Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
They are said to have been descendants of Nemed, leader of the previous inhabitants of Ireland, who had scattered to throughout the world after their battle with the Fomorians. Some had ended up in Greece where they were enslaved, carrying earth from the valleys to the bare hills in leather bags: they took their name from Irish bolg, bag (although this is considered a folk etymology).
They arrived in Ireland in three groups, the Fir Bolg, the Fir Domnann and the Gailióin. The Fir Bolg are likely derived from the historical Belgae, known from Gaul and Britain, and related to the historical Builg of Munster; the Fir Domnann are probably related to the British Dumnonii; and the Gailóin are another name for the Laigin, who founded Leinster. The three groups probably represent the Ivernic-speaking peoples who inhabited Ireland before the Goidelic-speaking Gaels.
According to legend, they were the first people in Ireland to use iron spearpoints. Their greatest king was Eochaid mac Eirc, who was the first to institute a system of justice. During his reign there was no rain, only dew, and there was a harvest every year. His wife was Tailtiu, in whose honour he established a famous festival.
It was in his reign that the Fir Bolg were defeated by the Tuatha Dé Danann at the first Battle of Magh Tuiredh. The Fir Bolg warrior Sreng cut off the arm of Nuada, the king of the Tuatha Dé. The Tuatha Dé then tried to negotiate, offering to share the island, but the Fir Bolg refused and battle was joined once more. During the fighting Eochaid mac Eirc was overcome by thirst, but the druids of the Tuatha Dé hid all sources of water from him by their magic. Eochaid was found and killed, and his successor, Sreng, negotiated peace. The Fir Bolg retained Connacht, and the Tuatha Dé took the rest of Ireland.
The Fir Bolg and the Milesians are the only peoples in the invasions tradition who are not troubled by the Fomorians. This suggests that these two invasions represent real people, while the others are purely mythological.
Fir Bolg High Kings
- Sláinge (2) AFM 1934-1933 BC; FFE 1514-1513 BC
- Rudraige (2) AFM 1933-1931 BC; FFE 1513-1511 BC
- Gann (2) and Genann AFM 1931-1927 BC; FFE 1511-1507 BC
- Sengann (2) AFM 1927-1922 BC; FFE 1507-1502 BC
- Fiacha Cennfinnán AFM 1922-1917 BC; FFE 1502-1497 BC
- Rinnal AFM 1917-1911 BC; FFE 1497-1491 BC
- Foidbgen AFM 1911-1907 BC; FFE 1491-1487 BC
- Eochaid mac Eirc AFM 1907-1897 BC; FFE 1487-1477 BC
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