earth.1 In later times the side were held to be fairies and were called by various names, but these fairies closely resemble the earlier side, the Tuatha De Danann, while they are not necessarily of small stature. In this they are very like the fees of mediaeval French belief — romantic survivals of earlier goddesses.

In some stories the side are associated both with the sid and with the island Elysium, these being regarded as synonymous — the goddess with whom Connla elopes is of the áes side, yet she comes from the island overseas. The confusion may be due to the fact that the gods were supposed to have various dwelling-places, not necessarily to the priority of one belief over the other. On the other hand, the Mese a Ulad, or Intoxication of the Ulstermen, says that after their defeat the Tua-tha Dé Danann went underground to speak with the side,2 although this may be only the confused notion of an annalist who knew of the side, yet regarded the Tuatha Dé Danann as human.

The mingled romantico-annalistic view was that the Tuatha Dé Danann retired to the sid. An early text, The Conquest of the Sid (De Gabail int sida), tells how Dagda apportioned the sid among them, his son Oengus, who was absent, being omitted. This story is clearly based upon an earlier myth which narrates how the chief god divided their various spheres among the divinities, as the Babylonian Marduk prepared the mansions of the deities and made them inhabit these as their strongholds. Of Dagda's sid another document says:

" Behold the sid before your eyes, It is manifest to you that it is a king's mansion Which was built by the firm Dagda; It was a wonder, a court, an admirable hill." 3

This was the Brug na Boinne. Oengus Mac Ind Óc, or " Son of the Young Ones," viz. Dagda and Boann, was then with his foster-father Midir, but soon claimed his abode as Esau did his blessing. The claim, however, could not be granted, whereupon Oengus asked to spend the night in Dagda's palace, to which his father agreed, granting him also the next day. When this had elapsed, Oengus was bidden to go, but refused, because, time being composed of day and night, his tenancy must be perpetual. Thus Dagda was dispossessed; and the sid, passing to Oengus, took his name, Brug Maic Ind Óc.4

In another version of this story from the Book of Fermoy, in-

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