Ruler of the Tuatha de Danann after Lugh (who ruled after Nuada and I swear I’ll do a post on him eventually), the Dagda was father-figure, savior, trickster, and overall amazing hero/god to the Irish. His name means “the good god,” though that doesn’t refer to him being an especially good person, but instead to his being good at fighting, singing, games, and so on.
He shows up in a number of tales surrounding the Tuatha de Danann. In all the ones I’ve read, he’s clearly a beneficent and fair god to his people. To his enemies? Not really.
He also goes by the name Eochaid Ollathair, which means All-Father. (Those who love Norse mythology, I know I’ve got your attention now, heh, heh.) Though later depictions show him as a bit of a dufus, with an enormous penis dragging on the ground, that doesn’t seem to be how early Irish viewed him. He’s a grand hero, who uses his wits and strength to save others through great deeds. In the First Battle of Magh Tureidh, there’s a strong sense of relief in the text when he appears, as if everything will be all right, simply because the Tuatha de have him on their side.
As if it wasn’t enough that he was apparently held in awe by the rest of the Tuatha de simply because he was so amazingly talented, the Dagda also had three magical items that were also impressive.
First, was his club. It was supposedly so big that he had to carry it around with him on a cart (draw any conclusions you like from that symbolism). Though it was deadly, as all weapons should be if they want to remain valuable, it could also restore the dead to life when reversed and the body struck with the handle.
Next, was his cauldron, called Coire Ansic or “Undry.” One of the Four Treasures of the Tuatha de Danann, it gave the hungry whatever they wanted to eat, and never let anyone walk away unsatisfied.
Finally, his harp, Uaithne, also called Dur da Blá. This item could manipulate the listener into feeling great joy, great sorrow, or a deep sleep that brought prophecy with it. It is also said that he used this harp to change the seasons.
I love how each of these items could be viewed through a science fiction lens. The club would be a bit hard to explain (an energy weapon of some sort that uses energy to both heal and kill?), the cauldron sounds like something you’d find on the Enterprise, while the harp is obviously an item that can enter the minds of others and change their thinking to whatever the user wishes it to be.
Will I end up using all this in the story I’m writing? I don’t know, but I would love it if the story lets me put these items in there.