The Tuatha Dé Danann - inspiration for the Elves?

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The Tuatha Dé Danann - inspiration for the Elves?

Postby andurilwest » Sun Feb 26, 2006 9:28 pm

I've sometimes read that these Irish folk "inspired" the Quendi. However, I can't see anything mentioned in this article that might have...
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Postby Parmamaite » Fri Mar 03, 2006 2:41 pm

Well, they're an ancient immortal race replaced by mankind.

I think that the Tuatha Dé Danann or Sidhe most probably inspired Tolkien, but in an indirect way.

In one of his letters Tolkien wrote:
I do know Celtic things (many in their original languages Irish and Welsh), and feel for them a certain distaste: largely for their fundamental unreason. They have bright colour, but are like a broken stained glass window reassembled without design.
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Postby Galin » Thu Mar 16, 2006 7:24 am

The article currently reads...

They arrived in Ireland, on or about May 1 (the date of the festival of Beltaine), on dark clouds, although later versions rationalise this by saying they burned their ships to prevent retreat, and the "clouds" were the smoke produced.

They (perhaps) burned their ships. Seems interesting in any case when one thinks of Feanor and the unfortunate Amros.
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Postby MithLuin » Sun Mar 25, 2007 5:20 pm

Also, their first King, Nuada, stepped down when he lost his hand/arm in a battle. Then a smith made him a silver hand so he could reclaim the Kingship (depose the tyrant).

Maedhros also became a dispossessed king when he lost his hand. And the name Celebrimbor means "silver hand" (he was a Fëanorean, as well).

In addition, the Tuatha de Danaan came from the West.

Add all this together, (with the burning ships) and you can see a flavor of them in the Noldor, though surely not a strong influence on the mythology. JRRT was certainly well aware of them; he is cited professionally on the topic on Wikipedia. ;)

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Postby lingir » Mon Mar 26, 2007 7:31 am

Interestingly, also from Wiki :

The Otherworld in Celtic mythology is the realm of the dead, the home of the deities, or the stronghold of other spirits and beings such as the Sídhe. Tales and folklore describe it as existing over the western sea, or at other times underground (such as in the Sídhe mounds) or right alongside the world of the living, but invisible to most humans.
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Postby dna » Mon Mar 26, 2007 12:12 pm

MithLuin wrote:Maedhros also became a dispossessed king

Well, well... that's a bold leap! Due largely to the Irish Nuada/Nodens, no doubt. :wink:

But yes, despite Tolkien’s comments in Letters about a “certain distaste” for things Celtic, and being “heavily defeated” by Gaelic (which tend to get the most airplay), the connections between elements of Irish Myth and Tolkien's writings have long been examined - beginning with Lin Carter's A Look Behind the Lord of the Rings which brings up the striking similarities between the Tuatha de Danann and the Noldor before the Sil even came out; and especially including Shippey and Flieger. But if you're really interested, you can contact the author of both the "Ireland" and "The Name 'Nodens'" entries in The J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia at danger2 at He doesn't claim to be an authority, but can direct you to everything that's been written on the subject :wink:
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Postby Mithfânion » Wed Apr 18, 2007 4:27 am

This book by Marjorie Burns that I bought a while ago and which is quite an interested read on the written work of Tolkien and how it compares to Norse and Celtic mythology, has a section on connections between the Elves and the Tuatha de Danaan of Irish myths. ... 168&sr=1-1
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