The incantation of Amergin

According to the Leabhar gabhála –the ancient histories of Ireland-  Amergin is the father of poetry. When the followers of Mill landed in Ireland they found that the land was already occupied by the mythical Tuatha Dé Dannan. A deal was struck between the two peoples that the Millesians would leave from the shore and sail as far as the ninth wave, and if they could return to the shore they would be allowed half the country.

Rather than a bloody campaign of conquest, the followers of Mill agreed to the terms, and as they sailed from the shore of Ireland the Tuatha Dé Dannan summoned all of their magic to raise a mist which shrouded the land and a storm which kept the ships of the Millesians beyond the ninth wave.

It was at this point that Amergin uttered a spell of naming which broke the magic of the Tuatha Dé Dannan. In his incantation Amergin identified with the elemental and natural and in naming them he bends them to his will. The fog of the Tuatha De Dannan dissipates and their power is broken. The Millesians  come back to the shore and as Amergin disembarks he utters this part of his spell.

In declaring the pre-eminence and power of the word, Amergin sets the place of the poet –the crafter of words- in Gaelic society. The poet still held this function in Irish society right up until the 17th Century when the Gaelic world was finally crushed by the English plantations.