The Dagda, the Great God of the Tuatha dé Danann, is a beloved and complex figure from Irish mythology, and one of the Kings of the Tuatha dé Danann. He has a multitude of talents and magical possessions, and shares many relationships with other figures from mythology. He is also associated with a number of important archeological sites throughout Ireland.

The Dagda Artwork by Shelly Mooney

A Beloved Figure

Described as a huge bearded man with a hooded cloak, it’s said that The Dagda is so large that his clothes are barely able to cover him (though it’s possible that this might have been a detail added later by Christian writers, an addition which in my opinion backfired on them if it was in an attempt to make him less appealing). Immense, powerful, wise and deeply connected to the land, it’s little wonder why he has remained such a hugely admired figure throughout the centuries.

The Dagda possesses a magical staff, with which he takes life at one end and gives it at the other. He also owns a giant cauldron that never empties, and a magical harp which he uses to control the seasons. Various magical livestock also belong to him, along with an orchard that always bears fruit.

Boann and the Dagda

Perhaps most famously, The Dagda fathered a prolific number of children, including the goddess Brigid amongst other well-known names. He had a multitude of lovers, most of whom are unnamed, but who included the Morrigan and Boann. I find the story of his dalliance with Boann fascinating. She lived with her husband Elcmar at Newgrange. One day when Elcmar was away, she and The Dagda had an affair. In order to hide her resulting pregnancy, The Dagda casts a spell to make the sun stand still so that Elcmar would not notice the passage of time. This made it possible for nine months to pass in a single day, and Boann gave birth to her son Aengus who went on to become the god associated with love and poetry.