Tuatha Dé Danann translates as the people of the Goddess Danú. Her son’s name was Dadga and he was the most powerful leader of the Dananns. These people were skilled in art, science, poetry and magic, and were said to have come from four mythical cities; Falias, Gorias, Finias and Murias. When they came to Ireland they retreated to Tír na n’Óg - Land of Youth. They were also said to have lived in a place called the Sidhe – (pronounced Shee), which is known as a fairy fort or the Otherworld.

One of the many magical gifts that Tuatha Dé Danann brought with them was Dadga’s Harp. This harp was made of oak, highly decorated, and was played by Uaithne, his personal harpist. Some people say that Dadga himself played the harp, and that the harp was known as Uaithne. The harp held exquisite, commanding music. Simply by plucking its strings, the Dagda could create many wonders. He could put the seasons in order; when it was time to fight his enemies, the Dagda plucked the strings of that harp and every warrior was instantly ready for battle, prepared to defend their people. The harp was also played following battle, and was used as a way to heal wounds, and help the warriors forget and injuries or pain.

One of Dé Danann’s sworn enemies were a tribe or group known as the Fomorians. They were the polar opposite of the fair tribe that were Dé Danann, and were dark haired with dark features and carried swords of bronze. During one battle, Dadga’s home was left unguarded, and the Fomorians seized their chance to steal Dagda’s harp. They knew the power of the harp, so they made a swift exit bringing with them their wives and children fleeing to a vacant castle, and taking refuge in the banquet hall, where they hung the stolen harp.

Before they could relax or celebrate too much, the door of the castle swung open to reveal Dagda himself, with his fair-featured army by his side. He shouted for the attention of the harp, at which point the harp came off the wall and floated into Dagda’s hands. He played three types of music, the first, reducing the women and children to tears, the second, Music of Mirth, sending the men into convulsions of laughter, and the third, sending the entire room into a deep slumber. These were known as the three noble strains, which made the harp an instrument for imposing sorrow, gladness and rest. So the moral of the story is, don’t steal – especially not anyone’s harp!